Fr. Leo Cameron, O.S.A., is one of our brother Augustinians serving in the Canadian Province of St. Joseph. Fr. Cameron retired last year in 2013; now is a wonderful time to reflect on his lifelong commitment to the Augustinian Order and the Canadian Church.
Fr. Cameron was born on April 8, 1932, in Mabou, Nova Scotia, Canada. Leo grew up in a home filled with love for family and for the Church. In his early life, he saw lots of love for the Church, undoubtedly some of it being blind faith, but those gifts of faith, hope, and love were very evident in the family home. Praying the Rosary, for example, was an important part of his family’s life. Leo also had helped the parish priest by milking the cow. Around the age of 14, Leo and several other altar boys made an unscheduled trip from a day trip at the Augustinian Monastery in Nova Scotia. There, Leo was greeted by a king Augustinian named Fr. Hartman. Leo was impressed with his hospitality; through prayer and a strong calling, Leo then decided to join the Augustinians.
On October 2, 1949, Leo then proceeded to board a train with his father and headed west to the monastery. He still remembers his first day in detail and particularly remembers receiving his first habit. Leo later professed his solemn vows in the Augustinian Order on February 16, 1954 with Brothers Laurence MacQuarrie, O.S.A., and Steven Donnelly, O.S.A.
Agricultural work had once been a big focus for the Canadian Augustinians. For many years prior to his priesthood ordination, Leo worked as a farmer; he particularly had a specialty as a herdsman. After his work in agriculture, he became more involved in youth ministry of various parishes. He was assigned to a parish in Ottawa, Ontario, for example, to work with a choir for young people. He had also devoted much of his time to traveling across Canada to speak about to youths about discerning a vocation with the Augustinians.
In the late 1970s and 80s, Leo joined a program for “late vocations” to the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary at Neuman University in Edmonton, Alberta. He was later ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 1986 at Marylake Monastery in King City, Ontario. Since then, he has served as Prior for Marylake Monastery in King City, Ontario (near Toronto), and the Augustinian monastery in Delta, British Columbia (near Vancouver). He has also served as Treasurer for the Augustinian Province of St. Joseph in Canada. Fr. Francis Galvan, O.S.A., said, “His strength is: Leo’s a ‘people’s person.’ He gives other people strength.”
In 2007, Fr. Cameron had transferred back to the Delta community serving Sacred Heart Parish in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Fr. Francis Galvan, O.S.A., says, “Leo can be seen as a farmer feeding the cows—the same man at the Altar of God feeding God’s people with love.” He had served as the community prior there until last year when he retired at the age of 81. Fr. Cameron currently resides at the Augustine Seniors Home in Delta. He still attends daily Mass in the chapel at the Augustinian monastery next door.