Father Gary Ostler
April 5th, 1946 – May 29th, 2008
Prior to ordination he headed public relations for the diocesan synod
and had the synod Mass aired on national TV.
Fr. Gary was Fr. Rudy’s Associate Pastor at St. Francis de Sales in 1972.
While there he organized a folk group of 70 young people for Saturday afternoon Mass, which drew a large turnout. He also led them on a successful tour of Western Canada. He launched the diaconate program in the diocese.
At Nativity Parish he became chaplain of La Citadel High School. He started the Neumann Club at St. Lawrence College and also taught the student nurses.
Navivity Co-Cathedral Parish
His first parish was at St. Raphael’s where he launched the annual Galaramas. He also started the Shalom Retreat House and Mount Carmel alcohol treatment centre.
ST. RAPHAEL’S PARISH
SHALOM HOUSE RETREAT CENTRE
In 1983 he became Pastor of St. Columban where he oversaw the parish purchase of Notre Dame Convent as a Ministry Centre base of operations for collaborative lay and clergy ministry. He and Fr. Bob MacDonald arranged a three year Christian Leadership certificate program to be offered here in the parish to laity from across the diocese with courses offered by Wadham’s Hall Seminary. Fr. Gary also provided leadership to re-establish a parish Knights of Columbus council. He also led us through reconstruction after the church arson of 1992. Under his tutelage an historical society published a history of the parish. Sponsorship of refugees and establishment of the parish St. Vincent de Paul Society were all a part of Fr. Gary’s tenure here.
ST COLUMBAN’S PARISH
In 1993 he became Pastor of St. Francis de Sales where he increased lay participation in parish life. During a violent windstorm, the church roof shifted, necessitating the rebuilding of the church on the existing foundation. He met the challenge by rebuilding the church, increasing handicap access via an elevator and increased the overall comfort by installing air conditioning.
A few years later he returned to St. Columban although he was hesitant because he knew that needed changes would be unpopular. Due to a priest shortage, the number of weekday and weekend Masses had to be reduced. Recognizing the financial burden the parish hall caused the parish, he found a way to sell it and still maintain a place for parishioners to gather for fellowship. He improved liturgical services and formed a vibrant pastoral team. Even though he didn’t always live here he performed a good deal of parish work from his home in Long Sault, often arriving at the parish offices at 6:30 a.m. He loved his people and did his best to serve them in spite of failing health.
For more than 25 years he was head of vocations in our diocese, directing and encouraging most of the young men who became priests. Because of his commitment to ecumenism, he was appointed head of the ecumenism committee by the bishop and also served as President of the Cornwall Christian Council and was at the fore in promoting the annual Good Friday ecumenical Way of the Cross. Each month he offered a Padre Hour to the soldiers at NavCan & at one time was chaplain to 4,000 soldiers. Fr. Gary provided 42 years of service to the army.
Among his many talents Fr. Gary was a specialist in understanding and explaining the Holy Scriptures. He built his life on the Word of God, the key to eternal life.
May he hear: “Well done good and faithful servant!”
See Photo Album: Fr. Gary (flickr)