REGINA — ”I can’t believe you pulled this off without me knowing about it,” said a surprised Rev. Stephen Bill when he discovered Resurrection Parish’s plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination. It was celebrated at the church’s regularly scheduled April 24 11:00 a.m. Sunday mass followed by a lunch and playful roasting in the hall. He actually discovered the surprise at an April 22 family gathering.
Bill sat in the front row listening to the homily by Deacon Joe Lang, who frequently referenced Father Steve, as he is known. Bill received a special blessing after the homily from Lang and Franciscan seminarian Michael Perras. He was part of Resurrection staff prior to entering the seminary. A framed blessing from Pope Francis was presented at the end of mass by Rev. Ferdinand Eusebio, assistant priest at Resurrection Parish.
The fun and games in the hall following mass began with pastoral assistant for liturgy Kevin Harty, entering the hall with hands clasped, wearing a white robe and head bowed, a familiar pose for Bill when processing to begin mass. It provoked aughter from the audience and Bill, who recognized himself.
Harty continued for several minutes poking gentle fun, at one point holding up a huge photo of a red Camaro sports car, asking if this was in line with Pope Francis’ call for austerity. Bill owned the car but it was raffled off for charity about the time Pope Francis decided on a small Fiat for his personal transportation in Rome. It was followed by several other speakers and skits. A PowerPoint presentation of Bill’s 25-year vocation, laced with frequent humorous references, was also shown.
A chili lunch was provided followed with chocolate and white anniversary cake.
Speaking with the PM, Bill said his vocation has been filled with blessings. “The Lord has been good for all of it. The 25 years has flown by fast and it’s been blessing after blessing and too many to remember all of them. I thank the Lord for each and every one of them and the people who have come into my life. I have seen the Holy Spirit do its work, it’s just been amazing and I look forward to the next 25 years.”
Bill was ordained May 17, 1991, in Estevan and, it was pointed out, the only ordained priest to come from Estevan. He was initially posted to St. Vincent de Paul in Weyburn, about an hour’s drive north west of Estevan for two years then ministered to several parishes in south central Saskatchewan before postings in Regina and Swift Current. After a year’s sabbatical he was posted to the new parish of Resurrection where he has been since 2006.