The pioneer of Tradition in Canada has passed away!

January 05, 2021
Source: District du Canada

Father Yves Normandin, RIP
Born on February 18, 1925
Ordained a priest on May 31, 1953
Died Piously on December 30, 2020
His funeral took place on January 4, 2021 at Saint-Joseph Center in Saint-Césaire.

The pioneer of Tradition in Canada is gone!

It is with great sorrow that we share with you the recall to God of Father Yves Normandin, who passed away in Shawinigan, QC, on December 30, 2020.

All those who approached Father Normandin can testify that he was a true pastor of souls throughout his priestly life, and this until the end.

The author of these lines had the privilege of meeting Father Normandin for the first time in 2006, when he was stationed at Shawinigan Priory, but the name of Father Yves Normandin had already been familiar to him for a long time. 

In fact, how many times have I received testimonies from faithful across Canada who affirmed that they had discovered or rediscovered the multimillennial Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church thanks to the apostolate of Father Normandin, who was the famous "parish priest on the street" from one end of Canada to the other - a mari usque ad mare, from 1976 to 1984. 

In the early 1970s, Father Normandin was only an ordinary parish priest in an ordinary parish of the Diocese of Montreal, Ste Yvette Parish.  What was the catalyst that made this ordinary parish priest, a "parish priest in the street" who became almost against his will the apostle of Tradition in Canada? This catalyst event was a pilgrimage that Father Normandin had made to Europe and the Holy Land on the occasion of the 1975 Holy Year.  Among other things, this pilgrimage had led him to visit the seminary of St. Pius X in Ecône, where Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the Society of St. Pius X, resided at the time. 

Upon his return to Montreal, on May 14, 1975, Father Normandin took the firm resolution to no longer celebrate according to the Novus Ordo, but to celebrate only the Mass according to the Traditional Ordo, known as the Ordo Traditionnel, of St. Pius V.  According to him, this journey towards the Traditional Mass had begun as early as 1973, when he opposed the innovative spirit that was spreading like wildfire in the parishes, and which mainly affected the pastoral care of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.  On the whole, the parishioners of St. Yvette were delighted by this return to tradition in their parish; but it attracted the wrath of Archbishop Paul Grégoire, the Archbishop of Montreal. 

The latter issued an ultimatum to Father Normandin to obey the directive of the Canadian bishops, dated June 30, 1975, which made the Mass according to the Orodo of Paul VI obligatory in all parishes of the country: "I must demand your resignation because you persist, against the ordinance of the Canadian bishops, in celebrating the Mass of St. Pius V. "Gregory turned a deaf ear to the arguments of Father Normandin, who cited Pope St. Pius V's bull Quo Primum to justify the right given to every priest of the Latin Rite to celebrate Mass according to the ordo of the Tridentine Mass.

In November 1975, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre came to visit Quebec.  Twice, he celebrated a Sunday Mass in the parish of Father Normandin, to the great displeasure of the Archdiocese of Montreal! 

In the meantime, Father Normandin had been asked to vacate the premises to give place to the new parish priest appointed by Archbishop Grégoire. Father Normandin had made an appeal to the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome.  In the meantime, Father Normandin had taken refuge in his presbytery, which he refused to leave.  For two weeks, he said his Mass in the parlor of the presbytery, which the faithful attended outside, kneeling on the sidewalk in freezing temperatures. Finally, Archbishop Gregory had recourse to an injunction from the Superior Court of Justice to dislodge the recalcitrant parish priest.  The modern-day Caiaphas had appealed to his alter ego Pontius Pilate to expel the troublesome priest whose only crime was to celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V: "Tolle, tolle, crucifige eum! »

On December 15, 1975, Father Normandin became the famous "parish priest in the street".  This event had an enormous impact on newspapers, radio and television.  Father Normandin was receiving support from all over the world, along with urgent requests for him to come and celebrate the traditional mass for groups of faithful here and there.  These calls came from both Canada and the United States, but Father Normandin resolved to respond only to calls from Canada.  Father Normandin was at the dawn of an itinerant apostolate, which took him from one side of Canada to the other.  When he was expelled from his parish in Montreal for a crime of fidelity to Tradition, the "parish priest on the street" found himself in charge of a new parish, which would extend from Nova Scotia to British Columbia!

This epic lasted nine years, from 1976 to 1984.  Every weekend, Father Normandin took a plane to cover as many places of worship as possible.  His Sunday began on Saturday afternoon in Stratford, Ontario, followed by a midnight Mass in London, Ontario, then a morning Mass in Toronto.  He then flew to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he was expected to attend an early afternoon mass.  Then back to the airport for a flight to Calgary or Edmonton, Alberta, where another group of faithful were waiting for him.  In the late afternoon, another flight took him to Vancouver, British Columbia.  Finally, his last Sunday mass was in Victoria, British Columbia.  After such an activity on Sunday, do you think Father Normandin rested during the week?  Not at all: he took advantage of the week to visit the small Mass centers along the Trans-Canada Highway!  During the week, his bedroom was on Greyhound buses.  He was also well known to the Air Canada hostesses.  Legend has it that one day one of them thought, " Father, you fly more often than we do! »

Once a month, Father Normandin made a brief visit to Shawinigan Priory before going to Quebec City to visit Father D'Anjou, a Jesuit, who was his confessor.  From there, he set out for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  On occasion, he also traveled to Ecône Seminary in Switzerland and to Ridgefield Seminary to attend ordinations and to meet with Archbishop Lefebvre.

In June 1984, Father Normandin had the great joy of attending the priestly ordination of three of his altar boys, Father Jean Violette, Father Daniel Couture and Father André Lemieux.

M. l’abbé Normandin, un vrai pasteur d’âmes

However, fatigue had won over our good parish priest, who laid down his arms after John Paul II's visit to Canada in September 1984.  Father Normandin returned to Montreal, where the same Mgr. Grégoire, who had expelled him from his parish nine years earlier, then entrusted him with a parish to celebrate the Indult Mass. As he stated several times before witnesses, our dear Father had then had a moment of weakness, which made him fall into the trap of the Indult.  He could certainly celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V, but he was asked to keep silent about the crisis of the Church and to distance himself from Archbishop Lefebvre, "the rebellious archbishop" and from the Society of St. Pius X. 

The crossing of the desert of Father Normandin was to last from 1984 to 2006, at which time contacts were resumed with the Society of St. Pius X.  In the company of Father Roger Guéguen, I had the honor and privilege of taking the initiative for these contacts, through regular visits to Father Normandin, who was then residing in the presbytery of Notre-Dame de la Garde parish, then in the presbytery of St-Irénée.  Following these first contacts, which helped break the ice, Father Normandin was invited to come and hear confessions during Sunday mass at St. Joseph's Church, the SSPX church in Montreal, on Dante Street.  It was agreed that he would visit once a month, but soon the frequency increased to every two weeks and finally became weekly.  I am convinced that these visits, followed by a convivial meal in the basement of the church, did a lot to bring Father Normandin closer to the SSPX.  During the meals, how many times Father Normandin confided to us that his real friends were there, in the Society!

In the fall of 2009, Father Normandin had to move from the presbytery of St-Irénée to the presbytery of St-Zotique.  To reach his apartment, there was a long and steep staircase, the ascent of which was a real challenge for Father Normandin.  It was too much for Father Normandin, who walked with a cane!  He therefore took the decision to officially withdraw from the Diocese of Montreal, and to offer his services to the Society of Saint Pius X, to the extent of his strength.  Father Jurgen Wegner, who was then District Superior, suggested that he could make himself very useful by retiring to the Residences of the Precious Blood in Lévis, where he would take on the role of chaplain.  The simplicity of Father Normandin, who replied to Father Wegner "your desires are orders" made a great impression on the latter.

For nearly five years, Father Normandin was chaplain of the Residences of the Precious Blood, as long as he had the strength to do so.  He then spent some time at the Résidence of Saint-Joseph, dedicated to people in loss of autonomy.  Then, at the end of the summer of 2020, he was taken care of by a family of Tradition, in Shawinigan, where he spent the rest of his life.

In the month of October, I had the privilege of visiting our dear Father, to bid him a final farewell.  He was very weak but serene.

May the example of Father Normandin inspire other priests who will have the courage to stand up to defend the Mass of always and the two thousand year old Tradition of the Holy Catholic and Roman Church!

Father Dominique Boulet,
Toronto, ON, January 1, 2021