Homeless are among mourners for victims of missionexplosion

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@arcos.org)
Mon, 15 Jun 1998 05:31:06 -0400

Saturday 13 June 1998

Devotion remembered

Homeless are among mourners for victims of mission

The Gazette; CP

On any other day, Robert Lester, with his wild
shoulder-length gray hair and beard, faded denim
shirt and ragged jeans, might have looked out of
place inside Notre Dame Basilica. But yesterday, no
one seemed to notice.

Lester was one of about 2,000 people who squeezed
into the church yesterday for the funeral of the
hree women killed in Tuesday's Accueil Bonneau

"They were always friendly, always smiling," said
Lester, who is homeless. "And it didn't matter how
busy it was there, they took time to get to know a
little bit about you. They were all good women."

Sister Claire Menard, 76, Marie-Lilianne
Genereux-Forbes, 65, and Celine Corriveau, 44, were
remembered yesterday for their devotion in helping

>the homeless.

"They did not treat them as homeless," said Cardinal
Jean-Claude Turcotte in his homily, "but as

"All three of them were at the shelter because they
believed that true love can be shown through action,
not just by words."

The service was attended by representatives of all
levels of government, including Mayor Pierre
Bourque, federal Citizenship and Immigration
Minister Lucienne Robillard, and Bloc Quebecois
leader Gilles Duceppe.

Turcotte read a message from Pope John Paul II
praising the women for their dedication and
expressing his sympathy to their families.

Turcotte also took the opportunity to thank the
countless people who have supported the mission
since the explosion.

"The Accueil Bonneau is not dead, but is rising
again because of the generosity that has been
exhibited in the last few days," he said.

If anything positive can be taken from the tragedy,
it is how it reminded everybody of the plight of
Montreal's homeless population, he added.

While many of the mourners were family or friends of
the deceased, others had no connection to the three
women at all and were simply there to pay their

"All three of them were real heroes," said Armand
Roy, 69. "They gave their lives helping people, not
just thinking of themselves."

Roy said he hadn't planned to attend the funeral. He
was merely strolling down Notre Dame St. when he
noticed the street was barricaded and saw crowds of
people streaming into the church.

"It's amazing that so many people would come to
remember these women they didn't know," he said.
"That shows they really captured the hearts of the

The Accueil Bonneau choir ended the solemn ceremony
with one of its sweetly sung hymns. Made up of users
of the mission, the group was formed about two years
ago and often performs around town.

Jacques St-Pierre, a regular at the mission for
seven years who joined the choir this week, said
Sister Claire was everybody's grandma.

"When we needed some affection, she'd hug us. She
wasn't afraid. Even if you were dressed in rags, it
didn't bother her. She was very straightforward," he
said. "We sure are going to miss her. She'll be hard
to replace."

The hundreds of people lined up on Notre Dame St.
broke into a spontaneous round of applause as the
funeral procession headed for the Cote des Neiges

Copyright 1998 The Gazette, a division of Southam

Graeme Bacque
(#2226799 on ICQ)
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