Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Vice-Province of Grouard

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Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Vice-Province of Grouard

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        The Oblate Vice-Province of Grouard was established in 1901 as part of the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska. The Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska-Mackenzie had been established in 1864, and encompassed the geographical area of what is now Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

        The Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska-Mackenzie was administratively divided along the 60th parallel, into the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska (Northwestern part of Alberta) and the Vicariate of Missions of Mackenzie (Northeastern part of Alberta and the Northwest Territories). The Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska had three regions: Athabaska District (including Fort Chipewyan and Fond-du-Lac), Lesser Slave Lake – St. Bernard’s as Center (called Grouard since 1909), and the Peace River District.

        In 1927, the District of Athabaska was moved to the Vicariate of Missions of Mackenzie, and the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska became the Vicariate of Missions of Grouard. Mackenzie would administer the Athabaska district and Grouard, all areas east of the 113th meridian. The Vicariate of Grouard included Hay Lake, Fort Vermilion, Peace River, Fairview, Fort Dunvegan, Spirit River, Tangent, Grande-Prairie, Guy, Atikameg, Girouxville, Falher, McLennan, Grouard, Slave Lake, Wabaska and Desmarais until 1948.

        In 1967, Rome abolished the system of vicariates of missions under the direction of Superiors, and all vicariates became Vice-Provinces under the direction of a Provincial. This elevated the Vicariate of Missions of Grouard to the Vice-Province of Grouard.

        The Vice-Province of Grouard was both the civil corporation and the canonical entity for the Oblates in the northern regions of Alberta. Its administration consisted of the Superior / Vicar, later Provincial, and a council of four advisors that included the Treasurer, who advised on financial matters, with committees for support as needed.

        The responsibilities of the Provincial administration was to manage the administration, the religious operations, and the financial aspects of the corporation, and to direct all the activities of the region that aimed to evangelize, to establish mission stations, elementary and advanced schools, orphanages, hospitals, and carry out other works of Christian charity, to erect chapels and churches. This included the monitoring of properties and investments, pensions and personnel finances, project funds, and funds used for training and material missionary work in the communities.

        The Provincial Administration worked closely with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grouard-McLennan to carry out mission work in the territory that spanned 250,000 square kilometers. The superiors of the Vicariate often at the same time served as the bishop of the Diocese. The Vice-Province provided Oblates to support the work of the Diocese, and the administration of the missions, parishes and the financial responsibilities for staff often overlapped. The Oblates also supported the work of the Diocese in administering its seven Indian Residential Schools.

        By the 1970s, the Oblates would carry out their missionary work under an agreement with the Roman Catholic archbishop of the Diocese, and financial affairs and property ownership were also separated in the 1970s.

        The Provincial was also responsible for overseeing the administration of the various Oblate institutions in the Vice-Province, including the Centre Notre-Dame de la Paix, the Notre-Dame Collège (closed 1971), the Provincial House, the museum, and the pilgrimage grounds in Girouxville, and the Kisemanito Centre in Grouard.

        By 1982, the Vice-Province of Grouard had four administrative districts based on geographic representation: The west sector contained Spirit-River, Eaglesham, Girouxville, Falher, and Jean-Côté. The central sector consisted of McLennan, Donnelly, Guy, Calais and Valleyview. The northern sector was comprised of Assumption, Meander-River, Fort-Vermilion and High Level, and the eastern sector consisted of Trout Lake, Wabasca, Smith, Slave Lake, Faust, Joussard, High Prairie, Gift Lake and Grouard.

        The Oblate Vice-Province of Grouard ceased to exist in 1986 when it merged with the Oblate Vice-Province of Mackenzie and the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan to form Grandin Province.

        Superiors, Vicariate of Grouard:

        • Emile Grouard (1901-1930)
        • Jules Calais (1930-1932)
        • Joseph Guy (1932-1938)
        • Ubald Langlois (1938-1944)
        • Henri Routhier (1944-1950)
        • Armand Boucher (1950-1956)
        • Marjorique Lavigne (1956-1965)
        • Jean Marsan (1965-1966)

        Provincials, Vice-Province of Grouard:

        • Jean Marsan (1967-1973))
        • René Bélanger (1973-1979)
        • Clément Richer (1979-1985)


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        Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Grandin Province (1986-2003)

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        Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Grandin Province is the successor of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Vice-Province of Grouard

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