The Viatorian Community dates its beginnings in North America back to 1847. That’s when three Viatorian brothers from France —  Étienne Champagneur, Louis Chrétien and Augustin Fayard — were assigned to travel to Canada, to respond to a call from the local bishop.

Fr. Nestor Fils-Aimé, CSV, Provincial of Canada (Photos by Mélanie Émond)

The Viatorian presence in Canada was established that year and some 18 years later, in 1865, Viatorians would be dispatched to a French Canadian community in Bourbonnais, IL, to open a boys’ school for the French speaking families in the area. And the rest is history, as the Viatorians would branch out to Chicago and Arlington Heights, as well as to Nevada and Colombia, and several stops in between.

To celebrate this milestone anniversary, Fr. Nestor Fils-Aimé, CSV, Provincial of Canada, led an historic pilgrimage, retracing the journey of these first three Viatorians.

Processing into St. Charles Borromeo Cathedral in the Diocese of Joliette.

They started out early in the morning, boarding a bus in Rigaud — located in Southwest Quebec — and headed east to Montreal. Their first stop was at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, arriving much like the three Viatorians when they were welcomed by Bishop Ignace Bourget, who had asked them to come.

Next, the group headed to the port of Lavaltrie, located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, where 175 years earlier the three founders had arrived on the steamer, St. Louis.

A grand celebration capped the day at the Viatorian residence in Joliette.

Finally, the group headed to a school in Joliette, where the brothers spent their first night and ultimately St. Charles Borromeo Cathedral, where the bells rang out at their arrival.

“This heartfelt celebration allowed us to dive back into our history,” said Br. Saint-Jacques, “a history full of twists and turns, but a history full of life and light for yesterday, today and tomorrow again.”