Honoring Our Departed

Honoring our Departed – (PIP #32)

                                     By Louise Peloquin                                                      

     For over a century, Lowellians have gathered at Saint Joseph Cemetery, established in 1894 at 96 Riverneck Road Chelmsford, to remember their beloved departed and to pay homage to their military heroes.

The tradition lives on. A tent will be set up this May 27th for an open-air Memorial Day Mass at 10:00. All are invited to attend.


L’Etoile, October 22, 1917

Beautiful Ceremonies at Saint Joseph Cemetery

The Pilgrimage at Saint Joseph Cemetery 

From 6,000 to 10,000 people visited the field of death – Military parade, Libéras (1),

 Superb sermon by Reverend Father Bachand, O.M.I.


     The annual pilgrimage to Saint Joseph’s Cemetery, under the auspices of the C.M.A.C.(2), took place with unprecedented success yesterday afternoon. From six to ten thousand people went to the cemetery to give a testimony of esteem to their dear departed and to pray for the repose of their souls. This most uplifting display deeply impressed all who were present.


     Ideal weather favored the pilgrimage and all the Franco-American parishes of the city participated in this imposing ceremony.


     The ranks were formed at 1 P.M. in the Catholic Association rooms. The Lowell Military Band, directed by Oswald Theo Bamber, preceded the procession. 

     The following companies were in the ranks:

     National Guard Company 100, Albert Bergeron and First Lieutenant Alphonse Naterand, 10 men. We noticed Joseph L. Lamoureux of the Franco-American Volunteer Brigade, his son Emile J. Lamoureux, Company K Westfield camp trumpeter, his other son Arthur D. Lamoureux, major of the Guardian Angel Guard and soldier Pierre Beauchène also from Company K Westfield.

     The Sacred Heart Guards of Notre Dame de Lourdes parish, 25 men under the orders of First Lieutenant Henri Guérin.

     Boy Scout Troop 26 of Notre Dame de Lourdes parish, Edouard Malo, commander and Roméo Lozeau, trumpeter.

     The Guardian Angel Company, Saint Joseph parish, under the orders of Captain Alfred Tardif and all of Company B under the orders of Captain Arthur Lemay. These two companies were commanded by Major Achile Bellefeuille.

     The Saint Louis Guard of Saint Louis parish, under the orders of Edouard Ganache.

     The Zouaves (3) of Saint Louis parish, Captain Raoul Gallant.

     The C.M.A.C. Honor Guard, Captain Nelson Phillips.

     The Catholic Association, 200 men, commanded by Mr. Raoul Pelletier.

     At the place of honor, following the different ranks, we noticed Reverend Father Superior Eugène Turcotte, O.M.I., C.M.A.C. chaplain; Reverend Father Joseph Denis, O.M.I., of Notre Dame de Lourdes parish; J.A. Fortier, C.M.A.C. president; Napoléon Lozeau, finance secretary and Thomas Bérubé, secretary-archivist.

     The C.M.A.C. members held flags – Mr. Alfred Beauchesne the American flag, Mr. Joseph Boutin, the French flag and Mr. Joseph Larose the Sacred Heart Carillon flag.

     Mr. Isidore Trudel was the commander general of the parade.


       Participants then went to Saint Joseph church on Lee Street which had been completely draped in black for the circumstance. Reverend Father Turcotte officiated at the service. The choir was directed by Mr. Télésphore Malo with Miss Lena B. Camré accompanying at the organ. At the exit of the church, the military band played Atkinson’s “Sorrow’s Dream.” 


     People took tramways to get to the cemetery. Upon arrival, the band played Chopin’s funeral march.

     The religious exercises took place near the grave where repose the remains of many Oblate Fathers.

     Reverend Father Louis Bachand, O.M.I., eloquently pronounced a special sermon for the occasion. Many people broke down in tears.


     Here is a summary:

     “All peoples venerate the place where the remains of the departed are placed because it is a universal belief that death is not the end but is rather the entrance into eternal life. Catholics believe that the dust contained in the tombs is a temple that God will revive on the last day. There lies the obligation to visit cemeteries in order to pray over the graves of our dear deceased.

     Everywhere around us there are coffins, tombs which contain the remains of a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a wife or a husband, of people who were dear to us. We can cry over these tombs but our tears are full of hope. The Cross, on which Our Savior shed His precious blood in atonement for our sins, overcame our tombs and guaranteed delivery from death and eternal life in paradise.”

    After the sermon, Reverend Father Turcotte and the whole choir sang hymns echoing the message of the sermon.


     A squadron, lead by Captain Nelson Phillips, proceeded to a gun salute firing three shots near Reverend Father A.-M. Garin’s (4) grave. The band then played Taps followed by a funeral march. (5)


  1. “Libéra,” from the Latin “liberate” meaning “to deliver,” is the first word of the prayer sung by the priest at a burial service.
  2. The Corporation of the Members of the Catholic Association, was founded in 1878. By 1900, the C.M.A.C., housed in a spacious building on Pawtucket Street, facing Merrimack Street, became the most important Franco-American benevolent society in Lowell as well as a center for social and political life.
  3. A “Zouave” is a member of a French infantry unit originally composed of Algerians wearing a colorful uniform. Also refers to a member of a military unit adopting the Zouave dress. Perhaps the best-known Zouave is the statue at the Alma Bridge in Paris.
  4. Reverend Father André-Marie Garin, O.M.I. (1822-1895) was at the origin of the Oblates establishing in Lowell in 1868 and was responsible for building the churches of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Joseph and Saint-Jean-Baptiste. A biography on the link: https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/garin-andre-marie/
  5. Translation by Louise Peloquin.


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