With Christmas just around the corner, this is an especially busy time for Fr. Doug Jeffrey of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church. Recently, Fr. Doug spoke with Northern Pride about the goings on at the church this holiday season, COVID-19, as well as how he spends his time away from his work.
Q: Is there anything special planned at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in celebration of Christmas this year?
A: Yes! We will be gathering physically and virtually to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ into our world both here and in Green Lake, as well as at Waterhen Lake. We will do as we have always done with liturgies, opportunities for reflection and renewed commitments, collecting food for the Door of Hope and, on New Year’s Eve, reflecting on the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace. The Advent/Christmas season is special to me, and after all these years I still look forward to it with anticipation and excitement.
Q: What are your thoughts on how well understood the true meaning of Christmas is in this day and age?
A: This is a challenging question. Whenever and wherever people gather, God is present. My goal is to help people appreciate there is more to life than power, success, and the accumulation of goods. Caring for our Earth and caring for each other ought to be my focus when I get up in the morning. The Christ child has come to remind us we are made in the image and likeness of God. When we treat each other and the Earth with care, kindness, and respect, Christ is born again, and we are realizing the dream God has for us.
Q: How long have you served at Our Lady of Peace in Meadow Lake?
A: I grew up on a dairy farm west of Saskatoon in a family of seven. I am a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a group of priests and brothers founded in France in the early 1800s by St. Eugene de Mazenod. I began my studies with the Oblates in 1974 and, following my ordination in 1983, I worked to prepare young men for life in our community as a pastor, Oblate community leader, spiritual director, and retreat director. Over the years I have continued my education through academic studies, conferences and workshops. I came to serve the Meadow Lake cluster – Waterhen Lake, Green Lake and Meadow Lake – in August 2019.
Q: What sort of impact has COVID-19 had on day-to-day operations at the church?
A: COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our daily life. Many families have experienced the virus firsthand through illness and death. Like every group, we have wrestled with masks, social distancing, sanitizing, and limiting the size of our community celebrations of life and death. The pandemic has also provided us with opportunities to reach out to one another and to engage technology as never before. It is also giving us the opportunity to think less about ‘me’ and more about ‘the other’. Our moral and ethical obligation to care for each other has clashed with my ‘right’ to make my own choices. We willingly continue to follow the guidance of our Saskatchewan Health Authorities and our diocese to ensure the safety of all.
Q: Outside of your work with the church and community, what are some of your personal interests?
A: I like gardening. I am an avid reader and love to explore new ideas and insights about life, the world, the care of the Earth, sacred scripture, our spiritual life, and how to share the gospel with others. I also like listening to music, walking, reading western novels and watching sports. My favourite teams include the Habs, Blue Jays, Roughriders and Green Bay Packers.