Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 13, 2000
Oblate marks 50 years with native people
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Fifty years after his ordination as an Oblate priest, Father Louis Philippe Roy, 76, is still at it and proud of it.
Roy, who speaks and reads Cree fluently, has spent his entire priesthood as a missionary with the native people of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Although the work has not always been easy, Roy is not complaining. "I've been very happy," he says. "I don't regret anything at all. If I had a second chance, I would do it all over again."
For the past nine years he has been pastor at the combined parishes of St. Martin in Desmarais and St. Charles in Wabasca, a mostly native community of 5,000 people located some 120 km north of Slave Lake. He also does services at Calling Lake every two weeks.
On Feb. 13 people filled the church at Desmarais for a Mass celebrating Roy's 50th anniversary of priesthood. And more than 200 attended a reception that followed at the gym of Mistassiniy High School.
"He is a very zealous priest. He loves the people he works with and they love him back," said Providence Sister Lucille Belval, pastoral assistant at St. Martin's in Desmarais. "They are his joy."
A native of Levis, Que., Roy joined the Oblates in 1943 because, as he put it, "I was called."
"It's a private thing between God and myself," he said matter-of-factly. There were, however, some external influences, such as the fact he served as an altar boy and had two close relatives who were religious - one an Oblate priest, another a sister. He says listening to them pray helped him develop "a love for the Church."
After studying theology in Lebret, Sask., he was ordained a priest at his hometown of Levis on Jan. 29, 1950.
His first mission was at Saddle Lake and from there he went to Lac La Biche, Beaver Lake and Hobbema. He returned to Saskatchewan to work with the native people at Onion Lake, then was transferred to Cochin where he served as pastor and missionary to surrounding reserves.
Roy also served in the mission field at Fishing Lake, Frog Lake and, again, in Saddle Lake and North Battleford.
"I've always gone where I've been sent," he said. "That's why I've been happy."
Working with native people has enriched Roy's life. "From them, I've learned to respect life from beginning to end," he said. "Life for them is very important; you've respect for life at every stage."
Native people also taught him the value of sharing not only material things but also things spiritual. "Sharing is something very important in their lives. It's one of their many virtues."
Belval describes Roy as a "very religious man" who takes his work seriously but never shies away from a good time. "He is very joyful. He is a priest who is happy in his vocation."
Native people "love" him because he's always been available to them, day and night, Belval said. "He sees them as equal. Anytime someone needs him, he is there."