Father Louis Cyr died in the infirmary of the Résidence Notre-Dame, in Richelieu, on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, at the age of 84 years.
Born in Saint John (NB) on October 29, 1936, he had done his classical education (high school and college) at the Collège universitaire Saint-Louis in Edmundston (NB) and entered the novitiate at Sault-au-Récollet on August 14, 1957. He studied philosophy and theology from 1959 to 1965 at the Faculties of the Society of Jesus in Montreal and was ordained priest on June 18, 1964 in Église de l’Immaculée-Conception by Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger, Archbishop of Montreal.
Louis had studied music before joining the Society. He quickly moved through the stages of formation after the novitiate in order to pursue advanced studies in music, according to his own desire and with the approval of the provincial of the time, Fr. Jean d’Auteuil Richard. He had thought long and hard and had consulted authorities in sacred and secular music before deciding on Paris and Frankfurt. From 1965 to 1967 he studied at the École de Musique César-Frank in Paris, while at the Église Saint-Ignace in Paris he assisted Fr. Joseph Gélinas, an initiator of the renewal of liturgical chant in France and in French-speaking countries. He then studied musicology in Frankfurt from 1967 to 1975. He enrolled at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University and devoted a good part of his time to writing a thesis on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.
Upon his return to Montreal, he taught musicology and German at the Department of Music of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) from 1975 to 1984, while serving as head of the same department. During this period he was a member of the National Council for Music in the Liturgy. From the novitiate on, he expressed his interest in the mission of Kahnawake after having taught catechism. He joyfully agreed, in 1990, to replace Fr. Léon Lajoie, who had been the parish priest for nearly 30 years. He remained there for 13 years and was the last Jesuit to work there. To a journalist who interviewed him shortly after his arrival, he said that the goal he had set for himself as pastor was to establish bonds of trust with the people and to help them regain pride in themselves and their origins.
Starting in 2003, Louis began to experience health problems that initially resulted in great fatigue and led to a serious heart attack in March 2007. He chose to devote what energy he had left to complete his research on Stravinsky’s work. As his health continued to deteriorate, he agreed to come and stay at the Richelieu residence to receive the care that his deteriorating physical condition required. It was there that he died on December 1st following a cerebral hemorrhage.
He is survived by three sisters and one brother as well as several nieces and nephews, cousins, most of whom live in New Brunswick. Due to the pandemic, the funeral of Fr. Louis Cyr has been postponed to a later date.