The public is invited to pay its last respects to Father "Pops" on Saturday, January 27 at 10:30 a.m., at St. Patrick's Basilica, when the funeral mass in memory of a man who was resolutely committed and devoted to his neighbour will be held.
A friend-in-need for many, a mentor and role model for many more, Father Emmett "Pops" Johns offered comfort and friendship to homeless youth and to those in need, by crisscrossing the inner city aboard his famous van and by welcoming them unconditionally in the premises of the organization he founded almost 30 years ago, "Dans la rue".
Archbishop Christian Lépine will reflect on the highlights of Father Johns' energetic life, from his theological studies, his ordination by Paul-Émile Cardinal Léger and his many pastoral appointments until 1989, when he founded "Le Bon Dieu dans la rue". Although he did not seek honours, his work has been repeatedly recognized, and he has been honoured by local, provincial and national organizations and associations.
« I was filled with emotion when I heard the news that Emmett Johns had died... I stand in admiration of the work that he accomplished in the generous way he welcomed the most vulnerable. Like so many people, I am so grateful for his dedicated efforts to help those marginalized within society to improve their lives. Admiration and gratitude, for his radical commitment in putting the Gospel message into practice. Admiration and gratitude, for his 65 years of priestly life in the service of his brothers and sisters in their search for God and for everlasting happiness», expresses Archbishop Christian Lépine.
Archbishop Christian Lépine
Father Claude Paradis, founder of Notre-Dame de la rue
I knew Pops for 23 years. He taught me the streets. He was my spiritual father. He asked me to continue, to live his charisma, to extend his philosophy of the street, so I founded Notre-Dame-de la rue, which is a nod to Pops. Listen to me my friend, I'm taking you with me today, my friend from the streets. See you Pops!".
Brian McDonough, director of Social Action Office
Father Emmett Johns deeply loved the young people whom he encountered « dans la rue ». Like Jesus, he could look behind outward appearances and read the heart of those he met. Their difficulties, setbacks and frustrations reminded him of those he himself had encountered during his life, including during his priestly ministry. How many times "Pops" stated that the young people emerging out of dark alleys in the middle of the night had helped him rediscover meaning in his life and genuine happiness. In his ministry with street people, he especially appreciated the simplicity of interpersonal relations. He harboured a healthy scepticism regarding approaches and programs which did not originate from the people themselves. He certainly believed in the ability of young people to find solutions to their difficulties in spite of the adversity they encountered on a daily basis.