Com­mu­ni­ties mourn Fa­ther Chris

Sheshatshiu and Natuashish re­mem­ber kind and car­ing man of faith

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY SPE­CIAL TO THE LABRADORIAN danette@nl.rogers.com

Peo­ple in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish were sad­dened to learn of the death of a Catholic priest who served, in­ter­mit­tently, in Labrador for over three decades.

Fa­ther Christo­pher (Chris) Rush­ton died at Em­manuel Hos­pice in Hamil­ton, On­tario on July 30.

For­mer Labrador MP Peter Pe­nashue of Sheshatshiu said he was shocked and sad­dened to hear of Fa­ther Chris’s pass­ing.

Pe­nashue vis­ited Fa­ther Chris at the hos­pice cen­tre less than two months ago.

“We had some good con­ver­sa­tion. We talked about the old days,” Pe­nashue said.

Fa­ther Chris loved the peo­ple of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish, Pe­nashue said.

It’s where he felt at home, he said.

“He was very good to the el­ders in the church” (Our Lady of the Snows).

Fa­ther Chris also had very good re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, he said, es­pe­cially the el­ders.

He was good friends with a lot of peo­ple, him­self in­cluded, Pe­nashue said.

“I al­ways found that he was in tune with what was hap­pen­ing in the com­mu­nity. I’ve al­ways felt that he could feel the emo­tions and the tri­als of the com­mu­nity,” Pe­nashue said.

“He bap­tised our grand­daugh­ter in 2013 and he left (the prov­ince) shortly there­after,” Pe­nashue added.

Over the years

Fa­ther Chris joined the Oblates of Mary Im­mac­u­late (OBI) in 1966 and was or­dained a priest on Sept. 29, 1973.

In 1974 he com­pleted his ed­u­ca­tion de­gree in Lon­don, On­tario, and taught at Labrador City Col­le­giate from 1975-82.

The OBI con­gre­ga­tion’s pro­vin­cial house is in On­tario.

Dur­ing the last two years of his life, Fa­ther Chris was cared for at the Ju­ravin­ski Can­cer Cen­tre in Hamil­ton, On­tario and sub­se­quently at the Good Shep­herd Min­istry’s Em­manuel Hos­pice which is also in Hamil­ton, On­tario.

Fa­ther Joe Pichai of Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay said Fa­ther Chris was the long­est and the last Oblate to work in Labrador.

Ac­cord­ing to Fa­ther Chris’s obit­u­ary, he served the Oblate com­mu­nity in many ca­pac­i­ties over the years, be­ing ap­pointed Pro­vin­cial Su­pe­rior from 19962002. More re­cently, he was Chap­lain to the Grey Sis­ters of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion in Pem­broke, On­tario, and fi­nally Chap­lain in Van­cou­ver Col­lege un­til his ill­ness in 2016.

Fa­ther Chris’s obit­u­ary noted how he loved to tell sto­ries and “see the brighter side of life, full of bound­less en­ergy and joy­ous en­thu­si­asm.”

“His life was one filled with gen­tle­ness, grace and bless­ing,” the obit­u­ary read.

Sheshatshiu Innu First Na­tions also posted about Fa­ther Chris’s death on its Face­book page. The post was on be­half of the chief, coun­cil and staff.

“Fa­ther Chris, dur­ing his time as the priest for our church, be­came an im­por­tant mem­ber of the com­mu­nity. This is a great loss for the com­mu­nity and Fa­ther Chris will be greatly missed,” the mes­sage read.

Bart Jack of Sheshatshiu said he was sad­dened to hear about Fa­ther Chris’s death.

“Fa­ther Chris got along ex­cel­lent with the peo­ple in Sheshatshiu and also in Natuashish (and Davis In­let be­fore the com­mu­nity’s move to Natuashish)... He was in­volved in the com­mu­nity and the parish. He was very mo­ti­va­tional as a teacher... and an ex­cep­tional priest. The peo­ple of Sheshatshiu were very sad when he re­turned home,” Jack said.

PIC­TURES SUB­MIT­TED

Fa­ther Christo­pher (Chris) Rush­ton.

Fa­ther Christo­pher (Chris) Rush­ton in 2007.

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