North to south

Talk­ing doll, fruit cakes, eye­glasses in­cluded in pack­ages Is­lan­ders send to Fr. Shea

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY ERIC MC­CARTHY

Fr. Roy Shea still re­ceives care pack­ages from P.E.I. with all kinds of things for him and his par­ish­ioners. The lat­est pack­age came from two little girls from Tig­nish who sent clothes and toys for the Brazil­ian chil­dren.

He’s been a mis­sion­ary priest in Brazil for nearly 49 years, but Fr. Roy Shea still re­ceives reg­u­lar re­minders of his na­tive home. They come in the form of cloth­ing, toys, eye­glasses and P.E.I. del­i­ca­cies like lob­ster paste, jams and fruit­cakes.

“I can´t even be­lieve it my­self,” he com­ments by email on his years of mis­sion work. “This is my fifth par­ish, São João the Bap­tist, and prob­a­bly my last.” The 75-year-old then ad­mits he is now semi-re­tired. And Brazil is where he plans to spend his re­tire­ment.

In an email to the Jour­nal Pi­o­neer, the mis­sion­ary said most peo­ple in his par­ish of about 10,000 sur­vive on $400 a month.

“It’s not easy when the prices are high, and you have a big fam­ily,” he ac­knowl­edged. Shea grew up in a fam­ily of 18 chil­dren in Water­ford, P.E.I. “We were poor, and sur­vival was not at all easy. This is prob­a­bly where my vo­ca­tion to the mis­sions came from. It was, I think, my com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy for oth­ers that drove me to seek a mis­sion­ary vo­ca­tion,” he re­flects.

In mes­sages to Is­land res­i­dents who have reg­u­larly sup­ported his mis­sion­ary work with do­nated items for his par­ish­ioners, he tells of the joy the items they send bring to the lives of those who re­ceive the do­na­tions.

In one pick-up he col­lected seven bags of do­na­tions. By the time he con­firmed their ar­rival, he still only had time to sort through two of the bags. Among the con­tents of one of the pack­ages he re­cently re­ceived was a talk­ing doll that says, “I love you.” He turned it over to a little girl who lives close by, and he for­warded a photo of him­self with the girl and the doll. Kristin Gavin showed the photo to her daugh­ters, six-yearold Kara Gaudet and three-yearold Kya. They were the doll’s pre­vi­ous own­ers. Gavin had sent off two bags of goods to Fr. Roy. The con­tents were mainly the girls’ clothes and toys.

It was the first time the fam­ily had sent items to the mis­sion­ary. She had ex­plained to her daugh­ters why they were do­nat­ing the items, and made ar­range­ments through June Gaudet who she knew has co-or­di­nated de­liv­ery of many pack­ages to Fr. Roy.

“It’s sort of hard to un­der­stand un­til you ac­tu­ally see it,” Gavin said of the value in shar­ing. “They were quite proud,” Gavin de­scribed her daugh­ters’ re­ac­tion to the photo.

Kara im­me­di­ately went to her room and re­turned with other items she thought she’d like to send.

“It’s some­thing we’ll prob­a­bly be do­ing a cou­ple times a year now.”

June Gaudet con­firmed there are sev­eral reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tors of cloth­ing and other items, and some peo­ple make mon­e­tary do­na­tions to help with the postage. “There’s al­ways a way,” she said.

Gaudet said they try to send at least two bags a week.

One long-time con­trib­u­tor was Velda Bernard from Tig­nish Shore. Fol­low­ing her death in Fe­bru­ary, her fam­ily rec­om­mended the Fr. Roy Shea Mis­sion Fund for any­one wish­ing to make memo­rial do­na­tions. Those do­na­tions, Fr. Shea in­di­cated, might need to be put to­wards re­pairs for his truck. Of the pack­age con­tain­ing the fruit­cakes and the blue­berry jam, he said the jam would be mixed with the batch of nat­u­ral yogurt he was pre­par­ing.

He tells of shar­ing one of the fruit­cakes he re­ceived with vis­i­tors.

“They en­joyed it – first time (they) ever ate some­thing like that.”


Sis­ters Kya and Kara Gaudet from Tig­nish were pleased to see a photo show­ing the doll they do­nated was now in the care of a little girl in Brazil.


Fr. Roy Shea from Water­ford, P.E.I., has been a mis­sion­ary priest in Brazil for 49 years. He’s shown here with a young girl from his par­ish. She’s hold­ing a talk­ing doll that was in­cluded in a re­cent de­liv­ery from Tig­nish.

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