This week, we welcomed a new pastor into our parish. Fr. Richard Beaudette was ordained 33-years ago and all of his travels since have led him to our little community in Ottawa – which he affectionately refers to as “the big city”. I caught up with Fr. Richard just before his very first noon mass to learn a little more about him.
Brandon: What can we call you? Fr. Richard, Fr. Beaudette, Fr. Rick?
Fr. Richard: Just Richard’s fine actually.
B: So, Richard, how’s your first week going at St. Joe’s?
FR: It’s comfortable, I’m quite comfortable here. People are very friendly. It’s great!
B: And how did the mass go over this weekend?
FR: Oh, they were good celebrations. For me, they were a real highlight. The transition celebration, that aspect of it, I think it went very well.
B: Where are you from originally?
FR: I grew up in little place called Vegreville. It’s north-central Alberta, about 100 kilometers from Edmonton.
B: But you’ve been all over Canada, right?
FR: Pretty much!
B: What’s your favourite place that you’ve been?
FR: Probably White Horse. It’s a small city, 20,000 people more or less. It has lots of cultural opportunities, lots of recreational opportunities. It’s a government city, but within five minutes of leaving the downtown, you’re in the wilderness. You’d run across bears, wolves, all the wild life that was around.
B: What do you do when you’re not at church or in the office?
FR: I’ve got all kinds of hobbies. I love photography, I do a lot of that. I often just carry my camera with me wherever I’m going. I like to sit down later on with the photos and play with them and print them.
B: You edit them yourself?
B: That’s cool.
FR: Yeah. I also like to walk, to hike. I do a lot of that. Nothing too strenuous – no mountain climbing or rock climbing for me. When I was in the north, I hunted every year and brought home the meat for the winter. But I didn’t bother bringing my rifles.
B: Yeah, you’d have to go pretty far for that.
FR: Yeah, they stayed at home on the farm with my brother. Let’s see, what else do I do? I sew, I cook, I like to garden. Lots of those kinds of things.
B: That’ll fit in well with the Supper Table because they do a lot of gardening in the spring.
FR: Yeah, I was looking out the window here and went ‘wow’. Then I realized that they must grow stuff up here (the patio), because I see the arrogation.
B: Yeah, Fr. Andy used to have his banzai trees out there. He loves his banzai trees.
FR: Oh! I was thinking more herbs and tomatoes.
B: That’s another good option.
FR: Yeah, the Supper Table can grow the garden down there and I’ll contribute from up here.
B: That’s not a bad plan.
FR: I do love to grow things.
B: So, what would parishioners be surprised to know about you?
FR: Well, maybe that I can’t speak French even though I have a French name. My mom’s parents immigrated from the Ukraine. My grandfather wasn’t too bad, but my grandmother never spoke English. So, if we wanted to communicate with her, we had to speak in Ukrainian. So, I spoke Ukrainian a lot better than French, but I lost it all now. But one of the things that I’d like to do, while I’m living here, is to start picking up my French again.
B: It’s worthwhile. I think I’m the only person in the Front Office who can’t speak French either, so maybe we can learn together.
B: This is more of an interview question, but what skill or experience do you think will serve you best at St. Joe’s?
FR: I suppose all of my experience in parishes. I’ve been ordained 33-years now and I’ve been in parish ministry during all of that time. My years in parish ministry were really varied – everything from small parishes of two-hundred households, to reserves, to cathedrals in White Horse.
B: You’ve seen it all.
FR: Yeah, and probably my administrative experience with the Diocese of Prince George and with the Oblates. All of those things will be very helpful.
B: Sounds like you’ve had your foot in everything.
FR: Oh yeah. I’ve learned how to work with lawyers, accountants, and who knows what.
B: Since you’ve been here, what’s impressed you most and what are you most looking forward to getting involved with.
FR: I think what’s impressed me is the scope of the ministry here. You know, it’s not focused just on one segment of the population around. You’ve got families, you’ve got seniors, you’ve got students. you’ve got the LGBT, you’ve got those using the Supper Table and Women’s Centre, and I’m sure there are a lot more things that I haven’t even figured out yet. It’s like shooting a shotgun – you aim at everything, not just one thing.
B: Yeah, Sandy Hill is an interesting spot for all of this and hopefully you’ll be able to make it feel like home.
FR: Oh, I’m sure of it.
B: And with that, I’d like to thank you for your time and wish you luck at your first noon mass.
I had a great time getting to know Fr. Richard and I’m sure we’ll all come to know him better as time passes. The Archbishop will be visiting this Sunday to officially swear him in, so please greet our new pastor warmly and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. It’s difficult to move to a new city and enter a new community, so it’s our job to make Fr. Richard feel at home here at St. Joe’s. In fact, if he doesn’t know 10 great places to eat in Ottawa by Monday, we’ve failed. I’m exaggerating of course, but it’s gestures like those that make all the difference.