He's participated in five decades of weddings, funerals, masses and sermons, and this Sunday Father Gerry Tingley will begin winding down his service to the church.

Tingley grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick. His father worked for the railway and his mother was a housekeeper.  

Though brought up to believe priests were called directly to the cloth by God, Tingley says his route to the priesthood took a bit longer. He went to the seminary, but wasn't sure it was the right place for him.

"I went to discover if I had a vocation, if I had a calling."

"I remember my dad, and we were going down to the station after my first year and he said to me in the car, he said, 'you know son if this is not for you, you can come home anytime the door is always open.'"

'We have to find a new language that is related to the humanity of people to preach the Gospel.' - Father Gerry Tingley

In fact Gerry Tingley would make two more of those trips back to the seminary before he realized he had, indeed, been called. In his third year he knew the priesthood would be his vocation, something that has sustained him for 50 years.

Most of that time has been spent on P.E.I.. In parishes from the east to the west, from the biggest church in the diocese to the church in Vernon River where his retirement celebration will be held on Sunday.

Tingley says his best skill is never judging people, but instead just hearing their stories, problems, wishes and dreams. He says the challenge going forward is to make sure priests take Catholic dogma and find a way to make it resonate with modern families. 

"We have to find a new language that is related to the humanity of people to preach the Gospel. If we can't do it, rules and regulations won't do it."

The 50th anniversary celebrations for Father Gerry Tingley will be held Sunday May 4, at St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Church in Vernon River.