Friday, 21 April 2017


I came to Toronto, Canada on Wednesday for a week to visit my friends Wim and Sharon whose wedding I celebrated 21 years ago at the Temple of the Winds at Mountstewart in County Down.

We have kept in touch all the years and I have visited them twice in Canada and they have visited me more often.

Wim, who is an airline captain, sent me a ticket for this trip that he had earned with his enormous airmiles.

Wim (70) has had an amazing career. He was born in The Netherlands and joined the Dutch Airforce. Then he moved to Canada and joined the Canadian Airforce. For a number of years he was the personal pilot to the prime minister of Canada.

He then switched to commercial airlines for a number of years and how he pilots a corporate jet for businness people.

We met because he and Sharon were contracted to Airtours Belfast for a few summers to fly passengers from Belfast to holiday destinations like Spain and Turkey.

They wanted to marry in Ireland and were finding it hard to get someone to conduct their ceremony. Their neighbour in Lisburn suggested me. And everything else is history.

Wim is a deeply spiritual man in the non-denominational sense and we have always had deep conversations about things spiritual. 

It has been a bit hectic since I arrived on Wednesday. 

One of the very pleasant things we did was to visit a man called Danny Morrison (87) in his nursing home. He is quite disabled after a stroke but of late he has been writing a book about his many years as a bosun in the Merchant Navy.

There was not a lot I copuld do for Danny. But I found out that he liked the poems of Robert W Service and I read to him the long poem: THE CREMATION OF SAM MAGEE.

Later Wim and Sharon brought me the 90 minute drive into Toronto to have dinner at the revolving restaurant at the top of the CN Tower.

Friday was Sharon's birthday and I treated them to a meal at a nearby Greek restaurant.

Wim had taken a week off from flying to spend with me. He got one emergency call out to fly an organ for transplantation from Toronto to Vancouver - a 5 hour flight each way. I thought that such an important and awe inspiring mission.

Today (Sunday) we are travelling the 5 hours by road to Ottawa where Wim and Sharon have a holiday cottage and where Wim's three children live for a family birthday and reunion.

Also on the list is a large bar-b-que with Wim and Sharon's airline colleages - many of whom attended their wedding 21 years ago.

It's good to get a holiday and a break - especially with treasured friends.

Wim had arranged with his airline to be free for the week I am here. However he got an amergency call out to fly a donated organ from Toronto to Vancouver in his Hawker corporate jet. What a wonderful to be able to do. 

A timely reminder that it is not only priests who are always on call.

But I never regard myself as being "on holiday" from the priesthood. There are always people in airports and on planes to minister to in even tiny little ways.

I am not surgically attached to my clerical collar but I wear it a lot for 2 reasons:

1. To be an obvious witness as a priest.

2. To be available if anyone needs anyone.

Some of the most meaningful pastoral opportunities have happened to me on journies. 

Priests should not be 9 - 5 men.

They should be available 27/7/365 in my opinion.

Greeting to all my loyal readers from Canada.

It's also right to have a good news blog and take a day away from church and clerical scandals :-)


  1. Bishop Pat, you are a truly good and amazing man. Would you have been such had you remained bound to the chains of that stinking whore, institutional Roman Catholicism ? Only YOU can answer this.

    1. I think my ministry would have been limited?

      I may also have been affected by the spirit if clerical cynicism?

  2. MournemanMichael23 April 2017 at 00:42

    Good and more power to your elbow Pat. Good to know you're appreciated by people of intelligence and ability.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Never heard such arrogant bullshit from MMM at 00.42, too much whisky I think at that late hour. So people of low intelligence or ability do not appreciate Pat MMM? This is the type of snobbery and intellectual elitism on this blog that's turning me off it personally. Only the views of the ''self professed" intellectuals count and matter on here, Pat seems happy in going along with this Hogwash. I'm glad you surround yourself Pat with those who have intelligence and ability, heaven forbid you or your few select daily contributors, like Magna and MMM lower yourselves to the ordinary man or woman on the street.

    2. I dont think MMM meant it that way.

      And I hope you know that I am a very ordinary man who is at home with ordinary folk?

      I am the oldest of 17 kids and was brought up in a working class and poor family.

      I spend my life with a variety of folk.

    3. MourneManMichael23 April 2017 at 13:42

      Anon @ 06:34: my reference to people of intelligence and ability was specific to Wim. Pat describes him as having had an amazing career, and now, still flying at 70 doing urgent transport for medical purposes.
      The fact that Wim has arranged for Pat to visit him in Canada certainly shows that Pat is appreciated by Wim, an obviously intelligent man of considerable ability. I felt it worth commenting on that evident reality. Perhaps it might be worth your while considering why you apparantly chose to interpret my comment otherwise?

    4. MMM Re 6.34 I believe some people may be sad. How can an ordinary comment provoke such negativity

  3. Have a nice time. You deserve a break. It's good to keep in touch with some folk. I found I have moved on allowing many from my past to get on with their lives. I have some family I keep in touch with. Many have passed away. I always pray for those from my past. The people who have supported me and those whom I have hurt

  4. Aw Pat really happy about todays blog i am really happy reading it that you are away finally on holdiays love it well done pat , more power to you you jet setter

  5. Have a safe journey home, Pat but first enjoy the remainder of your holiday.
    (The battle-scarred on your recent blogs will benefit from a day or two on their verbal ceasefire... I hope!)

  6. Its 7am here - 12 noon UK.

    Just off to Ottowa to visit Wim's children / grandchildren.

    5 hour drive.

    Greeting to you all.

  7. It was a lovely Eucharist in the Oratory today, the stranger in town with his kids was welcomed and just to let you know the cat didn't get at any dinner out of the cage no matter how much it wanted it.
    But at lease it was dry in Larne today.