The Weiler family
Some bonds just can't be broken. Just ask Hugh Weiler and his family.
Now 91, Hugh daily and lovingly remembers his beloved wife, Lillian Lord, who passed away in 2005 after 56 years of marriage.
Lillian's roots came from the Saskatchewan community of Shell River, where she first met First Nations people living nearby—and for whom she developed a life-long respect and devotion...as did Hugh. Throughout his career, Hugh had many contacts with First Nations people and remembers many meetings with Chief Boniface George of Manitoulin Island in Ontario. As those friendships flourished, Hugh's own respect for the First Nations people deepened.
From those early meetings with native people, Hugh and Lillian came to know about Catholic Missions In Canada, and together grew into faithful supporters of the work of Canadian missionaries who serve First Nations people across Canada.
In fact, after Lillian passed away in 2005, Hugh set up the Weiler Family Endowment. Since then, he and their four children have added to it annually in her memory. “It's a way of remembering Mom,” says their daughter Robin. “At the same time, we can honour the great affection and respect in which she held our First Nations peoples all her life. It's our way of keeping her close to us and her memory alive.”
Before her death, Lillian had been a proud member of the Catholic Women's League at Our Lady of Sorrows parish in Toronto for 49 years, where she and Hugh were faithful parishioners for 55 years. After Hugh's retirement, Hugh and Lillian moved to the southwestern Ontario community of Hanover where the couple became members of Holy Family parish, and Hugh, a 4th Degree Knights of Columbus.
Gail, another daughter, remembers how Hugh and Lillian's devotion filled their lives. “Being active in our faith was just a way of life for us,” she says. It's a tradition that went well beyond Hugh and Lillian. Hugh's two uncles were priests and two aunts were nuns. Going even further back, a great-uncle was a priest and one great-aunt and two cousins were nuns. “I remember my aunts visiting us often,” laughs Robin. “Card-playing was always a favourite family activity whenever they did! We loved it and them.”
Retired since 1981, Hugh today continues in his devotion, attending Mass and praying the Rosary daily. “As his children,” Wanda, the eldest daughter, adds, “we know too that Dad remembers us and his grandchildren in his morning and night prayers. Each of his seven grandchildren has a day of the week that is designated as their special day.”
Their mother Lillian is never far from their father's thoughts. At a huge birthday party last year celebrating his 90th birthday, Hugh spoke movingly of his Lillian, and how she had been the loving spirit behind the traditional family Boxing Day birthday party held on December 26. “My dearest one, I love you in a very special way,” he said at the gathering of family and friends.
“My Dad has a heart of gold,” his son Peter said at the celebration. “He's a fantastic father who makes the most of every day. He's a great role model to me and my family.”
(Anne Hanley is publications and communications officer at Catholic Missions In Canada (CMIC). Winnie Quinn is CMIC's charitable gifts manager.)