Jim Connelly

Growing up Anglo-Irish working-class Catholic in postwar England was not the ideal starting point for a spiritual odyssey. There was nowhere to go, because the Church had all the answers, which were absolute and final; “doubt” was a serious sin, one of the seven deadly ones, right up there with lust, sloth, pride and gluttony. As a child, I took it all very seriously, but in adolescence nagging doubts persisted and grew as I was exposed to a broader range of ideas in public high school and university.

With a degree in languages (German and French) and a diploma in education, I married for the first time and started out on a career in teaching, first in Lancashire, then in Saskatchewan and ultimately in Montreal, where some of our friends had settled. I switched to teaching English in the French system, just in time for the War Measures Act. It was not a comfortable experience. I tried various other options, mostly in sales, without any great success.

I was lucky enough to be hired as a part-time instructor at what was then still Sir George Williams University. On settling down with a reconstituted family, however, it became apparent that something more stable was needed, and I applied for a job as a translator with the federal government, where I remain to this day. I count myself lucky to be working at a congenial job, with good conditions and among colleagues who are uniformly sympathiques.

My two stepchildren, Mike and Margit Dumitrescu, are now in their early forties, and the unplanned arrival of my son Alex nearly 18 years ago was the icing on the cake, as was the arrival of my notional grandson, Sebastian Moreno, in Monterrey, Mexico (“Thanks, Maggie”). I have custody of Alex, and we share an apartment while he makes his way through high school and CEGEP. He is a regular member of the Church’s youth group, having been welcomed into the community by Rev Ray Drennan.

While all this was going on, my spiritual journey continued. I chanced upon the old church at Sherbrooke and Simpson and was instantly captivated by the depth and breadth of learning revealed in the sermons of Rev Charles Eddis. It has taken a long time, so different is it from what I grew up with, but now this place is my long-sought spiritual home—not without reservations perhaps, but that’s another story.