Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 10, 2008
Saintly priest ministered to First Nations people
Fr. Levaque was in his element when caring for others
By GLEN ARGAN
“Helping people is what keeps me alive.”
- Fr. Levaque
In 1950, he started a six-year stint as a chaplain for the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving for a period overseas during the Korean War.
But his main ministry was with First Nations people. He served 10 years as a missionary to the Slavey and Beaver people in Fort Nelson, B.C., was administrator of a residential school in Cardston, and was executive director of the Oblate Indian-Eskimo Council in Ottawa.
Because of that work, Levaque was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 1987.
Semi-retired in Aylmer, Quebec, after 1976, he took part in the 1992 Alaska Challenge Snowmobile Safari, a two-week, 1,750-km epic snowmobile race across the Arctic.
In 1988, he retired to Edmonton where he immediately began running the Friday soup kitchen at the Bissell Centre.
“Helping people is what keeps me alive,” he told the WCR. “I see the figure of Christ in each one of them. I see a hungry Christ; I see a Christ in need.”
Shortly after that interview, Levaque retired from the ministry.
Swityk said the priest’s health went downhill. “It seemed like he had no purpose left. He had no poor people left to help.”
Father Roy said, “Father Levaque had a good devotion to the Holy Eucharist.” He was a regular at Eucharistic Adoration at Foyer Lacombe.
Levaque also showed great reverence when celebrating Mass, he said. He prayed the rosary daily and distributed rosaries to any person who would accept one.
“He wanted people to have a devotion to Mary.”
Roy cherishes all the help Levaque gave him because of his failing eyesight. “He was a very, very charitable man in doing whatever I asked him to do.”
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