October 20, 2014

Two young Edmonton priests have been appointed chaplains of the Edmonton Catholic School District to replace the late Father Michael Mireau.

Father Dean Dowle, adjunct judicial vicar of the Alberta Interdiocesan Tribunal, and Father Julian Bilyj, a Ukrainian Catholic priest and school teacher, were appointed to their new positions Oct. 9. They will begin their duties as chaplains Oct. 27.

Dowle, 32, was born in Edmonton, raised in Fort Saskatchewan and ordained to the priesthood in 2010. He served in parish ministry at St. Theresa's Parish and St. Joseph's Basilica before beginning graduate studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa.

He will continue to serve as judicial vicar at the tribunal, a ministry he began this year after completing his licentiate in canon law.

Dowle has said he is looking forward to serve as a chaplain. "I consider it a privilege, a humble honour and, most of all, a sincere joy to be able to serve the students, staff, parents and trustees of Edmonton Catholic School," he said Oct. 9.

Bilyj, a teacher at St. Lucy School, was surprised with his appointment but feels ready to take on the challenge.

"This is definitely a good appointment," he told the WCR Oct. 10. "I think it's going to be great for me.

"Instead of just being at one school teaching Grade 5, I will be actually able to evangelize all across the Edmonton Catholic School District."

Bilyj's plan as a chaplain is "just to be present to the students. I think the presence of a priest in a school is definitely a great way to evangelize.

"It's great to be able to say to the students 'we are here for you, to be with you, to pray with you, to talk to you and to point you in the right direction, which is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

Bilyj, 38, will cease to teach as soon as he begins his duties as chaplain. However, he will continue to serve the Ukrainian Eparchy in his role as pastor of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Ottewell area.

Bilyj and his wife delight in spending time as a family with their two children Julia, 12, and Matthew, nine.

He is inspired by the words of St. Isaac the Syrian, "Thirst after Jesus, and he will satisfy you with his love."

Biljy said he looks upon these words as his mission. "So when the students feel thirsty for God, I'm going to help them. I'm going to guide them so that they can be satisfied with his love."

Dowle will serve the district as a whole and will be based at St. Francis Xavier High School. Bilyj will be based at St. Lucy, the school where he has taught for the past year.