Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 5, 2000
Papen was dedicated to his ministry
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Frail and weak, Father Jean Papen was determined to finish his ministry.
"He is a perfect example of a person dedicated to ministry," said Kevin Carr, president of Newman Theological College, speaking of Papen, who died May 27 after a year-long battle with cancer.
"He was certainly a person who affected my life by his example and his commitment to his work."
Papen, rector of St. Joseph's Seminary and a Newman faculty member, was 64.
A week before his death, Papen was trying to complete evaluations for new seminarians and promising to keep speaking engagements.
"He had a very strong work ethic," said Father Sylvain Casavant, archdiocesan vocations director. "He was in the hospital and still working. Those (evaluations) were literally his last duties.
"He had this strong sense that he still had work to be done. He had a strong sense of the mission he had to complete. That's how I will remember him, his strong drive."
Since 1995, Papen's mission was based at St. Joseph's Seminary. He came from the Prince Albert Diocese to be the seminary's director of field education and pastoral formation.
"He taught homiletics to the seminarians," said Father Karl Raab, who worked with Papen on the formation team. "And there was no one who could have done it better.
"He was a good homilist, a great speaker. He was constantly asked to give retreats and missions at parishes all over."
Raab also credited Papen for implementing the seminary's new internship program, which included two years of theology studies, a one-year internship in a parish followed by another two years of study at Newman.
"This proved to be a much more successful program," said Raab. "(Papen) felt it was better to have (the seminarians) do their internship in the middle rather than at the end, the way it used to be."
In a 1997 interview with the WCR, when he was appointed rector, Papen said priests in the West should be "down to earth men."
Papen said he has never looked at the seminary as a place to "manufacture priests; it is a place of discernment."
Born in St. Louis, Sask., just south of Prince Albert, Papen spent his early years between Belgium and Saskatchewan. He attended high school in Edmonton before going to the seminary in Montreal. He was ordained in Saskatoon, Sask., in 1960.
He taught at Notre Dame College, a boarding high school in Prince Albert for 14 years. During these years, he also studied at Laval University, where he completed his doctorate in French literature. His thesis, written in 1966, won an award for the best thesis in literature written by a French Canadian outside Quebec.
He continued his studies in Paris finishing with a master's degree in pastoral theology.
He returned to Prince Albert and worked in rural and city parishes. Papen was rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral before leaving for St. Joseph's Seminary.
He was also founding president of the Saskatchewan Association of Teachers of French and the bishops' representative on the board of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan.
He contributed regularly to the Prairie Messenger, a Saskatchewan Catholic newspaper.
"He did many things outside the seminary," said Sister Frances MacDougall, a seminary director. "He was one of the most prominent men in the Church."
Casavant added Papen was always one who spoke his mind, but was also willing to sit back and reflect on other's opinions that may have differed from his.
"He was a strength for us on our faculty," said Carr. "He leaves a big hole in our lives."
Archbishop Thomas Collins celebrated a Mass for Papen at St. Joseph's Basilica May 31.