Fr. Jacques Joly, omi

Fr. Jacques Joly, omi

January 12, 2015

He loved nature. He could stop and marvel at a flower. He had an ability to see beauty in everything. He loved hockey and was an Oilers fan.

That's how colleagues remember Father Jacques Joly – a popular Oblate missionary who spent more than five decades ministering to flocks throughout Alberta.

"He was a fellow who was very direct, very sincere and very honest. He spoke words that went to your heart," recalls his friend and colleague Father Camille Piche, a former provincial superior of the Oblate Fathers.

"That's why the people loved him and that's why there were so many of them at the church for his funeral."

Joly died of heart complications at University Hospital Dec. 23 at age 79. About 700 people attended his funeral Mass Dec. 27 at St. Albert Church, where he had served as pastor. He lived next door to the church, at Grandin Centre.

"St. Albert Church had never been so full. All the people were there – his brothers, sisters-in-law, his own sister and his friends," observed Piche, who first met Joly at the seminary and later lived with him at Grandin Centre.

Joly's older brother, Oblate Father Maurice Joly, celebrated the Mass.

Joly was tall and handsome and knew his way around the hockey rink. "He was an excellent hockey player and could have made it to the top had he wanted," Piche pointed out.

"He loved to go to Oilers games and he was always watching either hockey games on TV or the Edmonton Eskimos."

Joly was born and raised in St. Paul among his 12 brothers and sisters. His mom and dad operated a farm. "He just loved the farm and loved to ride horses," Piche said.


Like many French Canadian boys he ended up attending Collège Saint-Jean in Edmonton. He joined the Oblates in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1962 in St. Paul among family and friends.

He started off his ministry with indigenous people in the Cardston Mission in southern Alberta. In 1965 he moved to St. Albert to do administration work at the Star of the North Retreat Centre.

Following studies in Rome, he returned to St. Albert in 1970 as pastor of St. Albert Parish, where he served for about 12 years.

Joly also served as pastor at Hobbema, Calgary and Canmore and was dominical vicar at Paroisse St. Joachim in Edmonton for a time.

While serving at Paroisse Ste. Famille in Calgary in the mid-1980s, Joly suffered a severe heart attack followed by bouts of depression.

"So life was not easy for him all the time," observed Piche. "But he really relied on his faith a lot and his faith was very strong."


An avid outdoorsman, Joly enjoyed his stay at Canmore, where he often went out trekking in the forest and in the mountains. "He was very connected with nature," observed Piche. "He loved the trees; he could stop and marvel at a flower. He had an ability to see the beauty in small things and in people and in others."

Piche also described his friend as a popular guy who was "just very lovable, very kind, very considerate and very generous."

Father Les Kwiatkowski, an Oblate missionary who does aboriginal ministry in Lac Ste. Anne, described Joly as "very easy to deal with."

"He liked to tease and liked to be teased," Kwiatkowski observed. "He always found a way to make a little joke or fun of any situation. I will miss the guy for sure. He was a good man."