COMBERMERE –When a priest, a goalie and firefighter walk into a bar on the weekend carrying a fiddle, it’s a pretty good sign that the local flock in Combermere has not been abandoned. They have someone in their corner willing to roll up their sleeves and get on with the work of rebuilding the local Church. The priest, the goalie, the firefighter, by the way, were all the same man, Fr. Justin Bertrand.
Knowing that some members of his flock are more likely to be in the local restaurants on a Friday or Saturday night than they are to be in the church on a Sunday morning, the priest has decided to offer up his talent for fiddling as a way of engaging people where they are at. There is no blaming, no shaming, no preaching, just good old foot stomping fiddle music for everyone to enjoy.
Fr. Justin said, “I figured, why stay in the rectory and twiddle my thumbs when I can use my extra time reaching out and getting to know people where they are actually at. As Pope Francis once said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “the pastor must smell like the sheep”. I grew up on a farm, so for me those words are a calling to roll up the sleeves and jump in the pen.”
When he does roll up his sleeves, don’t be surprised to see him sporting a very large tattoo covering a good chunk of his upper arm. The padre says that, like the fiddle music, the tattoo is a way to connect with others. He said that during baptisms when he rolls up his sleeves more than a few people in the congregation have been surprised to see the art on his arm. Those with ink themselves are often the most shocked and find a surprising connection between themselves and the priest.
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