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January 19, 2004

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Other stories in this week's paper

Archbishop Exner reflects on years of challenge, growth

Victoria’s Bishop Roussin gained reputation as a warm, caring person

A diocese in transition

A fierce grace: leadership secrets of Adam Exner

Reflections on Archbishop Exner

Archbishop-elect intends predecessor to take part in completion of synod

Christmas was surprisingly simple in Mabamba

The great divide:
Analyzing liberal and conservative views on sexual behaviour

Italian parishes of the Vancouver Archdiocese, last of three parts

Children meet Roman Catholic Challenge

HIV testing not a new policy, says seminary rector

Faith and media centre launched

...and many,
many more...

Front Page

Announcement caught new archbishop ‘by surprise’

By LAUREEN McMAHON

Vancouver Catholics will soon have a new archbishop: Bishop Raymond Roussin, SM, the shepherd of the Diocese of Victoria since 1999.

The official announcement came on Jan. 10, less than a month after Vancouver Archbishop Adam Exner, OMI, turned 75, the age at which bishops must submit their letter of resignation to Rome.

When they were notified of Pope John Paul’s decision by the Canadian Apostolic Nuncio three days before it was made public, both bishops happened to be at the Western Bishops’ conference at Westminster Abbey in Mission.

Archbishop Exner said that it afforded them a very welcome opportunity to discuss the announcement and its ramifications for both.

Archbishop-elect Roussin flew into Vancouver Jan. 16 to confer on an installation date and finalize plans for the Mass and a reception celebration with Vancouver archdiocesan consultors.

There has, as yet, been no announcement of a successor for him in the Vancouver Island diocese.

After the announcement of a change of bishops, diocesan consultors must appoint an administrator who remains responsible for the diocese until an episcopal installation has taken place, said Archbishop Exner, 30 years a bishop, who has served in Kamloops, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. When the Vancouver consultors met on Jan. 13, they elected Archbishop Exner as archdiocesan administrator. This means that he resumes the pastoral care of the archdiocese until the installation of Archbishop-elect Roussin.

The 64-year old archbishop-elect was consecrated a bishop in 1995 and installed in the Diocese of Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. He oversaw its dissolution, which was concluded three years later.

On Sept. 14, 1998, he became coadjutor Bishop of Victoria and, the following March 11, automatically succeeded Bishop Remi De Roo, when he resigned at the age of 75. Bishop De Roo was Canada’s longest-serving bishop, having shepherded Victoria since 1962.

Bishop Roussin was installed on June 28, 1999, and it was Archbishop Exner, one of many bishops present, who handed the new bishop his pastoral staff during the Installation Mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Born in 1939 in Saint Boniface, Manitoba, Raymond Roussin attended a Marianist school in Winnipeg and went, at the age of 16, into a seminary in St. Louis, Mo. He studied for four years at the Dominican-run University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1970 as a member of the Society of Mary.

He taught for many years in Quebec, Manitoba, and the U.S. before being appointed Marianist superior from 1980-86.

Reached at the Victoria chancery offices, he said the announcement had “caught me by surprise” and he hoped that a successor would be named for Victoria very speedily. “I’ve really just become used to the place and begun to feel at home.”

Any ambivalent feelings about the move, he said, stem from concerns that, although there has been progress in solving the diocese’s financial difficulties, “the problems are not by any means all solved.

“My successor will still have quite a challenge on his hands, although I must say that we have received tremendous support from almost every quarter for our efforts. The process is very arduous however, and demands a lot of attention from everyone concerned.”

He himself, he said, will draw the strength to take over the running of the Vancouver archdiocese (roughly four times as large as Victoria) from his motto Fortes in Fide (Steadfast in Faith).

Reports about the new archbishop’s health problems have been exaggerated, according to a Victoria chancery spokesman. Although the archbishop-elect has experienced some minor concerns, they are not of the type to affect his work as bishop.

The new archbishop says he is pleased that, because Vancouver is nearing the conclusion of a synod, information gained over the years of synod discussions will provide him with a view of how local people envision the future of the Church in Vancouver.

“This will prove crucial to my understanding of the archdiocese and provide a road map which will greatly assist me in the transition process,” he noted. “I am very pleased also to have Archbishop Exner’s promise of his assistance in the implementation of the synod conclusions in parishes. This has brightened my outlook considerably.”

The archbishop-elect has served the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as a member of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Education (French sector), the Episcopal Commission for Liturgy (English Sector), the Permanent Council, and also as CCCB liaison bishop with Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry.

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