‘Fiddling bishop’ remembered

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Funeral for Bishop Faber MacDonald Friday at St. Dunstan’s Basilica

The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI)

21 February 2012

Guardian photo by Ryan Ross

UPEI librarian Mark Leggott, left, chatted with Bishop Faber MacDonald during the launch of IslandArchives.ca in April.

The ‘fiddling bishop,’ Faber MacDonald, 80, as he was known, died Friday at Queen Elizabeth Hospital after a brief illness of pneumonia and a heart attack.

The retired bishop was the oldest of five children of Henry and Anna MacDonald of Little Pond.

Bishop Faber entered the priesthood after working for the Royal Bank of Canada.  He was ordained in 1963 and after serving in several parishes on P.E.I. he was made vice chancellor under Bishop Malcolm MacEachern of the diocese.

On March 19, 1980, Pope John Paul II ordained him a bishop.  He was consecrated at St. Dunstan’s Basilica and became the first bishop in 50 years to be ordained from P.E.I. He was assigned to Grand Falls, Newfoundland where he served for 19 years. He was later installed as bishop for Saint John, N.B. He retired from there in 2006.

While chancellor of the P.E.I. Diocese, steeped in the Island music of the Scottish/Irish culture, Father Faber began studying to gain a deeper understanding of the music.  He learned to read the music and practised playing it on the fiddle.  As he developed his musical skills, he encouraged members of the community to learn how to read music.

This renewal of Island music became highlighted at Rollo Bay on a Sunday afternoon in July 1976.  This was the beginning of the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival. This succeeded with the combined efforts of then Father Faber MacDonald, Joe Pete Chaisson, and the Eastern Kings Fiddlers Association (a concert sponsor to this day). In a quest to promote traditional Island music, the money gathered was (and still is) used to provide free fiddle lessons for music students in the local area.

The bishop is survived by his immediate family of three sisters and a brother. They are his sister, Clare Doyle, of Earnscliffe, whose family includes three sons and two daughters, 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

His sister, Mary Rose Garon and her husband, Bob of San Diego, CA., have seven children and 10 grandchildren. Their oldest, Fr. Bob Garon, the pastor of St. Didacus Roman Catholic Church in Sylmar, California will give the homily at the bishop’s funeral at St. Dunstan’s Basilica Friday, Feb. 24, at 10:30 a.m.

Bishop Faber’s brother, Sandy MacDonald and his wife, Ellie of Oshawa, Ont., are parents of four children and 12 grandchildren. His sister, Marion McDougall and her husband, Don, of Stratford, Ontario, are parents of five children and 10 grandchildren.

1 Response to ‘Fiddling bishop’ remembered

  1. deeplybetrayed says:

    While Bishop of Grand Falls Diocese and working within renewal of the church Faber MacDonald was a good example to us, an encourager, an affirmer, he saw the gifts in us, the potential. As believers, we were exhorted to hold our heads high and not be afraid to speak and to stand alone if we must. He was a good listener, loved music, especially fiddle, etc. -he lit up, he came alive, had a great sense of humor, carried much wisdom and authority and had a strong sense of justice. We have lost a wonderful soul and leader.

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