By Nnaemeka Ali, OMI
The Superior General, Luis Ignacio ROIS ALONSO, began his visit at the Oblate residence in Richelieu before embarking on the footsteps of the first missionaries to the First Nations.
Shortly after his arrival, Father Chicho installed the new provincial and council of the OMI Province of NDC in Quebec, then crossed the St. Lawrence River in search of brother Oblates serving on the North Coast.
Following the footsteps of the first missionaries to the First Nations
On Friday afternoon, Father Chicho was accompanied by the provincial of NDC-Quebec, Father Jacques LALIBERTÉ, to the Innu community of Pessamit, which has a population of over 2,450 inhabitants. This was the home of Fathers Charles ARNAUD (1826-1914) and Louis BABEL (1826-1912) for much of their missionary lives.
During this visit, Father Chicho had the opportunity to hear the Innus speak about the missionaries who traveled along the entire North Coast of the St. Lawrence River, crossing Labrador to Greenland. According to Father Arnaud, this territory is three times larger than France:
“We had a wide field to deploy our zeal, as our boundaries extended from the shores of the Saguenay to the entire coast of Labrador and were lost on the shores of Greenland, an area three or four times larger than France.” (Carriere 1958, 35).
Encountering the Pessamit Community
Upon arriving in Pessamit, Fr. Chicho was taken by Father Gérard BOUDREAULT to meet this Innu Community that has welcomed the Oblate Missionaries since 1850. Fr. Chicho was taken around to see important places in the community, such as the school, the clinic, and the office of the Innu Nation Council of Pessamit. Moreover, they commemorated the 35th anniversary of the ordination of Father Gérard BOUDREAULT, which served as an excellent occasion to celebrate the bond of friendship and faith that exists between that community and its missionaries.
As a listening pilgrim, Fr. Chicho enjoyed hearing what the community wanted to communicate to him before speaking. During the evening Mass, he thanked the Innus for their hospitality and collaboration with the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate who serve in their communities.