FR. PAUL EMILE BECHARD (1918 - 2011) Fr. Paul Emile Bechard, priest of Madonna House Apostolate, died peacefully on August 31, 2011 at Our Lady of the Visitation - St. Mary's in Combermere, ON On June 17 of this year he celebrated 66 years of priesthood. Fr. Paul was born on July 20, 1918 in Sedley, Saskatchewan to Exupere & Marie-Louise (Gibeau) Bechard. For his early schooling he was boarder and educated at the convent in Montmartre, SK. He later attended College Mathieu in Gravelbourg, SK and Regina Cleri Seminary in Regina, SK. On June 17, 1945 he was ordained to the priesthood at his home parish, Our Lady of Grace Church in Sedley, SK. His parish assignments included Holy Rosary Cathedral in Regina, SK and St. Maurice de Bellegarde, SK.
Fr. Paul's first contact with Madonna House was in 1954 on his way to Quebec for study days with the Young Christian Farmers. He continued a number of years in parish work before joining Madonna House on July 14, 1957, becoming the fifth full-time priest to serve the Apostolate. His first assignment was to St. Benedict's Acres as chaplain of the farm staff. Along with that he used his carpentry skills to help construct various farm buildings as well as the chapel at Cana Colony used for family retreats. In 1959 he was assigned to Maryhouse, YK to fill in for the acting chaplain, taught catechism and helped with maintenance and carpentry projects. He returned to Combermere as chaplain to the farm and staff of St. Joseph's House Rural Apostolate. He provided retreats and classes to the staff workers and used his carpentry skills to help build the new house for St. Joseph's RA. He also assisted Fr. Michael Hass, along with other MH priests, in serving St. Francis de Sales Parish in Latchford Bridge, as well as other parishes throughout the diocese of Pembroke. Other assignments for
Madonna House included Our Lady of Aquia, VA; Paris, France; and Robin Hood's Bay, England. In the mid 1990's Fr. Paul began living a more prayerful life as a poustinik at Madonna House, Combermere. He continued an apostolate of listening, spiritual direction and carpentry. In 2009, because of failing health, he moved into Our Lady of the Visitation, an extension of Madonna House - St. Mary's which cares for their sick & elderly. He died there on August 31. He is predeceased by his parents, brothers; Gabriel, Marcelle, Jerome and Dr. Jean- Benoit Bechard and sister-in-law Gisele and a nephew Giles. Left to mourn Fr. Paul are his niece Jocelyn (Al) Ash, nephews Clement (Diane), Come (Jackie) and Jean Giles (Madine) Bechard, his sister-in-laws Germaine and Lise as well as several grand and great nephews & nieces. Prayer and wake services for Fr. Paul were held on Sept 4, 2011. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Sept 5, 2011 at Madonna House St. Mary's chapel, with interment at the Madonna House cemetery. A reception followed.