Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
November 19, 2001
He's willing to get his hands dirty
Ex-parishioners admire priest who is close to the people
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ALEXANDRIA, ONT. — Deacon Claude Brunet remembers clearly how Bishop Luc Bouchard cooked turkeys for the people during the ice storm that hit Eastern Canada in 1999.
Bouchard strikes him as a person who is willing to get his hands dirty to serve his people.
"He was in charge with preparing and cooking for days," Brunet told the WCR.
Bouchard even helped serve meals to the people and would always find something to do to be of service.
He describes the new bishop as a jolly person, a good organizer, close to the people and someone with a good comprehension of older people.
"Bishop Bouchard has very attentive ears. He listens to people and he hears them," Brunet said.
"He was the one who encouraged me to be a permanent deacon after I retired from being a teacher and principal for 39 years," Brunet said.
Brunet has known Bouchard for 12 years and had the chance to minister with him while the latter was pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Alexandria.
"I certainly appreciate the collaborative work that we did in the parish," Brunet said.
Th‚rŠse Whelan had a chance of working with Bouchard for five years.
"He was able to reach people quite easily and also he was able to involve people in various activities in the church," she said.
"People responded very well to him . . . due to his (openness) and sincere way."
Aside from his ability to involve people, Bouchard is appreciated as a confessor and spiritual director.
"He is an excellent confessor . . . because he was able to let you speak whatever you want to say and to direct you in a way that's most favourable to you," said Whelan.
Bouchard is also meticulous about liturgy.
Brunet remembered that Bouchard asked him one Christmas, "Do you have a child that you have just baptized?"
Brunet was wondering why Bouchard asked the question, until he realized that he wanted to use the child for his homily at the Christmas Mass.
"He took the child with him, carried him and preached with the child," Brunet related.
Bouchard's creative homilies were experienced in Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain where Bouchard provided weekend help.
Valerie Hornung recalled that one Christmas Mass, Bouchard brought all the children in the church up to the altar.
"It was a wonderful celebration as he was so alive when he preached," Hornung said. "He talked to the children and told them the significance of the celebration but we adults learned so much as well."
On another time, Bouchard preached about the prodigal son.
"He ran to the congregation and preached there and not from the pulpit," Hornung said.
"He lives and breathes the faith. . . . That is why the people come alive," said Hornung.
Wendy Moisan, parish secretary of Holy Trinity, said Bouchard's homilies are realistic and relevant. "He uses his own experiences so people can relate quite well," Moisan said.
When she first met him two years ago, Hornung perceived Bouchard to be reserved and quiet until she discovered his sense of humour.
Sister Carmen Charlebois, Bouchard's former secretary in Alexandria, spoke highly of his organizational skills.
"He was so organized that he would lay out my work for me and I knew exactly what I had to do," Charlebois told the WCR.
"His objectives were very clear . . . and all I had to do was to follow instructions and I knew that my job would be very, very good."
The parish's celebration during the Holy Week was always an event the people anticipated.
Charlebois recalled Bouchard saying, "What is worth doing, is worth doing well."
"He lived up to that, because whatever he did in the parish he did very well," she added.
From Alexandria to Spruce Grove, many believe Bouchard is the perfect bishop for St. Paul.
"We were hoping to have him back, thus we are mostly overwhelmed with joy and sorrow," Brunet said.
For Hornung, it "made good sense that he's been chosen a bishop." "There is no other spiritual person more deserving to lead that diocese, at least that I know of," she added.
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