He was a gentle spirit who was very proud to be a Franco-American.
We met Father Normand E. Carpentier when he was an assistant pastor at All Saints Parish, in Brunwick, ME. At one time, he was a guest of the local French group, a gathering of 8 friends who continue to meet for lunch, taking turns in each person’s home, where “seulement le français” (French only) is spoken.
Sadly, his unexpected death at age 71, on March 19, in Lewiston, marks the passing of another of Maine’s Portland Diocesan clergyman. This is particularly significant in a state where a significant number of the practicing Roman Catholics are Franco-Americans.
My husband and I enjoyed Father Norm’s company when we incidentally met him for lunch at the Franco-Center, in Lewiston, during La Semaine de la Francophonie (the week of Francophones), a celebration of the culture. In a way, it was ironic to have had the pleasure of his company during an intercultural luncheon meal, because the menu happened to be Corned Beef and Cabbage, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day!
In fact, our lunch conversation was about my award as an inductee in the Franco-American Hall of Fame. We discussed this presentation with him, while he was picking up his lunch and sitting near him at his lunch table. As he was always supportive, he expressed his congratulations about the recognition on my behalf. “You know the culture,” he said with a smile.
Little did we realize how our lunch with Father Norm in Lewiston, was one of his last public events. Only two days later, on March 19, 2017, Father Norm unexpectedly died. Certainly, it was our honor to have been with him on a happy occasion, during a program where Franco-Americans were being recognized. Such occasions in our lives give us pause, and time to reflect on how important it is to enjoy each day, as it comes. Moreover, remembering our last conversation with Father Norm is important, because his memory affirmed his cultural pride. Indeed, one of his last public visits happened to be a celebration of Franco-American heritage.
Father Norm lived in Auburn at the time of his death. He was born in Quantico, Virginia, on April 5, 1945, the son of Charles E. and Adrienne Lajoie Carpentier. In Lewiston, he attended Holy Cross and St. Louis grammar schools. His high school education was at Sherbrooke Seminary in Quebec, Canada. His Master of Divinity degree was received from St. Mary’s Seminary, in Baltimore, Maryland. On May 29, 1971, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward C. O’Leary at St. Louis Parish in Auburn.
Some of my conversations with Father Norm were about Baltimore, because his seminarian philosophy courses were held on the campus of the St. Elizabeth Seaton House and St. Mary’s Spiritual Center, near the neighborhood where I grew up, in the city.
As an assistant pastor at All Saints Parish in Brunswick, Father Norm gave generously of his time to support parishioners and attend church sponsored events. We attended his retirement luncheon in Brunswick, where a lifetime of religious devotion was recognized by his friends and parishioners.
Father Norm’s funeral Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on March 24th, at Holy Cross Church on Sabattus Street, in Lewiston, by Bishop Robert Deeley. Father Frank Murray, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, in Bangor, gave the eulogy.
Thanks to our family’s shared Franco-American heritage, my husband and I had the privilege of saying “auvoir” to Father Norman, during a happy cultural celebration. May his soul “repose en paix”.