As some who have heard my vocation story, you may know that Fr Louis Loiseau was instrumental in sowing the seeds of vocation in my life
The late Fr Louis Loiseau was the first parish priest that I knew when I was a parishioner and an altar-server back in Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, and as a kid I always knew him to be stern and speaks English in a low and almost monotonous manner, and when he grins or rolls his eyes his eyebrows would move. Many a times as altar-servers, we knew when his homily would end; when he wears back his watch which he took off at the beginning of the homily. For any of us who were dozing off, it was an act of salvation being close at hand! As some who have heard my vocation story, you may know that Fr Louis Loiseau was instrumental in sowing the seeds of vocation in my life even though as an altar-server I did not speak much to him. However, I would to share three incidents which I encountered that helped me to know this priest better and to love him for who he is.
There was once the sacristy needed some sacramental wine, and the stock was kept in the second level of presbytery, and Fr Loiseau asked two of us to head up and carry down a dozen bottles of wine for the sacristan. I remembered passing by his bedroom as the door was left open, and both of us saw how simple his room was (as was his office). It just had a single bed, a side cupboard (I think) and a plastic zip-up wardrobe (those who were born in the 70s and earlier would know it looks like). However, what really caught our eyes was a framed picture of Fr Loiseau in his younger days and we remarked that he looked handsome, and in his dry-French humour replied, “Ah yes, I broke many girls’ hearts in my hometown when I became a priest.”
The second incident was when we had to set up a side-altar for weekday masses after a particular Sunday evening mass, and for some reason there was an extra pew that needed to be moved. A fellow altar-server and myself struggled to shift this pew as it was very heavy. Fr Loiseau must had seen how these two boys were struggling, and without much fanfare he just walked over and told us, “Let go” and he singlehandedly lifted up the pew by himself and brought it to where it was meant to be.
I am sorry for the times I was upset with you, and had raised my voice at you. Please forgive me
The third incident was just before one of the Christmas Midnight Masses. The late Uncle Sunny d’Silva, our sacristan and Fr Loiseau had what we would today term as a “complicated” relationship as both had a genuine respect for each other and yet love to spar in their words when they disagree on something. Yet on that particular night I witness something very profound between these two men who were in their sixties already. I saw both of them standing in one corner of the sacristy near the sanctuary where I was coming in from and I overheard Fr Loiseau saying to Uncle Sunny, “Sunny, I am sorry for the times I was upset with you, and had raised my voice at you. Please forgive me.”, and in reply Uncle Sunny also said similarly words, and after which they will both embrace and prepare for Mass like as if nothing happened. Though I was quite sure that I saw Uncle Sunny wiping away his own tears.
Fr Loiseau was able to break the hearts of people because he had allowed himself to be broken and I am sure that the last few years were not easy for him as his age and illnesses broke him further. Yet that is what a priestly life is all about, to be bread “blessed, broken and given”.
Fr Loiseau saw his life and the strength he possessed as a gift of God, and this life and this strength is truly “one life to live and one life to give”. There is nothing that can stop him from giving of himself, other than he himself. For him, life is perhaps just that simple and constant reminder to himself “Let go” and let God take control.
Fr Loiseau was a man who recognized his own shortcomings and rather than allowing his priestly vocation to be used as a shield of sort and even justification, he used his priesthood in the most vulnerable manner by being able to say “I am sorry” and “Please forgive me”. I suppose that his ability to acknowledge the imperfections in himself helped him to embrace especially the broken people of God
“Why I became a priest? Because Jesus called me of course” – In loving memory of Fr Louis Loiseau, MEP (1926-2018)
he knew who he was meant to be; a priest after the heart of Jesus
Fr Louis Loiseau was a wonderful priest and great pastor not because he was theologically superior to everyone else, but because he knew who he was meant to be; a priest after the heart of Jesus, and the words “Love one another as I have loved you” is essentially to love as Jesus did. There was no magic formula to his priestly life and the many memories that he left behind for me and for us because he was himself in Jesus.
I thank God, the Father for the gift of Father Louis Loiseau, and I thank God especially for using Fr Loiseau to spark my call to the priesthood. Fr Loiseau, please do pray for me and for all of us who are still here and struggling. Thank you for being a priest of Jesus Christ and for us.
Eternal rest grant unto Louis Loiseau, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine on him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
Written by Fr. Jovita Ho who was in Rome on the day after Fr Loiseau’s funeral on 30 Jan 2018.
Top Photo: CatholicNews.
Video: We thank the communities of Marriage Encounter Singapore, Catholic Engaged Encounter, the MEP community of priests, the Chancery, CatholicNews and PixelMusica for their contributions to this video.