Fr. Alex Carrier, omi
SPRUCE GROVE — When William Alexander Carrier, “Alex,” joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1959, he thought the road to the priesthood would be a straight one. Little did Carrier know what the future held in store.
Seven years into his studies for the priesthood he started doubting his vocation and left the Oblates. Thoughts of marriage crossed his mind.
But Carrier couldn’t stay away. In 1990, after almost 25 years in the secular workforce, Carrier went back to the Oblates and stayed for good.
He was ordained a priest in St. Albert in 1992 at age 53 and had a clear focus. He wanted to be of service to the people of God, particularly aboriginal people, the poor and the marginalized.
In his 19 years as an Oblate priest he did all that and more, serving as a priest on various reserves and aboriginal parishes.
Carrier, the pastor of Enoch, Lac Ste. Anne, St. Alexander and attached missions, died of unknown causes at his apartment in Spruce Grove Sept. 30. He was 72.
“He was a very kind and understanding man who studied Scriptures and loved God,” said Father Garry LaBoucane, the Oblates’ district superior.
“He worked very hard and was very, very organized. That’s why we knew there was something wrong because he is always at every event way ahead of time and (that day) he didn’t show up for a funeral.”
Carrier worked well with everybody in the community and “was loved wherever he went,” LaBoucane said.
Dorothy Savard, the parish secretary at Enoch, described Carrier as a great spiritual leader. “He was a great person; we all loved him,” she said. “He would make the time to talk to everyone. Everybody is upset about what happened.”
Born into a family of mink ranchers in Joussard, Carrier was raised by his grandparents and uncle following his parents’ separation after the Second World War.
They took him to Mass every Sunday and taught him love and respect for God and the Church. As soon as he could he became an acolyte.
He came into contact with the Oblates while attending elementary school in Joussard. He admired the priests and their missionary work with native people. After completing high school in 1959, he joined the order.
For the next seven years he studied philosophy and theology in Oblate colleges and seminaries in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
While completing his studies in St. Boniface, Man., Carrier had second thoughts about his vocation and left the order in 1967 to begin a joyful and productive life as a layperson.
He worked as a janitor in St. Boniface and then moved to Edmonton to sell life insurance.
Eventually he moved to Calgary to pursue a degree in psychology. After completing his degree in 1973, Carrier worked at a variety of jobs.
He was delivering freight in Calgary in 1990 when his good friend Father Jacques Johnson, superior of the Oblates at the time, went to him and asked Carrier to rejoin the order.
Carrier was doing well financially and had everything he wanted. But God’s call was stronger and he decided to return. Rome did its part by approving his ordination without further studies.
He was a hard worker until the end, serving five missions and reserves by himself.
“He loved native people and native people loved him back,” LaBoucane said. “He had a good sense of humour, was always smiling and laughing and joyful. He was very good to people; very kind and understanding.”