By: Jamie Neugebauer Courtesy of https://www.notredame.ca/news
There will never be anyone who could come close to filling Père Murray’s shoes, but Parker Love is committed to doing his best to do justice to the one job that might have meant the most to him: the Parish Priest of St. Augustine’s Church on campus.
The gravity of that particular role is not lost on Father Love.
“For sure the role of the priest out here is intimidating because it is a huge history,” says Love, at a table in Varsity Hall.
“The fact that I get to be part of that tradition is really cool, and there have been tons of great priests out here even besides Père. He was here the longest, and obviously had the biggest impact, but yeah, it’s a huge thing for me to walk a little tiny bit in his shoes.”
Love, 31, is a native of Regina and was ordained to the Priesthood out of Seminary in Edmonton only this past summer, 2019. While there were a number of possible destinations that the Bishop of Regina and Love were considering together, it was the opening at ND that truly captured his heart and imagination.
“(The Bishop) and I met at Christmas in my last year at the Seminary, when it was pretty clear that I would be ordained to the priesthood, and he threw out a couple of possibilities,” says Love.
“I said well, at Notre Dame I could watch hockey and do ministry, so that sounds like a pretty good deal to me! I had also heard a lot about Père Murray, and had done a paper on him in my Canadian Church History class, and was really inspired by the story of the College here, so when he threw that out as one of the options, it was definitely the one that stood out for me, and the Bishop was on board as well.”
That all being said, it was not as simple as just saying ‘yes’ to the Notre Dame job, as Love, who suffered paralysis of his spinal cord as a result of a mountain biking accident in 2012, had to ensure that the campus was accessible enough for him to live and serve.
All was confirmed in short order, though, as through consultation with school President Rob Palmarin, and Love’s own father, it was decided that he would not live in the parish’s rectory and that the necessary adjustments could and would be made to accommodate his duties around campus.
To his great credit, Father Love’s attitude surrounding the handicap is incredibly positive, and he is not hesitant in any way to talk about it.
“One of the greatest things it taught me,” he says, “is to grow in my dependence on God.”
“I look back at who I was before the accident, even after coming to faith, and thinking that I could do and serve God on my own, with my own intellect and charisma, and I did not realize how every moment of my life is dependent on him, for every gift I had. Every moment is an invitation to lean on God. I thought about not wanting to be a priest anymore, and even considered my faith, but then I realized that I was empowered by depending on God.”
Father Love’s role on campus is first and foremost to serve Roman Catholic Mass at the Church, but with the students and many of the faculty as his parishioners, he also sees it as his duty and joy, to build meaningful relationships around the school, and in Wilcox in general.
While the desire to see spiritual faith blossom and grow in the lives of those around him at the school is not absent, Father Love sees the inspiration of a deeper understanding and appreciation of love in general as almost equally critical.
“I treat the kids all the same, regardless of whether they are Catholic or not,” he says.
“I make no assumptions about what they do or don’t know, and my mission is to share the love of God in whatever way is the most fruitful in their life. If I can inspire any of the kids to even be a better person in general…if I don’t move people to God, but I move them to understand love better, then I’d be happy with that.”
Page URL: http://archregina.sk.ca/news/2019/12/19/father-parker-love-embracing-p%C3%A8re%E2%80%99s-legacy-st-augustine%E2%80%99s-church