The six parishes of the Soleil Levant pastoral group welcome their new parish priest, Monseigneur (Mgr) Léo Villeneuve, who was officially installed at a ceremony in Vankleek Hill on September 26, presided over by Mgr Marcel Damphousse, the Archbishop of the diocese.

Already known in the six parishes through his previous service as a collaborating priest and the fact that he is a native of the region, Mgr, or Father Léo, as he prefers to be called, expressed his desire to accompany the six parishes and work as a team with the parishioners.

As a sign of welcome, Lorraine Miner presented him with a gift of six plants to represent the six parishes, and Claire Diamond thanked the Archbishop for the “gift” of a parish priest who is known to be energetic, as evidenced by the fact that he has already made contact with students in schools in the region. Diamond also noted the energy that is returning to parishes after the pandemic, which Father Leo will inspire and support.

The parishes in the Soleil Levant pastoral group are Saint-Grégoire in Vankleek Hill, Saint-Jean-Baptiste de L’Orignal, Saint-Bernardin, Saint-Eugène, Sainte-Anne-de-Prescott and Saint-Joachim de Chute à Blondeau.


Previously, Mgr Léo was pastor at the five parishes of the Mer Bleue parish unit in the Orleans area, along with Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Blackburn Hamlet, Carlsbad Springs and Sarsfield. For the past three years, he was Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall.

The Archbishop, in addition to installing the new parish priest, invited parishioners to witness their faith in everyday life. Religion is lived at mass, of course, but it is also lived out in our personal search for good Christian values such as sharing and forgiveness; it is important to mention to those around us how this makes a difference in our lives.

The date of Mgr Villeneuve’s installation was the same date the Franco-Ontarian flag day festivities and the mass was also celebrated in tribute to French-Canadian families, with the participation of the parish choir and that of the Société d’histoire des Filles du Roy, Les Voix de la Neufve-France. The celebration was followed by a snack.

At 2 p.m. in the church, Annette Ouimet-Assad, organizer of the Filles du Roy activities, gave a talk on the origins of these Mothers of the French-Canadian nation and their contribution to the development of our pioneer families.