It was a chance to express heart-felt gratitude when a special mass was held at Holy Family Church in Amirault’s Hill, Yarmouth County, honouring Father Maurice LeBlanc for his 70 years as a priest.
The West Pubnico native was ordained April 24, 1949, in Church Point.
On Sunday afternoon, May 5, residents from the Holy Family parish and the neighbouring Saint Joseph parish – along with visitors from other areas – attended a service recognizing the 70th anniversary of Father LeBlanc’s priesthood.
Speaking on behalf of the two parishes, Armand Bourque, president of the Holy Family parish council, spoke of Father LeBlanc’s devotion to the parishioners, his affection for them, his interest in hearing what they have to say.
Whether someone is experiencing joy or going through a tough time, Father LeBlanc listens, offering advice or consolation, Bourque said.
He recalled that Father LeBlanc had been retired for several years when, in the mid-1990s, he was approached about helping out with the Holy Family and Saint Joseph parishes, which were in need of a priest at the time.
He not only was willing to help, but he did so with open arms, Bourque said, and, over the years, Father LeBlanc often has said how happy he is to serve the people of both parishes.
Father LeBlanc spent many years teaching in Bathurst before moving to Church Point in 1974. He spent 17 years there and then, in the early 1990s, he returned to West Pubnico to retire.
He is well-known for his extensive involvement in the arts community, notably as a musician – he was a choir director for many years – and as a painter.
But the focus Sunday was on his 70 years as a priest, a milestone celebrated by a grateful community. There were a number of speakers.
In his tribute, Bourque said Father LeBlanc is very intelligent and has a huge vocabulary, but with him the words that stand out the most are “yes” and “thank you.” He has never said no to their requests, Bourque said, and he always is appreciative of what is done for him.
For his part, Father LeBlanc says he finds it almost unbelievable that he has reached the 70th anniversary of his priesthood.
In a note he penned for the occasion – which was included on the back of the program for Sunday’s mass – he recalled thinking about the priesthood at a very young age.
Today, he says, he thanks heaven for everything he’s been able to do, saying it’s been a privilege. How much longer can he go? Only God knows that, he says.