Fr. Victor Perron
An enthusiastic devotee of the Virgin Mary, Father Victor Albert Perron travelled to Marian shrines in Europe almost yearly, often as director and guide. It's said he visited pilgrimage sites such as Lourdes and Medjugorje at least 24 times.
The pastor at Edmonton's St. Andrew's Parish for the last 12 years, Perron was also a sports aficionado and a staunch supporter of the Edmonton Eskimos. In fact, he was a season ticket holder of the Edmonton Eskimos and had a jersey of former Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray.
Parishioners at St. Andrew's liked Perron a lot, describing him as a nice person and a holy priest who inspired them to live their faith. One said the beloved priest delivered good sermons despite being painfully shy.
Perron, a priest for 40 years, died March 19 after several months of heart complications. He was 73.
As a priest, "he was exceptional," recalls his friend Margaret D'Agostini. "All priests are great but he was just special, a holy man, a kind man. I don't think he ever spoke a bad word about anyone."
Perron attended St. Mary's High School in Edmonton and studied commerce at the University of Alberta.
When he chose to dedicate his life to the Lord, he completed studies in philosophy and theology at St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College.
Perron was ordained Dec. 20, 1970 at Assumption Church in Edmonton by Archbishop Anthony Jordan. He began his priestly career as an associate pastor at St. Matthew's Parish and then served as chaplain at the University of Alberta Hospital, the W.W. Cross Cancer Clinic and the Veteran's Home.
Over the years he served as pastor at several parishes, including St. Joseph's in Killam, Sacred Heart in Gibbons, St. Stephen's in Olds and Blessed Sacrament in Wainwright. He arrived at St. Andrew's in Edmonton in 2001.
He was close to Margaret D'Agostini and her husband Alberto, visiting them often at their home. "He liked baked ham and pumpkin pie but he would eat whatever you placed in front of him without complaint."
Perron also liked to laugh and tell jokes. "He was a peaceful jolly person," D'Agostini said.
She also described Perron as a priest who was always ready for service. "If they called him for confession or for last rites he was right there like a good priest.
"To see him celebrate Mass was beautiful because he would rest in the Mass. He wasn't anxious or uncomfortable; he was very restful in the Mass."
Lyle Lavender, another close friend of Perron, said the priest was quite shy. "I don't think people realized really how shy he was," he said.
"He found it quite taxing at times to meet new people and deliver sermons. He didn't have difficulty delivering a good sermon; it's just that it took a lot out of him because he was so shy."
Perron's sermons were Gospel-based and always challenging, recalled Lavender, the financial administrator at St. Andrew's Parish. He said the priest had a good sense of humour, "but you had to know him for quite a while to see that sense of humour."
Perron and Lavender went out for dinner often and even travelled together. "We just came back from Europe in November. We went to Rome for the canonization of Blessed Kateri and then went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje and a few other sites. He went to Medjugorje at least 15 times."
Perron loved to travel. He and Father John Adamyk of the Diocese of St. Paul travelled together to different places 24 times, including Medjugorje and the Holy Land.
Jovita Tobias-Fisher, pastoral assistant at St. Andrew's since 2000, said Perron was a dedicated priest who made many improvements in the parish. Among other things, he refurbished the Stations of the Cross in the church and installed state of the art stained glass windows in the church.
"He was very well loved and supported by the community," the pastoral assistant said. "He was very prudent, very wise and very gentle."