This past weekend, I went in search of the resting place for the man who most inspired my faith development and taught with such sincerity and wisdom, that I became a Catholic in 1976. On Saturday, it was a blessing to share this particular part of the journey with a friend who I have recently reconnected with, after thirty-five years…my dear friend, Hollee. Another motivator for this trip was that I named my son after this wonderful and selfless Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest, Father James Carroll, and I feel gratitude for my boy every day.
Locating Father Carroll came with the help of a few wonderful people who I wish to acknowledge here. Rene Georgopalis is the Archivist and Reference Coordinator for the Musee Heritage in St. Albert, Alberta. Among other bits of information, Rene told me about the Oblates at Rest book.
Most helpful to me has been the tremendous care and attention given by Diane Lamoureux, referring to herself as Oblate Archivist for Grandin Province. I hope that by the fire lit in me regarding this history, others will be seeking the same. It is a wonderful thing to understand our roots…family and faith.
Diane responded immediately to the desire in me to know MORE as I sought out any information about Father Carroll’s history and to build a context for my own faith development. I have recently been very interested in looking back into the roots of my thinking and Diane had an authentic approach to supporting me in this. The resources and information that she has shared with me are invaluable.
And finally, I wish to mention gratitude for the interpreter, Leila who gave us an exceptional tour of the historic buildings and spaces; the Father Lacombe Chapel, the crypt where Father Albert Lacombe, Bishop Vital Justin Grandin and Father Leduc were laid to rest, the grotto and finally, the cemetery where Brother Anthony Kowalczyk was laid to rest, followed by many of his brothers, including my friend and teacher, Father James Carroll.
An image of Father Hyppolyte Leduc OMI (1868-1895) from the Provincial Archives
The day was a blustery one, but it will remain one of my fondest days of summer. First of all, to share time with a friend, can only be a magical thing. We had shared a dreamy meal out the night before and did a generous amount of catching up as well as sharing our perspectives on pretty much everything. So, we regrouped in the morning and headed for St. Albert. The wind was strong and the clouds were drifting fast across the sky. A wedding was convening in St. Albert Church as we pulled into the parking lot. And, as we left, the bride and groom were on the front steps in great celebration.
We met our personal interpreter, Leelah, for the walk-about in the Father Lacombe Chapel and learned about its restoration, explored sacred artifacts and had the chance to ask several questions.
I highly recommend that if you are interested in early Alberta history, particular to Metis/French settlement along the Sturgeon River, then this is your go-to location. The guided tours will finish up at the end of August, but once available again, this is an awesome place to visit!
Leila was the one who first spotted Father Carroll’s resting place. For quite a long time the three of us, in circle, stood and visited about our lives, our choices and our faith. It was a wonderfully rich event, one I will not soon forget. I admire Leelah’s courage very much and I am so blessed by this meeting. There is much more I could say…but a good part of this event, I want to keep in my heart. I lifted up prayers…it was/is just that sort of place where a person feels very close to angels and to God.