Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of CanadaFranciscains du Canada

Ordo Fratrum Minorum

Fr. Ethelbert and Jerry

Fr. Ethelbert and Jerry

 

Fr. Ethelbert with a family in Beverly, AB, 1915-1917.

In 1912, there were around 40 Catholic families in Beverly, Alberta, and the Franciscans began to say Mass there regularly. Fr. Ethelbert arrived from Montreal in 1915 to help at the missions and took it upon himself to build a church in Beverly for the parishioners.

Fr. Boniface recalls walking home to the friary in north Edmonton one evening, when he saw ahead of him a wagon full of chairs, tables, benches, and baskets full of cups and plates. The wagon was “drawn by one little panting horse” going uphill over the railway tracks:

On the top, to my surprise, sat Fr. Ethelbert, guiding and encouraging the horse with such endearing words as: “Come on now, Jerry! Atta boy! Whoa, Jerry! Nicely now! Watch your steps, Jerry! Good boy, Jerry; I knew you could make it, old Jerry-boy!”

Then as we came closer together, he gave vent to his pent up merriment with a hearty: ‘Ha, ha, Bonnie, this is great stuff: missionary stunts in the West! You think Jerry will make Beverly with this load?”

I assured him that knowing the past achievements of Jerry as a racer (though this was something of the great past) and knowing the expert horsemanship of the driver, there was a chance of the odds being in his favor.

 

Left: Fr. Ethelbert standing outside church in Beverly, AB, 1915-1917
Right: Interior of church in Beverly, AB, built by Fr. Ethelbert, [1915-1927]