Young Paul Terrio (left) takes control of one of the family calves along with his brother Peter.
December 10, 2012
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Her first memory of her big brother is a tender one. "Paul was babysitting me when my parents went out and he rocked me in the big chair in the kitchen," recalls Jenny Terrio Baturin. "He was always a caregiver and took care of me in a very loving way."
The youngest of the four Terrio children, Jenny is sharing vignettes about Paul as they prepare to journey west for his installation as bishop of the Diocese of St. Paul.
Family life for the Terrio children was pastoral and supportive.
The mixed farm with Jersey dairy cows in the Eastern Townships south of Montreal was the ideal setting for someone who cared for animals as much as Paul did.
"He was a good herdsmen with the cows. He just loved caring for the animals," says Jenny. "His first thoughts about what he would be for several years was to be a vet."
The eldest child, Paul worked alongside Joseph his father when it came to chores. When a cow was freshening, the eager lad would help his dad with the birth.
"He'd come running into the house all excited telling us, 'Oh there is new little calf. It's a little bull and has a white star on its forehead.'"
Jenny, now a retired physiotherapist living near Winnipeg, remembers the gentle Jersey cows and their rich milk. "We all still love that butter and cream."
Paul loved the horses on the farm and Joseph's father had farmed with the big heavy horses. "Paul, to this day, has figurines of Percherons he bought for his father on his desk."
Theirs was a happy home. "We were all close to our parents," says Jenny. "They loved to be parents – enjoyed us and enjoyed our friends."
Joseph and Phyllis came of age during the Depression, and would have loved to have gone to university, but the economy said no.
So they made sure each child went to university and "They were so interested in all of our education pursuits," says Jenny. "Mom read every single book that came into the house."
They were both spiritual people and came from fine families.
Joseph came from a big Acadian family, Phyllis from an Anglican home. The young mother was baptized Catholic when she was carrying Paul and "used to laugh and say that Paul got baptized twice."
HORSE AND SLEIGH
They went to Mass every Sunday and one of Jenny's earliest memories was going to church in the winter by horse and sleigh.
On Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass, it was a return to Joseph's roots and they dined on Acadian meat pie – big chunks of meat covered with biscuit dough.
Paul went away to university when Jenny was only eight. "I missed him dreadfully."
Paul never forgot his little sister though and would send her books.
"I remember getting The Snow Queen, a collection of Russian fairy stories, a big book with illustrations," recalls Jenny. "Money was so scarce. I still have (that book) some place."
There were other childhood classics he sent to her too – Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willows.
Jenny was 12 years old when Paul went into seminary.
Was she surprised? "Not really."
She knew that a couple of years before that Paul started going on retreats and was involved in the Newman Club at the university.
When Paul graduated from Concordia he was offered a job in the Laurentians. He had been on a retreat and when he came home during the summer, he said he was going to be a priest and would be studying at le Grand Seminaire de Montreal.
"Myself, I was not that astonished," says Jenny. "For me, it seemed like a normal progression for Paul."
Asked to cast her mind back to the impact Paul's decision had on their parents, Jenny pauses for a while. "I remember they were very pensive. I remember more Paul's ordination, and I remember my father expressing that he was not worthy to have a son as a priest."
Jenny is proud of her big brother.
"I am very happy he has been such a good priest. He has worked very hard, but it has been a role that he has relished. It is a natural fit for him. It is wonderful to see someone who has found a vocation to which they are so well suited, which they can dive into with joy and courage and commitment."
CONTENT IN HIS FAITH
Even when he served in Brazil, Jenny did not worry about Paul.
"It was a long way from home and we knew at times he was very lonely, so we would send a little bit of home to him. But we knew he was so content in his faith, and solid and secure, we trusted the Lord would take care of him."
Noting that relatives scattered across the country will journey to her brother's episcopal ordination and installation as bishop of St. Paul, Jenny explained, "He has been a wonderful support to myself and my husband and my children, a wonderful uncle, beloved by the family. My children and grandchildren are very comfortable with Uncle Paul."