Fr. Maurice McMahon

Fr. Maurice McMahon

January 25, 2016

ST. ALBERT - Oblate Father Maurice McMahon, a beloved missionary to Aboriginal people across Alberta, was a well-known preacher and a pioneer in the development of the Star of the North Retreat House in St. Albert.

As well as recruiting retreatants for events at Star of the North, McMahon preached on a variety of topics, including spirituality and marriage.

"He was good at preaching retreats. He would use stories with a bit of humour to illustrate what he what he was talking about," recalled his friend of 40 years, Oblate Father Joseph Goutier. "I'll remember him as a happy-go-lucky fellow, good with jokes and with stories."

McMahon died at Youville Home Dec. 23. He was 93.

He was born Nov. 25, 1922 in the village of Cereal, east of Drumheller. At one point the family moved north to St. Paul where his father worked.

Wanting to be a missionary, McMahon joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at age 20 and made his first vows in 1943. He made his perpetual vows in Lebret, Sask., three years later.

McMahon was ordained June 22, 1949 in St. Paul and the following year he began teaching at Collège St. Jean in Edmonton. From 1953 to 1955 he served as administrator of the Star of the North.

For the next 32 years McMahon ministered to First Nations at Siksika Reserve in Cluny, Alta., Sacred Heart Parish in Saddle Lake and Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Parish in Maskwacis (formerly Hobbema).

"Father McMahon was much loved in many Cree-speaking communities, such as Hobbema, Saddle Lake, Goodfish Lake, and their neighbours Saint Brides and Brosseau, as well as during pilgrimages in Lac Ste. Anne, during which he spent long hours daily hearing Confessions and helping many hearts find peace," Goutier recalled in an eulogy.

"Father was part of many beautiful glorious times in a residential school, and 'yes,' there were many, although it is not now popular to speak openly of them."

McMahon served at Siksika Reserve, east of Calgary, for 23 years and was principal and senior teacher of the Crowfoot School there.

"In his days, many students who loved to speak in public won prizes in oratory, and those who did not excel in the English language were prize winners in shop and athletic skills," Goutier said. "At least one basketball team was tops in the provincial championship."


McMahon later impressed crowds on Cursillo weekends, during which he often spoke on the parable of the prodigal son who wasted his father's heritage buying choice wines.

"Father always found the right names of the wines the local boys drank, which certainly kept their attention and humour on a high," Goutier recalled.

His main purpose, however, was to proclaim the glory of God, he added.

In 1987, McMahon returned to the Star of the North as a preacher, doing that work until his retirement in 1992.

He lived in Placid Place in Edmonton for a decade before moving to Foyer Lacombe Retirement Home in St. Albert. McMahon spent his last days in nursing care at Youville Home. He was buried at the Oblate Cemetery in St. Albert.