A Mass of Christian Burial was offered to Almighty God for Joseph Paul Borowski at St Vital Parish Winnipeg on September 25, 1996. It was concelebrated by 18 priests, with Father Patrick A Morand, parish priest, the chief concelebrant. In attendance were family members, relatives, dignitaries and many friends.
The Mass was preceded by rosary prayers. The Scriptural Rosary for Respect for Life was recited, a devotion in which Joe often participated on the first Fridays of each month. People in the pro-life movement lead the intentions and decades. One decade was recited by the grade two class of the parish-run St. Maurice School, where one of the pupils is a grandchild of Joe’s. A telegram of condolence was read from Joe’s good friend, the Honourable Senator Stanley Haidasz.
Archbishop Metropolitan Michael Bzdel from the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Winnipeg attended the rosary prayers. In his homily, Father Morand emphasized the prophetic nature of Joe’s plight. He described Joe as a man who could think big, and give to his cause all he had, there by striking a blow for freedom. As a conscientious objector Joe found freedom when he was jailed for his cause. His great faith helped him to defend the unborn as the objects of God’s love, created in His image. Punctuating his homily by several humorous anecdotes, Father Morand highlighted Joe’s chief qualities. Joe was a daily Mass attendant. The response of his “Amen” after receiving each Communion translated into his pro-life activity.
Father Morand also praised Joe’s wife Jean for standing by her man, remarking that it was perhaps she was should have received the Pro ecclesia et Pontifice award, which was presented earlier this year to Joe by Archbishop Leonard Wall.
When Father Morand invited those in attendance to applaud for the life of a great man, the applause was warm and sustained.
The eulogy was delivered by the Former Governor General Right Honourable Edward Schreyer, who described Joe as an unusual person of extraordinary character traits, whose consuming dedication became legendary, and whose stubborn resolve made him a legend in his own lifetime. When visiting with Joe shortly before his death, he found him able to speak about his feelings, beliefs and convictions with the usual unvarnished blunt truth and candour that comes only from those who are genuinely motivated. He quoted the poet Robert Browning: “Man’s goals should exceed his reach, or what is heaven for?” to illustrate Joe’s motivation in trying to promote what is fair and right. Mr. Schreyer described Joe as an outspoken individual, whose spirit of self-denial led him to a hunger strike, which brought him to the brink of death. One could only witness with awe at the perseverance of his man in pursuit of what ought to be, if this were a better world.
The Vicar-general Rev. Msgr. Roy J. H. Larrabee offered condolences on behalf of Winnipeg Archbishop Leonard Wall. He expressed his immense admiration for Joe, and described him as a devout Catholic.
Vice-chancellor Father Leonce Aubin represented Archbishop Antoine Hacault of the St. Boniface diocese in bringing a message of condolence to the family. He described Joe as a man with a big heart and of great faith, whose yes meant yes, and whose no meant no. He went on to say that Joe, in meeting his Creator, would be welcomed by a very long receiving line of the unborn.
For those espousing the right to life, Joe’s long-time crusade for the unborn is intertwined with their own cause; for those attending his burial Mass, the great cause of the right to life was given special meaning and dignity in light of our faith, which lived so strongly in Joe Borowski.