Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins watches as Sister Andrea Dumont accepts Catholic Missions’ missionary award April 24 on behalf of all “unsung heroes” referring to all missionaries working in Canada. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Sr. Dumont accepts Catholic Missions award on behalf of all missionaries

  • April 28, 2015

VAUGHAN, ONT. - Sr. Andrea Dumont, a missionary Sister of St. Joseph, was honoured this year with Catholic Missions In Canada's St. Joseph Award.

The award is presented annually at Catholic Missions' Tastes of Heaven gala, held April 24 at Bellvue Manor in Vaughan.
Dumont was feted for her missionary work that took her first to Guatemala and then back to Canada and the far north where the soft spoken sister has worked since 1981 in the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas. She is currently at Thompson and Nelson House, known by locals as the Hub of the North, where Dumont serves a community of about 13,000 with adult education and spiritual support.

“I wanted to be a missionary because I wanted to work with the poor. I wanted to give whatever I had to give to make their lives a little easier,” said Dumont, who spent 14 years in Guatemala before conditions became too dangerous. “I just felt that I was being called there. I grew more spiritually as a missionary than I had ever grown in my faith before.”

Following Vatican II, Dumont was one of four from her community, which at the time had more than 500 members, assigned to its new mission in an increasingly violent Guatemala. During that time the former Catholic school teacher from St. Catharines, Ont., said she learned to lean on God for guidance when unsure how to help the local peasants as grenades from the Guatemalan army — who didn't appreciate the sisters presence in the area — tore apart the home she shared with other missionaries.

“I developed a greater dependence on God and a deeper relationship with Jesus in those years .... (because) all you could do was say God help me do for these people what they need.”

Although honoured, Dumont declined to accept the award in her name alone, requesting it be seen as recognition of all of those who have spent time serving in a mission.

“In accepting the St. Joseph Award that is given by Catholic Missions In Canada I accept it in the name of all the missionaries who work in Canada,” she said. “It is in their name that I will accept it because there are a lot of unsung heroes there. I am grateful that they are being recognized.”

Bishop Gary Gordon, a fellow missionary whose annual west coast fishing trip helps raise funds during Taste of Heaven's silent auction, said Dumont truly represents Canadian missionaries collectively.

“Congratulations, and yes you do represent so many of our missionaries here in Canada,” said Gordon, bishop of Victoria.

“There is nothing greater than the vocation to missionary life.”

Fr. Philip Kennedy, president of Catholic Missions In Canada, also praised Dumont as someone to look up to.

“Such a person serves as a role model for all people,” he said. “The St. Joseph Award is given to recognize and honour a missionary whose life has been dedicated to serving as a light for the world and salt of the earth.”

This year's Tastes of Heaven was the 14th edition. More than 500 guests shared a four-course meal, were entertained by a number of musical performances and collectively raised more than $380,000 to support the work of Canadian missionaries.
That money was raised through donations, ticket sales and a live and silent auction.

“(We hold this) not only to raise money to assist our financially challenged missions but also awareness that Canadians can help the people who are struggling,” said Kennedy, president of Catholic Missions In Canada, who shared his vocation story that night.

Among the guests was Toronto's Cardinal Thomas Collins, who also shared his vocation story.

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