“Father Hughie’s” 90th birthday

February 6, 2015

Posted on February 4, 2015
Adam Cooke, The Port Hawkesbury Report

CREIGNISH- Days removed from his 90th birthday, a veteran Roman Catholic parish priest has no retirement plans and says he would follow the same course if given a second chance to live his life.
Father Hugh MacDonald, affectionately known as “Father Hughie D” to current and former parishioners across the Strait area, officially wrapped up his ninth decade on January 27.
Two days earlier, after presiding over his regular Sunday Mass service at Stella Maris Catholic Church in Creignish, he was the guest of honour at a birthday party thrown by parishioners and community residents at the Creignish Recreation Centre.
“I never thought I’d live to be 90,” Fr. MacDonald told The Reporter last week.
“But as the years went by, I never realized my age – I still did everything I always did.”
Originally posted to St. Peter’s for a short stint following his ordination in mid-1952, Fr. MacDonald’s 63-year career as a parish priest subsequently took him to River Bourgeois, Arichat Mabou, and Sydney before landing in Creignish in 1998.
“I love working with the people, I love what I do, and I love being a priest,” Fr. MacDonald enthused.
“I look upon all the people I know, not just Catholics, as my family – they’ve been so supportive.”
Famous for reaching out to Strait area residents wherever he happens to find them, Fr. MacDonald received special praise from Antigonish Bishop Brian Dunn for the “Tim Horton’s Ministry” that has unfolded as a result of the affable priest’s visits to local coffee shops.
“He’s a gentle soul,” said Bishop Dunn.
“The fact that he’s still there at 90 years old speaks of both a generosity on the one hand, but also to his commitment to the priesthood, to parish ministry and to his own parishioners.”
As he heads towards his 63rd anniversary in the priesthood, Fr. MacDonald is maintaining a positive outlook but also hoping to see more parishioners coming forward to serve the Catholic Church, within Stella Maris Parish and across the diocese.
“My ultimate duty before I leave is to have the people trained so that they can be prepared when a new priest comes and they can look after the parish,” Fr. MacDonald explained.
“I think God is calling us to serve another role, and more lay people have to come forward and get involved. They’re going to get a lot more responsibility, and that’s good.”
At the same time, Fr. MacDonald – who once contemplated a career in the RCMP during his teen years before considering a life in the priesthood – is happy with what has become a lifelong vocation.
“I don’t want to sound phony or superficial, but if I had it all to do again, I would do the same thing,” he beamed.

 

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