At 84 years old, this local man wouldn’t let his body slow him down.
At a young age, Irenee Chabot joined the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and dedicated his life to helping others. At just 22 years old, Brother Irenee came to Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket to teach for a few years before traveling to Africa. Brother Irenee spent the next two decades teaching music at a boarding school in a remote area of Africa. Brother Irenee loved bringing the students across the country to share their music. One year his students were even invited to the International Congress of the church, where they were able to play for the Pope!
After spending 35 years teaching in different 3 areas of Zambia Africa, Brother Irenee was ready to bring his work somewhere new, so he spent the next 8 years teaching at the brother's school in England, then found his way back to Mt. St Charles Academy to work as an assistant music director.
Now, at 84 years old, Brother Irenee has retired, but that doesn’t slow him down. He continues to help his community by organizing a local sandwich ministry where they provide sandwiches and snacks for those in need. Brother Irenee also enjoys spending some weekends speaking about his years in Africa at mass. In his free time, Brother Irenee’s favorite hobby is teaching himself Spanish, “which is a great help to my memory” he smiled, and every day he finds time to enjoy a nice walk.
Unfortunately, some of these activities became difficult for him over the years. About 3 years ago, Brother Irenee began having issues with his balance. He no longer had the same confidence using the stairs and would use a cane to get around. Over the years he even had a few falls, one of them resulting in cracked ribs. During this time, Brother Irenee learned he had a detached retina which was partially affecting his balance. After having eye surgery, he thought his balance would improve, and even though it did help him feel steadier, it just wasn’t enough to provide the confidence he was looking for.
“I didn’t have much confidence when I first came here because I didn’t think I could learn anything new at my age” he expressed. But he decided to try it anyway and was amazed at the results he saw. Within just a few weeks, Brother Irenee was feeling stronger, having fewer problems with his balance, and even felt confident enough to go on short walks without his cane.
“I was very impressed” he shared “Everyone here was excellent, I was very pleased with the way I was treated and taken care of, and everyone was always pleasant and very professional. Gaining my confidence to walk again was so important to me and I couldn’t have asked for better care!” he smiled. As Brother Irenee continued to work hard in physical therapy, he would also focus on his home exercises. Every day he would make time to use his treadmill, stationary bike, or go out for a walk to continue building his strength.
After just 2 months, Brother Irenee was able to develop muscles he never thought possible and was amazed to find out that it’s never too late to teach your body something new. Even though he has graduated from physical therapy, Brother Irenee continues to stay active by going out for walks every day and is so happy that for some of the walk he doesn't even need to rely on his cane.