Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 10, 2007
Capuchin leader named bishop of Nelson Diocese
Corriveau to replace retiring Cooney
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Pope Benedict has chosen a new bishop for the Nelson Diocese who finds as much joy waiting on tables in a restaurant for the poor as he did serving at the highest levels of his Capuchin religious order.
Bishop-elect John Corriveau will replace Bishop Eugene Cooney, who retired at age 75 as required by canon law. Cooney, formerly a priest of the Calgary Diocese, also served as rector of St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton in the late 1980s.
Corriveau said he was both honoured and surprised to receive the appointment.
Corriveau said Cooney's ministry has been pastoral rather than administrative, "serving the parishes, filling in for his priests and travelling."
He said he is happy to follow in Cooney's footsteps as a pastoral bishop. "That's how I served my brothers," said the former Capuchin general minister. An autonomous Franciscan order, the Capuchins have 11,000 friars in 102 countries.
Born on the shores of Lake Huron in a small French settlement, Corriveau, 66, grew up in a small rural parish. Drawn at first to the diocesan priesthood, he decided to follow in the footsteps of a cousin who was a Redemptorist.
But at the Capuchin minor seminary in Blenheim, Ont., where he took his high school education, Corriveau found himself drawn to the Franciscan fraternal way of life.
Ordained a priest in 1966, he began his ministry as a teacher and prefect of discipline at the Mount Alverno Capuchin Minor Seminary in Ontario.
After three years, he was elected provincial for the Central Canada province, when he was only 29. He served six years before returning for a stint at a parish in North York, Ont.
In 1980 he was elected to the Capuchin's general council and was based in Rome until 1988.
After a sabbatical year, he was elected provincial again in 1989. In 1994, he was elected general minister of the order. Though headquartered in Rome, he travelled eight months a year.
"The general minister is not so much an authority figure but a charismatic figure representing our contact with St. Francis," he said.
Corriveau saw his role as uniting the brothers to one another and to the Church. He also concerned himself with the equitable distribution of resources between the richer North and the poorer South.
He returned to Canada in the fall of 2006, to work at St. Francis' Table, a restaurant for the poor in Toronto.
There, dressed in his habit, he would welcome the guests and help them get seated or wait on tables. He did priestly ministry on weekends, helping out in parishes.