Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 19, 2001
Priests' view of new bishop
Bouchard combines 'a great laugh' with order and discipline
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
GLEN WALTER, ONT. — Four seminarians in a house across from Ottawa's Dominican College were able to it make to the priesthood without living in a seminary.
Two of them have died, one was Father Denis Vaillancourt, chancellor of Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese and pastor of a parish in Glen Walter, Ont., and the other was Bishop Luc Bouchard, now bishop of St. Paul.
The residence at the Dominican College at that time was filled with seminarians of their own order, although diocesan seminarians and lay students were welcomed in the college.
Bouchard studied with the Dominicans while the other three were at St. Paul's University with the Oblates.
Although they seldom saw each other during the day, as they were busy with school, they spent time together sharing highlights of their days while making supper. They took turns preparing meals.
When it was Bouchard's turn, "rice, which he seems to favour instead of potatoes, would come up once in a while," Vaillancourt said.
He was always serious with his studies, said Vaillancourt.
One night Bouchard did not return home from his class. "We were worried about him. Finally he called us from the hospital where he was admitted for some infection."
Living in a house by themselves without the formation team looking over their shoulders, as opposed to being in a regular seminary, was quite a challenge because it demanded genuine dedication and passion for priestly formation.
Vaillancourt and Bouchard had known each other since the mid-1960s. Both attended Cornwall College. Vaillancourt was a boarder at the college while Bouchard lived with his family.
When the college closed in 1968, Vaillancourt lost track of Bouchard and later on they found themselves living in a house with two other seminarians, doing their theological studies.
Vaillancourt and Bouchard later on would both own cottages by the St. Lawrence River. They are neighbours.
During their summer holidays they would see each other often.
"I know he likes to go and swim. I always took him on my boat for a ride, which he really loves."
"I know that he likes to receive friends and family to get together for a picnic and barbecue."
One time, Bouchard had gone to Montreal driving his first car.
"I think he set his mind to keep (the car) as long as it possibly would run," said Vaillancourt.
He did not make it home. The car gave up on him, so he had to hitch hike.
"Luckily, a car went by and recognized him as Father Bouchard, picked him up and took him home," Vaillancourt laughed.
Bouchard has always been known to have an infectious laugh. And when a funny situation comes up he can laugh at himself.
If the people he has served as a priest love Bouchard, the priests he has worked with also admire him.
Not only is he a gifted homilist, "he is always concerned about the people, the welfare of his (parishioners)," Vaillancourt said.
Along with members of the community he started the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He called a retired teacher in the parish to urge him to become a permanent deacon.
"That was an asset for the parish and the diocese at large," said Vaillancourt.
Father Laurier Rivet celebrated Masses with the four seminarians while they were in Ottawa.
"I remember him to be a serious student. He was not a joker or something," Rivet told the WCR. "I can only say good things about him."
Bouchard has always been a priest who is loved and respected by the people. He loved parish work and was always available for the people, said Rivet.
"I've always admired him for his pastoral zeal and dedication," said Rivet.
Msgr. Rejean Lebrun said Bouchard "is the epitome of an excellent priest." He is a scholarly person with strong pastoral sense and a man of prayer.
Bouchard strikes him as a serious man but he also knows that he loves to laugh and is a man of great order and discipline, which Lebrun says are qualities of a good bishop.
"He has a great understanding of what a priest is and should be. And I believe that's why they appointed him rector of St. Joseph," said Lebrun.
Lebrun is more than 10 years older than Bouchard but he remembers him to be a sharp and promising teenager.
"One of our priests said, "I have great hopes for Luc,'" said Lebrun. "He was very prophetic."
Father Gordon Roebuck, a former student of Bouchard, had a chance to collaborate with him in ministry at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove.
"I think he is a very gentle man, a very loving man and a man who is pastoral in his outlook and in his attitudes," said Roebuck.
While serving as rector of St. Joseph Seminary, Bouchard helped in Roebuck's parish.
"I found him to be very faith-filled and he is always happy to share his love of Scriptures and his love of pastoral ministry."
As a professor, Roebuck considers Bouchard to be "very thorough, . . . both enthusiastic and animated with his lectures."
"He filled me with a new appreciation of our Scripture," Roebuck added.
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