Fr Tim Devine's first Mass on Sunday was a joyous occasion. Hundreds of friends and relatives attended the service at Blessed Sacrament church in Kitchener, Ontario. The music was provided by his fellow musicians in Critical Mass, a spiritual rock group in which he often plays piano and keyboard. His brother, Matt was there on guitar. The group were chosen to play on the same stage with Pope John Paul during a World Youth Day celebration in Toronto last July. If anyone watched closely, they might have noticed something a little different. Fr Tim occasionally read parts of the service using his fingers to trace the Braille words in a book. His chalice -- a gift from his parents - was specially weighted so it would not easily fall over. The 28 year-old priest, is believed to be the first blind man to be ordained to the priesthood in Canada. Fr Tim was ordained as a member of the Companions of the Cross religious order, and has been assigned to an Ottawa parish until the summer. Twenty years ago, Devine would not have been allowed to begin studies for the Catholic priesthood because church law before 1983 forbade ordination of blind candidates and those with other physical impediments. Blind since childhood, Fr Tim can only discern shapes or blurred outlines if lighting conditions are correct. He says he is thankful he was born at this time - because there are now so many technological aids and advances that enable him to cope in the world of sighted people. Fr Bob Bedard, Fr Tim's superior, told the congregation yesterday he first met Devine eight years ago. "His smile lit up the room we were in. He told me he wanted to be a priest and a member of our order. And, then he said, 'But I'm blind.' " Bedard admitted he had misgivings "but then the Lord interrupted me and said, 'I've sent this man and you open the door and make room for him.' I said to myself, 'OK, right on.' "
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