Father Dowd senior home tradition in Côte-des-Neiges hits 50-year milestone

Kids from Westwood High sang Christmas carols for the fiftieth year Thursday. Billy Shields/Global News

For the 50th time, high school kids came to the Father Dowd Residential Centre in Côte-des-Neiges to sing Christmas carols and bring holiday gifts for the seniors who live there.

It’s a tradition started by Richard McBrien and his wife, Renée Major. “I looked at these kids and I said, ‘My goodness, they looked like the kids we had 50 years ago,” McBrien told Global News.

In 1968, McBrien took students who were then attending school in Pincourt and brought them to the Father Dowd home that was then on de la Gauchetière Street.

The home has since moved to Côte-des-Neiges, and after school consolidations and board changes, the students continuing the tradition are now in St-Lazare, at what’s now Westwood High.

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But the tradition is still a prized act of community service on the student calendar.

“It makes me feel proud of our school that we can keep this up for 50 years and keep coming back,” said Abby Campeau, a Grade 11 student who was participating for her fourth and final time.

McBrien told Global News that the original students he brought to Father Dowd would be in their 60s today. He himself was 22 when the first group came in 1968.

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