Family Stories

Since I started working at the Oratory almost five years ago, one thing I have noticed is that for many people, pilgrims and employees alike, the Oratory is a family story. During our archival exhibitions, many people have approached us to tell us how their grandparents participated in the construction of the Oratory, how an elderly uncle was healed by Brother André, or their fond memories of visits with their parents in the 1950s.

Since its foundation, the Oratory has organized several events to celebrate family and the holiest of families. Here are some of the stories that probably made the patron saint of families proud.

Certificat consécration foyer à la Ste Famille

[Fig 1 – Image and flyer] Certificate of consecration of a home to the Holy Family and flyers of the ceremony (in French).
Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.

On January 7, 1945, on the feast of the Holy Family, the Oratory inaugurated a new annual tradition, the consecration of homes to the Holy Family. In front of the Archbishop of Montreal, Joseph Charbonneau, eighty couples came to the Oratory to participate in the ceremony and received a medal blessed by Pius X. In the following years, the ceremony was expanded to include a large pious image of the Holy Family, to be signed by the couple, and a specific prayer approved by the archbishop. During the sixties and the following years, this formula was replaced by a celebration dedicated to the family in general.

Lettre d'invitation aux familles Bernard et Brouillet

[Fig 2 – Bernard-Brouillet] Letter of invitation in French to the Bernard and Brouillet families.
Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.

Livre d’or des tricentenaires de familles.

[Fig. 3 Desjardins] Golden book of family tricentennials.
Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.

1965 marked the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Confraternity of the Holy Family in Quebec City by Bishop de Laval. To mark the event, the following year, the Oratory invited various founding families who were celebrating their tercentenary in America. Thus, in this order, the Ouellet, Vallée and Lavallée, Desautels and Lapointe, Bernard and Brouillet, and Desjardins families were invited in turn for a celebration consisting of a reunion, a Mass, a family supper and an evening of entertainment. In the case of the Ouellet family, celebrated on April 30, 710 members showed up!2

Photo de famille - photographe inconnu

[Fig 4 – Family photo] Photographer unknown. CADRG, 66-5

In this photo, dating from 1949, we see a father with five of his sons participating in what was then the traditional Sunday evening procession. According to our information, they were regulars of this ancient tradition which consists of going around the grounds of the Oratory with the statue of Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus on a processional stretcher.

Photo des employés de l'Oratoire. Photographe inconnu

[Fig 5 – Photo of Oratory employees] Photographer unknown. CADRG, 150-8

Finally, a very special piece that represents a very special family, the great family of the Oratory. Just as with Saint Joseph and Jesus, blood ties are not necessary to form strong family bonds. It is the same at the Oratory where one can feel a special bond between the employees. For some, working here is even a family tradition. This photo, taken between 1956 and 1962, honors the various employees who worked for the Oratory at the time. In the first row on the left, we recognize the rector of the time, Father Roland Gauthier, c.s.c.. On the right, the man next to the arrow is Paul Robert, a maintenance worker. He met his future wife here, when she was working for The Oratory magazine. They happen to be the parents of Denis Robert, our current head of exterior maintenance and vehicles. During his studies, his son continued the family tradition for a while, before starting his career in special education in the schools.


  1. L’Oratoire, February 1945, p. 57.
  2. L’Oratoire, July-August 1966, 28.