50 years later....
Text by Paul and Yvette Lagassé
Photos by Paul Lagassé, Nicole and Ron Rochon
This story begins about 50 years ago.
Yolande and Gertrude Lagassé, two girls from Saint-Adolphe, take a trip to Europe including a visit by train to Lourdes. During the trip they mistakenly enter the compartment in which the Bishop of Lima Alcides Mendoza Castro is seated. A conversation is started and a friendship is born.
The need for priests in Peru is brought up and it is decided that the bishop would contact Bishop Baudoux who is the bishop in Saint Boniface at the time, to see if it was possible to send priests to help out in Peru. Bishop Baudoux tells him that it is not possible but offers to set up a bursary for a Peruvian boy who would like to study at the Saint-Boniface seminary in order to become a priest. The deal is made and it is decided that a student named Octavio Casaverde would go to Manitoba to study to become a priest.
Monsignor Mendoza then calls the Lagassé girls (Yolande and Gertrude) to let them know about this decision and to ask them if they would accept to help out this young seminarian who could speak three languages ( Spanish, Latin and Quechua which is the language of the Incas) but who did not know any French or English. It is at this time that the ties between Octavio and the family of Eugene and Marguerite Lagassé are established.
Octavio's studies go well and he makes many friends. In 1966 he is ordained priest in Saint-Boniface Cathedral. Four young Lagassé boys (Claude, Guy, Aurèle and Paul) have the honor of being altar boys on this memorable occasion. His first mass is celebrated in Saint-Adolphe since Octavio considers Saint-Adolphe his "home away from home". The Lagassé family was really proud especially since Marc Lagassé made his first communion at this mass.
Octavio returns to Peru and in 1968 Yolande decides to go to Peru where she spends four years working among the poor as a lay missionary. Octavio's family takes this young lady under their wing and she would later return to Lima many times. To this day Yolande continues to say that her heart is still in Peru.
One can imagine how happy she was to learn that her nephew Paul and her niece Nicole as well as their spouses were going to Peru this year to do missionary work building an orphanage in Canete Peru.
Who would have thought that 45 years later Paul and Yvette, Nicole and Ron would be in Lima to attend a mass presided by Octavio who is now a Monseignor, vicar general of the archdiocese of Lima as well as president of the Chanoine order.
Who would have thought that one day members of the Eugène and Marguerite Lagassé would party with members of Octavio's family in Lima. We are extremely thankful at the way that things turned out. These are really precious moments for us.