By Maria Dalgarno
Ordained on June 3, 1939, Monsignor Vincent Foy has to be one of the very few priests in Canada to celebrate his 75th anniversary of ordination to Christ’s holy priesthood.
Speaking about the early days of his vocation, he recalls, “In 1933, I entered St. Augustine’s Seminary, in the last class admitted by Archbishop Neil McNeil, who died in May of 1934”; Monsignor is the only surviving priest of the class of ’39.
The Apostolic Nuncio of Canada, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, sent a message of “prayerful greetings” on behalf of Pope Francis, and writes: “…he [The Pope] assures you of his closeness in communion and in prayer as you mark what is surely a unique and historic moment in the life of the Archdiocese of Toronto and indeed, for the entire Church.”
The Nuncio continued, “Since the day of your Ordination, June 3, 1939, you have served under five archbishops giving to each that loyalty and obedience which you pledged to Archbishop (later Cardinal) McGuigan before the High Altar of St. Michael’s Cathedral so many years ago. You have generously accepted the various offices and appointments assigned, carrying them out with great dedication and zeal…You have been especially committed to providing a vigour and invaluable defense of the great and prophetic Encyclical Letter of the Servant of God, Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae. Through your valiant efforts, dear Msgr. Vincent, may more and more people come to know its liberating truths and the great benefits and blessings that come from living in accord with its teaching. May the celebrations marking your Seventy-Fifth Anniversary also inspire many young men to answer the call of the Master and ascend to the altar of God who gives exceeding joy (cf. Ps 43).”
Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, preached at a Mass, celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in honor of the Canadian priest, in St. Lawrence the Martyr church in the city. Joseph DeCaria, Pontifical Master of Ceremonies for the Mass said that “a great part of Monsignor’s ministry as a priest has been spent defending the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death…”
Among the many ways Msgr. Foy served the Church were as a canon lawyer (he is a founder and honorary member of the Canadian Canon Law Society); as parish priest; Vice-Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Toronto; Director of Catechetics; Secretary of the Toronto Regional Marriage Tribunal and later Defender of the Bond and Judge. Pope Pius XII named him a Domestic Prelate. Above all however he has been a tireless beacon of light in his ministry to the families especially in the area of contraception – which became the focal point of his life as a priest.
Many lives have been touched and changed because of his fidelity and defense of the Teachings of the Church in a time marked with chaos; “I was in my fifties when Humanae vitae was released and I will be one-hundred years old next year. My work in the Marriage Court proved to me that the contraceptive mentality would destroy the Church locally and it has led to a suicidal birth rate. Catholics are called to give assent to the magisterial authority of the Pope. The authority of the Church has always condemned contraception. I have always accepted the moral authority of the Pope. I have upheld the Church’s teaching in instructing young people in my sermons, confessional advise, marriage preparation, spiritual direction, and in my writings and on my website. The fruit I intended is the salvation and sanctification of souls. We are all called to holiness. I see the contraceptive mentality, resulting in the suicidal birthrate, as the greatest threat to the Church in Canada today.”
“For me the upcoming sanctification of Servant of God Pope Paul VI means…a vindication of Humanae Vitae. Pope Paul VI repeated three times in his last sermon, at which I was present, “I did not betray the truth.”
Canadian columnist and Editor-in-Chief of Convivum Magazine, Father Raymond J.de Souza, pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Kingston, writes, “Monsignor Foy’s fidelity prevailed when the Canadian Bishops consigned the Winnipeg Statement to history with a new document celebrating Humanae Vitae’s 40th anniversary, entitled, ‘Liberating Potential’, which called upon Catholics to “discover or rediscover” the wisdom of Paul VI and the Church Tradition.”
Jim Hughes, National President, of Campaign Life Coalition, organizers of the annual Canadian March for Life, has known Monsignor Foy for many years. He said he has referred many people to Msgr. Foy for Church teaching especially regarding Humanae Vitae. Father Neil J. Roy, S.T.L., Ph.D., a priest of the Diocese of Peterborough, and currently the Montfort lecturer at the Saint Benedict Centre, Still River MA., who has known the priest since 1966, carries many memories of his life including “the reverence that he brought even to the distribution of Holy Communion (which) was a living catechesis in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament…his comportment was always priestly, dignified…” “With age I came to appreciate Msgr. Foy’s real heroism in carrying out with fidelity his priestly duties, particularly in the tumult of ideologies and novelties that marked the late 1960s and 1970s. As pressure mounted from the ambient culture to adopt attitudes and practices that the Church had steadfastly resisted, Msgr. Foy provided his parishioners with ample doctrinal clarity and sound pastoral counsel to assist them on their pilgrimage of faith.”
And Monsignor Foy’s thoughts at the end of this most blessed day?
“On arriving at this day – the joy of the priesthood, the Love of God, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and Our Blessed Mother, give me great happiness.” …
“I had my rosary blessed by Pope Paul VI and served as Eucharistic minister at his funeral. Just before the coffin was closed, I touched my rosary to his hand. I had my rosary blessed by Pope John Paul I and again touched it to his hand, when I served as Eucharistic minister at his funeral. I served at the first Mass of Pope John Paul II and my rosary was blessed by him. I hope to be buried with that rosary…something tells me I should pack my bags.”
On the Net:
Monsignor’s Web site: www.msgrfoy.com