Origène and Marie-Lourdes Fillion first became involved with Actionmarguerite Saint-Boniface as volunteers almost 25 years ago. Although Origène can no longer spend time there, due to his health, Marie-Lourdes continues to go twice a week.
“Both my parents were residents of Actionmarguerite Saint-Boniface for several years,” said Marie-Lourdes Fillion. “We went to see them regularly. Then when my mother passed away in 1995, one of the nuns asked us to keep coming back. So we did.”
As volunteers, the Fillions helped with the pastoral work, distributed communion, led prayer groups and Liturgy of the Word sessions, and visited residents. “For awhile, I was going every Tuesday evening to play cards with three people who were unable to shuffle the cards,” remembers Origène Fillion. “They loved that. We made sure everyone had fun.”
Born in Letellier, Origène Fillion “came to Collège Saint-Boniface to study. My parents also moved to Saint-Boniface when I started working as a teacher.”
“I later became superintendent of the Saint-Boniface School Division and dean of the Collège Saint-Boniface for nine years. I also helped create the Société de la francophonie manitobaine (formerly the Société franco-manitobaine), travelling around the province to find leadership where I could.”
For Marie-Lourdes Fillion, it all began in Saskatchewan. “My brother and sister came to Manitoba before me. I met Origène through my brother. He courted me through letters for two years. Then my brother married Origène’s sister. We were together for two years before we got married ourselves.”
The couple had six children. “My daughters were really interested in art,” said Marie-Lourdes Fillion. I enjoyed art as well, so I started taking pottery classes. After that, I held classes myself in the cultural centre. I’m also a painter, and my art has been exhibited here and elsewhere over the years. I’ve produced over 500 paintings. I’ve also been a trustee at the parish. And we’ve been members of the choir for almost 20 years.”
Volunteering at Actionmarguerite has been extremely important for the Fillion couple. “We felt we had something to give,” confided Marie-Lourdes. We wanted to support the residents in the final stage of their life. We could tell that it was good for them to be given an opportunity to live their spirituality. It’s impossible not to be happy while helping other people when you see how much good it does them. It was a lovely continuation of our lives.”
Origène added: “It’s in giving that we receive. What’s the meaning of life if we neglect the spiritual aspect, which goes beyond the short time we spend on Earth? For me, it’s obvious that everyone has a role to play helping people around them feel better. In other words, our role is to love each other.”