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March 2, 2009

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'A model of patience in suffering'

Text of remarks delivered by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, prior to an appreciation dinner for Archbishop Emeritus Raymond Roussin, SM, Feb. 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Vancouver.

The image of the Good Shepherd comes to mind when we thank God for your presence among us: a shepherd certainly after the Lord's own heart, but pleasing indeed to our hearts as well.

Jeff Graham / The B.C. Catholic
Archbishop Roussin blesses the faithful at Mass prior to his appreciation dinner.

You have been for us a pastor configured to Christ by your life, and you certainly have expended yourself generously in the three different churches entrusted to you by Divine Providence, first in Gravelbourg, then in Victoria, and now at your home in Vancouver.

You have been a courageous prophet; few, I think, will forget your battle with those who would have flooded the media with pornography. You took a strong and effective public stand, for which not only Catholics, but also the much wider community is grateful to you.

You have been a model of patience in the face of personal suffering; that has been an inspiration to all of us. Your modesty in the face of personal illness, your composure, and your willingness to make your own trials a source of hope for others have been an enormous inspiration to countless men and women.

Hope in Jesus, the Good Shepherd, filled your heart with compassion, prompting you to draw near to others in their pain ... and you've never failed to be a teacher of holiness; teaching that our primary call as disciples of Christ is to be perfect, as is our Heavenly Father.

In the declaration of our Archdiocesan Synod, which you brought to a successful conclusion, and which will guide the pastoral life of the archdiocese for many years to come, you reminded us of the primacy of our call to be holy.

This is what you wrote: "When I place before you a vision to be more than ever a reflection of Jesus Christ in all we are, do, and say, it is simply a call to holiness of life."

You carried out, I think, a great admonition of a great theologian and Father of the Church in the fourth Century, St. Gregory of Nazianzen.

This is what he wrote: "First be purified, and then purify others. First allow yourself to be instructed by wisdom, and then instruct others. First become light, and then enlighten others. First draw close to God, and then draw others to Him. First be holy yourself, and then make others holy."

I think, Archbishop, you have fulfilled the admonition of St. Gregory, and you have been also a Father to us, precisely because you have been a son of the Church, what the Fathers of the Church like to call a "Vir Ecclesiasticus," a man given wholly, not only to Christ, but to the Church He loves.

Within that Church you have always shown the greatest respect for the priests and for the lay people.

Thank you, Archbishop Raymond, for being a witness of holiness, manifested in your pastoral charity, your humility, and your simplicity of life. With your filial devotion to Mary, which comes from your religious congregation, you made her fiat your own.

You have blessed us with your presence and your ministry, and we shall remain forever in your debt. For us you have been a spiritual sentinel, who guided the way of the Church of God in Vancouver.

 

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