Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 28, 2000
Oblate was a kind, joyful man
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Oblate Father Hector Ferland was a committed priest and a kind and gentle man who inspired trust among his fellow priests and parishioners.
He will also be remembered as a joyful man who loved life and who tried hard to develop himself physically, intellectually and socially.
Despite his declining health, Ferland never stopped playing golf or going bowling with friends. He occasionally played pool and was always ready for a game of bridge.
"He was someone you were always glad to see," says Father Maurice Blackburn, a friend of Ferland since 1953. "He let you be yourself. He never tried to change you."
Ferland, former pastor at St. Joachim Parish in Edmonton and a priest for 48 years, died Feb. 15 after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
Born June 30, 1925 in Sainte-Anne de Sorel, Que., Ferland made his first vows as an Oblate in 1946 and was ordained a priest for the order in 1951.
His first assignment came in 1952 as pastor at North Battleford, Sask. He then served as pastor of St. Joachim Parish in Edmonton for nine years and later, from 1964 to 1975, he taught at College Saint Jean in Edmonton.
Ferland then moved to Meadow Lake, Sask., where he served as pastor for the next 18 years.
From 1993 until 1998, he was assistant director and part of the formation team at St. Charles Scholasticate in St. Albert. He then served the Grandin Province of the Oblates as superior of their provincial house, where he greeted guests with his warm smile and open arms.
In the spring of 1999, Ferland had a stroke and moved to Placid Place, a residence that provides nursing care for aging Oblates.
Blackburn, who met Ferland at Saint Jean's College and then worked with him at Meadow Lake, described the priest as a "very calm kind of fellow, soft spoken, who would never really tackle a guy with his ideas."
"I never saw him angry," recalls Blackburn. "He was a real gentle man."
Ferland served in Meadow Lake for 18 years and Blackburn was his assistant for five of them.
"He managed to get parish councils going at the time and got people involved at all levels of parish life," recalls Blackburn. "He never pushed anyone to get involved but people did. He was able to be surrounded by people with good ideas and who wanted to participate."
When Blackburn and Ferland taught at Saint Jean's College they both used to go golfing north of Lac Ste. Anne, Ferland's favourite golf course. "He was never a great golfer but he loved the sport, he loved the walking."
He was the type of man even a priest would trust with his inner life, said Blackburn. "He was a guy you could approach. He was a priest you wouldn't mind going to Confession to."
Father Alfred Groleau, director of St. Charles Scholasticate, met Ferland at St. Joachim Parish in 1954, while Ferland served as a pastor there.
"He was a very good catalyst of youth activities in the parish (organizing anything from youth camps to hockey clubs)," he said.
"He was also a very good recruiter for vocations. In a way, he was instrumental in my vocation."
Ferland was "simple and humble" but loved people and life, Groleau said. "He was a joyful man and this quality of his developed and grew over the years."
A Mass of Resurrection in Ferland's memory was held Feb. 18 at St. Joachim Parish. He was buried at the Oblate Cemetery in St. Albert Feb. 19.