Jesuit Father Louis L. Grenier was called to eternal life on June 19, 2017, at Campion Health Center, Weston, Massachusetts. He was 98 years old and the oldest member of the province.
Fr. Grenier was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Nov. 2, 1918, the youngest of six children of Emile and Regina Berube. Fr. Grenier attended local public and Catholic schools and, in 1932, entered Boston College High School on a half-scholarship. From the age of seven, he had said he wanted to be a priest and his Jesuit teachers now inclined him in that direction. On Aug. 14, 1936, he took the train from Boston across the state to Shadowbrook, in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
In 1942, Fr. Grenier went to philosophy studies at Weston. At the end of philosophy studies, he was assigned to regency in Nicaragua, teaching in the Colegio Centro America outside the ancient city of Granada, and living in a room that had been once occupied by Jesuit martyr, Fr. Miguel Pro.
Two years later, it was back to Weston for theology. He was ordained a priest there in June of 1949 by Archbishop Richard Cushing. He completed his fourth year of theology and final oral exam and then was sent to serve in Jamaica.
In 1950, he arrived in the place where he would spend most of the next 60 years and nearly all his active Jesuit life. That first year, he was assigned to the parish at Spanish Town, the old Spanish and British capital of the island, 13 miles west of Kingston. There he had to visit the prison and at times accompany condemned men to execution.
Most notably, he was pastor of Above Rocks, some 15 miles from Kingston, where he oversaw four churches and ten schools, for which he secured volunteers from the U.S., including the Peace Corps. He secured one of the first USAID grants, which paid for 18 volunteers to create rural development projects—hundreds of kitchen gardens, goat- and rabbit-rearing programs, nutrition education, bee keeping—that benefited farmers. He was also instrumental in helping the Jamaican founder of Food for the Poor, Ferdie Mahfoud, extend his organization. In 1976, the Jamaican government conferred on Fr. Grenier the Order of Distinction, for his education and social work for the people of Jamaica and in 2015 he received an honorary appointment to the Order of Jamaica.
When Fr. Grenier was 90 he was reassigned from Above Rocks to the Jesuit community at Winchester Park, Kingston, where he assisted in the novitiate and continued to rise around 3:00 a.m. and leave the house by 5:30 a.m. to offer Mass in various convents and institutions. He did not feel old, he said, and noted that he had three aunts who lived to be 100 or more. In 2016, he came to live in at Campion Health Center, in Weston, west of Boston. Though he moved around in a wheelchair, he took full part in community life until days before his death. On June 19, 2017, in the late afternoon a few months short of his 99th birthday, he peacefully went to meet the Lord.