Reverend Bedford Doucette (centre) is pictured with 200th anniversary planning committee members (from the left): Blair Sampson, Raymonde Burke, Maureen Sampson, Steve Sampson, Elaine Sampson, and Sally Anne Mombourquette.

L’ARDOISE: Two hundred years after Holy Guardian Angels Parish in L’Ardoise recorded its first baptism, descendants of the original parishioners gathered to celebrate the beginning of a very important year.

Prior to the establishment of a Roman Catholic parish in L’Ardoise, the community was a mission of the Parish of Arichat. That changed with the baptism of Cyrille Martell (son of Francois Martell and Suzanne Poirier) on Jan. 8, 1823, noted Steve Sampson, chairperson of the 200th anniversary planning committee.

Photos by Dana MacPhail-Touesnard
The parishioners of Holy Guardian Angels Parish in L’Ardoise gathered on Jan. 8, 200 years to the day after the parish’s first baptism, to unveil the official banner marking the milestone that will be celebrated throughout the year.

The committee has spent several months preparing a year of special events and an upcoming book under the theme of ‘ancestry, faith, family’ to be released this year.

“We knew very much that we wanted to honour our ancestors,” Sampson said.

In his remarks during the Sunday afternoon service, Reverend Bedford Doucette echoed the sentiment, reminding parishioners that their ancestors were “real people who made it possible for you to be here today,” and affirmed the importance of paying service to history.

In that vein, redesigned banners bearing the names of families in the parish hang around the church paying tribute to ancestors, in addition to the theme banner in the centre aisle of the church.

“We’re really excited about some of the endeavours moving forward, for example, a calendar that will be available for 2024 that will have a lot of old photos. The book itself certainly is paying tribute to our ancestors, and in that booklet, we’ve highlighted a number of local parishioners who kind of went above and beyond the ordinary in their contribution to life in our parish,” Sampson said, in reference to “our first teachers.”

Steve Sampson, chairperson of the 200th anniversary planning committee, offered remarks at Holy Guardian Angels Parish Church last Sunday. The church building was constructed in 1976 to replace the previous structure, which was destroyed by fire in 1972.

In addition, the sisters of the congregation Les Filles de Jesus played an integral role in the community beginning in 1943. For more than 40 years, they were leaders in education and spirituality in the community and that will be reflected in anniversary material, Sampson said.

The history of the parish was gathered from various sources, Sampson noted, including internal church records, the Diocesan Institute in Antigonish, the Beaton Institute in Sydney, and a book by Reverend A.A. Johnston on the history of parishes in the Diocese of Antigonish.

Much of the information will be shared throughout the year and celebrated in various ways, Sampson said, adding that church concerts, souvenir memorabilia, and a special Labour Day weekend service are among the plans.

Spearheaded by Elaine Sampson, a local sewing group took on the project of restoring family banners to Holy Guardian Angels Parish Church in L’Ardoise.