Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 14, 2008
Fr. Clem Gauthier spoke from his heart, loved his priesthood
A man who always said what he thought; this shepherd tended his flock: He died April 3
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"A third of the people think you are a superb guy, a third really don't care and a third don't even know who you are."
- Fr. Clem Gauthier
"He was always well-liked here," said Walter Kwiatkowski, chair of Assumption's pastoral council. "He was very frank, he spoke his mind and it was just very nice to work with him. If you asked for his opinion he wouldn't cut any corners - he would basically tell it like it is and I appreciated that."
Gauthier expressed interest in the parish's youth and their activities, according to Kwiatkowski. "He supported our youth wholeheartedly and he also reached out to the poor and to people facing challenges."
Assumption parishioner Lorraine Brooks recalls Gauthier being friendly, kind, humorous and down to earth.
"He was open to everyone and accepted everyone the way they were," she said. "He certainly knew how to make people comfortable."
Gauthier used to tell his parishioners that if they didn't want to spend an hour in Church on Sunday they should at least visit the sick or someone in need, Brooks recalled.
The priest sometimes would invite himself for supper to parishioners' homes and everyone was always happy to have him, she said. "Can I come over for supper tonight?" he would ask. "And I would say, 'Of course.' He was a guest at our home lots of times."
Emily Rowan, the president of Assumption's Catholic Women's League, said Gauthier "was always very supportive and cooperative" with CWL projects. "He always worked with us and made donations to our fundraising efforts."
And Gauthier was always in a good mood. "He never had a bad hair day," Rowan said with a laugh.
Gauthier loved his parishioners as well. "What keeps me and any other priest going is my parishioners," he said in a 2005 WCR interview about his priesthood. "It's really a strong support. They encourage you and sustain you. As they say, a third of the people think you are a superb guy, a third really don't care and a third don't even know who you are. That's how it goes."
Always outspoken, Gauthier said in the interview that if the Church wants to attract more people to the priesthood, it has to change.
"I think we have to change the model of the Church; we are no longer the triumphalist Church. We have to go to another model of the Church like the servant Church, the prophetic Church. We have to look at new models of priesthood. The model of the 1950s is no longer an appealing model today to young people."
Making celibacy optional and ordaining married men would be good steps in the right direction, he said. "Some people perhaps want to stay celibate, but those who want to marry should be allowed to marry. I think they would be a lot happier. We don't live in the 1950s anymore. We live in the 21st century. Let's get on with it."
Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil presided at a Sunday evening prayer vigil for Gauthier April 6 and Archbishop Richard Smith presided at a Mass of Resurrection the following day. Gauthier was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.