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Father Gregory Jerome MacLeod

Father Gregory Jerome MacLeod

Father Gregory (81) passed away on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 in Sydney, Nova Scotia.  He was born on Sunday, November 24th, 1935.     He was the son of the late John T. and Rose (Turner) MacLeod.

He received his early education from the able hands of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Sydney Mines. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 27th, 1961. Father Greg served in several parishes for a year, firstly with Father Michael Gillis in Stellarton, from whom he first learned the social teachings of the church as being put in practice at the parish level.  He was appointed to teach at Xavier Junior College. From there he went to the University of Louvain in Belgium where he obtained a doctorate in Philosophy, continuing with post-doctoral studies at Oxford University in England.  When he returned to teach at Xavier College in 1969, he quickly became involved in the economic problems of the area.

He was the founder of New Dawn Enterprises in Sydney, New Deal Development in Sydney Mines, BCA with its various subsidiaries, and the Tompkins Institute.  These institutions gave birth to a number of projects and companies too numerous to mention. From the time of his surgery for cancer to the time of his death three months later, he continued completing projects and initiated several new ones. He was intimately involved in the struggle to grow Xavier Junior College into the University College of Cape Breton, as well as the struggle to maintain the Coast Guard College in Cape Breton.  His work spilled into other countries, most notably in the Yucatan region of Mexico, where a number of community projects credit him as their visionary founder.  He was an avid promoter of Cape Breton music and culture, and the jovial host of his house ceilidhs, where hundreds of musicians joyfully played over a period of some 40 years. He was a friend of both Mi’kmaq and Acadian Cultures and played a major hand in the development of Mi’kmaq Studies at the University College of Cape Breton. Father Greg was an internationally respected writer on the topic of community development. His works were translated into Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. On the occasion of the launching of one of his books in South Korea, he was made an honorary citizen. He was the recipient of the Order of Canada, as well as of honourary degrees from Dalhousie University, The Atlantic School of Theology and Saint Francis Xavier University.

He is survived by sister Bev (Mitchelitis) (John Dan), Sydney Mines, brother Jack (Anita), Ingonish, and several nieces and nephews. Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his brothers Melvin, Michael, Bob, Jim, Bill, and a sister Theresa.  Visitation was held at Membertou Trade and Convention Centre on Thursday, May 11th, 2017, from 2-4 pm & 7-9 pm.  The funeral liturgy was held at Cape Breton University Canada Games Complex, on Sunday, May 14th, at 2 pm.  Memorial mass with commendation was held at Holy Family Catholic Church in Sydney Mines on Monday, May 15th at 11 am.  The family would like to thank all friends, medical persons and laypersons who provided care and compassion which brought Father Greg peace and comfort during Father Greg’s illness.
A retired professor at CBU and dear friend of Father Greg’s, Dr. Harvey Johnston, has summed up the world view underpinning Greg’s approach in a yet to be published book as follows:
“At times, our actions can leave the world in a better state than we found it.  When it is within our capacity to act in these ways, we have a responsibility to do so.   This is a moral imperative.   The greater one’s capacity to bring about such positive change, the greater one’s responsibility to act.”