Canada’s newest and youngest Roman Catholic bishop-elect, Thomas Dowd, is a media savy priest who says his appointment as auxiliary bishop of Montreal signals a generational shift in the thinking of the church..
Nine years after becoming a priest, Dowd will be installed as a bishop at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral on Sept 10, the day before his 41st birthday. “There is the vocation, and then there is the job that comes with it,” Dowd told The Metropolitain. ”I have not yet received my assignment from the Cardinal, so I am not certain what my job will be. But clearly the challenge is going to be to communicate the faith to a society that is increasingly secularized, and to represent Christian tradition in a new way to people. The challenge is to reach out to people and accomplish pluralism. Dowd will become Canada’s youngest bishop, and the second youngest bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. Dowd admits his age and his inexperience was the first thing that came up when the pope’s representative in Ottawa asked him to take on the job earlier this month. “When he asked me to undertake the mission, he told me, ‘it is true you are young, but that is a defect that time will take care of.’ ” Dowd said with a chuckle.
For the past year Bishop-elect Dowd has been director of formation for the diocese and has attracted a faithful following for several years with his blog, Waiting for Joyful Hope. ‘The universal church is supposed to speak every language, so why not computer language?” he says. “It is good to have a fresh perspective on things.”
Dowd is expected to shoulder some of the workload now being done by Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte. Among his duties, Dowd will be responsible for the city’s 250,000 English-speaking Catholics who have been without a bishop of their own since Anthony Mancini left four years ago to become Archbishop of Halifax.
Before joining the priesthood, Dowd, majored at international business and minored in finance. By the time he wast 24, he was an executive at Ericsson Research Canada. Following theological studies at the Grand Seminary of Montreal Bishop-elect Dowd did pastoral work in four Montreal parishes, served as chaplain at Lakeshore General Hospital. and was associate director of the Office for Pastoral Personnel for the diocese. He also lectured at Concordia University and was an early innovator of web-based communication.