Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 19, 2003
Canada honours sister, Jesuit priest
Man of peace given Order of Canada
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
A Jesuit priest who founded the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism and a Sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame who works with native communities in British Columbia to combat illiteracy have been inducted into the Order of Canada, the country's highest honour for lifetime achievement.
Jesuit Father Irenee Beaubien, of Montreal, who has represented Canada's bishops at international meetings, was made an officer of the order. Sister Mary Alice Danaher, a sister of Notre Dame, of 100 Mile House, B.C., who helped secure an on-reserve baccalaureate partnership with Gonzaga University in Washington State, was inducted as a member.
They were among 54 Canadians invested into the Order of Canada by Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson at a ceremony at Rideau Hall May 9.
Beaubien was acknowledged as a "man of peace, dialogue and action" who has helped plant seeds of tolerance and unity. "He has had a tremendous influence in bringing various churches closer together, both in Canada and beyond our borders," said the governor general's citation.
Named in 1968 as a consultor to the Secretariat for Christian Unity in Rome, Beaubien has been involved with the Catholic Forum, a centre for information and exchange on Catholicism, the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism and Sentiers de Foi, which offers services to Christians who have lost touch with their churches.
He also founded Ecumenism, a quarterly journal published in English and French and distributed in more than 40 countries.
Danaher was commended for "making learning more accessible" in aboriginal communities and offering new generations of native students "the promise of a better future." The citation also said she has worked in partnership with aboriginal communities in northern B.C. to develop curriculum "designed to respect and reflect the cultural heritage of her students."
The Canim Lake, B.C., Indian band, credits Danaher, who holds a doctorate in educational leadership, with having "started a whole new legacy of education" on the reserve.
She arrived at the reserve in 1970 and through her help, youth dropout rates fell and adult dropouts returned to school. She was also a moving force behind a partnership agreement that saw 21 native people from the 400-member community receive degrees in bachelor of education in native Indian leadership.
Sister Patricia McCarney, who has known Danaher for 54 years, described her as a visionary. "She was one of these women who could see ahead to what religious life had to look like and be like years before many other people were able to do that and she had the courage to live it out."
Danaher said the award "is about finding beauty in people and having joy." Some people have been "closed off" from their own beauty, she said, "And so we try to go out to them and we try to say, 'Look, there's so much beauty in you. You have a song to sing.'"