While there are classic novels about men of God who go abroad and find themselves adrift, Fernand Dostie went to Africa as a Marist brother and found himself -- as an educator, administrator and mentor to generations of students.
Dostie's story is very much his own, though it was shaped in part by larger forces. Over the decades, his Marist "band of brothers" has handed over more and more of their work to indigenous religious and local laypeople.
On the political front, his career has been affected by the often-challenging demands of work in a country, Malawi, where illness and poverty were rife and authoritarian rule once the norm. (Malawi has been a democracy since the 1990s.)
Dostie was born in the Adstock region of Quebec, Canada, the youngest of a Catholic family of 13.
"I soon learned to share and accept others as a fact of life," he said, adding that he first encountered the Marist Brothers as a boarding student at Beauceville Juniorate, a school about 30 miles from his home.