A Man And His Dream

1867-1957 Msg. D.R. Macdonald

By Patricia Kay olm

Recently I developed a narrative for this video on the life of Msgr. D.R. Macdonald especially as the founder of Our Lady’s Missionaries. It was a privilege to have time to read about him and listen to stories about him I hadn’t heard before. As a young woman fresh from Cape Breton, I first encountered him when one cold day just before Christmas in 1951, he met my train from Ottawa at the Green Valley station. To me then, he was a white haired old priest who seemed glad to welcome another candidate to his fledgling community. From there I soon came to know him as Fr. Dan, our chaplain, often forgetful when saying Mass and our teacher, who could be dismayed by the lack of knowledge of early Church history demonstrated by us, his youthful students. It is from letters, articles and oral and written stories about him that I came to appreciate far more significant facets of a very full and varied life.

Born in Quebec in 1867, Fr. Dan moved with his family to Alexandria in Glengarry County, Ontario when he was very young. He came from loyal Scottish ancestry of which he was very proud and whose characteristics he himself exhibited throughout his long life. Those still alive today who knew him as a devoted priest in the diocese of Alexandria, speak of his brilliant and creative mind. His invention of an improved ballot paper is one example. And he was a builder at heart….a builder of buildings and a builder of people, providing excellent educational opportunities for youth from Ontario and other parts of Canada. But his desire to enrich others through their on-going development found a new cause when in 1949 his dream of founding a congregation of English-speaking women for what was then known as the foreign missions became a reality in Our Lady’s Missionaries.