Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 19, 2001
From St. Paul to St. Paul
Pauline scholar now heads diocese that bears saint's name
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — The new bishop of St. Paul has a love for the writings of St. Paul.
"Paul is an extraordinary man of the Church, an extraordinary man of God," Bishop Luc Bouchard said in an interview prior to his Nov. 9 ordination.
"Imagine! Now I'm the bishop of St. Paul," he says with a hearty laugh. "You have to smile at that."
Bouchard attributes his love for the Bible to the five years he lived with Dominican Fathers in Ottawa while preparing for the priesthood. "It was because of them that I have my love for Scripture."
After ordination, he served for three years as assistant pastor at the Co-Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Cornwall, Ont. The Bishop Eugene Larocque asked him if he wanted to go to Rome to study at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
The young priest spent the first year in Rome learning Greek and Hebrew before going to Jerusalem to study for a summer. There, he fell sick and ended up studying a year at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem before returning to Rome. In 1983, he completed his licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute and returned to Canada.
He began setting up Bible study groups in the diocese before the Sulpician Fathers at the Grand Seminaire in nearby Montreal heard about this young Bible scholar.
Bouchard became a faculty member at the seminary, teaching the Psalms, the New Testament and, of course, St. Paul, while serving in parishes in the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese.
In 1990, he came to Edmonton and served four years on the formation team at St. Joseph's Seminary. In 1994, Larocque asked him to return to his diocese and become pastor of Sacr‚-Coeur Parish in the town of Alexandria, Ont.
"Those were five wonderful years," Bouchard recalls. "I had never been in a country parish and this was an area of the diocese I had not known."
In 1999, the Sulpicians asked him to return to Edmonton and again serve on the seminary formation team. After a year, the rector, Father Jean Papen, died of cancer and Bouchard was appointed rector.
He was "all gung-ho" to begin his second year as rector when on Sunday, Sept. 2., he returned from visiting the new church being built near Spruce Grove to find a message on his answering machine from the apostolic nuncio's office in Ottawa. The nuncio's secretary said he would phone back that evening.
At 9 p.m., the secretary phoned and said, "The pope has appointed you bishop of St. Paul. Do you accept?" "I said, 'Oh, yes.'"
"Well, if the voice of Christ comes through the Church, I guess for me that was it," he said. "When God calls, he gives the grace to answer that call.
"I hope I will be a grace for the people of St. Paul. But I hope we will work together as members of the body of Christ to build the kingdom of God. That is what we are all called to."
Is this a tough time to be a bishop? he is asked.
"I guess it would be a tough time to be a Christian. But it is a time of hope."
"Every time has its own challenges. But we must never forget that Christ goes before us into Galilee."
"Very often, we look more at the rough water than at Jesus who is there on the sea."
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