A Tribute to Ghislain Cayouette - Ghislain Labonté

A few years back, in a popular movie (Dead Poets Society), a teacher proposed this maxim as a guide to his students « Carpe diem » or « Seize the day ». And in his teachings, he tried to bring every student to discover and assert the unicity of oneself.

This maxim and this encouragement reminds me of Ghislain. In saying that Ghislain lived his unicity, I am saying something that everyone knows. In saying that he seized the day, that he lived life well, his life, I am also saying something that everyone knows. I am simply testifying that this is the message that he leaves me, this is the legacy I received from him. From this day forward, I shall bear my name with more honor and pride.

At the funeral parlor, I heard a voice in the assembly proposing as an invocation « Saint Ghislain ». I did not hesitate in replying « Pray for us ». Of course, Ghislain wasn't a saint the books taught us to venerate, except a certain book, a book I have always loved and which I love more and more, the Old Testament. In this book, the saints are living. The saints of the Old Testament are not persons who retreat from others, despising them. No, these saints took seriously this phrase repeated seven times in the first chapter of the bible « And God saw that it was good ». The saints from the Old Testament loved people, lived amongst people, expressed their sorrows and joy within our world. And this is what Ghislain did, in his own unique, personal and intense way. He is worthy of the saints of the Old Testament. I say that Jesus Christ is a saint from this book called the Old Testament. If we had really recognized Jesus Christ, there would have been no Old Testament but only one testament continued and realized in Jesus Christ.

This story of a saint from the Old Testament reminds me of Ghislain, a story about Jacob. One night, Jacob was all alone, en route towards his country, after a long journey of at least fourteen years. He had just gotten his family and servants to cross the Yabbok passage and he stayed behind on the other side for the last night so that he would enter his country the following day. He knew he would see his brother Esau the next day and he remembered that he had played a bad trick on his brother. Jacob was afraid. How would his brother welcome him ?

During the night a mysterious visitor engaged him in a fight. They fought all night long and towards the end Jacob was struck at the hip. All his life he limped after this night. Just before sunrise, this mysterious visitor told Jacob to let him go. Jacob told him that he would let him go only after receiving his blessing. The visitor then told Jacob that Jacob's name would now be « Israel ». Jacob then asked the name of his mysterious visitor. The visitor didn't tell him but blessed him before leaving.

Au plus vaillantGhislain has led a fight till the end. He received a plaque declaring him the most valiant fighter of his school. Jacob was struck at the hip, Ghislain was struck onto his whole body. Jacob was blessed, Ghislain also by his resurrection. I do not hesitate to state that Ghislain, by his intense and personal way of living his life, undeniably demonstrated by his fight to the finish, is a saint, in the manner of my favorite saints, those of the Old Testament.

Ghislain R. Labonté, July 16th, 1996


Congratulations and thanks
To the most valiant Gaulois
(Gaulois, meaning Gallic, being the students' nickname)

For your courageous fight...
For sharing your strength and your wisdom...
May 29, 1996