Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 19, 2000
Guimond for Grouard
Archdiocesan administrator to become its archbishop
By GLEN ARGAN
Pope John Paul has appointed the administrator of the Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese for the past two years, Father Arth‚ Guimond, to be the eighth head of the northwestern Alberta archdiocese.
Archbishop-elect Guimond, 69, studied in Rome during the Second Vatican Council. He is an educator and long-time advisor to the Canadian bishops.
The former pastor of parishes in Fairview and Peace River says he experiences the papal decision to name him archbishop as a call from God.
"I am confident, even though there are all kinds of problems in the diocese," he told the WCR June 9, the day his appointment was announced.
The archdiocese has been hit with more than 500 lawsuits related to Indian residential schools. "It's a pretty heavy burden," Guimond said.
As well, the archdiocese has aging priests and no seminarians. "All I have is a letter from a young man in Africa who is interested in the priesthood."
Guimond is one of four diocesan priests in Grouard-McLennan. The archdiocese is also served by 14 religious order priests and 22 sisters.
The largely rural archdiocese has a Catholic population of 40,000 spread over 69 parishes and missions.
"One of the first challenges for us will be to find some personnel - both ordained and lay people. We need both," said the future archbishop.
"And ideally, a Church should supply its own ministers."
Guimond was named administrator of Grouard-McLennan following the death of Archbishop Henri Goudreault in July 1998. Goudreault had been archbishop for less than two years.
Goudreault's predecessor, Archbishop Henri Legare, now retired in Ottawa, said Guimond "will make an excellent bishop."
"He has a deep spirituality and he lives by it," said Legare, archbishop of Grouard-McLennan from 1973 to 1996.
Guimond was born one of 11 children May 22, 1931, in St. Francois-Xavier des Hauteurs, Que. One of his seven brothers is Father Ray Guimond, a priest of the Edmonton Archdiocese, currently serving in Mayerthorpe.
The family moved to Nampa, Alta., in 1951 where his father ran a heavy machinery business opening land for farmers and doing work for oil companies.
Guimond approached Archbishop Henri Routhier of Grouard-McLennan about entering the priesthood and the archbishop sent him to the seminary at St. Boniface, Man., so he could become familiar with the mentality of the West.
Ordained in 1957, he served in parishes for four years before going to Rome to study. He received his doctorate from the prestigious Gregorian University in 1972, having completed a dissertation in the area of ecumenism.
Returning to Canada, he taught at the CollŠge universitaire de Hearst in Ontario, the archdiocesan seminary in San Francisco, Newman Theological College in Edmonton, the University of Saskatchewan and St. Boniface Seminary.
From 1975 to 1987 he served on the pastoral team of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He returned to the Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese in 1987, serving in Fairview and later in Peace River.
Guimond said he knew that as administrator of the archdiocese, he might be asked to become its archbishop. "I thought about that possibility but it could have been somebody else too. I tried to be open to any eventuality.
"When people asked me if I was going to be the bishop, I said, 'I don't think I'm going to make a campaign to be elected.'"
Guimond said he enjoys reading, something he found too little time for in the hectic life of a pastor. "My natural bent is to reach for a book. I love to read."
Currently, he is reading a book by the American Jesuit, Father Avery Dulles, on the theological vision of Pope John Paul. "It's a fascinating book."
He is also re-reading the papal bull declaring the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and the pope's apostolic exhortations As The Third Millennium Draws Near and The Church in America. "I'm trying to reorient myself right now on the theme of the jubilee."
Guimond will be ordained and installed as archbishop in McLennan Aug. 15. Consecrators will be the papal nuncio Archbishop Paolo Romeo, assisted by Legare and retired Edmonton Archbishop Joseph MacNeil.