The Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN) mourns the loss of eight Brothers from the Francophone Canada District due to COVID-19. The Brothers lived at Résidence De La Salle in Laval, Québec, and died between April 16 – May 7, 2020. Résidence De La Salle houses 70 residents, including members of other religious congregations. In addition to the Brothers who died, 13 residents from other congregations also died from COVID-19.
“We were deeply saddened by the losses; they all had wonderful and dedicated lives and had all been retired for quite a number of years,” said Brother Florent Gaudreault, FSC, Visitor of the Francophone Canada District. “They all had serious underlying health issues but the virus hit them much harder than we had expected.”
We remember the Francophone Canada Brothers who died and their significant contributions:
Brother Antoine Beausoleil, FSC, architect and missionary in Cameroun and Haiti (April 16)
Brother Fernand Caya, FSC, District treasurer (April 29)
Brother Paul–Émile Legault, FSC, teacher and missionary in Haiti (April 29)
Brother Paul-Émile Drolet, FSC, teacher in Québec (May 3)
Brother Henri Perron, FSC, teacher and accountant (May 4)
Brother Roland Desfossés, FSC, math teacher and community director in Ottawa (May 5)
Brother Clément Maheu, FSC, teacher and community director in Japan (May 7)
Brother Gérard Mailhot, FSC, teacher and assistant (May 9)
“Their lives offer me and all of us a witness to fidelity and association—both to the community and to the people to whom there were called, consecrated and sent,” said Brother Timothy Coldwell, FSC, General Councilor for RELAN. “They touched countless lives and instilled hope in so many! The Lasallian Region of North America gives thanks for the gift of their inspiring example.”
The deaths come despite the strict precautions Résidence De La Salle put into place approximately one week before the government mandated such precautions. The precautions include: not allowing visitors or gatherings, closing the chapel, allowing no more than one or two (as needed) people in an elevator, bringing meals to the residents’ rooms, requiring staff members to leave their uniforms to be washed nightly, and requiring staff to wear masks with nurses and attendants wearing a mask and face shield. At the peak of the infections, residents were not allowed to leave their rooms and meals were brought to their rooms using disposable plates and utensils.
“We are very thankful for the wonderful staff, especially the executive director and the head nurse. They have had to deal with so many issues every day, including working with a smaller staff, as employees are sick or are afraid to get the virus. At times, half of the staff is missing. It’s a real challenge. But they do an unbelievable job—all the nurses, the attendants, the janitors. Like the Brothers, they are very dedicated, and they do everything they can to keep them safe and happy too,” said Brother Florent.
In these challenging times, Résidence De La Salle offers a daily prayer service and Sunday Mass through the internal TV. Two nuns live at the community and spiritually accompany the Brothers. The District has received encouraging messages from Brothers throughout world, offering their prayers.
In addition to asking for your prayers for those who have died, Brother Timothy encourages you to “reach out with a note of solidarity and encouragement to the community in Laval.”
As of May 12, the situation is improving, but remains fragile. No new infections were diagnosed in the past few days, and at least half of those who had COVID-19 have recovered. What was used as a “red zone” (a large hall for banquets, funerals, concerts and other activities) to care for the sick will close this week. While following strict guidelines, Brothers who could not leave their rooms for 10 days will soon be allowed to go outside for a walk or to work in the garden. Memorials will be scheduled for the Brothers at a later date.
If you would like to send a note to the Brothers at Résidence De La Salle, you may email your message to Brother Florent at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a note to:
F.Daniel Croteau, fec
Résidence De La Salle
300, ch. du Bord-de-l’Eau
Laval (Québec) H7X 1S9