“Tears, prayers, and joy as Archbishop MacNeil heads to eternal home” & related articles

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Over 1000 mourners, priests, and bishops from across Canada attended Archbishop Joseph MacNeil’s funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica in Edmonton on Friday, February 16, 2018.Grandin Media

Over 1,000 mourners and clergy crowd St. Joseph’s Basilica for final farewell

Grandin Media

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Beloved Archbishop of Edmonton. Shepherd of the Catholic faithful. Friend to everyone who met him.

This was how Archbishop Joseph MacNeil was remembered during a funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica on Feb. 16. Over 1,000 people from the archdiocese and across Canada came to say goodbye to MacNeil, who died on Feb. 11 after suffering a stroke. He was 93.

“His warm welcome, attentive listening, quick understanding, shared laughter or pain, gentle counsel, and faithful accompaniment assured us that, in his estimation, we were, indeed, his ‘very good friends,’” Archbishop Richard Smith said in his homily.

MacNeil served as the fifth Archbishop of Edmonton for 26 years until retiring in 1999. As president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, he formally invited Pope St. John Paul II to Canada for a historic visit that included Edmonton. To this day a bronze plaque hangs in St. Joseph’s Basilica, depicting the two fathers of the Church together on that site.

Archbishop Richard Smith celebrated the funeral Mass with dozens of his brother priests and bishops, including Bishop Lionel Gendron, the current president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Robert Harris of the Diocese of Saint John, where MacNeil first served as bishop.

Scott Jenken Chris Berthelot, Grandin Media

In Rome, Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, who succeeded MacNeil as Archbishop of Edmonton, celebrated a Mass for him. Through the Vatican, Pope Francis shared an apostolic blessing for those mourning the beloved archbishop.

The basilica was filled with the cascading sounds of organ music above the congregation as smoke from burning incense lingered in the air. Scott Jenken, a member of the adult choir, says he loves the use of incense during funeral masses.

“Watching the incense rising up to God, I always envision the soul rising up to God, and I think that’s a beautiful imagery I always look forward to,” Jenken said.

Many took a solemn moment to touch the Archbishop’s casket, silently mourning the loss of a spiritual giant who had led the Catholic community and had personally touched the lives of thousands.

“We gather in sadness, certainly, yet also, and even more, in a spirit of praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift that this remarkable disciple and bishop has been to us,” said Archbishop Smith.

Gene Blazo Chris Berthelot, Grandin Media

At the end of Mass, a sea of priests in white vestments surrounded the casket as Archbishop Smith anointed and spread incense over it.

“It seemed like heaven came down,” said Gene Blazo, adding he was amazed at the sight of all the bishops and priests who gathered to celebrate the life of their dear friend.

“It was an absolutely beautiful ceremony,” said Don MacNeil, the Archbishop’s nephew who flew in from Halifax. “Things could not have gone better for Father Joe, Your Grace, in the sense that he was a friend to everybody. You couldn’t find someone who was more upbeat and positive and friendly.”

As a family member, Don said he knew Archbishop MacNeil differently. “Father Joe,” known for his sense of humour, would often share jokes around the dinner table.

“It’s funny. Obviously I would communicate on a different level than some who knew him through the parish and everything like that … He was my uncle.”

“He always coined that phrase – talking to him and (asking him) how things were going – that he could ‘still sit up and take nourishment,’ and as long as he could still do that, he was happy. It’s all those positive comments and everything. Those are my fond memories.”

Julie Lee Chris Berthelot, Grandin Media

In addition to the stirring music ministry of the cathedral choir throughout the Mass, a choir of 40 students from MacNeil’s namesake junior high school also sang while priests prepared the altar.

“The Mass made me cry and laugh at the same time,” said Julie Lee, whose two sons are graduates of  Archbishop Joseph MacNeil school, which opened in 2003.

During his homily, Archbishop Smith described his predecessor as a loving friend to so many people, particularly to the children he saw often at the school.

Smith also shared a light-hearted story about how MacNeil, who attended hundreds of meetings as part of his episcopacy, once told him that he wanted his epitaph to read “He went to meetings.”

“It was all for the sake of the communion of the Church, for building up the Body of Christ, for helping us grow into Christ, into the Lord’s friendship, into the joy of knowing that we were all counted as the Lord’s very good friends, just as the Archbishop knew that he was,” said Archbishop Smith.

Current Archbishop of Edmonton Richard Smith presides over the Mass in celebration of his friend and mentor, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil.

During his homily, Archbishop Smith described his predecessor as a loving friend to so many people, particularly to the children he saw often at the school.

Russell Grigaitis Chris Berthelot, Grandin Media

Smith also shared a light-hearted story about how MacNeil, who attended hundreds of meetings as part of his episcopacy, once told him that he wanted his epitaph to read “He went to meetings.”

“It was all for the sake of the communion of the Church, for building up the Body of Christ, for helping us grow into Christ, into the Lord’s friendship, into the joy of knowing that we were all counted as the Lord’s very good friends, just as the Archbishop knew that he was,” said Archbishop Smith.

Russell Grigaitis knows that well. He met with Archbishop MacNeil four years ago, and years later the Archbishop still remembered him.

“He’s a friend, that’s who he was. And If he knows you, you’re a friend for life,” said Grigaitis.

After Mass, Archbishop MacNeil was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Edmonton.

The last funeral for an Archbishop of Edmonton was that of Archbishop Anthony Jordan, who died in 1982. Archbishop MacNeil himself was the celebrant for that Mass.

Complete Funeral Video (courtesy of Edmonton Catholic Schools)

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Edmonton bids farewell to Archbishop MacNeil

The BC Catholic

22 February 2018

By Chris Berthelot


St. Joseph’s Basilica in Edmonton was filled Feb. 16 for the funeral Mass for Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, who died at 93. He was Archbishop of Edmonton fro 26 years, retiring in 1999. (Grandin Media photo)

Beloved Archbishop of Edmonton. Shepherd of the Catholic faithful. Friend to everyone who met him.

This was how Archbishop Joseph MacNeil was remembered during a funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica on Feb. 16. Over 1,000 people from the archdiocese and across Canada came to say goodbye to Archbishop MacNeil, who died Feb. 11 after suffering a stroke. He was 93.

“His warm welcome, attentive listening, quick understanding, shared laughter or pain, gentle counsel, and faithful accompaniment assured us that, in his estimation, we were, indeed, his ‘very good friends,’” Archbishop Richard Smith said in his homily.

Archbishop Joseph MacNeil      (Robert Bray photo)

Archbishop MacNeil served as the fifth Archbishop of Edmonton for 26 years until retiring in 1999. As president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, he formally invited Pope St. John Paul II to Canada for a historic visit that included Edmonton. To this day a bronze plaque hangs in St. Joseph’s Basilica, depicting the two fathers of the Church together on that site.

Archbishop Richard Smith celebrated the funeral Mass with dozens of his brother priests and bishops, including Bishop Lionel Gendron, the current president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Robert Harris of the Diocese of Saint John, where Archbishop MacNeil first served as bishop.

In Rome, Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, who succeeded MacNeil as Archbishop of Edmonton, celebrated a Mass for him. Through the Vatican, Pope Francis shared an apostolic blessing for those mourning the beloved archbishop.

The last funeral for an archbishop of Edmonton was that of Archbishop Anthony Jordan, who died in 1982. Archbishop MacNeil himself was the celebrant for that Mass.

 ____________________________________________

Former archbishop Joseph MacNeil remembered for his love of people

MacNeil died Sunday in Edmonton at the age of 93

CBC News Edmonton

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 3:04 PM MT    Last Updated: Feb 12, 2018 3:04 PM MT

Tanara McLean

Former Archbishop Joseph MacNeil died Sunday at the Grey Nuns hospital after suffering a stroke.

Former Archbishop Joseph MacNeil died Sunday at the Grey Nuns hospital after suffering a stroke. (Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton)

Former archbishop Joseph MacNeil is being remembered as a man who took a keen interest in his parishioners and their lives.

“He knew people, he remembered their names, he could tell you where they were from, probably the name of their pet, the names of their cousins,” said Archbishop of Edmonton Richard Smith.

“He knew them through and through. And people knew that, and knew that because he knew them he loved them.”

The 93-year-old died Sunday at the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton.

Originally from Nova Scotia, MacNeil came to Edmonton in 1973. He served as archbishop until he retired in 1999.

“That’s a very long tenure by anybody’s measure,” said Smith. “He was a wonderful priest, a wonderful bishop with a great touch, especially close to young people.”

School named in his honour

Archbishop Joseph MacNeil Catholic School in Edmonton is named in his honour.

The school opened in 2003, and celebrated MacNeil’s birthday each spring.

“He would always refer to that school as his school,” said Smith.

“He took a particular interest and a possessiveness to that school, and the kids just loved him.”

Invitation to the Pope

​MacNeil served as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1979 to 1981.

While at the head of the group, he personally invited Pope John Paul II to Edmonton.

MacNeil’s invitation was accepted, and the pope came to Edmonton in 1984. That was the first trip to Canada by any leader of the Catholic ch

The archdiocese said two days of prayers and visitations will be held ​at St. Joseph Basilica beginning Feb. 15, followed by a funeral mass at noon on Feb. 16.

MacNeil will be buried in Edmonton at the Holy Cross cemetery.

 _______________________

Community mourns former Edmonton archbishop Joseph MacNeil

Joseph MacNeil, former Edmonton archbishop, is being remembered for his ‘social justice conscience’.

The Edmonton Journal

Published on: February 11, 2018 | Last Updated: February 11, 2018 7:46 PM MST

Archbishop of Edmonton Joseph MacNeil completed his 26-year term on Sept. 13, 1999. Ed Kaiser / Postmedia, file

A former Edmonton archbishop who was instrumental in organizing the first and only papal visit to the Alberta capital has died.

Joseph MacNeil, archbishop emeritus of Edmonton, died in Grey Nuns Hospital Sunday after suffering a stroke. He was 93.

“He was always so filled with joy,” Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton spokeswoman Lorraine Turchansky said in a telephone interview Sunday evening.

Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, left, accompanies Pope John Paul II at Namao Airport on Sept. 19, 1987. EDM

Originally from Nova Scotia, MacNeil moved to Alberta when he was appointed as the city’s archbishop in 1973. During his 26-year term, his own blue-collar roots, from when he worked in a steel plant during summers while at the seminary, led to an interest in workers’ rights, labour issues and causes of poverty, Turchansky said.

A passion for empowering lay people in the church motivated him to work as an advocate for reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

“He had a real social justice conscience,” she said.

In 1984, he was instrumental in arranging the visit of Pope John Paul II to the city.

Turchansky, who first met MacNeil a decade ago, said he’ll be missed for his remarkable character, as well as his great sense of humour.

“I can’t imagine the place without him walking in and teasing us, telling us a joke,” she said.

MacNeil retired in 1999 but remained involved in the church, at times filling in for the current archbishop and participating at other events.

In 2003, a newly opened elementary and junior high school in southwest Edmonton was named Archbishop Joseph MacNeil Catholic School. He had a gift for connecting with young people, and loved to visit the students at “his school” in southwest Edmonton, Turchansky said.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be made.

pparsons@postmedia.com

twitter.com/paigeeparsons

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Joseph Neil MACNEIL


MacNEIL, Archbishop Joseph Neil
1924 – 2018
Let Us Grow Together in Christ

Joseph Neil MacNeil was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, on April 15, 1924, the eldest of three children. He studied at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1944 before deciding to enter the Halifax diocesan seminary.
He was ordained as a priest on May 23, 1948, and spent the next seven years serving as assistant pastor in three Nova Scotia parishes.
Father MacNeil went on to obtain a Doctorate of Canon Law from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and in 1959 was named administrator of the Diocese of Antigonish following the death of the bishop. He then served a short time as pastor of St. Ninian’s Cathedral in Antigonish before being asked to direct the Extension Department at his alma mater, St. Francis Xavier University, a position he held for nine years.
He was appointed Bishop of Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1969 and installed on July 16 at the age of 45.
On September 5, 1973, he was installed as the fifth Archbishop of Edmonton, and served in that ministry until his retirement in 1999. Along the way, Archbishop MacNeil pursued graduate studies in economics at the University of Chicago and received Honorary Doctorates of Law from St. Francis Xavier University (1978), St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick (1980), and the University of Alberta, Edmonton (1982).
During his time in office, Archbishop MacNeil served as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1979 to 1981, and in that position extended the formal invitation to St. Pope John Paul II to visit Canada. He described the Pope’s visit to Edmonton as a highlight of his episcopacy.
Archbishop MacNeil was predeceased by his parents, John Martin MacNeil and Katie Alice McLean, and by his sister Rita. He is survived by his brother, Father Malcolm MacNeil and his nephew, Donald, both living in Halifax.
He will be remembered with profound gratitude by his brother bishops and priests, and many, many friends in the Archdiocese of Edmonton and across Canada.
Regular weekday Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica (10044 – 113 Street, Edmonton), presided by Archbishop Smith, will begin at 12:05 p.m. on Thursday, February 15, 2018. Following Mass, the casket carrying Archbishop Joseph MacNeil will be formally received into the Church. Those wishing to pay their respects may do so between 1:00 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Vigil Prayers, presided by Archbishop Smith, will begin at 7:00 p.m. followed by further visitation ending at 9:00 p.m.
The Funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica, presided by Archbishop Smith, will begin at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, February 16, 2018. Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, 14611 – Mark Messier Trail, Edmonton.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Archbishop Joseph MacNeil Endowment Fund, 8421-101 Ave NW Edmonton, AB T6A 0L1.
To send condolences, please visit www.connelly-mckinley.com

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