Father Allore enjoys scientific pursuits while serving the Lord
By Karen Murphy Corr
Special to The B.C. Catholic
The new pastor at St. Mark's Parish at UBC is committed to promoting ongoing dialogue between the voices of science and faith.
"It's good to be able to do the science and serve the Church," said Father Robert Allore, SJ, a geneticist whose work has focused on questions relating to the development of the nervous system.
"Genetics is pretty active these days. I hope to help individuals navigate the meaning of genetic information in our age, to know that science does not have to be separate from faith, to help them understand what meaning this information has for their life plan."
Father Allore grew up in Belleville, Ont., the third of 10 children. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Ottawa before pursuing graduate work and a PhD in immunology at the University of Toronto.
"I went from medical research to the Jesuits," he said. "It was primarily that I thought they'd know what to do with the science."
He entered the Society of Jesus in 1990 and was ordained in 2001. Before moving to Vancouver in January, Father Allore lectured for the U of T biology department, helped with pastoral activities at the university's Newman Centre, and conducted medical research at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
"I was in the lab the day I left Toronto, and St. Mark's just became a parish the day I arrived. It's been busy, and thankfully I have a great assistant pastor and team," he said with a wry chuckle.
"I'm doing my best to serve joyfully, and I know freer time will come for me to explore more. At least I can see the mountains everyone has been telling me about now that the fog is lifting."
His assistant pastor and fellow Jesuit, Father John W. McCarthy, is a forest ecologist. He said Father Allore transitioned smoothly not only to their pastoral team but also to the neighbourhood near UBC.
"I think he's the only priest in the archdiocese with a ponytail. He fits right in out here near Kitsilano," he joked. "We work well together. It's great for us to be of service to the student community and continue our research."
While there isn't much time for recreation between science and parish work, Father Allore does enjoy watching hockey.
"I'm a fan of God's hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens," he laughed, "and lacrosse, Canada's other national sport. I used to play a pretty good game of both. With my brothers and sisters we had enough for two lines in hockey, but I haven't played in a long while."
While the new pastor studies the nervous system using worms and his assistant pastor specializes in lichen, both like to walk in what little spare time they have between their duties with science and faith.
Father Allore said he looks forward to exploring the trails and seaside paths of Vancouver and the North Shore. His assistant, an avid hiker, hopes to introduce Father Allore to the Grouse Grind and more challenging excursions.
"He's an urban walker yet. We just have to get him some good equipment and training."