BAIE-EGMONT – A moving ceremony was a fitting tribute to singer-songwriter and Acadian hero Angèle Arsenault at St. Phillippe and St. Jacques Roman Catholic Church Saturday afternoon.
Fr. (Eloi) Arsenault celebrated the funeral mass and had difficulty composing himself at times, finally letting the tears fall as a particularly poignant recording of Angèle reminded the mourners of her positive approach to life.
“I was very close to Angèle, close to the family,” Fr. Arsenault, recalling how he went to the Arsenault home parties when he was young and participated in some of her early career activities.
He was invited to her wedding, and hitch-hiked as a student from Nicolet to attend it at Quebec City, and when she played in the Evangeline area she would always ask him to come on stage and do a ‘step’, he recalled.
Aside from his personal sense of loss, Fr. Eloi told the congregation it is a responsibility and pride to recognize what she had been for her family, those she knew, and for the Acadians generally.
By her love of life, connecting personality, sense of humour, contagious energy, thirst for universality, her huge spirit and great talent, expressed in song and music, she became part of the fabric of Acadian history, culture and the French language.
“She stimulated in us the pride of who we are: a people who, despite the shadow of history, the sufferings and deportation, can cry ‘we are invincible’, as she says so well in her extraordinary song Grand Pré,” he compared.
Several mourners noted the way Fr. Eloi likened her lyrics to scripture. Retired priest Eddie Cormier, who assisted at the service, assured that the singer’s faith was an influence in her writing.
Family members sang an emotional good-bye, and the mourners applauded several songs incorporated into the service, sung by family members and Fr. Eloi.
The service ended with interment of the urn of ashes in the nearby cemetery, overlooking the Northumberland Strait from the heart of the Evangeline region and Acadian spirit.