Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
November 19, 2001
In response to 'a soft voice'
'I've always been spiritually oriented,' says new bishop
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — For Bishop Luc Bouchard, there was no dramatic moment when he knew he should become a priest.
"It was always in the back of my mind that God was calling me to service and to ministry," Bouchard said in a recent interview.
"My call has been present, but it has been a soft voice" coming through other people - teachers, parents, family and friends, he said.
"My call was a call through the Church and through the people I met. I wanted to be a witness of the love that was given to me. I always felt that if there were more witnesses, there would be more believers."
Bouchard tells of being raised in "a very believing family, a very loving family. Through their experience of involvement in the Church, I wanted to be part of it."
His extended family includes several religious vocations - two great aunts who were Sisters of St. Ann, three second cousins who were religious, including two missionaries, a first cousin who is a priest and another first cousin who is a sister.
He went to schools run by the Holy Cross Sisters and the Viatorian Fathers.
"I had a good Catholic education. But it was not something regimented. It was always something lived out spontaneously."
"I've always been spiritually oriented," he continued. "I've always loved to go to Mass. I served Mass all my youth.
"Prayer was part of my life. For me, it was always something that I loved."
So when Bouchard, then 21, finished his bachelor of arts in philosophy at the University of Ottawa, it wasn't too big a step for him to go and talk with his pastor about entering the seminary.
The pastor sent him to see the bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall, Bishop Adolphe Proulx, and the bishop asked if he would be interested in studying with the Dominicans in Ottawa.
Bouchard lived five years with the Dominicans while studying to be a diocesan priest. "I enjoyed those five years immensely."
While those years - the early and mid 1970s - were an unsettled time in the Church, Bouchard didn't experience it that way.
"It was a time of great enthusiasm," he said. "It was a time for me of great hope."
There were movements such as Marriage Encounter, Cursillo, the ecumenical movement, the growing interest in the Bible and the reform of the liturgy which all had a positive effect on the young seminarian.
"I lived very positively the reform of the liturgy," he said.
The great ideas of the Second Vatican Council were also in the air - ideas Bouchard does not believe have yet been fully explored. Ideas like the presence of Christ in the world, the commitment of the baptized, ecumenism and the rediscovery of what the Church is all about.
"I would not have become a priest at that time if I had not believed in the love of God for the Church and for humanity."
Bouchard was also affected by the summer jobs he took while in university and the seminary - washing floors in hospitals, construction, working at the post office and a printing shop, and serving as a guide on Parliament Hill.
"I treasure those experiences. You work with people and you learn what life is all about."
Finally, his years of preparation were over. On Sept. 4, 1976, a new bishop for Alexandria-Cornwall, Bishop Eugene LaRocque, ordained Father Luc Bouchard.
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