Father Ignacy Warias, OMI, stands in front of St. Jean Baptiste Church in downtown Morinville. The Oblate priest conducted his last mass Sunday and was given a farewell luncheon at the Rendez-Vous Centre. Warius will next take on pastoral duties at St. Albert Parish. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – After six years of serving local Catholics at St. Jean Baptiste Church, Father Ignacy Warias, OMI, is leaving Morinville to take on pastoral duties at St. Albert Parish. Father Warias came to Morinville from his last parish in Bonneyville, and though he still holds a big place in his heart for his former parish, he has greatly enjoyed his time in Morinville.
Reflecting on more than a half decade of serving area Catholics, Warius said his fondest memories are of the people themselves. “I would say the people. Working with the people, talking to them, listening to them, and growing those relationships,” he said. “When I came here I said, ‘I came to walk with you on your journey of life,’ and I am thankful for being given the six years because I have been enriched in many ways by the people that I have met, working with them in different areas. Hopefully they have grown a little bit too by working with me.”
Warius belongs to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a religious order founded in 1816 by St. Eugene de Mazenod, the Bishop of Marseille. “There was such a need after the French Revolution and people were poor and lost in life,” Father Warius said of the Order’s beginnings. “They were in need of help, so he [de Mazenod] started to speak their own languages and dialect in Provence. He went to those other priests with zeal and starting with a few priests they [grew].”
The priest recalls his own beginnings in the Oblates, founded many years before by a priest he learned had a heart as big as the world. It is a model he has tried to emulate in an Order that has fewer members than it has in the past. “There’s still close to 300 Missionary Oblates working across Canada in parishes,” Warius said. “The number is decreasing, so we try to focus and work on those areas where it is close to those who are in need, the inner city parishes, the historical parishes.”
It was Morinville’s history that formed the backbone of a legacy Warius leaves behind. Soon after arriving in the community, it was realized the church itself was in need of major renovations. It is a project the priest is proud of, a half million renovation that was funded by a matching-dollar federal government grant. The parish received a $250,000 grant to match the nearly third of a million raised inside and outside the parish in just seven weeks. “It was a big project with so many people involved,” Warius said. “When people come together for the good cause, they do good not necessarily for themselves but for others. I think that is moving, and I think that is the spirit of God bringing us together. In the many different areas [of life here] and the many different fields that was happening, and I am thankful for that. I will always cherish those particular moments, but always those people.”
Warius said many moments during the past six years have shown him there is a great spirit in the community. “People from many paths come together for something that is important, not only for our parish but for the community,” he said. “I like that kind of spirit of unity and that spirit of oneness when people from many areas coming together for the good of the community. To me that is sharing the gifts that God blesses us with.”
Parish sorry to see him go
Lil Boddez, co-chair of the St. Jean Baptiste Parish Council, said Father Ignacy will be missed, but as with all essential services, they understand transfers are inevitable. “We wish him our best, and we thank him for all his great gifts of his many talents that he shared with us,” Boddez said on behalf of the parish. “A testament to his many gifts is his unwavering leadership, his boundless energy and his youthfulness.”
Boddez said above and beyond his pastoral duties of looking after the spiritual needs of the parish and parish activities, they are thankful for his hard work and support through the church’s recent restoration project, the improvements inside the rectory and the ongoing beautification of the church grounds. “These things were accomplished with the help of many individuals under his direction,” Boddez said, adding Ignacy never asks for help just to get something done; he digs in himself with whoever is willing to help. “It is a testament to his tenacity that our beautiful church and property look the way they do.
While local Catholics will miss Ignacy’s perseverance and willingness to join in on the work, an attribute he shared in common with the late Father Georges Primeau, Boddez said the Parish will miss his terrific sense of humour, his beautiful singing voice, his compassion, his guidance, but mostly his friendship. “St Jean the Baptiste Parish is very thankful for the past six years,” she said. “Father Ignacy was our pastor and our loss is definitely St. Albert Parish’s gain. We wish him all of God’s blessings as he continues his journey in his new parish.
Though the Parish will miss Father Ignacy, they are pleased that Bishop Paul Terrio assigned Father Brian Bricker as the church’s new pastor. Father Brian has spent most of the past year at St. Jean Baptiste Church as Assistant Pastor. “Father Brian has embraced Morinville as his home and we have embraced him as our Pastor,” Boddez said of his reception among the parish, adding Bicker has a fondness for working and helping the young because he is a teacher. “He is very caring, has a great sense of humour, and is an excellent speaker. We know he will continue attending to the entire spiritual needs of the Parish now in the capacity of Pastor.”
St. Jean Baptiste Parish held a special farewell luncheon for Father Ignacy on Sunday afternoon. Below are some photos of the Farewell event.
Father Ignacy Warias poses during Sunday’s Farewell Reception at the Rendez-Vous Centre with a framed photo of St. Jean Baptiste Church, a gold Seiko watch with a picture of the church in the centre, and more than $100 in five-dollar bills shaped like T-shirts. Warius also received a Memories Book with parishioners’ memories of him written inside.
– Lucie Roy Photo
Simonne Chevalier and Lil Boddez with the cake with writing in English and Polish.
– Lucie Roy Photo
Father Warius speaks – Lucie Roy Photo