Hundreds came to the Joliette Cathedral today to bid a final goodbye to Father Raymond Gravel, the beloved Catholic priest and former Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament for Repentigny.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was among those who attended the funeral, along with former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe.
Followers, friends and family paid their respects to a man who fiercely fought to defend medically assisted death, homosexuality, the place of women in the Church and the ordination of married people. He also supported the late abortionist Dr. Henry Morgentaler's nomination to the Order of Canada.
A number of public figures spoke prior to the funeral service, including Montreal fire chief François Massé and Laval Police Brotherhood vice-president Francis Voyer.
Gravel was the chaplain for the Montreal and Mascouche fire departments and the Laval police.
Last month, before Gravel's death, the Mascouche fire department renamed its fire station after him.
"It’s definitely an honour for me, although usually, we wait until a person is dead [to rename a fire station]. You know, I’m not dead, I’m still alive. But I said to myself, 'Well, why not. At least I can enjoy it,'" Gravel said in mid-July.
The mayors of Montreal, Laval and Mascouche are expected to attend Gravel’s funeral.
A brief look at Gravel’s life:
- Born on Nov. 4, 1952 in St-Damien-de-Brandon, in Quebec’s Lanaudière region.
- 1982: Gravel attends the Grand Seminary of Montreal.
- 1986: Gravel becomes the priest for the Joliette diocese.
- 2006-2008: Gravel becomes a Bloc Québécois MP for the Repentigny riding.
- Aug. 28, 2013: Gravel is diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer with bone metastasis.
- Aug. 11, 2014: Gravel dies at a palliative care centre in the Lanaudière region.