The celebrant of that mass was Fr. Joseph Le Caron, OMR, who was one of four Récollet Friars to accompany Samuel de Champlain to New France in 1615.
|Statue of Fr. Joseph Le Caron at St. Ann's Church, Penetanguishene.|
Champlain brought the priests with him to evangelize the natives living in the area. The Récollets said the first recorded mass in Montreal on the Île de Montréal on June 24th, 1615. Fr. Le Caron then made the 1100 km journey by canoe and overland to Huronia. He was accompanied by twelve Frenchmen and guided by Ouendat traders. He took up residence among the native Ouendat people of the area, and some time later Champlain arrived.
This is how Champlain recorded the first mass that was said in his presence in Ontario:
|The Works of Samuel de Champlain in Six Volumes: Volume III, 1615-1618. H.P. Biggar, ed. 1929. The Champlain Society: Toronto. pp. 22-23.|
"Thence I had them conduct me to Carhagouha, which is enclosed for defence and protection by a triple wooden palisade, thirty-five feet high. in this village lived Father Joseph, whom we found there and were very glad to see him in good health, he on his side being no less delighted; for he expected nothing less than to see me in that country. And on the twelfth day of August the reverend Father celebrated the holy mass, and a cross was set up near a little cabin apart from the village, which the savages built while I was staying there..."
Le Caron and the other Récollets only stayed in New France for a short time, and a few years later the Jesuit missionaries who are memorialized at Midland's Martyrs' Shrine took over their work.
In 1922, a cross was erected by the Knights of Columbus on the spot once believed to be Carhagouha (doubts about the exact site were later expressed by many). It was blessed by Archbishop McNeil.
|PH31C - 03CP|
Memorial masses have been celebrated at the site over the years. In 1965, Archbishop Pocock celebrated the 350th anniversary of the mass:
|Archbishop Pocock offers mass at the Carhagouha memorial.|
For more information about Wednesday's mass and other events, check out the Martyrs' Shrine Events Calendar.