Deacon Christopher Dubois will be ordained a priest July 3 for the Winnipeg Archdiocese.

WCR PHOTO | THANDIWE KONGUAVI

Deacon Christopher Dubois will be ordained a priest July 3 for the Winnipeg Archdiocese.

May 18, 2015
THANDIWE KONGUAVI
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

When Father Dominic Yuen first met Christopher Dubois, he could tell there was a special calling on the young university student's life.

A political science major attending Brandon University at the time, Dubois, the eldest of five children – two younger sisters and two younger brothers – was thinking of following in his father's footsteps and becoming a lawyer.

Yuen had a feeling that the Manitoba boy might be called to be a priest.

Turns out, he was right.

On July 3, Dubois, 27, a seminarian at Edmonton's St. Joseph Seminary, will be ordained to the priesthood at St. Mary's Cathedral in Winnipeg.

Dubois credits Yuen as the priest who had the biggest impact on his vocational discernment.

The pastor spotted Dubois going to morning Mass at St. Augustine of Canterbury Church in Brandon. He took an interest in Dubois, who stood out as one of the few young people regularly attending morning Mass.

"He was one of the more dedicated ones that would come," said Yuen, who is now pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Winnipeg. In his experience, Yuen said he has often found that when a young man dedicates himself to coming to Mass, it is an indication that there is some interest in experiencing more of God.

"I don't really think that in the early stages a young man is thinking 'OK, I'm going to become a priest.'

"But when you see that there's an attractiveness to the Church and an attractiveness to Christ then you can kind of think 'Hmm, maybe there is a vocation there, maybe this person might be interested in giving his life completely to the Lord.'"

Yuen was not the first to sense that Dubois was being called. At age eight, Dubois looked up to Msgr. Louis McClosky, who was the first person to ask if he ever had thoughts of becoming a priest.

PRIEST IN THE FAMILY

St. Augustine of Canterbury, his family's home parish, played an important role in their lives. His paternal grandmother's brother was a priest. So with his dad having grown up around priests, it was natural for them to have priests over for supper often or to golf with them.

"We had a good relationship with the priests and the nuns in Brandon," said Dubois, who added that this "certainly" played a part in his earliest thoughts of one day becoming a priest himself.

"You see these guys in kind of a different light when you get to know them," he said. "You see that human side you know, that they're people.

"Sometimes they get frustrated. Sometimes they're tired. But at the same time, you see that really joyful witness. You see that loving heart, that serving attitude, and it can't help but inspire you."

OVERWHELMING HOLINESS

However, Dubois also saw the kind of prayer life the religious had. The holiness he saw in them overwhelmed him to the point where he abandoned his aspirations of ever being counted among them.

"You do get a sense of your own sinfulness, your own unworthiness, your own inadequacies, and that's a little bit scary," he recalled. "I think that was one of the things that kind of weighed on me a little bit: 'Priesthood's for all those holy guys. I'm not good enough. I'm not holy enough for that.'

"You feel your own inadequacies a bit and sometimes the devil kind of uses that against you and it kind of makes it a little harder to discern."

ADVISES OTHERS

Because of his own experience, Dubois often gives advice to other young men who may be battling similar doubts.

He reminds them that when the Lord met Peter, he invited Peter to follow him.

"Peter's response was 'Get away from me Lord, I'm a sinful man.' But God knows we're sinners. He knows we're weak and he calls us anyways," said Dubois.

"Because he knows what he could do with us, he knows the kind of transformation that could take place in us; he knows the amazing things we can do if we cooperate with his grace.

"So I encourage guys that if you're feeling 'God couldn't be calling me to be a priest because you know, I'm not perfect, I'm weak, I'm a sinner,' he knows that and he's calling you anyways so do not be afraid. Do not be held back by that."

Archbishop Richard Gagnon, who was appointed archbishop of Winnipeg in 2013, arrived in the diocese when Dubois was already at St. Joseph Seminary.

As per protocol when a new bishop arrives, Gagnon met with Dubois and his fellow seminarian Peter Nemcek, who is also scheduled to be ordained this year, and assessed their progress.

"I found them to be two bright young men who are certainly serious about their vocational call," said Gagnon.

In 2014, the archbishop ordained Dubois and Nemcek to the diaconate, and this year, he gave approval for them to go forward in Holy Orders and be ordained to the priesthood.