Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 30, 2003
St. Paul's Bishop Roy dead at 84
Roy made diocese centre for apostilic activity and renewal
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Bishop Raymond Roy will be remembered as a faithful announcer of the Gospel, first-rate preacher and church builder.
Roy, bishop emeritus of St. Paul, died June 25, the 21st anniversary of one of his proudest
moments - the visit of Mother Teresa to St. Paul. He was 84.
Father Antoine Tetu, a close collaborator of the bishop, called Roy a "faithful announcer of the Gospel" and good disciple of the Lord. "He's been faithful in announcing the Good News of salvation," Tetu said June 25.
"I can truly say that he's helped the people grow through the liturgy of the Mass, a little bit like the prophets and the patriarchs of the Old Testament have done. He was a very good preacher."
Bishop Luc Bouchard, the current bishop of St. Paul, and Archbishop Thomas Collins, Roy's successor there, could not be reached for comment.
Born in Fisher-Branch, Man., May 3, 1919, Roy attended elementary school in his native town as well as in Aubigny, and secondary school and university at St. Boniface College. He held a bachelor of arts from the University of Manitoba and studied theology at the Montreal Major Seminary and the Boniface Seminary. He was ordained a priest in St. Boniface Cathedral on May 31, 1947. He was named bishop of St. Paul May 3, 1972. He retired June 30, 1997.
In the early '70s, before taking over as bishop of St. Paul, Roy was known at the time as a great lover of flowers. "I'm impatient by temperament," he once said, adding flowers served as a gentle reminder of the need to be patient.
Roy said nature deeply influenced his approach to changes in religion. "I have a reticence to follow the new trends, but I also have a repugnance for remaining static; which means I evolve according to the rhythm of life."
Roy came to St. Paul in 1972 with a reputation as a first-rate preacher and church builder.
He retired 25 years later, leaving behind a diocese which had been re-shaped by petroleum mega-projects.
In the meantime, he spearheaded projects enabling the Gospel to be preached in a new era.
From its foundation in 1948 until 1979, the St. Paul Diocese was a 100-km wide strip running across Alberta just north of Edmonton. Roy worked to expand the diocese so that it now includes the major centre of Fort McMurray and covers most of northeastern Alberta.
That gave the diocese greater resources and more flexibility in planning. During Roy's term, virtually every parish in the diocese undertook a major renovation or reconstruction project.
In 1982, Roy took the unused church at St. Edouard, 11 km east of St. Paul, and built a large renewal centre as an addition. Since then, the St. Paul Renewal Centre has been the focus for numerous programs of spiritual renewal.
Roy also shepherded the John Paul II Bible School in Radway, North America's first Catholic Bible school. The school began in an abandoned hospital 19 years ago and is now the model for similar schools around the world.
During Roy's tenure, the diocese began Bible study programs, the Emmaus lay ministries formation program, the RENEW program of parish renewal and a program to recruit people to work in foreign missions.
And who will forget the June 1982 visit of Mother Teresa to St. Paul? Roy invited her to come and, during her one-day visit, she was presented with $925,000 raised for her work by the people of the town of St. Paul.
The visit led to the establishment of a house of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in St. Paul.
Recent years have not always been pleasant for Roy. He drew unfavourable media coverage for his handling of sexual abuse scandals involving three priests of his diocese in the late 1980s.
And, in the 1990s, he was again in the news for making a hefty investment in a sex phone line scam. Roy said he was told the funds were to be used for developing prayer phone-in lines.
After his ordination in 1947, Roy set about a career of building churches, forming co-operatives and preaching retreats.
He once told the WCR he built seven churches, hammering nails and serving as general contractor for the first six.
He got into church building by accident. Shortly after ordination, the church to which he was assigned burned down.
"The parishioners had a lot of energy. But they had no money. So we put all the energy together and built the church. I went into the bush cutting wood and went to the sawmills."
His seventh church-building project was the historic St. Boniface Cathedral, which was destroyed by fire in 1968.
He became rector of the cathedral the following August and united a warring flock to rebuild a marvellous modern cathedral within the ruins of the old one.
"Every time I have built a church, it has always been through teamwork," he told the Winnipeg Tribune in 1972.
Roy was ordained a bishop July 18, 1972, in the new cathedral, the day after it was opened. Nine days later, he was installed as bishop of St. Paul.
He spoke of his ideal of a bishop: "The bishop must be a tower of joy and hope, not the centre of attraction, for people to see in his person something of Christ."
Funeral services for Bishop Raymond Roy will be held on Wednesday, July 2 at 2 p.m. in St. Paul Cathedral.