Friday, April 25, 2014
“One cannot change the Franciscan Franco-American roots of UNE, because it is the heart of the institution,” Norman Beaupre, ’67 Professor Emeritus of
A serene memorial park at the
Each of the memorials on the campus grounds are an oasis of natural serenity. They’re quietly nestled among the busy parking lots and bicycle traffic, providing opportunities to meditate, and learn about the spiritual and Franco-American origins of the university.
Over 6,000 students from all the UNE programs probably have an opportunity to visit these two sites while they focus on undergraduate, graduate and medical educations (data from an online report http://www.une.edu/oira/upload/12_month_enrollment.pdf).
For the past several years, the UNE reunion weekends have also welcomed those who studied and worked at the campus before it became a university, when it was
Most of the first male students attending during the 1940-50s, were Franco-American young men, destined to move up to higher education and to seminaries. Founding Fathers of the school were two French-Canadian priests and siblings, Father Zernon Decary (1870-1940) and Msg. Arthur Decary (1872-1957). Both men are buried in the Founding Father’s memorial cemetery, with other founders, on a knoll behind the university’s entrance and across the street from Decary Hall.
My husband Richard L’Heureux ’55, graduated from the preparatory boarding high school with 27 other, mostly Franco-American, boys. He was welcomed with the
In the 1950’s, the school’s campus activities were conducted primarily in Decary Hall, where students and the Franciscan faculty focused their academics, gymnasium, cafeteria and boarding school. During our campus walking tour, we notice that the University retained the name of Decary Hall, honoring the founding sibling priests.
St. Francis alumni weekend included a reading by author Peter Makuck ’63, who gave a narrative from a mostly fictional account about some events in his formative years at
Makuck’s lead fictional character describes the youthful experience of climbing the Biddeford Pool water tower and leaving one’s initials behind as proof of accomplishing the challenge. Of course, my husband enjoyed Makuck’s reading because, indeed, he was among some of the students who participated in the water tower climbing student ritual. Like Makuck’s fictional character, my husband’s initials should be evidence of the feat, if they haven’t been eroded by nature and subsequent coats of paint.
Norman Beaupre of
“St. Francis’s roots are very much French Canadian and Franco-American, ever since it was founded in the 1930s,” says Beaupre.
“With time, the high school educated Franco-American boys who sought a faith related education while maintaining a strong attachment to their French heritage. Others attended who weren’t Francos; but the traditions and culture remained Franco-American. The Decary priests were strongly tied to St. Francis. They supported a cultural and religious approach to education. I would say the core of the educational tradition of UNE, as it was known as
More information on Peter Makuck is available at http://www.makuck.com/site/
Norman Beaupre’s information is available at http://www.nrbeaupre.com/
UNE’s alumni department invites any St. Francis students to participate in future activities. Check the website http://www.alumni.une.edu/s/1080/start.aspxTweet
Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.
Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at Juliana@mainewriter.com.