Georges Vanier: The Best of Us


Convivium, 10 March 2017

Editor in Chief Father Raymond J de Souza writes a profound tribute to one of Canada's greatest citizens, General Georges Philias Vanier, Canada’s 19th Governor General.

The fiftieth anniversary of the death of General Georges Philias Vanier, Canada’s 19th Governor General, fell earlier this week. Having lived the great Canadian life, he died in Canada’s centennial year. He has lessons to teach us in this year of Canada 150.

Vanier died on the morning of March 5 1967, just after Sunday Mass in the chapel next to his bedroom at Rideau Hall, where he and his wife Pauline attended Mass every morning, and prayed at length together each evening. He had visited the chapel for the last time the night before, having asked to be taken there after the happy conclusion of the Montreal Canadiens game on television (they beat the Detroit Red Wings).

When Georges Vanier arrived at Rideau Hall in September 1959 as the first French-Canadian Governor General, he had two simple requests. He wanted a bilingual sign at the entrance to the Rideau Hall compound, and a chapel where Mass could be offered daily. He would spend the next eight years until his death living according to those two principles: Seeking God’s strength for his service to the country, and advocating tirelessly for the unity of Canada. At a time when the Governor General was a central figure in public life, he and his wife Pauline earned nothing but accolades for their sacrificial service, all the more remarkable given that he was 71 upon assuming office.

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