Written for the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence Newsletter:
On June 3, 2015, I celebrated my 76th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood and on August 14, 2015, I celebrated my 100th birthday. In light of this, I was asked to submit something for the Providence newsletter.
I am now the longest-ordained diocesan priest ever in the history of the Archdiocese of Toronto (and possibly in Canada) and the oldest diocesan priest in the history of the Archdiocese of Toronto (Source: “A Calendar of the Deceased Bishops, Priests and Deacons of the Archdiocese of Toronto”).
Since 2010, after six months in the hospital on feeding tubes and recovering from five surgeries in one month, I have been a resident at the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence. I enjoy living alongside other priests and laity. I am very grateful for all the Providence Healthcare staff, volunteers and residents have done for me.
At Providence, I am able to continue to live my number one joy: daily, I can celebrate Mass with the other priests for the residents in the chapel here. I am also grateful that there is a chapel on my floor.
I am possibly the least likely of my graduating class of priests to survive. I was near death on many occasions.
In the 1940s, I contracted a case of tuberculosis that left me out of commission for over two years. I once came close to dying of pneumonia but was saved by the new medication (penicillin) administered every four hours for ten days. When I was on vacation as a young priest, I was involved in a serious car accident but narrowly avoided hitting a tree. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if someone hadn’t saved me and my cousin from a runaway raft while we were playing in Lake Simcoe as young boys. I once changed my plans and missed a plane crash. In 2009, I was on and off life support several times. I’ve had tracheotomy and feeding tube reversals.
Against the odds, I lived a long life and have been able to serve God and the Church.
I experienced a variety of priestly duties. With a doctorate in Canon Law, I spent time working in the Archdiocese of Toronto’s marriage tribunal, served as Vice Chancellor, Director of Catechetics, pastored a number of parishes, was chaplain of several groups and spiritual advisor. I co-founded the Canadian Canon Law Society. For many years, I was the head of the Provincial matrimonial tribunal.
While I was working at the Marriage Tribunal, an archbishop from Rome visited Toronto and asked for a tour of the tribunal. Years later, he became Pope Paul VI. I like to joke that if I had known he was going to be the pope, I would have offered him a cup of coffee!
I have also tried to be an advocate of life and the pro-life cause. In June of 2015, Eternal Word Television Network premiered a documentary on my life (Monsignor Vincent Foy: Champion for Life).
About 90 years ago, I was going to lose my mother to double pneumonia. She was fighting for her life at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital after giving birth to my sister Doreen. I begged God to spare her life. “If my mother recovers,” I prayed, “I will do my best to become a priest.” My mother recovered and I remained true to my promise; a promise that I kept a secret for the duration of my mother’s life.
During my priesthood, saying Mass has been my greatest joy.
Some of my writings can be found at: “The Selected Writings of Msgr. Vincent Foy”: http://www.msgrfoy.com.