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On the Path to Sainthood

 Alejandro Calderon
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On the Path to Sainthood: Servant of God Ovide Charlebois, O.M.I.

Servant of God Bishop Ovide Charlebois, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, is on the path to sainthood. This holy man’s Cause for Beatification on the diocesan level began August 15, 1951. The Cause was then introduced in Rome in 1979, followed by the validity of the diocesan inquiry in 1986. The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints received the recommendation in 2001, and it will be passed to the cardinal, archbishop and bishop members of the Congregation for voting. Should the cause pass the vote, the Pope then receives the recommendation. The Pope’s approval would allow Servant of God Bishop Charlebois to be known as Venerable Bishop Charlebois. Beatification and Canonization are the final steps of the lengthy and complicated process.

Bishop Charlebois was born in Oka in Québec, Canada on February 17, 1862. He joined the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1883 and was ordained to the priesthood on July 17, 1887. His first assignment was to Western Canada where he dedicated his entire remaining years.

Father Charlebois lived a busy and productive life, to say the least. For sixteen years he lived alone at the mission of St. Joseph at Fort Cumberland in northern Saskatchewan in the Diocese of Saint Albert, working amongst the indiginous people. In 1900, he was given administrative responsibility for the surrounding missions, including one at The Pas, Manitoba and most of the lower Saskatchewan River. In 1903, he went to the Industrial School at Duck Lake, Saskatchewan and managed to put the financially-troubled facility on a firmer economic basis.

Father Charlebois was named Vicar Apostolic (bishop) of Keewatin, Manitoba in 1910. He was installed on March 7, 1911 and resided in The Pas where he remained for the rest of his life.

At 48 years old, Bishop Charlebois found himself traveling by canoe or dog sled for his pastoral visits. His personal journal recounted some of the struggles he encountered during his first pastoral tour in 1911. He wrote, “I covered 2,000 miles by canoe and 50 miles on foot through the forest. I slept on the ground 60 times, under the protection of the small tent in which I celebrated Mass so often. I visited 14 missions, totaling 4500 Catholics. Six of these missions had never been visited by a bishop. I confirmed 1,100 Amerindians whose fine dispositions greatly edified me.” This courageous bishop made similar expeditions tens of times.

Bishop Charlebois worked tirelessly at the difficult task of organizing his vast mission with patience and courage, until he died at age 71 on November 20, 1933. He had fallen ill while traveling by dog team to a community south of The Pas. He was buried in a small Roman Catholic cemetery of The Pas overlooking the Saskatchewan River. His remains were transferred to the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1955.

In order for Servant of God Bishop Chalebois to eventually be considered for sainthood, favors must be documented. The following favors have been contributed to Bp. Charlebois thus far:

1952
A couple from Sakitawasik, near Canoe Lake, Canada had a 10-year-old boy who suffered from renal colic. As medicine could not help, the family prayed the novena for the intercession of the Servant of God Ovide Charlebois and, after two weeks, the boy was without pain.

1955
A woman from Forestville, Canada reported that she gave birth to a healthy child after a difficult pregnancy. The woman knew Bp. Charlebois personally. After the bishop’s death, she continued asking his intercession. She is convinced that she gave birth to a healthy child because of the Servant of God´s intercession.

1990
A 51-year-old woman from Pelican Narrows, Canada reported that she was suffering from leukemia. She received cortisone therapy for two years and could not walk anymore. Her grandfather, who knew Bp. Charlebois personally, continued to ask the intercession of the Servant of God Charlebois for her healing. The grandfather would come and touch his granddaughter’s face and head with a third-class relic of the Servant of God. The whole family prayed the novena for nine months. The woman was completely healed, got married and had five children.

2008
An Oblate from The Pas, Canada claims that an elder from a First Nation (Indigenous peoples) in Canada had been healed from cancer of the lung years ago. On his way to surgery, the man had stopped in The Pas to pray at the tomb of the Servant of God Charlebois. When the man arrived at the hospital in Winnipeg, the doctors found that there was no cancer traceable.