Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 5, 2007
Popular shepherd becomes 'His Grace'
Archbishop Gerard Pettipas becomes bishop of Grouard McLennan
By RAMON GONZALEZ
Archbishop Gerard Pettipas
During the liturgy of ordination, Lavoie read the apostolic letter conferring Pettipas the title of archbishop. "May God assist you in guiding the faithful entrusted to your pastoral charge so that they grow in faith, hope and charity," Lavoie read.
"May the peace of Christ (and Mary) abundantly accompany you and also the beloved community of Grouard McLennan."
People gave their consent to Pettipas' appointment through various community leaders who spoke briefly about Pettipas' gifts and virtues. "As a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, God has formed Archbishop Pettipas as a missionary with a heart for evangelization," said Father Michael Brehl, the provincial superior of the Redemptorists' Edmonton/Toronto Province.
"He is a compassionate pastor who follows Jesus in his mission to bring good news to the poor."
Kevin Walker, director of the archdiocesan Cursillo movement, said that over the years the community became impressed with Pettipas' "steadiness in rough waters, his wisdom and discernment and, most of all, his compassionate love for all of us.
"He is real; he is comfortable in his own skin and therefore accessible and able to relate to others in an authentic open manner."
What best describes Pettipas is "sincere love and concern for others, cheerfulness, hope and perseverance," said Michelle Jodoin, a Grande Prairie parishioner. "He has rejoiced with those who rejoice and wept with those who weep. He is a prayerful man profoundly committed to Jesus Christ. He is well loved here. We are in good hands."
In his homily, Ventura urged Pettipas to continue to be steady in his faith and to lead the faithful of Grouard-McLennan with vision, clarity and fidelity. "Today's climate of relativism and skepticism requires clarity, surety and sound teaching," he said. "Nothing can excuse the bishop from preaching the Gospel. Dear Msgr. Gerry, to be a bishop is a task of great responsibility. Have no fear. God is with you."
Ventura also paid tribute to the work of Bishop Arth‚ Guimond calling him a faithful shepherd. People applauded and gave the retired Guimond a standing ovation.
During the ordination ceremony, Pettipas, kneeling before the consecrators, promised to uphold the faith and to carry out his duties as archbishop to the best of his abilities. While Pettipas lay prostrate on the stage in front of the ordaining bishops, the congregation sang the Litany of the Saints.
Then Ventura, followed by the other bishops present, conferred the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders on Pettipas by the laying on of their hands. The new bishop was later anointed on the head with Chrism oil and was handed the Book of the Gospel, from which he is to preach constantly.
Pettipas was also conferred a ring, which Ventura placed on his finger, and a mitre, which the papal nuncio placed on the new bishop's head.
Ventura's handing the crosier, symbol of the bishop's authority, to Pettipas, closed the process of transition from one archbishop to another. It began in late November, when Pope Benedict announced Pettipas' appointment as spiritual leader of more than 40,000 Catholics in the Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese.
People applauded loudly, and some even whistled, when a joyful Pettipas sat in the bishop's chair for the first time. Immediately following his ordination, he went down to where Guimond was sitting and shook his hand affectionately. He then went back up the stage to preside for the remainder of the Mass.
"He's the most humble person that I've met in this parish."
- Frida Abaroa
Pettipas noted Ventura's call with a message from the pope to become archbishop had changed his life, but he said he is ready for the challenge. He acknowledged that his becoming a bishop will pull him away from his religious congregation, the Redemptorist Fathers, but said in his heart he will always be a Redemptorist.
Bringing greetings to Pettipas were, among others, Archbishop John Clark from the Anglican Church; Dan Kingdon of Newman Theological College, and Mary and Emile Marcotte, who brought gifts and greeting from the different parishes and missions in the archdiocese.
Members of the new archbishop's family-Joanne Pettipas, his sister; Roger Pettipas, his brother; and Catherine Pettipas, his sister-in-law-presented the regalia during the ordination ceremony.
This is the first time, the ordination of a bishop for the Peace Country was held in Grande Prairie as opposed to McLennan, some 160 km northeast of Grande Prairie, which is the seat for the archdiocese. It's also the first time an ordination has been held in a sports complex. While the ordination was taking place in the Crystal Gardens, the Grande Prairie Storm was hosting the Fort McMurray Oil Barons across the hallway.
Those attending the ordination and the reception that followed were impressed with their new bishop. "He's the most humble person that I've met in this parish and he has a deep love for God," said Frida Abaroa, 27. "He is able to really guide us in his church to put the focus back on God. He has a huge heart. He'll be an awesome archbishop."
Dorothy Couvell of High Prairie has high hopes for her new leader. "He seems very genuine and really welcoming and open to the people; very spiritual and very holy," she observed.
"He's got a great sense of humour and he's got a perpetual smile," noted Carmelle Lizee, also from High Prairie. "He is going to be an enthusiastic bishop. He's got a lot of energy."
Theresa Walker, 78, shed some tears for her former pastor. "I hate to see him go. It just made me cry; he's just the most beautiful person there is," she said. "He is very thoughtful and I think he's going to be great."
"He is going to make a wonderful bishop," said Chelsea Bergeron, 21. "He is very prayerful, just a very holy man."
"I couldn't be happier to have one of our priests to become a bishop; it's a dream come true," confided Gord Switzer, commander for the colour guard of the Knights of Columbus in Grande Prairie. "Knowing the way he is, he is going to be an excellent bishop. He is very understanding, very caring, very dedicated to his faith."
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