Deacon John MacKenzie

Obituary of Deacon John MacKenzie

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JANUARY 25, 1937- JANUARY 25, 2023


John Hughie MacKenzie, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, colleague, mentor, encourager, lover of life, people, the Church and his Lord, left his earthly dwelling place during the nighttime Hour of Mercy on his 86th birthday to begin the journey to his Heavenly Home. At his bedside in the Palliative Care Unit of the Brandon Regional Health Centre, singing softly to him, were his wife, Carol and his special son, Chathu Fernando.


John was born on January 25, 1937, a proud Cape Bretoner, fourth of six sons of Dan Murdock and Mary MacKenzie (Hureau). John grew up in Dominion, Cape Breton a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean in which he learned to swim. His father was a coal miner and as a young man he put himself through university working in the coal mines at Chibougamau and Glace Bay.


John became a teacher because he thought the teachers hadn’t done a good job with him so he had to teach himself. It was his teaching certificate which brought him out west to Alberta where he met and married Helena Fitzgerald. They went back to Nova Scotia to St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish where John earned a Bachelor of Arts and Social Work, and later on a Masters in Community Development from Southern Illinois University. In the mid-sixties John took a job with the Manitoba provincial government and worked in a variety of capacities. It was in Manitoba that they adopted Patrick, Gregory and Monica.


It was his last job with the Provincial Government with an innovative Adult Education Program, New Careers, which brought John and his wife Carol whom he married in 1988, to Brandon. He retired from the Civil Service after 35 years, and in 1997 he began another journey.


John was always a devout Roman Catholic. As a lad he was an altar server for years, and in his late teens contemplated becoming a Franciscan. This was not his vocation, but he was always very active in the Church in a variety of capacities. In the early 80’s he entered a newly established formation program to become a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church. This did not come to pass at that time, but God still had a special call on John’s life and through God’s plan, John was ordained to the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg on October 25, 1997.


He served the Church with great zest and joy for 18 years at St. Augustine’s and at various Catholic Churches in Westman. He retired from active ministry in 2015. With Carol at his side, he continued to minister at some nursing homes, the hospital and BCC until Covid struck.


John was a community minded person, and was on the boards of the Marquis Project, The Counselling Centre, and a National Adult Education Board. He was part of the Brandon Ministerial for several years, worked on the week of Prayer for Christian Unity, served on the board at Seniors for Seniors, and was on the executive of the Community of Deacons. It was through the Advocacy group at Seniors for Seniors that John began a project, along with other like-minded people, of establishing the Westman Seniors Housing Cooperative. This resulted in the construction of two not-for-profit housing complexes in Brandon, at 620 McDiarmid Drive, and 2105 Brandon Avenue.


Health issues had plagued John since 2013, including heart and kidney disease and dementia. John ran half marathons and when the heart disease prevented that he would say wistfully as he and Carol drove around town ‘I used to run here’.

It was his declining health brought about by frontal temporal dementia that led to John’s admission to hospital on October 20, 2022. He was anointed on January 18, 2023 and although he didn’t seem to be listening, he said ‘There’s a time to die’. He was admitted to palliative care on January 21, 2023 and slipped into a coma on Sunday evening. After phone calls from his brother Wally and daughter Monica and family on Tuesday, John died peacefully with Carol and Chathu at his side at 3:25 am, January 25, on his 86th birthday.


John is survived by his wife of 34 years Carol; his daughter Monica (Ron), grandchildren Luka, Neza and Sarina Ramuscak; brother Wally (Sherry) in Cape Breton; sisters-in-law Shirley MacKenzie, Marcella Gruber and Shannon Gruber; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; special families Chathu and Prathima Fernando and children Shenuka, Himaya, Shenuth, and Amaya; Nirmali and Karl Danielius and children Nicole and Emily; Cyprian and Angela Okeke and children Dikachi, Tochi and Baby Ebubechi; special friends Sadie MacNeil, Ellen Fortune, Bernie Mullins and Harvey Douglas.


John was predeceased by his parents, Dan and Mary, brothers and sisters-in-law Leo, Joe (Bertha), Raymond (Elfie), Rod (Jackie), sons Patrick and Gregory, and friends Don and Connie Meunier and Charles MacDonald..


Funeral prayers will be celebrated at St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, 327 4th Street, Brandon, MB on Monday, January 30, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.  Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the same church on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 11:30 a.m.


Donations in memory of John may be made to the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba, 457 9th Street, Brandon, MB, R7A 1K2, or to the Brandon Regional Health Centre Foundation, 150 McTavish Ave., Brandon, MB, R7A 2B3 or to St. Vincent de Paul at St. Augustine’s Parish, 327 4th Street, Brandon, MB, R7A 3H1.


Rest in peace dear John. Love you forever.

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Funeral Prayers

7:00 pm
Monday, January 30, 2023
St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church
327 4th Street
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Mass of Christian Burial

11:30 am
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church
327 4th Street
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
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