Archbishop Arthé Guimond
February 18, 2013
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. ALBERT – Archbishop Emeritus Arthé Guimond died on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at Youville Home in St. Albert, at the age of 81.
Guimond, a former theological advisor to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, served as archbishop of Grouard-McLennan in northwestern Alberta from 2000 to 2006.
Guimond was born May 22, 1931 in St. Francois-Xavier des Hauteurs, Quebec, the sixth of 13 children.
At a minor seminary college in Rimouski, Quebec, Guimond looked forward to becoming a doctor.
One day, his spiritual director told him the college staff felt that he could have a vocation to the priesthood. He announced to his family his plans to enter the seminary the day of his graduation from college.
He attended Le Grand Séminaire de St. Boniface, Man., and was ordained a priest of the Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese on June 23, 1957.
Guimond's seminary director, the future Cardinal Edouard Gagnon, suggested that the young priest do postgraduate studies towards a doctorate. But Archbishop Henri Routhier rejected the idea, assigning Guimond to parish ministry.
Four years later, Guimond was on his way to study at l'Université de Montréal and then at the Gregorian University in Rome where he obtained a licence in theology. Then it was off to the University of Bossey near Geneva and later to Paris, France.
In June 1970, his thesis - The doctrinal requirements of Unity of the Church - was approved at the Gregorian.
His passion was learning and study. He enjoyed studying theology and found pleasure reading Thomas Aquinas.
He also enjoyed learning languages and was fluent in French, English, German and Italian, as well as having some knowledge in Slovak languages. After his retirement, he learned Spanish.
Msgr. Charles Lavoie, vicar-general for the archdiocese, met Guimond in 1988 and the pair remained friends.
"He loved teaching, certainly in the classroom, but also in a one-on-one or in small groups, we'd be conversing and a question would come up," said Lavoie.
"He would meticulously go through teaching and explaining. It was amazing to see him teaching, and you could see it was his passion."
Guimond was active in education, teaching at several universities and seminaries, including Newman Theological College in Edmonton (1971 to 1973).
From 1975 to 1987, he served as a theologian on the pastoral team of the CCCB. Then he went for further studies in Jerusalem and France.
"Certainly he had a strong knowledge of theology and Scripture," said Lavoie.
In 1987, 30 years after his ordination, Guimond returned to Grouard-McLennan, serving as pastor of Fairview and then Peace River from 1987 to 1998, and also as vicar-general, from 1996 to 1998.
He was diocesan administrator from July 1998 to 2000, following the death of Archbishop Henri Goudreault. Pope John Paul II appointed Guimond the fourth archbishop of Grouard-McLennan in June 2000.
As a member of the CCCB, he served as a member and chairman of the former Commission for Christian Education of the French sector.
As archbishop, he was involved in much of the information gathering, orientation and negotiation surrounding the Indian residential school investigation and settlement agreement.
"He enjoyed life and he enjoyed people, sharing his theology and experiences with all of his studies and travels around the world," said Lavoie.
"He was a pensive man. The problems of the Church and of the world weighed heavily on him at times. To try to find solutions and healing, you could see him thinking and praying about it."
Guimond suffered an abdominal aortic aneurism while attending World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.
He spent weeks in intensive care and recovery at hospitals in Grande Prairie and Edmonton. Following his recovery, he was confined to a wheelchair and received ongoing therapy.
The pope accepted his resignation as archbishop in November 2006 when he reached the retirement age of 75.
A vigil will be held at St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton on Thursday Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. and a requiem Mass will be held at the basilica Feb. 15 at 10:30 a.m. Guimond will be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Edmonton.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in McLennan on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m., with Archbishop Gerard Pettipas presiding.