Caring for those who cared: A portrait of the René Goupil Jesuit community in Pickering

by Fr. Erik Oland, SJ

April 11, 2019 — I have just completed my annual visit to our Jesuit community in Pickering. My last activity was to participate in the Wake service of our most recently deceased companion, Frank Micallef, a member of the René Goupil (infirmary) community, one of three résidences on the 20 acre property that also houses the Manresa Spiritual Renewal Centre.

René Goupil is one of two such residences in the Province that provides a caring and supportive environment for elderly Jesuits. Like the community in Richelieu, which I wrote about last Fall, René Goupil houses Jesuits, aged up to 104 years old who tell the story of our province in the great diversity of ministry experience that they represent: Jesuits who worked with refugees and First Nations communities, the brother who designed the very building where he now lives, the professor who translated many of Bernard Lonergan's works from Latin, an art historian still working on his magnum opus... to name a few.

I feel honoured to have had a personal conversation with each of the 20 residents of the house; to have heard snippets of their rich life stories and to feel buoyed up by the rich legacy they represent.

They may be active in the field no longer but the depth of life experience they bring to the mission of 'praying for the Society' can only enhance the quality of their prayer. I felt it when I was among them and I am consoled at the knowledge that the work of the Province is sustained by their ongoing dedication to praying for its mission.

The house provides excellent care and ongoing activities; not to mention the two birthday celebrations that just happened to take place while I was there. Happy 93rd to Norm Dodge and happy 91st to Frank Whelan.





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Father Mike Murray died on 18 May, 2020 at the Ajax Pickering Hospital. He was in his 83rd year and had been a Jesuit for 63 years. He served as the first director of Anishinabe Spiritual Centre. In 2010, was appointed as President of Loyola High School in Montreal.

Father Charlie Sitter died peacefully on May 9 at René Goupil House in Pickering, ON. He was in his 94th years and was a Jesuit for 75 years. He had a passion for books and art and thus, he would serve his various communities as house librarian and artistic decorator.

FX Johnson died on 3 May at René Goupil House, Pickering. He was 93 years old and in his 68th year as a Jesuit. In 1969, he began his long career as a parish priest, hospital chaplain, and pastoral worker and spent a lot of his Jesuit life on the move from one pastoral assignment to another.

Fr. Norm Dodge died peacefully in the Lord, surrounded by fellow Jesuits, on May 2 at Rene Goupil House, Pickering. He was 92 years old and was a Jesuit for 67 years. He was well suited to pastoral care ministry, always with a cheerful disposition, patient and a good listener.

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