Father François GENDRON died on Friday, August 26, 2022, in the infirmary of the Residence Notre-Dame de Richelieu as a result of pneumonia that he had contracted some time before. He had just turned 95 years old.
François was born on August 22, 1927, in Montreal. He was the youngest of three boys. He had lost his father at a very young age, following an accident. He entered the Society of Jesus on August 14, 1945, a few months before his brother André, who was six years older. He had completed his high school and college studies at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, when he began his novitiate. After his first vows, he did his undergraduate studies in Montreal (two years of humanities, one year of sciences and three years of philosophy) before being sent to the Collège de Saint-Boniface for his regency (1953-1956). He was in charge of a high school class for two years. In his third year, he assisted the prefect of discipline. He returned to St. Boniface College after his theological studies and before his tertianship to serve as prefect of discipline for two years, from 1962 to 1964. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 18, 1959 by Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger in the church of the Immaculate Conception parish in Montreal.
After his tertianship at Saint-Jérôme, François, who was originally from Montreal and received his entire Jesuit formation there, exercised his pastoral ministry exclusively in Quebec City and the Lower St. Lawrence region (from 1967 to 2020), with the exception of the four years when he was Prefect of Discipline at the Collège de Saint-Boniface (from 1963 to 1967). Although he was good at administrative tasks, he did not feel comfortable in the position of secretary of the Quebec Provincial when he arrived in Quebec City in the summer of 1967. After a few months, he asked for an activity that would put him in contact with school-age youth. From 1968 to 1981, he was a pastoral animator in a public high school (Louis-Jolliet School in Quebec City). From 1980 to 1983, he was the superior of the Saint-Charles-Garnier community.
During this time, he was moved and inspired by an article on parish work written by a former assistant of Father Pedro Arrupe, Michael Chu li-Teh, in which the author wrote: “The parish seems to be a privileged place today… to exercise openly, officially and completely our priestly activities and our service of the faith.” François obtained permission from the provincial to be named pastor of a parish in the diocese of Quebec. He was the pastor of Saint-Fidèle from 1981 to 1993. At the end of his mandate, he wished to work in the dioceses of Rimouski and Gaspé. Without being in charge of a particular parish, he exercised his ministry there for eight years. Then he returned to Quebec City, where he was the treasurer of the community, at the Garnier Residence, and the person in charge of the chapel on Dauphine Street, from 2001 to 2006. When the residence closed, he offered his services to the parish priest of St-André de Neufchâtel (from 2006 to 2012) while living in the rectory. From 2011, he lived in an apartment at Samuel-Holland, until he agreed, in the summer of 2020, to come and reside in Richelieu, due to his health problems and advanced age.