Father Michael Lapierre died peacefully on April 4, 2016 at René Goupil House in Pickering, in his 101st year, in his 82nd year of religious life and his 68th year of priesthood.
Born on May 2, 1915 in Chapeau, Quebec, the son of John Lapierre and Mary Jane McGuire, Michael Lapierre entered the Society of Jesus on August 14, 1934 after studies at St. Patrick’s School in Ottawa. He attended the Jesuit Seminary in Toronto for philosophy then taught at Regiopolis High School in Kingston.
In 1944, he began theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Kansas and was ordained there on June 18, 1947. After his final year of Jesuit spirituality (Tertianship) in Pomfret, Connecticut, he began in 1950 a unique half-century tenure as professor of theology at Regis College, Toronto, in its three different locations.
In 1970, heeding the decree, Perfectae Caritatis, of the Second Vatican Council on the renewal of religious life, Father Lapierre began the Loyola Institute of Spiritual Renewal. It was intended for religious women, and with the generous help of other Jesuits, he directed summer workshops at Guelph and then particularly at Manresa Retreat House, Pickering until 2001. At the beginning there were two sessions, each one a month in length, but in later years as applicants dwindled, these were reduced to one session each summer.
In 2001, Fr. Lapierre concluded his teaching at Regis College and moved into La Storta Residence at Pickering. From La Storta he served God's people by celebrating Mass and hearing confessions in the local parishes and schools, at St. Bernard's Convent in Toronto, and in replacement of the pastor in Chapeau sometimes for long stretches of time. Even at age 94 he would drive daily to the post office to collect the community mail. He still held a valid driver's license at the age of 100.
Right to the end he was of clear mind and his memory was sharp and vibrant. He received a pacemaker in his 99th year. Happily, he planted flowers in front of La Storta once spring had settled in.
Possessed of a pleasing personality, he joined in table conversation. In many ways Mike was the living memory of the transitions in the Jesuit Theological College of Toronto.
Mike was aided in his spiritual renewal apostolate and later in his life journey for many years by Sister Karen Bennett, SP. She regularly took him several times annually to his home town of Chapeau.
The arrival of his 100th birthday in May 2015 was celebrated in grand style with greetings from all levels of Church and Government: a blessing from Pope Francis, greetings from the Jesuit Father General and congratulations from Queen Elizabeth II.
There will be Visitation on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at the Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home (Sherbourne and Wellesley Street East, Toronto) from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and at St. Ignatius Chapel, the Manresa Jesuit Renewal Centre (2325 Liverpool Road North, Pickering) that evening from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, with prayers at 8:00 o'clock.
The funeral liturgy will be celebrated in the St. Ignatius Chapel, on Friday, April 8, 2016 at 11:00 am; with burial that afternoon at 2:30 pm in the Jesuit Cemetery, Guelph, ON.
Requiescat in pace.