The Tireless Miracle Worker
Father Eloi Arsenault, a retired priest, was born and raised in one of the poorest provinces of Eastern Canada: Prince Edward Island. This information about him is crucial if you want to understand the passion he has for helping the needy and being a voice for the voiceless. It was these formative years that created the man we all know and love today. Suffering seems to bring out the best in people and he is a prime example.
“It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.”
- Mother Teresa
As I was preparing to write this article about Father Eloi, I was going over some older articles that had already been written about him in different newspapers and other forums. There was a moment of anxiety when I thought: “How in the world will I be able to summarize his 50 years of service to poor communities and his contributions to Volcanes and other poor areas of the world in one or two pages?” I can’t! Even a book the size of a Stephen King novel would not do him justice.
All I can say is that Father Eloi has been instrumental in keeping this program alive. Without him, there is a high probability we would not have survived for as long as we have. There were years when funding was low and we were at risk of not being able to pay the teachers their salaries, only to have Father Eloi show up, as if by miracle, with thousands of dollars he had collected for our program. Even though he has been retired from the priesthood for the last few years and should be out relaxing on a beach somewhere, he continues to be a big part of what we are doing here. His dedication to our students and to the entire community of Volcanes is contagious. Every year he goes around different parts of Canada talking about how the Volcanes Kids Education Project is changing the lives of children here and asking for donations to our program. And every year he comes here with thousands of dollars which carry us for months.
The Volcanes community is not the only community he helps and cares for. If there is poverty somewhere, you can best believe Father Eloi will get involved somehow. In 2004 he was awarded the Order of PEI, the highest civilian honor of his native province, for his service to others. There is a quote by Mother Teresa which reminds me of him, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” Father Eloi, with his caring and love, has created many ripples throughout the world. Here in Volcanes, those ripples have changed the lives of many students and community members and has helped us continue doing the work we do to help kids in this area stay in school and develop into good, successful human beings. We thank him and the people of the Evangeline area of Canada, as well as those from Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island for their many years of continued support and generosity.