Father Roland Demers honoured on Golden Jubilee of his ordination as a priest
PHOTO BY SONIA LARONDE
Father Roland Demers greets parishioners at St. Thomas Aquinas Chuch following the very special Mass on Saturday, June 11.
In an emotional outpouring of love, respect, and admiration for Father Roland Demers, their priest in Hudson for the past 30 years, some 600 parishioners from throughout the region flocked to St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Saturday, June 11, for a very special mass celebrating the Golden Jubilee of his ordination 50 years ago in Valleyfield.
From the church, where many were unable to get a seat and instead stood on the steps outside for the hour-long service - which Hudsonite Jim Norcross voluntarily videotaped for posterity - they walked almost in procession to the nearby Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre to continue the celebration in festive style. Again packed to overflowing and with a most beautiful and bountiful reception all provided and served up by the parishioners, well-wishers, and members of the volunteer organizing committee.
Aged literally from nine months to 90-years-plus, they came from throughout the region; some with the aid of walkers, others in wheelchairs. Some parents with tots and youngsters for whom there was a special section set up complete with popcorn and colouring books. And others who were not Catholic but who were there to pay tribute to a man, now aged 80, who they say has contributed so much to the life of individuals, regardless of their faith, and to the community as a whole over the past half century.
Said Carol LaRonde, speaking on behalf of all and officially welcoming the throng at the community centre, “Father, on this very special occasion, you have given all of us the opportunity to celebrate your life, the life of a man who has been so present to God, to his church, to his community, and to all of us.”
Added LaRonde, “We are grateful, and so blessed, to know you Father Roland. You are someone who remembers so many important events in each of our lives and often walks through these events with us. We are indeed a very fortunate community.
“You are always available for each and every member of your flock. I remember the time when a few of us were setting up for an event at the rectory. The phone rang and I heard you say 'I will be right there.' When I asked if you were leaving, you said someone was sick and that you must go. And off you went without a second thought.”
LaRonde then spoke of the mother whose young son was being buried at Wyman United Memorial Church and she saw him there. Said the Mom, “You always know where you need to be, Father. Where we need you.” Also of the time, a woman needed to take her husband to a seniors' residence for the very first time. “Such a difficult thing,” said LaRonde. “And you were there.”
Added LaRonde, “Thank you for all that you have given us Father Demers. We are grateful for the profound spiritual impact you have had on our lives. With great humility, you have preached, taught, comforted, baptized, married, anointed, and absolved hundreds, if not more. You are a man of great humility. And you are always there. We join you in a grateful toast as you celebrate your Golden Jubilee.”
For more photos of Father Demers’ Golden Jubilee, see our Facebook page.