Doreen Trudeau spoke of her challenging life at the Catholic Charismatic Prayer Breakfast.
EDMONTON – No matter how dreadful the crime, how appalling the sin, Doreen Trudeau remains convinced that Jesus' forgiveness is greater.
Trudeau, 66, is known in Edmonton for her work with seniors. She visits patients at various hospitals and care centres and takes them Communion. For 16 years she has been active with the Legion of Mary, participates in Bible study at St. Andrew's Parish, and loves spending time with her three adult children and two grandchildren.
The ups and downs in Trudeau's life have been plentiful. She spoke at the Catholic Charismatic Prayer Breakfast, held Nov. 12 at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre, with close to 100 people in attendance.
Trudeau was born into a Catholic family of 13 children in Ste. Rose du Lac, Man. After high school she became a licensed practical nurse and went to work at a hospital in Brandon. There, she met the man who would become her husband.
They farmed in Vimy, Alta. Together they had two daughters, aged five and one, and she was five months pregnant with their third child in September 1976 when her husband died in a farming accident.
"When he left me, part of me was empty. He will always be part of my life. With the Lord by my side, he gave me the strength to carry on," she said.
Following her husband's death, Trudeau decided to stay in Alberta, and moved to Legal. Her third child, a boy, was an immediate joy in her life.
"His first word was 'mom' and also his last word. At a year old he had a very high fever, and it was then I noticed a change in his behaviour. It seemed like he was in his own little world. I thought he was deaf because he wouldn't turn around when I talked to him," said Trudeau.
He was eventually diagnosed with autism. Wanting her son to be "normal," she spent a lot of time with him, teaching him many things, such as how to inline skate and, since he could not speak, she taught him sign language.
At age 12, he started having grand mal seizures. Aggression was a side effect of the medication he was given to treat the epilepsy.
While her children were at school, Trudeau started volunteering at a seniors' home, reading and praying with the residents. Across the street was a rehabilitation centre for alcoholics and drug addicts. A skilled seamstress, she was called to the rehab centre to do some alterations.
Immediately she felt compassion for the people there. She entertained them on special occasions, and played games with them, everything from bingo to baseball.
It was there she met a man receiving treatment for alcoholism. He was French and Catholic, but had not practised his faith for 20 years. They attended Mass together every Sunday, and he seemed to be making an effort to piece his life back together. They dated for two years before marrying.
"We were married five days, and then he started to change. He was very miserable and having a lot of pain in his legs, so a doctor put him on narcotic pills. He was taking more than he should, and got addicted to the pills," said Trudeau.
He returned for a short stint in rehab. Upon his return home, he was accused of sexually molesting a six-year-old boy, which had occurred before they were married. Two and a half months later, he was accused of molesting a little girl in their neighbourhood.
"When I confronted him about the molesting, he broke down crying. He told me that his dad had been sexually molesting him since he was two years old," said Trudeau.
Her husband was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and, while awaiting his court date, twice tried to commit suicide.
Trudeau had a vivid nightmare in which the devil kept trying to pull her out of bed. A phone call awakened her and ended the nightmare. In another dream the devil tried to hurt her. Over and over she cried, "I love Jesus! I love Jesus!" The devil left, and she never saw him again in her dreams.
Her husband was sentenced to 27 months in jail, but only had to serve nine months. Upon his release, he was sent to Alberta Hospital Edmonton for more treatment. Refusing to listen to the doctors' instructions, he was sent back to jail.
Throughout this ongoing ordeal, her son with autism was a handful. Other kids mocked him on the street and, when he made odd noises, people hollered at him and teased him.
"One day we were on the bus. My son was making noise, and a couple got on the bus. The man looked at my son, and said, 'What are you – a retard or a vegetable?'" said Trudeau.
When her husband came home from jail, he was miserable. He wanted her son put in a group home. If not, he threatened to leave her. One day he choked her son.
She learned more about her husband. He was molesting her son, had molested his own nephew and bragged to others about having extramarital affairs.
High on alcohol and drugs, he told her he was making a knife to kill people, and that he could kill her son and plead insanity. She even found the homemade knife, which confirmed his threats.
"We ended up separating because I couldn't trust him anymore. We remained friends until his passing. He has been dead at least 15 years. While preparing my testimony, I kept wishing I had something good to say about my husband," she said.
The only good thing she could recall was when her husband had the Pilgrim Virgin statue brought into his home. He called Trudeau and said that having the statue led him to see a vision of the Virgin Mary. Given his drug and alcohol problems, she was suspicious.
Later, he phoned her and, with a sad tone in his voice, said, "I have ruined your life. I will see you in heaven."
Two months later, while preparing to go camping at Lac Ste. Anne, Trudeau felt a peace inside her. Days passed, and the police came to inform her that her husband had been found dead in his apartment. She realized the peace she felt was the sense that her husband was in a better place, with no more pain.
One night she had a dream of him coming towards her. Happy, a smile on his face, he looked at her and said, "I'm changing my life."
Trudeau remains convinced the Pilgrim Virgin statue in his home made the difference, and that the Virgin Mary intervened on his behalf.
"Jesus is so forgiving. He has more mercy than all of the sins we've committed. He will be there for us with open arms if we let him," said Trudeau.
"I cried so many tears of sorrow over the years. Now I can cry tears of joy because I truly believe I will see my husband in heaven."