Charles MacDonald, former priest and CBU professor, remembered as 'very kind and caring'

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Charles MacDonald, shown with his wife, Sharon, died Sunday at the age of 83. (Submitted by Diane MacLean - image credit)
Charles MacDonald, shown with his wife, Sharon, died Sunday at the age of 83. (Submitted by Diane MacLean - image credit)

People in Cape Breton are remembering the life and work of Charles MacDonald, the former priest and local university professor who died on Sunday at the age of 83.

MacDonald started teaching theology at Xavier College in Sydney, N.S., in 1964, and continued there over many years as it morphed into Cape Breton University.

He would travel at one point to Germany to pursue a doctorate at the University of Tübingen. There he would meet and study with Prof. Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Pope Benedict in 2005.

Father Bill Burke, a close friend, recalled Tuesday that MacDonald hired a truck to help the future pope move between apartments, and said the friendship with Ratzinger took many humorous turns.

Burke said MacDonald encouraged him to become a priest.

Father Bill Burke was a close friend of Charles MacDonald. He says MacDonald encouraged him to become a priest.
Father Bill Burke was a close friend of Charles MacDonald. He says MacDonald encouraged him to become a priest. (Submitted by Bill Burke)

"He just had an incredible ability to encourage people to pursue their dreams and to do so with a spirit of service to the community," said Burke.

MacDonald later left the priesthood. He would reconnect with his high school sweetheart, Sharon, and they later married.

A wake for MacDonald will be held on April 19 in Whitney Pier with a funeral mass to follow the next day.
A wake for MacDonald will be held on April 19 in Whitney Pier with a funeral mass to follow the next day. (Submitted by Lenore Parsley)

"The other thing I really admired about Charlie is when he left the active ministry he continued to serve not only the community but the church, he always remained a really faithful son of the church," said Burke.

Father Al Maroun was a classmate of MacDonald's at St. Paul Seminary in Ottawa.

"He was innovative and he had a broad scope of theology, having been in Europe and absorbed a lot of their forward thinking in theology."

MacDonald bought a farm in Point Edward, near Sydney. He would later become a founding member of the Cape Breton Farmers' Market.

The current market manager, Pauline Singer, said he was a very kind and caring person.

"I think people should remember just what a community driven person he was and he really wanted the best for not just for us but for Cape Breton as a whole," she said.

MacDonald was a founder of the Cape Breton Farmers' Market.
MacDonald was a founder of the Cape Breton Farmers' Market.(Submitted by Diane MacLean)

MacDonald's wife, Sharon, said he was community driven.

"When I think of Charles I think of his generosity, he was very much a humanitarian, anyone who ever asked him for anything he went out of his way to accommodate them."

The funeral and wake will take place in line with the proposed Atlantic bubble next month so family members can attend from out of province.

A wake for MacDonald will be held on April 19 in Whitney Pier with a funeral mass to follow the next day.

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