Saturday, September 30, 2023

The departure of the Trappist fathers

Looking at history, the presence of the community of the Trappist Fathers in the north of Lac-Saint-Jean has its origins in a request from the bishop of the diocese of Chicoutimi and the government of the time. The latter had asked the monks of Oka to establish a monastery on the present-day lands of Dolbeau-Mistassini. This request was motivated by the fact that we wanted to open a new territory to colonization, and thus stop the emigration of many citizens to the United States for economic reasons.

Recognized for their knowledge in agriculture.

Already established in Oka since 1881, the monks were reputed to excel in agriculture. Therefore, people who live nearby could benefit from your help and knowledge. Their reputation crossed the borders of this region, so they were asked to settle in Mistassini. The year 1892 being recognized by the municipal authorities as the founding year of Mistassini, the three monks of Oka are attributed to being the founders of Mistassini and the parish of Saint-Michel.

As the years passed, people settled in what later became the Village des Pères. These same people, in turn, benefited from the monks’ agricultural knowledge. This is how, by coming to work with them and for them, they were able to apply what they learned and thus transmit their knowledge to other generations.

The monks’ farm included, among other things, a dairy, a butter factory, a cheese (gouda) factory, a flour mill, a chicken farm, and a canning factory (beans, peas, blueberries). In 1939 a confectionery was added and, in 1978, the chocolate factory that no longer needs an introduction as its reputation transcends borders.

For several years now, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean has seen several religious communities leave the region. The main reason is the advanced age of its members, but also the lack of replacements. When they were founded, most of these communities had education and health as their mission. Among those that remain, some, through their members, are still quietly involved in community sectors. We found others active in the Hermitage Saint-Antoine du Lac-Bouchette; at the Augustinien Center in Saint-Félicien, for people with mental health problems; in Chicoutimi, working discreetly in animation and spiritual accompaniment. In Dolbeau-Mistassini and Chicoutimi we still find communities that bring together nuns and monks.

Everything is achieved

Speaking on September 8 and 10 in two Eucharistic celebrations in which we wanted to pay tribute to them, Father Clément Charbonneau, member of the Cistercian order of the Narrow Observance, wanted to explain the departure of the members of the community with the following words: “I dare to think that this departure is due to the fact that the monks have fulfilled the task entrusted to them, that of being a place of prayer and meditation in the diocese of Chicoutimi, and that of allowing a region to be born and develop “So, for us, maybe everything is achieved.”

Contribution of the Trappist Fathers

If the Fathers’ chocolate factory has become a regional emblem, the contribution of the Trappist Fathers is not limited to this. His main contribution was to enable people living north of Lac-Saint-Jean, and certainly in the surrounding areas, to learn to cultivate the fundamentals of agriculture and all the means of subsistence it allowed. Added to this are the hundreds of jobs that will have allowed people in the sector to “earn a living.” After questioning some people during my visit to Dolbeau-Mistassini, some employees and former employees mentioned that the Fathers gave them the opportunity to realize themselves as people, but also that they instilled in them the values ​​of respect for people and the standards to follow in matters of work, the importance of offering people exceptional quality of the products manufactured in the chocolate factory. Finally, with their discreet presence, their daily prayer and their good advice, these Fathers were like lightning rods.

As with all people who have to leave their job, their home or even their region, we can understand the anguish that inhabits the Trappists who have lived all their lives north of Lac-Saint-Jean. If the grief began in the reflection that led them to make the decision to leave, it will still be experienced at the time of the move and in the following months.

As for us, the next time we try one of the chocolates from the Chocolaterie des Pères, let us think of them, who, in their own way, have contributed to building our region and making it known beyond our borders.

To the community of the Trappist Fathers, as we love those called, thank you from the bottom of my heart for who you are, but also for your rich contribution to our region.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news