Fr. Simon Lefebvre, CSV, spent 74 years as a Viatorian, literally advancing its charism around the world. He passed away peacefully Jan. 13 at the Viatorian Province Center. Fr. Lefebvre was 92.
He had spent his final three years at the Province Center, where he attended daily Mass, even presiding on most Fridays, and kept in regular touch with his students from Taiwan, Hong Kong and California. He was in attendance at Mass on Jan. 12 at the Province Center chapel, the day before he died.
If his last years were quiet, his early years in ministry were filled with adventure. Barely two years after being ordained a priest, Fr. Lefebvre found himself heading to Taiwan as a missionary to serve at the new St. Viator High School in Taichung, founded by Viatorians, in 1956.
Viatorian missions in Japan and Taiwan started during the 1950s, were a response to a plea nearly 30 years earlier by Pope Pius XI, who had asked the Viatorian Community to help spread the gospel in foreign lands.
Fr. Lefebvre was an obvious choice. The native of Canada was fluent in English, French and Spanish and he learned Chinese while being immersed in the culture.
Fr. Lefebvre worked as a teacher and chaplain in Taiwan for 14 years, refining his language skills at the University of Hong Kong, before serving as a teacher at College Bourget in Riguad, Quebec. He would go on to serve as director of religion and life at the University of Nevada-Reno, as professor of Chinese at the University of San Diego and ultimately the last 30 years of his pastoral ministry in California.
Visitation for Fr. Lefebvre will take place from 10-11 a.m. before an 11 a.m. Mass of Christian burial on Thursday at the Viatorian Province Center, located at 1212 E. Euclid Ave. in Arlington Heights.