Father Edwin (Ed) Merchant died peacefully on December 9, at Thunder Bay Regional Hospital, Thunder Bay, Ontario. He was in his 85th year and in religious life for 66 years.
Fr. Merchant was born in Port Arthur, Ontario on July 21, 1930, the son of William Merchant and Margaret Curley. He was proud to have been born in a Jesuit parish, St. Andrew’s, and later served there as pastor. He was young when his father died. For a few years, he attended Regiopolis High School in Kingston, Ontario. He entered the Society of Jesus at Guelph on July 30, 1948. After two years of humanities study, Fr. Merchant began a three year philosophy program at the Jesuit Seminary in Toronto. From 1955 to 1958, he taught Latin and French at Saint Mary’s University High School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He returned to Toronto for the study of theology and was ordained on June 18, 1961 in the chapel of the St. Joseph’s Motherhouse, Morrow Park. Tertianship followed at Port Townsend in Washington State, USA.
Fr. Merchant loved to learn, speak and teach French. Upon his return to Canada, he taught Latin and French at Campion College in Regina and then went to Georgetown University in Washington, DC to do a Masters Degree in French Studies. Throughout his life, Fr. Merchant appreciated films, particularly French films. He also appreciated French Canadian popular singer-composers of the day. More teaching in Winnipeg and Halifax followed, until in 1972 he became the chaplain at McMaster University in Hamilton. He then moved on to the University of Guelph as chaplain at the Newman Centre for a five-year placement. In 1978, he became the director of Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario for three years. After a sabbatical, he continued in chaplaincy but specialized in directing the Spiritual Exercises, in Edmonton, Alberta, Regina, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg, Manitoba.
In 1991, Fr. Merchant returned to his birthplace and became the pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Thunder Bay. Since then, Fr. Merchant had provided pastoral ministries, including retreat direction. He was involved in Choné House and St. Anne’s Parish.
Fr. Merchant will be remembered as having had a compassionate regard for many. His teaching and linguistic skills were also remarkable, as were his homilies.