Venant Lalonde Dies

HNP Communications Friar News

RINGWOOD, N.J. — Venant Lalonde, OFM, 89, a professed Franciscan friar for 63 years and a priest for 58, died April 21 at Holy Name Friary.

A wake will be held April 24 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m, at St. Anthony Church, 65 Bartholdi Avenue, Butler, N.J. Guy Morgan, OFM, will preach the eulogy at the 7:00 p.m. wake service. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on April 25 at St. Anthony Church. Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, will preside and Venant’s nephew, Fr. Peter Byrne, FSSP, will preach the homily.

Burial will follow in the friars’ plot of Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Butler.

Early Years
Born Oct. 27, 1923 in Ilion, N.Y., to Eugene and Mildred Lalonde, Venant was baptized Maurice Eugene at Annunciation Church in Ilion. After graduating in 1942 from high school in Malone, N.Y., Venant entered the N.Y. State Maritime Academy in the Bronx, N.Y., from which he graduated in 1944.

For the following two and a half years, he served in the U.S. Navy before entering St. Joseph Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1946. Venant was received into the Order on Aug. 12, 1948 at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J. Receiving the religious name Venant, he professed first vows on Aug. 13, 1949 in Paterson.

He continued his studies at St. Stephen Friary in Croghan, N.Y., and St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., receiving his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Bonaventure University in 1951. He pursued theological studies at Holy Name College in Washington, where he professed final vows on Sept. 17, 1952. He was ordained a priest on May 5, 1954 at Mount St. Sepulchre Friary in Washington.

Upon completing theological studies in 1955, he spent a pastoral internship year at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City. In 1956, Venant volunteered as a missionary in Bolivia, where he served for 15 years, almost entirely among the indigenous people. Due to health reasons, he returned to the United States in 1971.

Shortly after, Venant took a leave from ministry to continue his maritime training so he could maintain his membership with the U.S. Naval Institute and the Royal Institute of Navigation. In 1974, he was given permission to enter the Apostolate of the Sea. For the next 17 years, he worked in the Merchant Marine as a navigator while also exercising a priestly ministry aboard ship. When not at sea, he assisted at the Province’s Franciscan Missionary Union office and as part of the pastoral staff of St. Francis of Assisi Church.

In 1991, Venant moved to Sacred Heart Friary in East Rutherford, N.J. Retiring from the Merchant Marine in 1992, he returned to pastoral work, first at Our Lady of Vilnius Church in New York City, then, in 1994, at St. Agnes Church in New York City, assisting in the parish until 2007.

On May 4, 1999, the Council of American Master Mariners named Capt. Venant the first recipient of the Lalonde Spirit of the Sea Award for his exemplary service to humankind and seafarers in particular. From 2007 to 2009, he assisted at the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Tulsa, Okla., after which he retired from active ministry at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla. In July 2012, he was transferred to Holy Name Friary.

Besides his parents, Venant was predeceased by his sister, Pauline Desnoyers. He is survived by his brother, Jerome (Margaret) Lalonde of Clinton, N.Y., and sister, Mrs. Margaret Byrne of Dallas, Texas. Condolences may be sent to Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Lalonde, 7524 Dugway Road, Clinton, NY 13323.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Franciscan Missionary Union, 135 W. 31st Street, New York, NY 10001-3403.

 Compiled by Theresa Bartha