Sunday, January 10, 2010

Father Sam's First Parish as Pastor

St. Philips in Petrolia et al

On April 5, 1972 the Ridgetown Independent News published this article on a favourite son.  Note the tone of the article as well as its content.  I cannot imagine that our enlightened and politically correct newspaper folks would write with this kind of style today, and they sure would not use this content in a secular newspaper.  But, it is a pretty good measure of the man, circa 1972, and he's pretty much just an older version of that same man, 38 years later.
On January 1, 1972 Rev. Martin C. Johnston became pastor of St. Philip's in Petrolia and the missions of St. Anne's in Oil Springs and Holy Rosary in Wyoming. It was the first time Father Johnston had been assigned a pastorate.

Rev. Fr. Martin Johnston is the son of Mrs. F. R. Johnston of 16 Hazel Street South, Ridgetown.

An article on Father Johnston recently appeared in the Petrolia Advertiser - Topic which is of interest to many in Ridgetown who are closely following the young priest's career.

Since the first of this year the Roman Catholic community in and around Petrolia has had a new pastor.

Taking over from Father Wm. Farrell at St. Philip's and at the missions of St. Anne's in Oil Springs and Holy Rosary in Wyoming, is Father Martin C. Johnston, a former elementary school teacher, who became a priest ten years ago.

Father Johnston is originally from Ridgetown where he received his elementary school education.  He attended high school in Kitchener and Toronto and took his grade 13 at the Junior Seminary in St.Mary's.

He graduated from London Teacher's College in 1951 and following that he taught for four years in one-room country schools in Amherstburg and Harrow - - a teaching stint which Father Johnston says he thoroughly enjoyed.

He then entered St. Peter's Seminary in London, graduating in 1962.  In the past decade he has served at St. Gabriel's and St. Theresa's in Windsor and St. Martin's in London.

He became pastor for the first time in Petrolia on Jan. 1.

Father Johnston is very much into the new Catholic Pentecostal movement which took root at Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit in Pennsylvania about five years ago, and has since spread rapidly throughout the United States and Canada, with the sanction of the Church hierarchy.

Father Johnston hopes to expose his parishioners to the "charismatic renewal" which one morning two years ago brought him "excitement, peace and joy," to an extent he has never known before and which has never left him.

"Charisms," Father Johnston explains, "are love gifts from the Holy Spirit which manifest to people that God is a very intimate part of their lives."

Charisms were given for the first time to the Apostles on the feast of Pentecost, as is related in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.

These gifts include speaking with wisdom, and knowledge, miracles, healings, prophecy, discernment of spirits, praying in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.

All are not given the same gifts," Father Johnston notes. "Different gifts are for different services."

However, Father Johnston has encountered some individuals who have double gifts, such as the gift of "speaking in tongues" (praising God in a foreign language unknown to the speaker, or in a flow of indiscernible syllables) and the gift of prophecy.

"These gifts come suddenly," he says.  "They present themselves through community prayer."

Father Johnston believes that through charismatic renewal the "loving kind of community that was obvious in the early church" can be realized today.  "But this kind of community has to build slowly."

While this renewal is meant for everyone, Father Johnston believes in starting with the young people of his church, whom he found to be particularly receptive to this movement which offers them the opportunity to "get high on Christ."

With time, Father Johnston hopes to see the movement catch on with all generations and all denominations.

"Charismatic renewal is one of the ways God is touching us today.  "It is not a passing fad," he says.  "It will stay with people.  They are participating in it and it is or everybody, no matter what religion, age or past.  It will be a great source of unity."

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