On October 8, the Diocese of Montreal celebrated 40 years of diaconal history. A Mass was celebrated on the occasion by Archbishop Christian Lépine at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral. Three of the diocese’s original deacons attended the celebration, including 98-year-old François Poirier.
Roger Dubois, Montreal’s first deacon
Roger Dubois well remembers the group he and his wife Raymonde associated with during their days in the diaconate. They were a handful of couples studying together and sharing "the same desire to become humble servants in the Church of Montreal." In 1981, Roger became the first permanent deacon to be ordained in the diocese of Montreal.
"As we remember these 40 years of life in the diaconate, we also look back on our life as a couple and as a family, now that Raymonde and I [celebrated] our 60th wedding anniversary this past July," says Roger Dubois, who was very much inspired by the "spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul."
He and his wife firmly believe that the presence of permanent deacons is necessary in order for the Church "to be authentic in its diaconal dimension: that is to say, in its role of service."
"We also believe that our world at present is more than ever in need of these men and women of hope who are the permanent deacons and their wives."
François Poirier, faithful servant of Christ
"I’ll tell you my secret; it is my faith and my daily prayers. It is my faith and prayers that feed and water me, that heal my wounds and keep me confident and hopeful," writes Roger Dubois, who celebrated his 98th birthday this year.
The man who served the Church of Montreal in his vocation as permanent deacon alongside his wife and confreres says his dream was granted of being able to "serve and evangelize." He has been particularly committed to providing accompaniment for the incarcerated and the elderly, in addition to activities in his parish.
Gerald Turpin has been listening to the Holy Spirit for 38 years.
He was asked to tutor three candidates for the permanent diaconate. Gerald Turpin confessed he was "honoured," but at the same time he felt somehow inadequate in facing up to this role. "For 38 years, I’ve been trying to understand what the Holy Spirit was saying is the role of deacon in the Diocese of Montreal. What could I say or do that might help those who have been entrusted to me?"
The words of the Pope resonate for him when Francis speaks of his desire for a "poor church for the poor," recalling his impressions from the days when he was serving the Church in even the darkest peripheries.
In service for 40 years
These three deacons who lived through the beginnings of diaconal outreach were here 40 years later as well for the Mass on October 8 that afforded an opportunity to mark this happy event in the Diocese of Montreal. A plaque handcrafted by a deacon was presented to each of the three.
The history of the diaconate of the Diocese of Montreal moves onward, and men are still committing themselves to the vocation of permanent deacon in the company of their wives and families and thus swelling the ranks of the great diaconal family of Montreal. Our sincerest gratitude to each of them for their precious service in the Church of Christ.
Note: Quotations are translated from Le Phare diaconal, issue of March 2021