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Catholic Vancouver March 8, 2018

Priest was ‘filled with faith and vision’

By Agnieszka Ruck

Father Timothy McCarthy in an undated photo. Father McCarthy was likened to Mary Poppins for having a "spoonful of gentleness and kindness" in interactions with parishioners. (RCAV file photo)

VANCOUVER—A priest ordained halfway around the globe who made Vancouver his home has died at age 82.

Irish-born Father Timothy McCarthy, who spent most of his priestly career in the Lower Mainland, is being described as a gentle, patient man and the founding pastor of Christ the Redeemer Parish.

“He will be remembered as a gentleman who, as a priest, was filled with faith and vision,” said vicar general Father Gary Franken.

Father McCarthy was born in 1935 and raised in Cork, Ireland. He began studying for the priesthood in England in 1961 and ordained for the Archdiocese of Westminster.

He served there for six years until a visit to Vancouver in 1974 changed the course of his life; he met Archbishop James Carney and mentioned he was interested in Vancouver.

Archbishop Carney took him at his word, and with permission from his superiors in England, Father McCarthy landed in Vancouver in 1977. He began at St. Paul’s Parish in Richmond, where Father Bill Somerville was filling in for another priest while also juggling responsibilities at St. Jude’s and Notre Dame Secondary.

Father Somerville (now retired) had many happy memories with Father McCarthy. In a speech at Father McCarthy’s 25th anniversary of ordination, in 1994, Father Somerville compared him to the lovable protagonist of a popular musical.

“Father Tim’s approach to people has always reminded me of Mary Poppins – a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down – only with Father Tim, it was a spoonful of gentleness and kindness and patience.”

Father McCarthy went on to serve at Corpus Christi, St. Mary’s (Chilliwack), and St. Anthony’s. Then, in the 1990s, the archdiocese decided to split St. Anthony’s into two parishes, creating a second parish in West Vancouver: Christ the Redeemer.

Father McCarthy was its founding pastor, overseeing the completion of the church and rectory and establishing the local Knights of Columbus. He ended up serving there for nearly 20 years.

Msgr. Gregory Smith, current pastor of Christ the Redeemer, is grateful for Father McCarthy’s wisdom and vision.

“A week didn’t go by that I didn’t thank the Lord for Father Tim’s tremendous stewardship – when I became pastor I inherited a parish and school without debt, despite the recent reconstruction of St. Anthony’s school,” he said.

“Jesus was a carpenter by trade who identified himself as a shepherd, and Father Tim McCarthy was both: a builder and a pastor.”

After 29 years of active service in Vancouver, Father McCarthy retired in 2006. He served in replacement ministry and as a chaplain with the Apostleship of the Sea.

He died March 6, 2018. The funeral Mass is scheduled for Monday, March 12, at 11 a.m., at Christ the Redeemer.