“You never know what the Lord has in store for you”: the remarkable story of a vocation 65 years in the making

How’s this for a really late vocation?  From Ottawa:

For nearly half a century, Gérard Lafrenière was devoted to his wife, and, by all accounts, fulfilled his vows to love, honour and cherish her. Yet, he had another love, too.

In 2009, two years after his wife of 49 years, Gisèle Viau, died, Lafrenière fulfilled the vocation that had been with him since childhood. He became a Catholic priest, with his wife’s blessing.

“This is something that has been in my life for the past 65 years,” he told the Citizen on the day of his ordination. “You never know what the Lord has in store for you. I had to put it aside for a while and take a different avenue.”

On Saturday, three years after becoming a priest, Father Lafrenière’s died at the age of 83.

Those who knew him describe him as a modest but exceptional man who had a great gift for consoling others.

“He was very loved,” said his son Georges Lafrenière.

“He was the type of person who was always willing to listen to you, really listen,” said Leonard Larabie, a longtime member of the congregation of St. Joseph d’Orléans, who knew Lafrenière for nearly four decades. “He knew how to listen and how to comfort people.”

“He was a man with a very deep faith,” said Royal Galipeau, the Conservative MP for Ottawa-Orléans, who remembers Lafrenière signing his nomination papers when he entered politics in the 1980s.

“He didn’t care about promoting himself. He just fit himself in where he thought he was best needed.”

Indeed, even though Lafrenière officially retired in November when a liver ailment left him frail and shaky, he continued, unofficially, to used what energy he had left to take calls from the church and members of the congregation.

“He really worked until the end,” said his son Georges. “He was doing a lot of phoning from his bed.”

That, say friends, was typical. “He never retired,” said Larabie. “He was too busy. He just never slowed down.”

Read more.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…


  1. I am always so happy to hear about someone who doesn’t let age stop them from giving their life to God. I am nearly 60 and have wanted to be a nun my whole life. I will be entering a Benedictine monastery soon and have had to fight against many obstacles to get here, including the prejudice of whose who consider me ‘too old’. Good thing Abraham didn’t let his age stop him from serving God! :>) This priest is an inspiration.

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Annie! That’s wonderful!

    And before anybody says anything, there are plenty of young men who have died in the seminary or just after ordination. St. Stanislaus Kostka is very famous for that, but his life was not a waste; and in Heaven, he could do even more. None of us knows when the Lord will take us, and His ideas of “return on investment” are not ours.

  3. Diakonos09 says:

    That’s beautiful. Indeed, one never knows when the Lord will call. Sadly, in our archdiocese, the new vocation’s director has decreed that no potential seminary candidate over 50 need apply and he congratulated himself on having turned away 5 men this past year who were 50+. All this at the same time that a notice has been sent out on the lack of vocations along with the suggestion for permanent deacons to be open to becoming administrators of parishes as and when needed in the near future.

  4. pagansister says:

    Better late than never—I hope he is happy with his choice.

  5. pagansister says:

    I so totally missed the fact that the Father had died. My statement above should have read—-I hope he was happy with his choice to become a priest at the later stage in his life. May he rest in peace.

  6. pagansister says:

    The best of luck to you in your new life, Annie. One is never to old to follow their dreams!

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