Gentle Eminence

Gentle Eminence

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Gentle Eminence
    Book Description:

    His appointment as archbishop coincided with the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Inspired by the Vatican sessions he attended, he strove for the spiritual renewal of the people of his diocese, becoming a clear and constant voice of the Church in Canada and beyond.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6781-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)

    This volume is an eloquent and satisfying account of the life and record of a quite extraordinary Christian, churchman, scholar, and Canadian, His Eminence George Bernard Cardinal Flahiff. I regard it as a high privilege to offer a brief introduction to such a distinguished biography.

    When George Flahiff was consecrated Archbishop of Winnipeg in St Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto, on 31 May 1961, I had my first occasion to meet him. I attended in a representative capacity as Premier of Manitoba in the company of a large contingent of his well-wishers from that province. The ceremony, so expressive of the spiritual...

    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    P. W. P.
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-2)
    (pp. 3-7)

    In the city of Rome on 11 October 1971, in the presence of Pope Paul VI, a seven-minute speech was given which reverberated around the world and made the speaker a hero to some and something of a heretic to others. The occasion was a meeting of the Roman Catholic Synod of Bishops, whose members represented the Church throughout the world, and whose themes for this second synod of its kind were the Catholic priesthood and social justice. The person who gave the speech was a tall, dignified cardinal from western Canada. He was not speaking in his own name,...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Youth in the Sunshine
    (pp. 8-17)

    The contours and quiet beauty of Paris, Ontario, the prettiest town in Canada, as the “Parisians” have called it for generations, are much the same today as they were when George Bernard Flahiff was born there, in his father’s hotel, almost a century ago. The pretension of the town to a particular beauty was not unfounded; even today Paris maintains an aura of charm and peace in a busy, noisy world. The centre of the town lies on a level area between two rivers, the Nith and the Grand. From the centre the town rises gently to the east and...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Mind and the Heart
    (pp. 18-26)

    When George Flahiff went up to St Michael’s College in the University of Toronto in September 1922, he was not yet seventeen years of age. He was consistently a bit under the average age of his peers at the various stages of his life, finishing grade school at age eleven, five years of high school at sixteen, and graduating from university with an honours BA at twenty. But the sixteen-year-old who began university was already tall and well built. He was full of face, not yet characterized by the somewhat long countenance of later years which gave him a slightly...

  9. CHAPTER THREE A Parisian in Paris
    (pp. 27-34)

    Though Flahiff’s study venture in Europe began under the shadow of his father’s death, it was to be a time of adventure and enrichment for the young priest. He was not yet twenty-five when he set out for Strasbourg with his classmate and good friend, Terry McLaughlin. Professor Gilson¹ had directed him to go to the university there, because of his own attachment to a place where he had taught, because of persons there who would be of great help to the two future professors, and because of the growing reputation of the University of Strasbourg as one of the...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Professor and Pastor
    (pp. 35-44)

    The University of Toronto, to which George Flahiff returned in the summer of 1935, was a much smaller and more closely knit institution than the one we know today. In that year it enrolled some 7,984 students in its classes, libraries, colleges, and laboratories, that is to say, slightly less than one-fifth of the number it now has on the St George campus.¹ 1 In 1935 it was much easier to know the whole institution and to know the professors, even of departments and colleges widely different from one’s own field of study or teaching. The word “specialization” characterizes contemporary...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The Light Within and Without
    (pp. 45-52)

    What was animating and enlightening the popular professor of history who seemed to be so in harmony with life? Perceived to be a man of prayer, Flahiff had based his life on faith, finding in it the wellspring of all he did. His faith had come to him through the circumstances of his birth and had been fostered by his family. It seems never to have wavered or dimmed, but rather grew constantly by his own openness to the life of the spirit and by study and prayer. By the time he had become familiar and confident in his life...

  12. CHAPTER SIX As One Who Serves
    (pp. 53-67)

    At the General Chapter held at St Michael’s College in Toronto in July 1954, Flahiff was elected superior general of the Basilian Fathers. His election was not a surprise for he had been spoken of as a candidate for the office from the time six years previously when he had been elected to the General Council. During this time he became familiar with the government of the congregation as he fulfilled his duties as councillor. The election was neither difficult nor close: Flahiff received 71 per cent of the vote on the first ballot. There was general satisfaction throughout the...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN From Scholar to Shepherd
    (pp. 68-80)

    The announcement by Vatican Radio and the Canadian media on 15 March 1961 that Father George Flahiff had been named Archbishop of Winnipeg came as a surprise both to the Basilian community and to clerical, academic, and lay communities. It might be called “an expected surprise,” somewhat like the announcement of the death of a very sick person which, though clearly foreseen, is strangely surprising when it comes. For at least a decade, Flahiff had been mentioned here and there asepiscopabile,that is, a candidate for the episcopacy. The author remembers vividly one of the older priests of the...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT The Welcoming West
    (pp. 81-89)

    The new archbishop remained in Toronto for more than three weeks after his episcopal ordination, the date for taking possession of the See of Winnipeg having been set for 25 June 1961. This gave him time to recuperate from the consecration ceremony and the attendant festivities, and to write thank-you notes to various persons, a duty of first importance in Flahiff’s mind. He was still canonically superior general of the Basilian Fathers, and there was Basilian business to be taken care of, although, as we have noted, he was backed by able administrators in the persons of Joseph Wey and...

  15. CHAPTER NINE Rendezvous with History
    (pp. 90-104)

    Flahiff’s appointment as Archbishop of Winnipeg came at a time that was both crucial and propitious. Two years previously, in January 1959, Pope John XXIII had announced the Second Vatican Council, which was to be the most significant event in Flahiff’s life, next to that of being made a bishop. The council would change his thinking and his outlook, as it did for many. He was to have the privilege of participating in it actively. He was a person whose background in history and theology made him particularly apt to be a moving force in the council. He became what...

  16. CHAPTER TEN Born for Friendship
    (pp. 105-111)

    When the Second Vatican Council ended in December 1965, Flahiff had been a bishop for four and a half years. He had had the inestimable experience of an ecumenical council, of the universality of the Church, and of the hopefulness generated by Vatican II. His health was excellent, his outlook positive and optimistic. If the council had made the first years of his episcopacy abnormal, in that his attention had been divided between Rome and home, it had also inspired him with confidence and new vision. The lack of confidence he experienced in 1961 when he took on the pastoral...

  17. CHAPTER ELEVEN Pastoring on the Prairies
    (pp. 112-122)

    Some months into his new office as Archbishop of Winnipeg, Flahiff had occasion to visit Toronto briefly. A friend there asked him, “Will be home for Christmas?” to which he replied without hesitation, “Why, yes,” rather puzzled at the question. Then it dawned upon him that the friend was referring to Toronto as home while he himself meant Winnipeg. The spontaneity of his reply pleased him. Winnipeg now home, and he knew that was how it should be. It was characteristic of him to adjust to a new situation and to enter fully into it. No doubt he had his...

  18. CHAPTER TWELVE Red Alert at Midnight
    (pp. 123-134)

    Archbishop Flahiff returned home late on the evening of 27 March 1969, after a meeting with a group of priests, to find a telephone message which read: “Please call the Apostolic Delegate in Ottawa this evening, no matter how late the hour.” The archbishop dutifully put through the call, in spite of the fact that the hour was even later in Ottawa than it was in Winnipeg. The apostolic delegate, Archbishop Clarizio, answered the phone, thanked Flahiff for calling, and said: “The Holy Father has named thirty-five new cardinals; their names will be published tomorrow morning. The Archbishop of Winnipeg...

  19. CHAPTER THIRTEEN On the World Stage
    (pp. 135-142)

    George Flahiff was destined to play a greater role than that of a bishop of one particular diocese in Canada. Both in his own country and abroad his position, his talents, and his personality would call him to exert a wide influence. His frequent travelling gave credibility to the quip, “If you want to find the cardinal, go to the airport.” The circumstances that put him on the world stage were his being a cardinal, his membership in the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), his appointment to positions in the Roman Curia, his zeal for promoting the teaching of...

  20. CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Eminent Vision
    (pp. 143-157)

    George Flahiff believed that the world was good. This conviction accounts for his unfailingly positive and optimistic attitude in whatever he wrote or said. He came by this attitude connaturally; it had been fostered by his family, by his faith, as well as by his particular gift of openness to the world, to people, and to things. As his life unfolded, his belief in the goodness of things constantly illumined his thinking and his manners, it flowered in his ecumenism, in his respect for everyone, in his courage in the face of change or novelty, and in his optimism with...

  21. CHAPTER FIFTEEN The Making of Popes
    (pp. 158-169)

    On the beautiful sunny afternoon of 6 August 1978, Cardinal Flahiff was showing the Cathedral of St Boniface to two visitors from Toronto.¹ Just after they had visited the church and the tomb of Louis Riel in the churchyard, a young priest approached the cardinal and asked him to come into the cathedral rectory. A few minutes later the cardinal returned to his guests with the news that Pope Paul VI had died. This news effectively put an end to the visit. It also put an end to the cardinal’s plans for his own vacation in New York State to...

  22. CHAPTER SIXTEEN Resignation at Length
    (pp. 170-183)

    Cardinal Flahiff had been looking forward to the moment when he could submit his resignation as Archbishop of Winnipeg. As the years of his service wore on, the prospect of being free of the responsibilities and of returning to things he had known and loved looked more and more inviting. He did not, however, slow down in his zeal, but maintained the same generosity and thoroughness in his duties: the confirmation tours, the careful and prompt correspondence, the attention to his staff and his priests, and the numerous public appearances and functions which formed so great a part of his...

  23. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Sunset and the Sorrow
    (pp. 184-196)

    The cardinal was warmly welcomed into the community at the University of St Michael’s College. He was home in a very real sense, and he was among brothers and friends. His accommodation at the college was the best the Basilians had, though it was far from palatial. He was given a suite in the Charbonnel wing of Elmsley Hall, which consisted of a sitting-room with bedroom and bath. He was also provided with an office on the first floor of the same wing. The landing the staircase between the two floors opened onto a small chapel which proved convenient for...

    (pp. 197-202)

    Cardinal Flahiff’s funeral mass took place in a packed St Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto, on Monday, 28 August 1989. There were twenty bishops present, with the apostolic pro-nuncio representing Pope John Paul II. Notable among the civic dignitaries was the former lieutenant-governor of Ontario, Pauline McGibbon, who had been a personal friend of Flahiff. Cardinal Carter presided; his brother, Bishop Alexander Carter, gave the homily. The Gospel was read from Matthew 5:1-12, the proclamation of the beatitudes. Bishop Carter pointed out how this charter of the Christian life was realized in Flahiff: poverty of spirit, meekness, mercy, purity of heart, peace-making,...

  25. NOTES
    (pp. 203-220)
    (pp. 221-222)
  27. APPENDIX A Chronology of the Life of george Bernard Flahiff
    (pp. 223-224)
  28. APPENDIX B Honorary Degrees and Other Honours
    (pp. 225-226)
  29. APPENDIX C Terminology
    (pp. 227-228)
  30. INDEX
    (pp. 229-233)