Father Brian Jane

Community bids farewell to Father Donato

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A beloved local priest is heading home to Africa but is leaving with positive memories of his time in the area.

Father Donato Lwiyando has left for his homeland of the Congo with his last day in Canada being Tuesday. Father Donato spent six years in Canada with stops at churches in Windsor and London before coming to St. John the Baptist Church in Amherstburg as associate pastor. His most recent church was Good Shepherd Church in Lakeshore. He also spent time assisting those of African origin in the area.

Upon his return to the Congo, Father Donato will look after the Hope of St. Joseph Shelter he founded.

“I have the shelter and I need to take care of it,” said Father Donato. “We have 40 girls living there in the shelter. I think it’s a good time for me to go and take care of those girls.”

ather Donato Lwiyando visits with parishioners from St. Jerome Church from Windsor during a farewell party March 4 at the Columbus Community Hall. He leaves March 6 to move back to the Congo.

Women and children both live in the shelter, with the shelter being a safe haven for the women who have suffered rape and abuse.

Father Donato said he has enjoyed his time in Canada and made many friends during his time in Amherstburg but it was time to go back to Africa. He said he started thinking about returning in February 2017 and made his decision in January 2018.

“I love the community of Amherstburg. I love it very much,” he said. “I had to choose between friends who are OK and friends who are suffering. I chose those who are suffering.”

Father Donato will also be a parish priest and also hopes to return to teaching in the seminary in the Congo. He will also try and help provide medical treatments to those in his homeland.

“When I went home to the Congo, I found people dying of sicknesses that could have been healed,” he said.

Father Donato’s time in Canada also saw him assist with the Spanish-speaking population near Sarnia. He would visit at least twice per month. He was also involved with other groups that helped spread love and peace in the area.

“I will miss the people. I really love the people of Amherstburg,” he said. “They were very, very kind. I will miss their smiles.”

Father Donato hugs a St. John the Baptist Church parishioner (right) during his farewell party at the Columbus Community Hall.

Adding he will always remember how he was welcomed to the area, Father Donato stated that he will always remember Amherstburg’s generosity.

“The people of Amherstburg are really, really generous,” he said. “I will miss that. I have very, very good memories of this community. I felt very loved, very welcomed. I will never forget them.”

Father Donato also spoke highly of St. John the Baptist Church priest Father Brian Jane.

“He has been very friendly, very supportive and very human,” Father Donato stated. “May God bless him.”

While Father Donato has gone home, fundraising for the Hope of St. Joseph Shelter continues. A pasta and salad dinner will be held at the Columbus Community Hall March 18 starting at 4:30 p.m. The cost is $10 and all proceeds will go to the shelter.

St. John the Baptist Church holds Christmas concert to raise funds for new roof

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

After spending $150,000 on a new roof for the church and the rectory, St. John the Baptist Parish was looking for a way to help ease the weight of the cost when a local group of artists approached them.

Titled, “A Joyful Christmas,” the concert has been played at a number of churches in the area. Daniela Marentette, organizer with Alex Leigh, said they have been trying to help out churches in the area bring in money for a number of reasons.

“We approached Father (Brian Jane), and Father was very open to it so that’s why we are here,” explained Marentette. “We are trying to help out as many churches as we can because they are in need. I am blessed with a gift God gave me, so I’m hoping I can give back to the community.”

Christine Baribeau (right) sings “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” with Dave Banwell during their Christmas concert, “A Joyful Christmas” Dec. 17 at St. John the Baptist Parish.

The group consisted of Lillian Scheirich as concertmaster with WSO, Leigh as a baritone, Marentette as a spinto soprano, Dave Banwell as a tenor, Christine Baribeau as a soprano and Anna Zaidman as a pianist. The group performed an array of songs, from classic Christmas tunes such as “O Holy Night,” “Mary Did You Know,” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” to more eclectic songs such as “Gesu Bambino,” and “Adeste Fidelis.”

“Usually we have the Windsor Symphony Orchestra come in this time but they aren’t coming in this year for the first time in many years, so this seemed to fit since it’s a Christmas concert,” explained Father Brian Jane. “I think it’s a good opportunity for us to experience their particular skills and music. We haven’t heard them before, I haven’t heard them as a group, I have been looking forward to it.”

Daniela Marentette sings “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” during her group’s Christmas concert, “A Joyful Christmas” Dec. 17 at St. John the Baptist Parish.

Father Jane said the new steel roof has already been installed on the church, while they are currently working on installing it on the rectory. This is the first fundraiser they have had to specifically offset the cost of the roof. He said the parish has been looking forward to the concert.

“I feel like it’s great because it’s not only helping these churches that are in need of the funds but also it helps bring music back into the community which is something I think has been kind of deteriorating over the last few generations or so,” said Leigh. “It seems like the arts are being considered less and less important and it’s very nice to see an opportunity to bring it back to life in the community, so to speak.”