More than 1,300 people, dignitaries and street kids alike, gathered to pay their last respects to Father Emmett Johns, “Pops” at St. Patrick’s Basilica on January 27, 2018.
The 10 a.m. ceremony began with four eulogies. Representing Father Johns' family, Manon Proulx said that, first and foremost, the homeless youth were his family, "his" young ones as he liked to call them.
Another speaker, who was helped by the organization, stated unequivocally that Pops had saved her life. She recalled the time she had asked Pops to speak to her mother on the phone, since she had a difficult relationship with her. Instead, Pops flew to Vancouver to speak with her mother in person. Among the street kids, he was known for his generosity and commitment.
With much emotion, a former street youth and, later, a Dans la rue worker, said: "You took the place of our absent parents, and we were lost children who often felt unloved."
Among those present in the packed basilica were Mayor Valérie Plante and former mayors Denis Coderre and Gérald Tremblay. Federal, provincial and municipal representatives sat alongside hundreds of Pops' street kids, all gathered together to render a final tribute to this great man.
Deacon Dr. François Lehmann, Pops' personal friend and physician, said during the homily: "This church is filled with people from all walks of life. Some are wearing a suit and tie; others have multicoloured hair and all kinds of piercings [...] That is what love does: It celebrates diversity and brings people together."
Also during the homily, Archbishop Christian Lépine asked: "What was the source of his vision and commitment? What was the source of his love for young people? He, himself, gives us the answer: the Good Lord (Le Bon Dieu).
The Archbishop concluded, addressing the youth in the assembly directly: "Dear young people here today, despite your wounds, your pain, know this: God loves you with his infinite love."
Down the aisle, lined with an honour guard comprising the 40 priests and deacons present, eight Dans la rue young people served as honourary pallbearers, leading Pops' casket out of St. Patrick's Basilica amid roaring applause.
To honour Pops' wish for his funeral to be open to all, the celebration was broadcast live on the Dans la rue and Archdiocese of Montreal Facebook pages.
Father Emmett Johns, diocesan priest and founder of Le Bon Dieu dans la rue, died January 13; he was 89.
See the photo album
Watch the funeral on CTV
Watch the funeral on Facebook Live
Archbishop Lépine's Homily