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Memory of first residential priest at Timmis celebrated

ChEugeneWhile Timmins is celebrating it's 90th birthday, the 90th anniversary of the first residential priest in the city is also being recognized.
Both are "significant" said Father Maurice Magnan of St. Anthony's Cathedral.
The first residential priest, Father Charles Eugène Thériault, made such an impact on the City of Timmins that St. Anthony's unveiled a photograph of him on Sunday that will be permanently installed at the cathedral entrance. "Father Thériault was a natural leader and a very simple man who had a listening ear for all the poor, all the sick, and all the people with difficulties," said Magnan of the priest who presided over St. Anthony's from 1912 to 1940 when he moved over to Our Lady of Lourdes.
The priest, who died May 1, 1956 at the age of 70, will long be remembered for his influence in the city.
While Thériault arrived shortly after the establishment of the first Roman Catholic church in Timmins, he is responsible for the establishment of the first school and school board, said Magnan.
A little chapel was constructed under the direction of Father Alexander Pelletier who moved from South Porcupine to Timmins after the fire of 1911, and when Pelletier was appointed by the Bishop to found a church in Iroquois Falls, Thériault who was newly ordained and an assistant priest in Cobalt was appointed to the position of priest in Timmins.
A school was the first thing Thériault saw to in the first year or so after his move to Timmins, said Magnan.
"«father Thériault made that little chapel a classroom during the week and a church on Sunday."
Magnan well remembers attending the school in the church basement, when the church was destroyed by fire in 1936.
"When the church bumed down l was in Grade 1 and I got a holiday because my classroom was in the basement of the church," said Magnan.
Thériault went on to build the first actual school, he said.
"He built what used to be St. Anthony's school which is now the office of the present ,. Debbie PellFrhe Daily Press'" lN CELEBRATION of the 90th anniversary of the first residential priest in Timmins, a pieture of Father Charles-Eugène Thériault was unveiled at. St. Anthony's Cathedral on Sunday night: Father Maurice Magnan of St. Anthony's stands proud- Iy by the photograph of the man whose anniversary year coincides with the year Timmins became incorporated. " Northeastern Catholic School Board on Spruce."
But it is the image of a photograph of the first classes in the basement of the church that has left an indelible impression on Magnan's mind about Thériault's attitude of tolerance and non-judgement.
"There was every age, every grade, and every language in those two classrooms," said Magnan of the space that Thériault doubled in size in the church basement.
The spirit of acceptance that Thériault fostered is still prevalent in the city, said Magnan, relaying sentiments that Wilfred Spooner expressed upon Thériault's death.
"If Timmins has always been a very tolerant city for all people, of all languages, and all faiths, it's really due to Father Thériault because from the very beginning it never made a difference who people were."
That is also evident by Thériault's relationship with men who were subsequently instrumental in the growth of the City of Timmins, said Magnan, recollecting Spooner's account of the times.
"Father Thériault had an agreement with Mr. Mascioli and Mr. Pierce and either one of the three who wanted to borrow money from the bank, for any project at all, had an agreement to co-sign for one or the other and that was recognized all over.
"That's how they built the city - they were different nationalities, different faiths, but it made no difference," said Magnan.

By Debbie Pell
TIMMINS/The Daily Press

Article given by Raymond Therriault, Eugene Therriault's son, from Cochrane, ON to Murielle Thériault

Descendance: Jehan, Claude, Germain, Claude, Joseph, Jacques, Jacob, Charles, Jacques, Charles-Eugène

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