Very Reverend Vincent Marchildon, O.P. was born in 1877 in Bastican, Quebec, Canada. He entered the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) and was invested into the habit in 1898 and made his perpetual vows in 1902. He was ordained to the priesthood in Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa, Canada on January 1, 1903. Father Marchildon arrived at Saint Anne on October 27, 1905 and spent 60 years of his priestly life here.
Throughout those many years he served in various roles including curate, assistant pastor, and founder & director of the well-known shrine. In 1923 he was excused from all parish duties and was permitted to devote all his time to the apostolate of the shrine.
Named the first official Director of the Shrine in 1928, he was instrumental in establishing the perpetual novenas in honor of Saint Anne on Sundays and Tuesdays, and he even established a choir to provide music for these services. In 1939 he established the Sunday afternoon processions of pilgrims around the shrine of Saint Anne that was a popular custom. Also in 1939, he was awarded the title of Preacher General by the Master General of the Dominican Order.
In June of 1956, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his work here at Saint Anne, Pope Pius XII bestowed on Father Marchildon a Papal Decoration Benemerenti for his outstanding work and
devotion to the faithful.
He organized the Saint Anne Parish Conference of the Saint Vincent De Paul Society, was a member of the Greater Fall River Chamber of Commerce, and held a deep interest in community affairs. He was also a notary public, the bursar of the Dominican priory on Middle Street, and the administrator of La Semaine Paroissiale, a weekly newsletter of the Dominican Fathers.
Father Marchildon was revered for his special love and devotion to the poor and suffering. He is
remembered for being both a man of action and a humble and zealous priest. He had a special gift for encouraging and comforting the afflicted. He always lived poorly, content with minimal necessities, willingly wearing old clothes, traveling economically, and shunning luxuries. He counseled several generations of pilgrims and his spiritual influence was widespread.
Many were unaware of his handicaps, which he bore with a spirit of acceptance. One of his eyes was totally blind for almost 25 years, and his remaining vision was very weak. In 1955 he was involved in a serious automobile accident near Quebec, Canada. The accident caused a progressive deterioration of his memory and he was forced to give up saying Mass. Nevertheless, he bore his infirmities with extraordinary patience and abandonment to the will of God.
Father Vincent Marchildon was truly the pioneer in the development of Saint Anne Shrine. He entered into eternal rest on January 15, 1972, and he is buried in the crypt at the shrine.
Today we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this saintly priest’s entrance into God’s heavenly kingdom.
Father Vincent Marchildon, pray for us and for this sacred shrine that you loved so much!
Requiescat in Pace