WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN
St. Paul Bishop Paul Terrio incenses the coffin of Fr. Gilbert Dasna at the slain priest's funeral May 19.
Father Gilbert Dasna was slain in the rectory of the St. Paul Cathedral after answering a doorbell that others would have ignored, said St. Paul Bishop Paul Terrio.
Dasna went to the door at 6 p.m. on a Friday because his conscience told him that was the right thing to do, Terrio said in his homily at the murdered priest's funeral May 19.
"I know some pastors who would have all kinds of reasons for not answering the doorbell on Friday evening at six o'clock," he said.
Dasna, the bishop said, "was a good shepherd after the example of Jesus Christ himself."
Mourners filled the cathedral in St. Paul to pray for the 32-year-old, joy-filled priest who came from Cameroon three years ago only to be gunned down after opening the rectory door during the supper hour May 9.
RCMP say the priest was likely killed by John Carlo Quadros, manager of a local health food store, who himself was killed in a gun battle with police an hour after Dasna was shot multiple times in the chest.
Priests and deacons, a Knights of Columbus honour guard, a children's choir, an adult choir and the McGilvery aboriginal drummers from Saddle Lake all played a role in the funeral liturgy.
Terrio said the Gospel on Sunday, May 18 recounted how Jesus told his disciples that there are many rooms in his Father's house.
"I can imagine Father Gilbert appearing at the house of the Father with its many rooms," the bishop said. "I also can imagine Father Gilbert asking Jesus if there is also room for another man from St. Paul.
"We pray for Father Gilbert, but we also pray for that other man of St. Paul who died within an hour of Father Gilbert. We do so because that is what the Good Shepherd would have us do."
The Church community also prays for the three RCMP officers who were injured in the gun battle and for their families, he said.
Terrio said that a year ago he discussed a possible pastoral assignment with Dasna but warned him that it could include some difficulties and dangers. "But he said, 'Oh bishop! As a priest, I'm ready to lay down my life for my people.'"
WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN
The McGilvery drummers from Saddle Lake played a memorial song, End of the Trail, following the funeral.
Several people told the WCR that Dasna exuded joy and a great love for those he served, and that he revitalized Sacred Heart Parish at Sadddle Lake, bringing many people on the reserve back to active participation in the life of the Church. (See story on the back page.)
In a brief interview, Terrio said that Dasna was highly regarded by his religious order, the Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy. He had been selected to represent those priests who had been ordained less than five years at the order's general chapter in the fall.
The people at Saddle Lake and its mission at Goodfish Lake thanked the bishop for assigning Dasna to their parish because he was so affirming, faithful and joyful, Terrio said.
He chose to use the Scripture readings from Good Shepherd Sunday, which fell two days after Dasna's murder, because the priest was himself a good shepherd.
In his homily, the bishop said Dasna was a good priest because he listened to the voice of Jesus. "Father Gilbert was a good shepherd because he himself listened to the voice of Christ in his conscience."
Dennis Lamoureux, a St. Paul lawyer, gave some words of remembrance prior to the funeral Mass.
The African priest enjoyed learning about Canadian customs and culture, Lamoureux said. "He accepted and loved all the people he served.
"Father Gilbert gave us the example of simply accepting one another, the first step in learning to better love one another."