This is the speech that Jean delivered to the students at Notre Dame, click "read more" to view this content.
I have known Pere all my life:
He baptized me
Gave me my first communion and confirmation
He taught my husband and me as well as my children
He married me and gave my children their sacraments
He gave the Eulogy at my Mother's and Father's funeral and also at my husband's funeral
My husband and I used to host his birthday parties. He looked forward to these celebrations. There was lots of lively conversation, scotch flowing freely and smoked oysters - all his favorite treats!
Before I moved to Regina, he asked me to be the witness to his Will
He was there during all the major parts of my life. He influenced me in many ways:
He made me more tolerant of others
I became more respectful of other religions and politics through his lectures and the creation of the Tower of God
I would not have had a University Education without his support as my father could not afford to send me
He gave me my love of movies
I would not have has so many wonderful memories and stories to tell and I feel honored to share them with you this morning
Pere was a man of reverence and strong faith.
o I remember Mother Edith saying that of all the priests at the Eucharist, Pere showed more piety than any other priest she had seen in her life. He was such a religious man and was tolerant of other religions and encouraged students to practice their faith. I remember him telling my good friend Wilma "Billie" Downing" who was a student here and became a well-known Regina teacher. I'll look after the Catholics and you look after the Protestants."
Pere was kind-hearted.
o He would often deny himself to help others. If he only had $20 and someone needed it, he would give it to them. I remember when my Mother died at 3:00 in the morning he was there in moments to be with our family. In fact, I remember him advising my Father to give us all a stiff drink - this being the first drink of alcohol I had in my life.
o When my sister Rose's husband died in February on a bitterly cold day, he went through a blizzard and snowbanks to see the family and make sure they had money to get them by.
Pere also had a great sense of humor.
o Pere was delivering a sermon at church one Sunday morning and during the sermon, you could hear "knock, knock, knock" Pere stopped and sent out a student to stop whoever was knocking.
The student came back and could not find them so Pere continued his sermon. A few minutes later, the knocking started again and Pere, getting angry, sent another student to look and he came back saying he could not find anyone. On the third "knock, knock, knock". Pere was convinced it was children and sent Don Metz, an older parishioner and famous hockey player with the Toronto Maple Leafs, out to find them. He told him to bring those "bastards" to the pulpit so they can answer to their disruptive behavior. Parents were looking to make sure their children had not left the church or would be the ones led up the aisle. Finally Don came back and reported to Pere that it was a woodpecker. Pere doubled over in laughter as did the whole congregation.
o And there was another time when his sermon was a bout money in the temple and Pere had a hole in his pocket and you could hear coins drop to the ground as he delivered the sermon.
I remember so many other funny stories:
o May 24th weekend walking up to find Pere and Mr. Stitle (the municipal clerk) at the foot of our bed at 3:00 in the morning. He wanted to ask my husband, Hugh, if he had his teeth last time he saw him as he had misplaced them.
o January 4th, our son Michael arrived and Pere phoned to congratulate us. I answered the phone and Pere sounded a bit puzzled and asked to speak to Hugh. Once Hugh got on the line, Pere had the students sing Happy Birthday to Mike. Later Pere told one of the students what an amazing women I was - having a baby yesterday and answering the phone the next day. It was then that he was told by Joe Walsh that our son Mike was adopted. "Oh that makes sense" Pere said " as I saw Jean at the grocery store yesterday and she looked quite slim"
o You never knew when Pere would bring over guests to your home. One day after church he went to Hugh to ask him if he could bring his nephew Murray Maynard, a prominent Toronto business man and chair of the Board of Regents along with his wife and wife's mother to our home. We scrambled to put lunch together with slim pickings- I think we had eggs. At that time we did not have indoor plumbing and on cold days did not use the outhouse but a chamber pail which was full at the time. I shuttered to think of what to do if someone had to go to the bathroom. Sure enough, one of the ladies did. I quickly excused myself and came back carrying the full pail past them. Pere cutely said" one has to do what one has to do". Months later I met these ladies again and one told another lady how much she admired me for doing this for them and with such grace.
Pere exposed us to protocols and many great and famous people.
o He would always be himself- a unique character but also conducted himself according to the customs of the time and taught us to do the same. At banquets he would never allow anyone to have a drink before the toast to the Queen. When Fred Hill took him to meet King Feisal, he told us Pere was not intimidated by meeting royalty and was very respectful of the necessary protocols of the Middle Eastern culture.
o Pere never liked to talk about boys that got into trouble or at least directly. Once he gave a sermon about St John and St Urbin – now we all knew about St John but had never heard of St Urbin and knew immediately that Johnny Weishaar and Urbin O’Byrne had done something wrong and Pere was letting them and all of us know about it in his discreet way.
Pere loved cultural things and particularly movies.
o He would often go to see the latest films as one of his friends owned movie theatres. After he saw them he would gather us together to tell us about it, often acting out the scenes.
Pere had different moods.
o We lived on Main Street growing up and you could tell what kind of mood Pere was in by how he walked- If his chin jutted out and he walked straight ahead, you knew he was in a bad mood. If he sauntered, he was in a good mood and you knew you could approach him with anything.
o He could change his mind about things given time. He never liked the female and male students dating and would clearly make this known. When Hugh was courting me, Pere was not happy. Over the years he accepted our relationship and embraced it- he even married us and help us by employing my husband and me as teachers. This allowed us to settle here to raise our family.
Pere was an extraordinary teacher
o I remember learning about the Greek philosophers from him. One class I decided to get brownie points by reciting Plato's' prayer at the end of my paper. I got it a bit wrong and Pere teased me about it.
Grant that I may grow beautiful (but I said - more beautiful) and whatever I have without, may it grow in harmony within. May I deem the wise alone rich and may my store of gold be such that only the good can bear.
In closing, Pere was a truly a man of all seasons, he had the ability to reach out to everyone through his many faceted aspects of his character. He was the most authentic person I knew. I will leave you with the advice he so often shared with us.
"To him who does what in him lies, God will not deny his grace"