Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 19, 2001
Seminarians call him down to earth
Bouchard notable for his serenity
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — From Notre Dame Cathedral to an old residence's wine cellar and attic, from the Jazz Festival to a Toronto Blue Jays-Montreal Expos match, Bishop Bouchard is a gracious host and tour guide.
"He treated us like a favourite uncle would treat his nephews," Father Bradford Fahlman, told the WCR about a holiday he spent in Montreal with Bouchard hosting them.
"I saw Montreal in a way that very few people would see it," he added.
"His sense of history of the city is really deep," said Fahlman. "There was a childlike excitement in him while he was showing us around."
"And the food that he prepared . . . showed elegance," Fahlman noted.
Back to his days at St. Joseph Seminary, Fahlman noted how Bouchard handles stress well.
"He maintained a sense of serenity. That I observed while he was the acting rector because the late Father Jean Papen, then rector, was very ill."
"He held the community together and helped us to have fun while going through a lot in those trying times."
When Bouchard was rector at St. Joe's he participated in every community activity.
He dressed up like a sheik one Halloween party. "I told him that he reminded me of Yasser Arafat and Groucho Marx in one person," Fahlman said.
Huy Nguyen would not forget the night he returned to the seminary after his pastoral internship year in Medicine Hat.
He and his friends we're singing Shine Jesus Shine at the top of their lungs. Rector Bouchard's room is adjacent to Nguyen's.
"It was about 11 p.m. and we were pretty loud. In the middle of our singing, we heard gentle knocks at the door. That was the rector."
He said, "Could you guys shout a little less."
That experience reminded Nguyen how patient and considerate Bouchard was because he approached things with humour.
In the past two years there has been a growing amount of multi-ethnicity at the seminary. This has brought a lot of challenges not only to the community but also to the ones who are leading it.
Nguyen observes that Bouchard promptly addresses the concerns of the community. "He is very accommodating and responds fast," Nguyen said.
For example, when the seminarians suggested that a wider variety of food be made available on their menu, a couple of hours later they found in their mailboxes a survey sheet for the kinds of food they wanted, said Nguyen.
Bouchard loves sports. "He becomes a totally different person when he plays," said Nguyen, who is preparing for his own ordination to the diaconate in January.
"He becomes extremely vocal in encouraging us to play and engage in the game. He dances around with his two feet when he is excited."
This shows an image of a real down to earth human person, Nguyen said.
"It's comforting to know that we have a rector who can be with us, play with us and who acts like a member of the community without intimidating others."
Although Bouchard is down to earth when it comes to community activities, Nguyen says that in the cafeteria he is a man of few words.
"He listens and says important things during meal time, but he doesn't say things just for the sake of saying them."
"That says something about his personality as a deep thinker," Nguyen said.
Jim Corrigan said he's got a youthful approach to things and he doesn't seem to worry much.
Just after he was appointed rector of St. Joe's, Bouchard still taught two Scripture courses at Newman College. He handled a huge class because of the new program introduced in the college.
"He was swamped with paper work," Corrigan said. "He was busy doing his job as a rector, plus he was doing weekend ministry in a parish, but he would find time to relax."
Corrigan recalled seeing Bouchard hitting a hockey puck at the seminary's outdoor rink one Sunday afternoon. "He looked like a young child again as he enjoyed himself in the rink."
Carol Ann Seed, pastoral assistant at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove, was not at the seminary but she was a student at Newman.
Seed noted Bouchard's passion and great love for Scripture.
"I think that comes from a great love of Christ and he wants to share that with the people of God."
One day Bouchard was taking about how the Psalms were said originally and how one side of the people in the worship space would say one verse as the other side responded.
"He was telling us how Alleluia was said. And that would be half of the people were saying Allelu and the other would have said Ia."
"He was very animated, throwing his hands in the air, when he was telling us this. So for the rest of the class whenever he says Allelu we would respond Ia."
He has a way of making a serious class more fun for the students, said Seed, who had a brief opportunity to work with Bouchard at Holy Trinity.
"With his humble nature it was easy to forget that he was a rector and professor as well as a priest," Seed said.
"He consistently treated everyone with kindness and consideration."
"His compassion, prayerful presence and love for people will be missed by us but he is a great blessing for the people of St. Paul," Seed said.
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