Ordained Priest at 80, He Really Worked Until the End…

What a beautiful legacy:

For nearly half a century, Gérard Lafrenière was devoted to his wife, and, by all accounts, fulfilled his vows to love, honour and cherish her. Yet, he had another love, too.

In 2009, two years after his wife of 49 years, Gisèle Viau, died, Lafrenière fulfilled the vocation that had been with him since childhood. He became a Catholic priest, with his wife’s blessing.

“This is something that has been in my life for the past 65 years,” he told the Citizen on the day of his ordination. “You never know what the Lord has in store for you. I had to put it aside for a while and take a different avenue.”

On Saturday, three years after becoming a priest, Father Lafrenière’s died at the age of 83.

Those who knew him describe him as a modest but exceptional man who had a great gift for consoling others.

“He was very loved,” said his son Georges Lafrenière.

“He was the type of person who was always willing to listen to you, really listen,” said Leonard Larabie, a longtime member of the congregation of St. Joseph d’Orléans, who knew Lafrenière for nearly four decades. “He knew how to listen and how to comfort people.”

“He was a man with a very deep faith,” said Royal Galipeau, the Conservative MP for Ottawa-Orléans, who remembers Lafrenière signing his nomination papers when he entered politics in the 1980s.

“He didn’t care about promoting himself. He just fit himself in where he thought he was best needed.”

Even though Lafrenière officially retired in November when a liver ailment left him frail and shaky, he continued, unofficially, to used what energy he had left to take calls from the church and members of the congregation.

“He really worked until the end,” said his son Georges. “He was doing a lot of phoning from his bed.”

That, say friends, was typical. “He never retired,” said Larabie. “He was too busy. He just never slowed down.”

Even so, it took Lafrenière a long time to get to where he wanted to be. He grew up on a farm near Plaisance, Que., one of several children. He knew as a boy of nine or 10 that he had a vocation, he want to be a priest. When he was 14 he began studies at the Ottawa junior seminary, but left after less than three years because of poor health. He assumed he’d never be a priest.

Lafrenière eventually married, had children and embarked on a career in the insurance business. His faith, however, never dimmed. He kept the church at the centre of his life, serving as a deacon at the Parish of St. Joseph d’Orléans for almost 30 years.

His wife, Gisèle Viau, shared his faith, according to friends. And shortly before she died in August 2007, she urged him to fulfil his vocation.

“That story is true,” said Larabie. “I heard it from him personally. She understood. This man was in love with his wife all her life, but at the bottom of his heart he felt he was destined to be a priest.”

“They had a marriage that was full of love,” said Galipeau. “She certainly knew about his faith and his sense of vocation.”

After his wife’s death, Lafrenière’s friends reiterated her encouragement. He’d fulfilled his vows to his wife, they said, and now he should make other vows.

On March 25, 2009, Lafrenière was ordained by Archbishop Terence Prendergast at St. Joseph’s in Orléans. At the time, he was told that he was the first person his age in Ottawa to be ordained. Four days later, he held his first mass.

He was, it seems, a popular priest. The fact that he was married for so many years gave him insight that was unique among priests, says Debbie Guindon, who worked with Lafrenière to prepare couples for marriage.

The knowledge that comes with being a husband and father drew long lineups outside his confessional. “Everybody wanted to go to confession to him because he was very open and spiritual and he would really guide you in your confession,” Guindon said. “He was a good-hearted person. Very loving.”

About a week ago, the old priest finally slowed down. “I put my hand in his hand,” said his son, “and I said in his ear, ‘Daddy, it’s OK, you can go and see mom. I’m sure she’s waiting for you.'”

Visitation will be held Tuesday at Heritage Funeral Home, 2871 St. Joseph Blvd., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Another visitation will be held at the Parish of St. Joseph d’Orléans on Wednesday at 9 a.m., followed by a Eucharistic celebration at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Canadian Liver Foundation or to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

‘He really worked until the end…’ Oh, I pray that that may be said of me too.



The Sound of Terror

This footage, taken in Ashdod, home to more than 200,000, gives you an idea of the reality Israelis are living in right now. The next time you hear someone criticizing Israel’s attempts to eliminate the terrorists responsible for launching rockets at her citizens, remember this video. If this was happening in your city, wouldn’t you insist that your government take any measures necessary to stop it?



I Told You Not to be Surprised

Writes Stephen Clark, an Anglican Priest in the Diocese of Adelaide, on his blog:

I think of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) as a faux church (some comments here and then again here ) I have commented more than once that I would like someone to challenge their use of the term “Anglican Communion” and indeed the word “Traditional” in juxtaposition.

There can only be one meaning of the expression Traditional Anglican Communion….and that is churches which see their roots in the Church of England and continue in Communion with that Church…and particularly as represented by its chief bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Clearly the so called TAC (which may see its roots in the C of E) has severed its communion with Canterbury…the most traditional link with Anglicanism!

Any way, it’s falling apart!

In the last couple of weeks a majority of TAC bishops have met and voted out their Primate (who happens to live within my parish boundaries) John Hepworth. Mr Hepworth (as the Roman Catholic Church of which he was once a member seems intent on calling him) along with his long term amigo John Fleming (a former Anglican priest who became a Roman Catholic) who has had his own troubles of late (see here..and then have a Google….but currently tied up in the courts)….well they have always been intent on claiming credit for the so-called Anglican Ordinariate (see a tangled web here)

Finally….Hepworth has been deposed.

Of course he claims that the majority of Bishops had no right to do it. But I was interested to hear conservative Anglican commentator David Virtue the so-called and self-declared “Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism” at least admitted on ABC Radio that the outlandish claim that the TAC had 400,000 adherents worldwide was always fanciful. He exposes some other bizarre issues here in his account of Hepworth’s deposition.

A great churchman once said to me about breakaway churches “Once they’ve broken away, it’s only a matter of time before they split and split again!”  These words have been proved to be very prescient.

Speaks volumes.

UPDATE:   Fr Anthony Chadwick comments on the above post:

Having got the heads-up from Fr Smuts’ blog, here is a nasty article on the TAC by an Anglican priest from the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide – I told you not to be surprised.

If the law is being broken in regard to Fr John Fleming’s reputation, the accusations come from that particular clergyman and I decline any endorsement of that position. I personally believe Fr Fleming to be innocent of accusations of sex abuse.

This message seems to endorse the “accommodation” position on which I commented in my previous posting. Making an absolute of the institutional Church against higher principles or the good of church members, when this principle is applied in secular politics, is nothing other than fascism. The Church cannot be wrong, therefore is not wrong, and therefore it has the right to crush anything that smacks of dissent or diversity of opinion.

The Anglican Church of Australia is unlikely to be operating according to such a radical position, but that is where it can go. On the other hand, this fellow describes a “great churchman” as saying about breakaway churches “Once they’ve broken away, it’s only a matter of time before they split and split again!“.

The events of South Africa seem to be very convenient for Fr Clark’s arguments, but of course there is still a meeting to come – that of Archbishop Hepworth and those clergy who are still with him. That meeting can go two ways – by adopting a credible “Rome but under other conditions” position or driving in the final coffin nail.

I have always found the issue of 400,000 adherents worldwide highly embarrassing. I have no idea who made that claim. The highest numbers in the TAC have been in South Africa and India. As probably most of the clergy and faithful from those two countries have formed the “New TAC” from those two parts of the world, I doubt we will ever hear that number mentioned again. It is hard to kick against the pricks.

These sneering postings are very hurtful, but unfortunately there is no smoke without fire. What is unfortunate is that whether this is Rome’s fault, that of Archbishop Hepworth through poor judgement, weakness or perverseness, that of Fr Fleming or anyone else, people are going to be alienated and may lose the faith. That is a terrible responsibility, especially on the part of a man of the cloth whose responsibility it is to gather, unite and rescue those in distress. I see little of a pastoral spirit in this blog post. On the rest of the blog, I am rather discouraged to find much of it concerned with the “gay” agenda and matters of little interest to many of us.

There I have simply told you the posting is there, and you can read it for the better or the worse. I just ask you not to shoot down the messenger.

Yes Father, how often does one not get shot blasted for being the messenger?! I still maintain that it is good to hear what others are saying, even if and when we do not agree. Rational debate can go a long way, especially since the truth is out there.



Traditional Anglican Communion: ‘Unambiguously Anglican’. What About ‘Unambiguously Anglo-Catholic’?

Over at the Ordinariate Expats blog:

In my post “What of the TAC?” I pointed out what the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus obviously is not. It is not the recognition of a parallel and independent Church with whom the Holy See is entering into full communion. Indeed I was surprised to read at “The English Catholic” that I was perhaps one of the first to state this clearly, to dispel the myth, so to speak. AC is also not the creation of a new Uniate Church where the whole church en bloc would become Catholic. Nobody can seriously imagine the whole of Anglicanism wanting to become Catholic either en bloc or individually. And after reading of the meeting in Johannesburg two weeks ago, where the continuing TAC refers to itself as “unambiguously Anglican”, I doubt whether a Uniate status would have been acceptable to the whole of the TAC or even a majority. (Although I hope I can be forgiven for wondering what that demonstrative signing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church by all the bishops and vicars general of the TAC was meant to signify.)

So what is Anglicanorum Coetibus, what is so new and revolutionary about it? Why should anyone want to take advantage of this offer of the Holy See?  The new thing is that the Roman Catholic Church has now unequivocally put its money where its mouth is. Following years of joint discussions with the Anglicans in the ARCIC process, Rome is now saying that there are many elements of Anglicanism which are completely compatible with the Catholic faith, not the least of these being the liturgy. Who would have imagined four hundred years ago that Cranmer’s prayers would ring out in the papal basilicas of Rome or Assisi? Just watch this video of the pilgrimage of Our Lady of the Atonement parish, San Antonio, to Italy last year, where the Prayer of Humble Access in the 1979 American Prayer Book version is prayed in a public mass at the tomb of Saint Francis. It warms the cockles of my heart every time I see it.

Or imagine the 100 pilgrims from The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham saying the Prayer of General Thanksgiving at the Confessio in St. Peter’s in Rome.

And this not only applies to liturgy. In the Apostolic Constitution specific mention is made of other elements of the Anglican patrimony, namely the spiritual and pastoral traditions, describing them “as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared”. Much thought has been and is being given to what this Anglican patrimony actually is. My “thesaurus” gives just a glimpse of these reflexions.

If this is not revolutionary enough, Anglicanorum Coetibus provides a way for Anglican converts not merely to be swallowed up in the soup which is Catholicism but to shine out in a specifically Anglo-Catholic structure, the Personal Ordinariate, invented for this purpose.

Yes, Ordinariate members are Catholic but beyond this they are Anglo-Catholic, one might be tempted to coin the phrase “unambiguously Anglo-Catholic”!

The post by David Murphy is to be continued.

I look forward to reading that.

UPDATE:  The rest:

The Ordinariate is not an escape from the Anglican Communion, it is not, as is so often written, for “disaffected” Anglicans or for misogynous traditionalists. The Ordinariate is for those Anglo-Catholics who have for as long as they can remember yearned for the dreams of Michael Ramsey and Paul VI to be fulfilled, for Rome and Canterbury to be reconciled, and who have realised, sometimes very painfully, that this is not going to happen in their lifetimes. It is for those for whom full communion with the See of Peter is a fundamental element of Christianity, the answer to Christ’s prayer “ut unum sint”, but who cherish their Anglicanness and are overjoyed at the Pope’s offer to combine the two.

Those who have joined the Ordinariate feel that they have come home. They no longer need to worry about General Synods and the like. Opposition to women bishops is no longer a defining element of their Christianity – in fact it is no longer an issue. And if the ordination of women ever seriously became an issue for the Roman Catholic Church, which although not likely is certainly not impossible, then they would have no problem with that. Mgr. Newton was specifically asked this question by Ruth Gledhill and answered just that.

The Ordinariates may not be the response some had hoped for, even awaited, but they are the answer to a prayer for those who after careful discernment decide to join them.



New Lectionary & ESV: The ESV is a Revision of the RSV

Here is some official clarification via Fr Somerville-Knapman:

Given the time we have devoted recently to the proposed new Lectionary based on the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, including a brief comparison of an ESV sample text with other translations, and given the lively and interesting comments it has elicited, I made so bold as to email directly to the Most Reverend Mark Coleridge, the Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn and Chairman of the International Commission for the Preparation of an English Language Lectionary (ICPEL), seeking some authoritative clarification on some of the questions raised in our discussions.

With admirable speed for a busy diocesan bishop, he very kindly sent a concise but richly informative reply which answers the questions I asked him, and also one I failed to ask him! Apart from chopping the head and the tail of the email which were brief and directed to me, I shall quote him in full:

…  In answer to your questions, the facts are these.  The ESV was chosen over the RSV because the ESV, in its 7% modification of the RSV, seeks to incorporate the fruit of more recent biblical scholarship, i.e. since the publication of the RSV.  In other words, the RSV is out-of-date.  We were looking for a more up-to-date version of the RSV; and when the NRSV proved impossible, we chose the ESV.  Unlike the copyright holders of the NRSV, the copyright holders of the ESV have shown themselves quite open to the kind of changes we would need or want to make for Catholic lectionary purposes; and the copyright arrangements for the project are now in place.  What will appear in the lectionary will be a modified form of the ESV.  This may in time look to the production of a Catholic edition of the ESV, though that is not decided.  I know too little of the permission given to the English ordinariate, but I doubt that it will have an effect on the lectionary we are producing.  That would depend on the Holy See.  It is very hard to say when the ESV lectionary will be ready for publication.  We have all but finished work on the first volume (Sundays and Solemnities), and it may be that the first volume will appear before the others.  But it depends on how quickly the bishops of the five Conferences get back to us within the process of consultation.  Many of them are keen to have a new lectionary as soon as possible, so it may be that we will have the entire new lectionary by 2014…


So the rationale behind the choice of the ESV is made clear. The ESV is a revision of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) that takes into account the latest insights of biblical scholarship and textual criticism, and only 7% of the RSV is actually revised in the process. Moreover, using the NRSV (New RSV) was not a viable option due to the copyright holders not being open to the Church making the necessary modifications to the text for our use. The ESV’s copyright holders are amenable to our need to edit texts for the purposes of the Lectionary, and to bring certain passages into line with Catholic tradition.

Answering a question I wished I had asked (but didn’t!), given comments made by Theophrastus in another post here, it is conceivable that a full-blown, standalone Catholic edition of the ESV could be produced, though no decision has been made on that. As suggested yesterday, given the international, large-scale diffusion of the Catholic Lectionary, a Catholic ESV should be a viable proposition, at least economically. This would address the concerns raised over not having a Bible edition that matched the the texts of the Lectionary.

Archbishop Coleridge also kindly gave us some sort of ballpark figure for when the Lectionary might be implemented, given the variables of the time needed to revise the texts and for the necessary episcopal consultation process: 2014. This is sooner than I had expected, and is very heartening. Given that these processes often take longer than first envisaged, perhaps 2015 might be a safer bet, but still that is much sooner than I had expected. 2014 would be just wonderful, even if it were only the first volume…