Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 27, 2006
Priest graced by friendships with schizophrenics
Fr. Clem Gauthier
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Seven years ago, Father Clem Gauthier met and befriended Sean - a young man with schizophrenia living in a group home in Edmonton.
Gauthier said he has received many graces from their relationship.
"It's a question of trying to make yourself aware and associating yourself with a mentally ill person," said Gauthier, a recently retired pastor. Gauthier was also a board member of the SSA (Edmonton).
"Without exception, in every parish there are family members who are suffering with schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder. They keep quiet about it. But to get the inside track, a deacon or a priest has to get to know the person. Then they feel they can trust you."
Gauthier said it is a shame to see how the mentally ill are ostracized because society is scared of them. But spending time with them reveals how načve society can be.
Soon after he retired, Gauthier took Sean on an Alaskan cruise. He promised him that he would never leave his side.
"They may just turn off and become distant and there is nothing you can do about it but stay there," Gauthier said.
"I have been thanked many times for being with them when they come out of it. In a way, it has been an incredible blessing in my life."