Fr. Jean-Pierre Couturier is a priest and a cobbler. Both are late vocations that this man of faith and action has fully embraced. The first, he embraced at the age of 42, and the second, two years later.
On a recent Monday, the pastor of the Mary Help of Christians mission church, an Italian-speaking parish in Quebec, is enjoying a rather quiet morning. But make no mistake: he’s a busy man.
“For the past two years, I’ve been entrusted with the Domenico Savio mission, to which I have added the care of an English-speaking community. There, I’m mainly in charge of the administration. That’s why my Thursdays are important!” he says.
In fact, Father Jean-Pierre devotes his Thursdays to another mission, called “P’tit Père,” or “Little Father”—the shoe repair and distribution project he has set up.
It all began in 1998, when the priest and former singer was assigned to Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal. There he met a homeless man, Jean-Paul.
“He was always at the cathedral,” says Fr. Couturier, “a very devout man. One day, some parishioners came up to me and said, ‘Jean-Paul doesn’t smell very good, can you do something?’”
The priest invited him aside and asked him to take off his shoes. He then discovered that he had gangrene.
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