St. Clair McEvenue is being remembered as a man who was zealous about the things he believed in, had a special heart for spreading the Christian Gospel to young people and performed countless, quiet acts of charity.
The 81-year-old deacon in the Roman Catholic church passed away on Jan. 2 after a brief illness in Mississauga, Ont. Born in Toronto, “Sinc,” as he was known to those close to him, was the second of six children. He graduated from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto with a BA, before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Navy and marrying Marjorie Cherry in 1944.
He served as a first lieutenant, and then as captain of a minesweeper, during World War II out of Halifax. After the war, he took up chartered accountancy and embarked on a long and successful management career, working in senior executive positions with companies in Montreal, Kitchener and Toronto, before retiring in 1987.
With retirement, McEvenue took up a second vocation as an ordained deacon in the Roman Catholic church, based out of St. Clement’s Parish in Etobicoke, Ont. His tasks included service to the church, visiting the sick, talking to students and working with prayer groups.
He wrote two books along the way – Living Heaven, published by and available through the Life Ethics Information Centre in Toronto, and Raising Hell: What Stops Parents From Handing on the Faith to Their Children, published by and available through Interim Publishing, also in Toronto.
Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes remembers first running into McEvenue several decades ago, when Hughes was trying to find information on the presence in Toronto of the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
“He had great insight into the situation,” Hughes recalls. “He had a good idea of what was happening in society. He knew what he was talking about. He researched it. I was very impressed. Sinc was always a thorough, painstaking researcher and an upstanding guy.”
McEvenue’s insights came out of an interest in cults, a subject he spoke of often to high school students and which he called “a manifestation of evil and works of the devil.” In 1995, he gave a talk about cults at St. Jerome’s College at the University of Waterloo, noting that there are about 5,000 of them operating in North America, with an abundance in Toronto.
Rev. Alphonse de Valk, editor of Catholic Insight magazine, characterizes McEvenue as having been “very, very zealous,” particularly in making sure the Gospel was passed on to young people. Hence, the writing of his book Raising Hell.
“He was a man of deep faith who had a wide variety of interests and an interest in intellectual questions,” says de Valk.
McEvenue’s daughter, Paula Adamick, has penned a tribute to her father that is being published in the February edition of Catholic Insight. She notes that as a deacon, he performed countless acts of charity in churches, hospitals and private homes that most people don’t know about.
She also recalls the many family conversations that would be held on topics such as politics, history and Canada. Her father lamented the current state of the Canadian nation, noting that it was not the same country into which he had been born. “This is a country losing its soul and its way without realizing it,” he would say. McEvenue was particularly distressed over the imposition of same-sex “marriage” upon the land by the former Liberal government of Paul Martin.
In addition to Marjorie, McEvenue is survived by nine children, 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, as well as sister Kathleen and brothers Sean and Kevin. He was predeceased by daughter Celeste, brother George and sister Mary.
A funeral Mass was held Jan. 6 at St. Clement church. The family has asked that donations in McEvenue’s memory be made to the Trillium Health Centre Foundation, the Canadian Diabetes Association or St. Clement’s Parish.