Tuesday, May 31, 2016


The second of our new American saints is Venerable BROTHER WILLIAM GAGNON (1905-72), who was born in Dover, New Hampshire. He entered the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God in Quebec, and died in Saigon.

Brother William was born of French Canadian parents, living both in New England and Quebec, Canada. He was called from his youth to take care of others. He discovered the fulfillment of this call when he entered the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God.This order, which began under St. John of God in Grenada, Spain, is dedicated to practicing hospitality, especially in caring for the sick and needy. He took vows on 20 November 1932 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. His dedication to those who were  sick and suffering energized his life in following Christ.

His family- nun is his Sister Marie Eva
After having occupied various functions in his community, his dream of being a missionary became a reality when he arrived with two other Canadian Brothers at the Bui-Chu Mission, in the North of Vietnam, in 1952.

For 17 years, his apostolic action concentrated on the implementation of the Order in Vietnam and ministering to thousands of refugees. Hospitality as a way of being and acting toward those in need was empowered by a deep sense of reverence for life and a devotional life of prayer. He had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

While at the Bui-Chu Mission , he cared for sick and wounded refugees, many of whom were victims of the Vietnam War, and worked to further establish the Hospitaller Order in Southeast Asia.

Giving water to a patient at the mission in Viet Nam

“He gave of himself in Vietnam,” said Father Agapit Jean of the Parish of the Assumption in Dover. “The work that he did there was amazing. To be able to care for people in a foreign land, especially Vietnam at that time in history, is a wonderful thing. We are able to celebrate that someone from our community is being honored in such a beautiful way.”

He died of a heart attack, having given of himself totally to others. He would be only the second person born in the United States to be canonized, St. Katharine Drexel being the first.

The Blessed's grave in Viet Nam

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