Fr. Roland Bonenfant, director of the Frédéric Jansoone Centre in Trois Rivieres, Que., stands in front of a painting of the Franciscan who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988. Photo by Alan Hustak

Franciscans rallying to have Good Fr. Frédéric declared saint

By  Alan Hustak, Catholic Register Special
  • June 9, 2016

MONTREAL – As the 100th anniversary approaches of the death of “Good Fr. Frédéric,” Franciscans are rallying to have Pope Francis finally declare Frederic Janssoone a saint.

The centenary of his death in Montreal will occur on Aug. 4. In advance of that, Franciscans recently met in Quebec City to intensify efforts to raise his profile and have the Pope declare him St. Frédéric de Ghyvelde. 

Good Fr. Frédéric was an indefatigable Franciscan evangelist and fundraiser whose legacy endures not only in Quebec but reaches as far as the Holy Land. 

Sometimes referred to as God’s travelling salesman, Janssoone had, in the words of one of his contemporaries, the ability to “make  God appear to men who could not see God.” 

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

“He was a workaholic of great piety, a man who knew what he had to do, and he still speaks to us today,” said Fr. Roland Bonenfant, the director of the Frédéric Janssoone Centre in Trois Rivieres, Que. 

“Just because we have become a secular society does not mean that people aren’t still seeking answers. Fr. Frédéric still speaks to us today. Led by intense prayer, he was a man who kept on the move, and he still offers each of us a road to inner peace.” 

Virtually unknown in English-speaking Canada, Janssoone paved the way for the return of the Franciscans to Canada in 1888. 

Born to Flemish parents in Ghyvelde, France in 1838, Janssoone was a travelling salesman before he joined the Franciscans in 1864. Ordained six years later, he served as a military chaplain during the Franco-Prussian War before founding a friary in Bordeaux. But he left for Jerusalem in 1876 , where he built the parish church of St. Catherine in Bethlehem. 

His love of the Holy Land is what brought him to Canada. He came to Quebec for a short stay in 1881 to raise money for the shrines in the Holy Land and launched the collection for the Holy Land which is still taken on Good Friday in every Catholic church in Canada. 

He returned to Canada in 1888 and built a Franciscan house in Trois Rivieres. From there he launched his  famous fund-raising drives, conducted throughout a number of Quebec dioceses. He also wrote an astonishing number of pamphlets and books.  

Impressed by his good-natured piety, the faithful considered him another Francis of Assisi and were in the habit of calling him “the Holy Father.”

To mark the centennial of his death his reliquary will travel, as he did, through a number of parishes throughout Quebec. From June 30 to Aug. 6 it will be the focal point of observances at the Notre Dame du Cap. It will be brought to Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory on Aug. 21. 

The Janssoone Museum in Trois Rivieres re-opened to the public on June 6 following major renovations.

Janssoone has already been credited with one miracle. A second, necessary for sainthood, is under review.  

“The most recent involves the owner of a senior’s residence in Trois Rivieres who was diagnosed with leukemia,” said Bonenfant, vice-postulant for the cause of Blessed Frédéric’s sainthood.

“Several nuns living in the building said a novena for his recovery invoking the intercession of Fr. Frédéric, and he has been cancer free for two years. His doctor said she can’t explain it.”

But Bonenfant says he doesn’t need proof to know that Janssoone is a saint. 

“More important than proof is the fact that he worked many miracles during his lifetime,” he said.  “Imagine, we have been at this for 95 years, people have been working in Lille, France, and in Alexandria in Egypt to promote his cause. 

“We have 26 lockers filled with binders full of testimonials written by people thanking him for ‘favours obtained.’  These may not be miraculous healings as such, but he touched the lives of thousands, and that is what makes a saint.”

(Hustak is a writer in Montreal.)

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.