Today was a full day with a drive an hour east of Ottawa to a small town on the Ottawa River across from the resort at Montebello, QC. Paroisse St. Thomas in Lafaive was founded in 1879, so it is 130 years old this year. The original church burned in 1922 and was rebuilt in 1924.
The parish history notes that its most famous son was Mgr Joseph Charbonneau(1892-1959), first bishop of the Diocese of Hearst (1939-40), Fourth Archbishop of Montreal (1940-50).
There are many relatives of Archbishop Charbonneau in the region and they persuaded the town council of Alfred-Plantagenet to name the community centre in honour of their relative and their village's famous native son. Following the confirmation of some thirty sixth-graders, I took part in the brunch and unveiling of the lettering on the building which designates it as the Centre Communitaire Mgr Joseph Charbonneau Community Centre.
A curiosity I've noticed, not unlike the fact that in a group of thirty or so one will find a couple of people with the same birthday (e.g. of twenty-five priests in the Yarmouth Diocese three had the same birthday; in our Diocesan Centre three of us share the same birthday): so in a group of confirmation candidates names repeat. Today, out of thirty there were two James, two Alexys and two Kevins--and this in a francophone community! Yesterday in a group of eighty we had two Lauras, two Nicolases, and three Sebastiens!
This afternoon 120 couples celebrating significant anniversaries came together for Mass at the Cathedral, most English-speaking but several from Italian, Portuguese, German and other ethnic communities. A Montreal priest Fr. Thomas Dowd (who is a blogger) came in honour of his parents' 40th and his sibling's 15th (recently English Pastoral Services has added 10, 15 and 20 years to the more notable 25, 40, 50, 60 and more).
We had one couple married 65 years, several marking 60+ and large numbers feting 50 and 40 years: among them five of our Permanent Deacons. It was a beautiful liturgy that brought much joy to the spouses giving thanksgiving to God for the blessings and accomplishments of their marriages as well as a good bit of pride to family members who came for the occasion.
Finally, this evening, I attended the French-speaking diaconal family's Gala catered roast beef dinner at Paroisse St-Joseph in Orleans. They had met with the Episcopal Vicar for the afternoon, and I arrived for evening prayer and the delightful meal and exchange afterwards.
Needless to say, after the last 48-hours, I'm looking forward to my Day Off tomorrow....