Emmett Johns

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The Reverend
Emmett Johns
Born(1928-04-03)April 3, 1928
DiedJanuary 13, 2018(2018-01-13) (aged 89)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Other namesPops
Occupation(s)Catholic priest, Humanitarian
Years active1988–2016
Known forDans la Rue
Ecclesiastical career
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Congregations served
Saint John Fischer Parish, Pointe-Claire
Our Lady of Fatima, Saint-Laurent

Emmett Mathias Joseph Johns CM GOQ (April 3, 1928 – January 13, 2018), was a Canadian priest and humanitarian. He was the founder of Dans la Rue (originally known as Le Bon Dieu Dans La Rue), a homeless shelter and support group for street youth in Montreal, Quebec.

Life and career[edit]

Emmett Johns, who was of Irish descent, was born on April 3, 1928 in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood of Montreal.[1][2]

He graduated with a BA from Loyola College in 1974.[3]

He served as a Catholic priest and vicar at Saint John Fischer Parish in Pointe-Claire, Our Lady of Fatima in Saint-Laurent as well as a pastor at Bishop Whelan High School in Lachine and as a hospital chaplain.[4][better source needed]

In December 1988, Johns founded Le Bon Dieu Dans la Rue. With a $10,000 loan, he purchased a used motorhome and took to the streets at night, distributing food and basic goods to street youth, and giving them a place to warm up.[citation needed]

Over time, the organization grew to include both a night shelter in 1993 and day centre in 1997, always based on the "help without judgement" philosophy of its founder.[citation needed]

Its name was eventually changed to Dans La Rue, to avoid a religious connotation, and continued to offer food, shelter and friendship to homeless youths, as well as the resources and services required to help them get off the street.[citation needed]

In 2005, he was a member of the Quebec delegation which attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II.[5]

In 2016, Johns retired from active involvement in Dans la Rue due to Parkinson's disease.[6]


He died peacefully in a retirement home in Montreal on January 13, 2018, aged 89.[7]

Recognition and honours[edit]

Johns received many honours and awards for his work, including:[2]



  • Humanitarian Award – The Association of Quebec Psychiatrists
  • Anne Greenup Citizenship Award


  • Award of excellence – Montreal Urban Police
  • Annual Desjardins Prize
  • Member to the Order of Canada



  • The Rights and Freedoms Prize – Commission des Droits de la personne et des droits à la jeunesse


  • Golden Jubilee Medal – Canadian Governors General
  • Simon McDonaugh Humanitarian Award – United Irish Societies of Montreal
  • Bishop Crowley Award – English Catholic Council
  • Great Montrealer – The Academy of Great Montrealers





  • Documentary film on Pop's life called Notre Père launched
  • Certificate Honorary Member – Canadian Pediatric Society


  • Biography published “Appelez-moi Pops”
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award


  • Montrealer closest to sainthood – Montreal Mirror ”Best of Montreal readers’ poll”
  • Most trusted public personality – Magazine Sélection Reader's Digest


  • Montrealer closest to sainthood – Montreal Mirror ”Best of Montreal readers’ poll”


  • Recipient : Contribution to Humanity Award – Montreal Intercultural Dialogue institute
  • Special concert in his honor by the MSO
  • Montrealer closest to sainthood – Montreal Mirror ”Best of Montreal readers’ poll”
  • Recipient : Prix de la tolérance Paul Gérin-Lajoie – Fondation de la tolérance Paul Gérin-Lajoie



  • Honorary Member – Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec


  • Commander – Ordre de Montréal


  1. ^ Ce Montréalais, d'origine irlandaise, a grandit sur le Plateau Mont-Royal on YouTube 0:07 (In French)
  2. ^ a b "Father Emmett Johns "Pops" – Organization helping homeless and at-risk youth in Montreal – dans la rue".
  3. ^ "Father Emmett Johns". concordia.ca. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  4. ^ Décès de Emmett Johns, alias Père Pops on YouTube (In French)
  5. ^ "Charest leads delegation to Rome". CBC News. April 6, 2005.
  6. ^ "Legacy of Father "Pops" lives on at Dans La Rue". Montreal Gazette. March 13, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  7. ^ "Father Emmett Johns, dubbed "Pops" by street kids he cared for, dies at 89". montrealgazette.com. January 15, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  8. ^ "Répertoire des membres de l'Ordre national du Québec". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2011.