Rev. Louis Arthur Venedam (1899-1958) with nieces and nephews, children of Arthur H. & Rachael (Venedam) Benoit, Pomquet, c 1950s. L-R: Delores Ann, Charles, Arteen, Rachael, Arthur, Jacques. He served with Scarboro Fathers Mission in China 1938-1954. Courtesy of PomquetHéritage. Restoration: Anne Louise MacDonald.
Fr. Venedam first went to China in October 1931 as part of Scarboro Fathers first wave of missionaries. In 1938 he was appointed pro-prefect of Lishui, headquarters of SFM in that area. When the communists took over the governing of the province, his movements were restricted. In July 1952, he was imprisoned for 6 months and then transferred to the prison in Hangchow, capital of the province. The interrogations and solitary confinement undermined his health. Severely malnourished, he was released in 1954.
Sr. Susan Daly of the Grey Sisters, who also went to Lishui, China in the 1930s remembers Fr. Venedam:
It was 1937, my first Christmas in Lishui, China, and I was looking forward to the occasion. It was a celebration and Fr. Arthur Venedam loved celebrations, doing all that was possible to make them memorable.
For Midnight Mass we went to the choir loft as the liturgy had to be sung in Latin. The congregation sang hymns in their own language and had a magnificent variety of melodies. For the entrance, Father had prepared some 30 little girls who wore long Chinese gowns and carried a bobbing lamp on a long pole. They had to walk some distance apart, which added to the length and solemnity of the ceremony. Fr. Venedam followed, carrying the infant Jesus to be placed in the crib at the front of the church.
Email from Daniel Benoit to AmberleeBoulton on June 28, 2014:
The children in the photo were the children of Arthur H. Benoit and Rachael MelenaVenedam (niece to Father Venedam). It is most likely Arthur and Rachael’s first six children starting with the oldest:
- Arteen Lenore Benoit b. March 30, 1942
- Arthur Moses Benoit b. September 12, 1946
- Charles Alexander Benoit b. December 13, 1947
- Rachael Rosalina Benoit b. November 8, 1948
- Jacques Pierre Benoit b. December 16, 1949
- Delores Ann Benoit b. December 21, 1951
- Based on the youngest one in the photo looking to be about 2-3 years old I’d say the photo was taken about 1954.
Dorothy Lander in conversation with Arthur Venedam, June 30, 2014: I didn’t know my uncle well. He spent all that time in China. They fed him rice and water for months. When he did come home he had a parish in Cape Breton and we went to see him there. I forget just where but there were a lot of cranberries. I know he was waked at the old home. This photo could be of the old house. There were a lot of trees then. The pole behind the children is a swing on both sides. These are my cousins in the photo. They are still around, except for Delores who is in Halifax.