Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 14, 2003
LeBlanc led families to be strong in faith
Carpenter helped start Catholic Family Ministries
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
"Let's trust the Lord. He is more precious than silver, or diamonds and gold," go the lyrics of one of the songs that Bob LeBlanc loved the most.
On Leblanc's deathbed this was one of the songs his family and friends were singing as he took his last breath.
After three years of fighting with cancer, LeBlanc, who with his friends started Catholic Family Ministries, died July 7 at the age of 46.
"He wanted to go, meet God," Vicky Beier, a close friend, told the WCR. "And we all knew that he wanted to go - the prayer at that point was that he could go."
Beier says LeBlanc "spoke and people listened to him. He definitely had a strong gift of charism and was a talented musician."
"He led people closer to the Lord through his gifts of music and his knowledge about the faith. He read a lot of books on apologetics and the catechism."
She remembers how his excitement about the faith was contagious and passionate.
Before Catholic Family Ministries began, the Leblancs, Beiers, MacDonells and others were involved with St. Albert's Open Door prayer group.
"When he was talking about the vision of this big tent, bringing in speakers and families coming together and ministering to all families from babies to grandmas, he would be very excited about this and never thought about how much work it entailed. He just thought we need to do this," recalled Beier.
LeBlanc would always say, "We need to tell people how wonderful our faith is and they need to know that."
His vision was that families learn more about their faith go back to their parishes and spread this faith.
Catholic Family Ministries launched the annual Catholic Family Life Conference at Lac Ste. Anne, now in its eighth year, as well as conferences for men and couples.
Maurice Beier, Vicky's husband, remembers LeBlanc's "desire to evangelize families . . . to make sure that we teach the kids our faith and they grow up knowing the Catholic Church."
Maurice thinks the crisis of family in society was what led Leblanc to pursue this ministry.
Marriages often end up in divorce and Leblanc looked at how families are splintered and falling apart. He realized there is more to do than just be active in a prayer group.
"His most significant contribution to the community was his witness, his faithfulness, teaching his children the faith and wanting others to do the same . . . strengthening families," Maurice noted.
For three years, LeBlanc fought his cancer "very prayerfully," Vicky Beier said.
A carpenter by profession, he lived with his family in a house he built on an acreage 10 minutes from St. Albert. LeBlanc had five children with his wife Debra aged seven to 16.
For Mary Lawless what was striking about Bob was the letter he wrote his wife.
In the letter, he said one of the most important things he had learned was that we can all be hard on each other and how important forgiveness is.
In the Scripture when Peter asked the Lord "'How often should I forgive. As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'Not seven times but I tell you 77 times'" (Matthew 18:21-22).
LeBlanc died at the seventh hour on the seventh day of the seventh month.
"For believers there is nothing random about it. The Lord chose a particular moment in time that he was going to take Bob home," Lawless said.
"He saw the need for forgiveness. The Lord allowed Bob to make that his final message."