Three-year-old Marie-Ange Jobin and with mother Carole. The family has begun construction on an addition to its Barry’s Bay, Ont., farmhouse to provide a temperature-controlled environment for Marie-Ange, who has brain damage from a lack of oxygen during birth. Photos courtesy the Jobin family

Family aims to bring its angel home

  • January 16, 2022

The Jobin family, parents Marc and Carole and their nine children, have many dreams, but the greatest right now is to unite the entire family under one roof.

They’ve shared two households since their youngest child, Marie-Ange, was born in September 2018. Marie-Ange was in a foot-long breech position before delivery. Carole then suffered a ruptured uterus, depriving the baby of oxygen which resulted in severe brain damage. The hemorrhaging that followed nearly took Carole’s life.

Since then, life as they know it has completely changed. The now three-year-old’s body is unable to regulate her own temperature, and even the slightest fluctuation in temperature could have detrimental impacts on her health. It means she has to be in a temperature-controlled environment, impossible to do in their century-old farmhouse in Barry’s Bay, Ont., which entails living 15 minutes away from the rest of the family in a separate house generously loaned to them.

Hearing of the family’s plight, the Knights of Columbus Ottawa Council has climbed on board to help the family reunite under one roof as it builds an addition to accommodate Marie-Ange. The council launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds that will allow for the temperature stability needed and space for nursing staff to provide around-the-clock care. The hope is to have the work completed by March. To date, close to $18,000 has been raised toward the $150,000 goal.

Marc, a member of the Knights, says with the organization’s support, along with that of the Mennonite Disaster Fund (which is also helping with construction), they have been able to break ground on the addition.

“We talked about (building an addition to the home) when (Marie-Ange’s illness) first happened but the idea of building a place on the farm seemed as though it was an impossible thing,” said Marc. “When the Knights of Columbus stepped up and the Mennonite Disaster Fund stepped up, it was like an answer to prayer. It really is something that we could not do on our own and all of a sudden became possible, but it’s going to take many hands to do the work.” 

Donald Macdonald, grand knight of the St. Patrick’s Basilica Ottawa Council, says the Jobins’ story first came to the Knights’ attention from a member who knew the family and asked for prayer support. Soon there were donations of small items such as heaters and computers for the children, but it was recognized the key issue was family separation.

“It was almost an unbelievable situation,” said MacDonald. “I don’t think anybody, let alone a large Catholic family with great family values, can put up with that strain of having that separation. That’s soon resulted in a sense of urgency that this family needed to be reunited, under the same roof in the farmhouse.”

The Jobins moved to the farm roughly six months before Marie-Ange was born, with a dream to cultivate the land and raise animals. That dream, for the most part, has been put on hold because of Marie-Ange’s condition. Carole has been Marie-Ange’s main caregiver while Marc has been driving back and forth, taking care of chores and the rest of the family while continuing his work as a paramedic in Renfrew County.

Uncertain as to how long their daughter will be with them, the Jobins have been continually prayerful about the situation and feel called to provide her the best care they can while she is here. Caring for “the least of these” is serving God, said Carole, quoting Matthew 24:40. Though it has been difficult, Carole says Marie-Ange, who is nonverbal, has strengthened her faith and brought a lot of joy to her life by teaching her to love unconditionally, without expecting anything in return.

“I call her my golden baby, because she has taught me so many things about life and that we truly live when we give a full measure of love,” said Carole. “I’m so happy that she’s here and I know all the children are so grateful that she is here.

“We just want to follow God’s will and we are here for Him to use us to be of service for Marie-Ange for the time that He has chosen for her to live. It’s really a beautiful experience as a mother. True beauty is a part of love and it comes with its share of pain and sacrifice.”

Carole has been aided in caring for Marie-Ange by the oldest of the Jobin children, who range in age from five to 21.

A government subsidy has allowed for some nursing aid that offers Carole a bit more time to take breaks and spend with the family. The  provincial health plan provides for 66 nursing hours a week, but due to the nursing shortage caused by COVID-19, finding trained staff has been a challenge. For safety, the family works to limit the number of different staff that interact with their daughter, which has forced them to step up to help with her care.

The weight of caring for a sick child, Carole says, has been great.

“I don’t ever have a day off,” said Carole, who is originally from France and met her husband 28 years ago as an exchange student at the University of Guelph. “It’s even a struggle for me to go for walks. The only way for me to take care of myself better is to make sure that if I’m on the farm, I can ask someone to relieve me for an hour.”

MacDonald says the Jobins are a wonderful story of a family living their Catholic faith by “walking the walk” and giving everything to their daughter for her health and comfort. The generosity of others and the cooperation between the Mennonite and Catholic community has been inspiring as well. 

“Many people in our community, in our Catholic faith and many Christians and other people that uphold the values of pro-life, they probably don’t fully understand the cost of it until you see something like this,” said MacDonald. “Some people are bearing the burden of being true to these principles of defending life, where our society has become very utilitarian in its approach. It’s only conceivable or makes sense through the eyes of faith. God is the author of life and we cooperate with God to nurture life and we don’t destroy it. We welcome it and our first responsibility is to love our brothers and sisters who have life. Their witness to life is very profound.”

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