Archbishop Paul-André Durocher

Archbishop Paul-André Durocher

February 23, 2015

Consecrated men and women played a significant role in shaping Canada, says the president of the country's bishops' conference.

"Our first teachers, health care givers and social workers were men and women who dedicated their lives through poverty, chastity and obedience, in order to serve the community of faith and all men and women, no matter their faith or ethnicity," Archbishop Paul-André Durocher said in a Jan. 29 letter.

The letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops was issued to mark the Year of Consecrated Life.

"So much of our country was shaped by those living the consecrated life," Durocher, the archbishop of Gatineau, Quebec, said in his message.

He cited "the remarkable saints" who brought religious congregations to New France or founded new ones – St. Marie of the Incarnation, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys and St. Marguerite d'Youville.

Their work responded "to the needs of the people they lived with, both native Canadians and immigrant Europeans," he said.

"They were followed by many others who responded to the needs they identified with diverse charisms that flourished in various apostolic endeavours, people such as Saint Brother André, Blessed Émilie Gamelin who founded the Sisters of Providence, Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin, founder of the Sisters of Saint Anne, and others."

Consecrated Life

Durocher's letter examined consecrated life in the Canadian context and the gifts that it has brought to the nation.

Today, Canada continues to need consecrated men and women "to help us understand what God wants of us," he said.

Citing Pope Francis' invitation to "live the present with passion," the archbishop acknowledged that many traditional religious communities are shrinking in size and their members are aging.

"Yet I marvel at the energy I find when I visit convents that still open their doors to refugees and to the poor."

Durocher said he is also moved "when I meet elderly as well as younger religious men and women who go out each day to parishes, community centres and meeting halls in service and in love."

New forms of consecrated life are finding expression in Canada, he noted. Young men and women are committing themselves to follow Christ more closely in small, intentional communities.


As well, "others are consecrating themselves according to specific charisms; all are finding creative ways to live the Gospel in today's world."

Pope Francis, he said, is calling on the Church to embrace the future with hope. "Hope is a virtue, an inner strength that consecrated men and women bring to desperate situations because their eyes are fixed on Christ, even as they look lovingly upon this world."

"Our Canadian society, so often focused on material well-being and immediate gratification, needs to discover the source of deep, lasting joy, a joy that is contagious and life-giving," he said.


Consecrated life can bring prophetic witness through openness of consecrated men and women to building communion and ministry on the peripheries through serving the poor, he said.

Issues and concerns such as violence, family breakdown, ecological crises, racial injustice, respect for life, restorative justice, sustainable development and the future of aboriginal peoples all receive a response from consecrated men and women, Durocher said.

They "can help us all respond in Gospel ways, in more human ways, to the challenges that confront us."