|Fr. André Patenaude, M.S.|
ATTLEBORO - For 22 years Fran Gunning has been working with La Salette Father, André "Pat" Patenaude. As manager of his ministry that takes him around the world spreading Our Lady of La Salette's message of reconciliation with God, Gunning has always been proactive.
So when the singing priest fell seriously ill this past August while ministering in France, Gunning immediately took the only action she could for her friend half way around the world - she began to pray for him. Not asking God0 to heal him, but confidently thanking God for healing him. "I began to thank God in advance for Father Pat's healing," Gunning told The Anchor. "I started to pray, ‘Thank you, God, for healing Father Pat,' and others started to pray it as well. It became our mantra while he was in a hospital in Grenoble, France."
When Gunning learned that Father Pat and the La Salette Community had no insurance to help pay for the astronomical bills that began to pile up, she again sprang to action, this time by organizing a fund-raising event to help defray some of the costs. The event will take place March 3, 2013, at the Lake Pearl Restaurant in Wrentham from 3 to 8 p.m.
"I was wondering what I could do to help," Gunning said, "and one day on the way home from work, a thought popped into to my head, 'Why don't you do a fundraiser?' From then on, I've been reaching out to people who know Father Pat and the La Salette Community to see if they were willing to help."
So far, the response has been very encouraging to Gunning. "Joe Lorusso, owner of Lake Pearl in Wrentham, MA, has generously given me his beautiful place for the day — the ballroom and the promenade overlooking the water," she said. "And Russ Morin, owner of Russell Morin's Fine Catering in Attleboro, is providing all of the delicious food that will be served. When I asked him to help, he told me, 'Fran, whatever you want.' I'm so deeply grateful to both of them."
The event will have a cocktail hour from 3-4 p.m., at which time guests will bid on many items in a silent auction. "The gifts will be displayed in the Promenade Room, and people will have the opportunity to bid on items and get them for 'next to nothing.'" Some of the items already donated for the auction include Llardo items (Spanish porcelain figurines whose value increases over time), Hummels, Waterford crystal lamps and champagne glasses, a hand-knit Irish afghan, $100 gift certificates 'to restaurants such as the Blackinton Inn, Luciano's, and the Lafayette House.
"I can't do any of this without such wonderful people making such wonderful donations," Gunning added. "People have been more than happy to donate." Gunning added that others are still encouraged to donate to the silent auction and/or to attend the event itself. Following the cocktail hour will be dinner and music from 4 to 6:30 p.m., at which time there will also be raffles and eventually the auction winners will be announced.
University Hospital, Grenoble, France,
Gunning noted that the March 3, 2013, fundraiser is not affiliated with the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. "It's something that I wanted to do for Father Pat and the community," she said. Gunning also noted that the names of all those who donate gifts for the silent auction will be listed at the event. "Companies too, are encouraged to donate," she added. "We will also list the companies. It will be good advertising for them. "Every penny brought in by the fundraiser will go to Father Pat and the La Salette Community to help pay the astronomical costs."
"It should be a wonderful, fun day and evening," said Gunning. "Father Pat will be there as well as his sister Rita, and Lorraine Gendreau, who were with him through his time in France. He is doing very well, but he is still weak and going through therapy twice a week. He's excited to be home." Father Pat returned home on December 14, and according to Gunning, "it's a miracle that he's alive, a true miracle."
|Lake Pearl Luciano’s in Wrentham, MA,
site of Dinner for Fr. Pat
Gunning explained that Father Pat did have pancreatic problems prior to his leaving for France, but the effects became acute and severe following a 10-day excursion from France to India and back to France. "After about two days after returning from India he experienced severe pain," said Gunning. "Everything came to a head, but he was very fortunate to be taken to one of the best hospitals in France, University Hospital in Grenoble." Doctors placed Father Pat in an induced coma to help relieve the swelling's effect on his other organs.
"While he was in the hospital, Father Pat received so many cards, letters and Mass cards from so many people," said Gunning. "At first he wasn't able to read them, but when he did become able he opened and read every one of them. Father Pat knows that many good people have been praying for him and he is so very grateful. It's going to be a long road to recovery for him. He knows it will be about a year before he starts to feel himself again.
"Father Pat has done so much for all of us and it is now our turn to do what we can do best, to help with the huge cost incurred while he was in France."
To make a silent auction gift donation, or to attend the March 3, 2013, event, please call Gunning at 508-455-2656, or write to Make It Known, P.O. Box 40118, Providence, RI 02940.
(Reprinted with permission from The Anchor, Jan. 18, 2013, pgs. 1 & 19; original title, “Long-time friend and colleague goes to bat for Father Pat.”)