Along with their preaching, the responsibility for four parishes, and the sponsoring of Catholic Action, the Oblates in the city of Montreal played an important role in ministering to religious women.
It all began with Father Pierre Telmon. In 1842 he met Eulalie Durocher a uniquely gifted person, who was won over entirely to the education of poor children. As her spiritual director, he guided her gradually toward the founding of the community of nuns known as the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Father Jean-François Allard offered his help from 1843 to 1849 by directing these religious women, then settled at Longueuil. Eighty years later, in 1931, the Oblates resumed their role as chaplains at the nuns’ mother house in Outremont. Of the fifty priests dedicated to this ministry, our attention should be drawn to two names: Louis Beaupré, and Emile Faucher. The nuns have kept a fond remembrance of them.
Three other Montreal communities benefited from the services of the Oblates: the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of St. Anne, and the Sisters of Providence. To name a few priests among so many others we must consider: Joseph Byron, Honorius Chabot, Pierre Pépin and Antoni Maillette. The picture would not be complete without adding the discreet, but effective, influence of Father Adolphe Torte who was active in the first establishment and adaptation of the Carmelites from France in Montreal, in 1875.
A model chaplain
If we must chose a model among all these chaplains, the name of Father Louis Beaupré would surely meet the general consensus. He was born at Saint-Raymond-de-Portneuf on May 18, 1868. He entered the Oblates in 1890, and was ordained to the priesthood at Ottawa on May 17, 1896. After having been pastor at Maniwaki and at Saint-Sauveur of Quebec, Father Beaupré then spent twenty-five years of his life as chaplain for four different communities: the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Father Beaupré possessed all the qualities of a good spiritual director that Saint Francis de Sales thought necessary: kindness, gentleness, knowledge, prudence and discernment. He was outstanding in his attention to the sick. With them, his joy and humor inspired confidence and patience.
For the last twelve years of his life he served as ordinary confessor at the Apostolic Delegation in Ottawa. In 1946, Pope Pius XII granted him the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal. He received his eternal reward on August 3, 1953.
His proverbial humor
Many anecdotes are told of Father Beaupré’s humor and flashes of wit. One day as the novices were busy doing the laundry, in the basement of the mother house at Outremont, the mistress of novices came to tell them that the chaplains were waiting in the chapel for their regular confession. “Leave your work and hurry up to the chapel”, she said. One of the young novices hurried to be first. She ran up the two flights of stairs and she entered Father Beaupré’s confessional all out of breath. The priest asked her: “Where are you from, young lady?” “From Manitoba” she replied with unmistakable pride. “Ah, now I understand how come you are so short of breath.”
André DORVAL, OMI