Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
September 17, 2001
Bouchard named St. Paul bishop
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. PAUL — Pope John Paul Sept. 8 appointed Father Luc Bouchard as the sixth bishop of St. Paul.
Bishop-elect Bouchard, 51, a pastor and Scripture scholar from Cornwall, Ont., has been rector of Edmonton's St. Joseph Seminary since June 2000.
Bouchard is the second rector or former rector of St. Joseph's Seminary to be named a bishop this year. Bishop Marc Ouellet, rector from 1994 to 1997, became a bishop after he was named to the number two position in the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in March.
"I was very humbled by it," Bouchard told the WCR of his appointment. "But I know God always gives the necessary grace for what he asks us to do," he added.
St. Paul has been without a resident bishop for more than two and a half years, since Archbishop Thomas Collins came to Edmonton.
When Collins moved to Edmonton, Father Walter Laliberty was elected diocesan administrator but he resigned earlier this year due to ill health. After Laliberty's resignation, Pope John Paul named Collins apostolic administrator until a new bishop was named.
In a statement to the people of St. Paul, Collins said, "We rejoice at the news that the Holy Father has appointed Father Bouchard as bishop of St. Paul."
"As he prepares to undertake his apostolic mission as bishop we all join in praying for God's abundant blessing upon his episcopal ministry," Collins said.
Bouchard holds a licentiate in theology from Ecolé Biblic in Jerusalem and a licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Institute in Rome. As well as being seminary rector, he is a Scripture professor at Newman Theological College.
"The folks (in St. Paul) are loved by God and for me to be of service to them is a call from God," said Bouchard.
"I invite the people of St. Paul to pray for me as I now pray for them," he said. "I will be counting on their goodwill as they can count on mine."
"I am inviting them to heed the baptismal call to be witnesses of the Gospel," said the soft-spoken Bouchard, who celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest on Sept. 4.
He is challenged, but hopeful and confident. "There are challenges but we'll try to face and deal with them with the grace of God," he said.
He believes in heeding the call of the Gospel one hundred per cent. "That's the only answer we can give in spite of our frailties, weaknesses and sinfulness."
Bouchard, who always carries a smile, is the fourth of five children.
When his mother, Lucienne Morin-Bouchard, 84, heard the news about his election as a bishop, she was worried.
"You know the heart of a mother, that's what they are paid for," he laughed. "And I can't stop a mother from worrying."
Mrs. Bouchard first heard the news about her son's appointment from Bishop Eugene LaRocque of Alexandria-Cornwall.
"He wanted her to know before it was out in the news and I was away the day it was made public," said Bouchard.
"We both have come to terms with the idea and I sensed from her voice that she was worried but at the same time very grateful, humbled and awed," said Bouchard.
After his ordination to the priesthood in 1976, he was named associate pastor at the cathedral parish in Cornwall. He became a lecturer and retreat leader in his diocese following the completion of his studies in Jerusalem and Rome in 1983.
While doing parish work, teaching has always been part of Bouchard's ministry. He taught religious science in Cornwall University, theology in Montreal's Grand Seminary, Scripture at Newman College, and was diocesan director of biblical studies for clergy and laity in his diocese.
"It is a major part of spreading the Gospel," said the bilingual Bouchard, who is pondering whether he can find a way to continue this ministry at Newman College while serving St. Paul.
"If I did not love parish ministry, I would not be doing ministry for formation of future priests," he said.
Msgr. Jean-Luc Pigeon of St. Paul was jubilant over Bouchard's appointment.
"I don't know him personally but I know he has a good reputation," said Pigeon, the 71-year-old chancellor of the diocese. "I was told that he seems to be a jolly person and yet simple."
Seminarians of St. Joseph have mixed emotions. They are happy for the St. Paul Diocese but sad to lose a good rector.
Deacon Mike Mireau of Edmonton, who is in his final year at the seminary, said "We're sad to see him go, but we're happy to see the Holy Spirit works in the Church."
Mireau told the WCR that he believes Bouchard is the right man for St. Paul.
"A formator of his calibre is hard to replace and will be sorely missed," he emphasized.
Both seminarian John Garden of Prince George and Deacon Paul Kavanagh of Edmonton share Mireau's sentiments.
Garden said, "This holy man is an incredible blessing for St. Paul for Western Canada and for the Canadian Church."
Kavanagh believes that Bouchard is a man of great vision, strength, wisdom and humour. "His leadership qualities and human qualities will be missed by our community," he said.
At the celebration of Bouchard's 25th anniversary of priestly ordination, Mireau put on a skit depicting the papal nuncio chasing Bouchard. Mireau said they suspected he would become a bishop but did not think it would be this soon.
The date for Bouchard's ordination and installation has not yet been determined.
The St. Paul Diocese has 53,125 Catholics, 18 parishes, and 26 priests. The diocese was created in 1948.
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