Announcement caught new archbishop ‘by
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
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
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
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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