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A good soul moves on

Joe Daley has 'a lot of good memories' from the Deh Cho

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Aug 16/02) - Father Joe Daley is confident he is leaving the Sacred Heart Parishes in good hands.

The congregations in Deh Cho won't have him to lead masses, to comfort them in their grief and to share their joy in marriages and baptisms any longer. Daley is moving to Yellowknife, where he will be delivering sermons at St. Patrick's Catholic Church.

NNSL Photo

After six years in the Deh Cho, Father Joe Daley is moving to Yellowknife this week. He'll be taking some keepsakes with him, including these gifts from community members: knitted socks, a beaded rosary case and the beaded vest he is wearing. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

"It's really been encouraging to see local people assume leadership," Daley said Monday while reflecting on his time in the region.

"Local people draw on their own culture and language."

He was informed of his impending reassignment to Yellowknife by Bishop Denis Croteau while on vacation in his birth province of New Brunswick in May. At first, he was admittedly excited about the new opportunity. But it didn't take long for ambivalence to creep in.

"As I got back home (to Fort Simpson), the mixed feelings came then... I know most of the people (in Deh Cho), most of them by name," said Daley. "I'll certainly take a lot of good memories; the sense of people living in tune with creation, in harmony with nature, especially in the smaller communities."

In particular, he said he'll never forget celebrating the new millennium in Trout Lake. Following mass, a feast, and a drum dance, the community's first fireworks were held at midnight.

"Almost everyone in the community was there. That was really wonderful," he said.

Daley is looking forward to working with a pastoral team in Yellowknife, but he said he still expects to see Deh Cho residents passing through the capital city from time to time.

Martina Norwegian, a lay presider in Fort Simpson, said Daley will definitely be missed.

"He was always a great inspiration," she said. "He was so in touch with all the communities. He just loved the travelling."

In Fort Providence, Nellie Norwegian, also a lay presider, said she recalls a rather reserved Joe Daley visiting her home six years ago. Gradually, as he learned about the people and the culture, he opened up, she said.

"He was someone you could talk to and joke with," she said.