Msgr. Francis Patsula
EDMONTON – Although Msgr. Francis Patsula has never been a pastor, his goodwill and helpful contributions at two churches in the Edmonton Archdiocese for almost half a century are deeply valued.
Right from the start, in his early years as a priest, Patsula, now 81, was busy helping out in parishes. He was in Trochu for three months, the cathedral for two years and St. Patrick's for two years.
In 1959, he was set to become the parish priest at a new church in the Evansburg/Entwistle area.
However, before his anticipated appointment became official, Archbishop Anthony Jordan devised other plans for the young priest. Instead, Patsula continued a series of three-month stints, serving in Vermilion, Red Deer, Camrose and Mission City, before being asked to teach canon law at St. Joseph Seminary.
Patsula's assistance is still well-regarded in Sherwood Park, as he helped out at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish from 1965 until 1988.
"When I came here to Good Shepherd Parish in 1988, I told everyone that after 23 years in Sherwood Park, I guess I won't be here that long – but it's turned out to be even longer," said Patsula.
On Sept. 16, Good Shepherd Parish, in west Edmonton, honoured him for 24 years of service with a special farewell Mass. Coming from a family of 10 children, Patsula had many relatives attending the celebration as guests, including his 105-year-old mother.
"I came here to help out on weekends. At that time I was teaching canon law in the seminary, and I was also working as the judicial vicar, in charge of the marriage tribunal," explained Patsula.
Mostly he assisted the parish priest by celebrating one Mass per week, as well as helping with penitential services during Lent and Advent. Years ago, he also did Baptisms, weddings and funerals as called upon. Many parishioners turned to Patsula to confess their sins and to seek his guidance.
"I have enjoyed all of these places I've worked. I especially enjoyed my work here at Good Shepherd. It's been a nice parish to work in," said Patsula.
Due to advancing age and declining health Patsula said now is the time to fully retire from active ministry.
Aside from celebrating one Mass on Sundays, his gift has always been giving advice to others, but lately he has been too tired to conduct such priestly tasks anymore.
"In all these years, whether he was scheduled for Mass or not, he would be present, right at the first Mass, until all of the Masses were over, patiently waiting in the office," said Father John Reddy, Good Shepherd's pastor. "His presence is very great, and the people love him here."
What people admire most about Patsula are his gentle presence, sincere guidance and pastoral approach.
"He is missed already," said the pastor.