Father Victor Lelièvre was born into a rather poor Catholic family at Vitré in the northwest of France on March 4, 1876. As a boy he worked in a print shop. During a pilgrimage to Notre-Dame-de-Pontmain he met the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate for the first time. In 1896, at the age of 20, he entered the Oblates and was ordained a priest on June 24, 1902. Fr. Lelièvre was neither scholarly nor well-read, but it was evident from the beginning of his religious life that he was a man of God.
In 1903 he was sent to Quebec City in Canada. Immediately upon his arrival, he began a preaching ministry. His first assignment was to the parish of Saint-Sauveur in Quebec City. The parish had 13,000 members at that time. The parish priest put him in charge of the organization of a monthly Sacred Heart adoration hour. Due to the talents of Fr. Lelièvre, the participation increased to 1,000 or more participants. More and more he dedicated himself to the “Apostolate of the Sacred Heart”. Every year he invited the Catholics of the city of Quebec to a procession on the feast of the Sacred Heart. Sometimes 50,000 people would take part in the procession. For twenty-five years, every first Friday of the month, Fr. Victor Lelièvre succeeded in assembling nearly 2000 workers for an hour of adoration.
Witnesses claim: “He appeared to the audience as an imposing, strong man, broad shouldered and well built. His head was round and seemed to rest directly on his shoulders. His small eyes were attentive and very lively. His voice was rather high-pitched, but it exuded willpower and also a gentleness and kindness. And, he was a powerful orator. His personal charism and his profound faith enabled him to draw enormous crowds. Drawing inspiration from the Gospel that he knew in depth, he could hold for hours the attention of workers, young people, priests, cloistered nuns and others.”
In 1923 he founded the retreat house “Jesus-the-Worker” where he would meet thousands of men and young people. He had the talent to captivate them and to win them over to Jesus Christ. Very often he would turn them into veritable “apostles”. Seventy-two men were responsible in the center for the promotion of the “Apostolate of the Sacred Heart”. Whenever possible, Fr. Lelièvre took the initiative to set up statues of the Sacred Heart. We know about the placing of at least 134 monuments for devotion of the Sacred Heart.
An incomplete list reveals the names of 80 priests in whom he awakened the awareness of a vocation, about 30 men religious, and more than 100 women religious.
In 1953, Fr. Victor Lelièvre felt ill for the first time in his life. He became less and less active. He died in Quebec on November 29, 1956. The Boulevard Père-Lelièvre, along the Saint-Charles River, near Vanier and Québec City, is named for him.