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Alumnus poised to become Canada's youngest bishop

Father Thomas Dowd, a part-time lecturer in Concordia's Department of Theological Studies, is a pioneer in using social media in the church.
September 1, 2011
By Liz Crompton

Father Thomas Dowd, BComm 92, is poised to become Canada’s youngest bishop — and the world’s second youngest. He’ll be ordained at Montreal’s Mary Queen of the World Cathedral on September 10, the day before his 41st birthday.

Dowd had already made a mark for being the first Roman Catholic priest in Canada to start a blog. He launched Waiting in Joyful Hope at eight years ago, where he’s now chronicling his path to becoming the auxiliary bishop of Montreal.

A pioneer of social media use in the church, Dowd also headed a project in the 1990s to get the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Internet in a world first.

The church might be expecting him to continue to reach people via the Internet, a virtual congregation of sorts. Dowd noted in a blog that the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada knew about his social media work: “[He] encouraged me to use my expertise with new media to reach out to people and try to build community,” Dowd wrote.

Graduating from Concordia with a major in International Business, Dowd spent three years in the business world before heeding the call to the priesthood. He left an executive position at Ericsson Research Canada to study his new vocation.

He credits his heavy involvement in Concordia’s student life — at one point, he says, he was on 25 committees and served as president of the Commerce and Administration Student Association as well as being on Concordia’s Board of Governors and Senate — for helping him prepare for a more public role.

“Going to class was something I did between meetings,” jokes Dowd, who was no slouch on the academic side: he was the Faculty of Commerce and Administration (now John Molson School of Business) valedictorian and earned the Concordia Medal in his graduating year.

He returned to his alma mater in 2003 as a lecturer in the Department of Theology, whose tradition of being engaged with local churches appealed to him. He’s still expecting to give classes this fall, schedule permitting. Since last September, he has also been the director of pastoral training at Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal.

When Dowd is ordained on September 10, the Catholic Church plans to broadcast the ceremony live on the Internet — appropriately enough.

Related links:
•  “Concordia Part-time Lecturer Named Auxiliary Bishop” - NOW, July 13, 2011
•   Fr. Thomas Dowd: Faculty profile
•  "Blogging Priest to Become Canada’s Youngest Bishop" - Globe and Mail, July 17, 2011


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