Quebec priest killed in Japan quake, group says
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Sunday, March 13, 2011 6:47PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:10AM EDT
A Catholic priest from Quebec has been found among the dead in Japan after an earthquake and tsunami rocked the country.
Father Andre Lachapelle, a 76-year-old missionary from Saint-Jacques-de-Montcalm, near Joliette, Que., died on Friday after the "intense motion" of the earthquake resulted in a heart attack, said Guy Charbonneau, superior general of the Quebec-based Foreign Mission Society.
"He was on his way from the cathedral in Sendei to his parish, which was about 20 minutes away in Shiogama, because he wanted to be with them," Charbonneau told CTV.ca in a telephone interview on Sunday. "He did not drown in the flood but he died of a heart attack due to the intense motion of the earthquake."
Charbonneau, who said that Lachapelle died about 30 kilometres from the quake's epicenter, added that the Foreign Mission's 10 other missionaries in the country are all safe and "working with their own parishioners on spiritual-related" issues.
Lachapelle trained to be a priest at the Foreign Mission Society in the 1950s and left for Japan in 1961.
While in Japan, Lachapelle worked as a missionary, but also served as a counsellor at a Japanese prison for 25 years.
His friend, Father Florent Vincent, said Lachapelle went to Japan "to help people to be free, and to have happiness."
"I believe he is in heaven, and he can see us," Vincent told CTV Montreal. "He can help us from heaven, to inspire us to do good things for people, help people."
Lachapelle leaves behind four brothers and one sister and will be buried in Japan. The Foreign Mission Society will hold a funeral service for Lachapelle this Friday.
The federal government says that 1,773 Canadian citizens are registered with the Canadian embassy in Japan, but it is estimated that between 10,000 and 12,000 Canadians are in the country.
Thirteen Canadians were registered as living in the area hardest hit by Friday's quake and ensuing tsunami, a Foreign Affairs spokesperson said.
The department confirmed Saturday that at least one Canadian was confirmed dead after the quake, but has not released the identity of the victim.
The Department of Foreign Affairs says Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance in Japan should contact the embassy in Tokyo at 011-81-3-5412-6200, or can call the department's emergency operations centre collect to 613-944-2471 or 613-943-1055. Emails can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone seeking information about Canadian friends or family now in Japan is asked to call DFAIT at 613-943-1055, or toll free within Canada at 1-800-606-5499 or 1-800-387-3124.
With a report from CTV Montreal's Aphrodite Salas