Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Praying for the Japanese People; Remembering Andre LaChapelle from St Jacques de L'Achigan

The past week has sent waves of prayers and remembrances for the people of Japan dealing with an earthquake, tsunamis and nuclear radiation.

The paternal great grandmother of Paul Emile Rivet was Catherine Langlois dit LaChapelle.  She was the great-great-grand daughter of Honoré Langlois dit LaChapelle who was born in France in 1632 and emmigrated to Québec when he was 19 years old , in 1651.  Catherine was additionally the great-great-grand daughter of Marin Janot dit LaChapelle who emmigrated from France to Québec in 1655. There were several other LaChapelle lines that emigrated from France to Québec.

Another LaChapelle, from St Jacques de L'Achigan, lost his life last week, along with so many others in the tsunami that struck northern Japan...here is his story.

For fifty years, Rev. André Lachapelle dedicated his life to missionary work in Japan’s Miyagi region, teaching high school and writing religious books in Japanese for his students.  Most recently, he took up a post as parish priest in the coastal town of Shiogama and also ministered to prisoners, listening to their stories and hearing their confessions.

And it was while he was rushing to assist his parishioners in the wake of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake Friday that Father Lachapelle died, the first confirmed Canadian casualty of the disaster.

That afternoon, the 76-year-old was attending a meeting of the charismatic movement at the cathedral in Sendai when the quake struck. Uninjured by the tremor, he jumped in his car and headed to Shiogama, 17 kilometres away.
“His colleagues advised him to stay in Sendai and not to go,” said Florant Vincent, a fellow priest who worked with him for decades in Japan. “But he left anyway. He said ‘I have to be with the people there.’ “
With television and other communication networks knocked out, Father Lachapelle had no way of knowing a tsunami was imminent. It struck just as he arrived in Shiogama. His body was found outside the car, which has not been recovered. He was identified by his driver’s licence and passport.
Medical examiners determined that he suffered a heart attack, but it was unclear whether he had been hit by the wave.
Father Lachapelle was born June 1, 1934, in St. Jacques, a small town 65 kilometres north of Montreal and has several brothers in Joliette, Que. He had worked in Japan with the Society of Foreign Missions, an international Roman Catholic missionary organization, since 1961.
He taught courses in religion and French at a private high school for some 30 years and also served as school principal.

Accessed from The Toronto Globe and Mail 

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