Bishop Noël Simard

Simard to lead Valleyfield diocese

  • January 4, 2012

Bishop Noël Simard will return to his native Quebec to lead the Valleyfield diocese.

On Dec. 29, Pope Benedict XVI appointed the former professor of bioethics and moral theology to the Valleyfield diocese where he will be installed in mid-February.

Auxiliary bishop of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., since 2008, Simard said he received the news “with joy” but mixed feelings about leaving Sudbury where he has served since he was ordained to the episcopate. But Simard looks forward to his new assignment in Valleyfield, where he already knows many people. He also likes the fact that it is a small diocese geographically with about 200,000 Catholics and 25 parishes.  

“I can visit all the parishes in six months,” he said. In Sault Ste. Marie, the Northern Ontario diocese spans about 1,200 kilometres and he was “on the road all the time.”

He likes the idea he won’t have to travel so far to attend meetings at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa where he is a member of the Commission for Justice and Peace and president of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF). 

Simard also likes the fact that Valleyfield is close to Montreal and Ottawa and closer to his family.

But Valleyfield, like other dioceses in Quebec, sees only about seven or eight per cent of Catholics attending church regularly and those who are involved represent an aging population.

“The challenge is to evangelize the families, the young people and the young adults,” he said. “I am ready to face the challenge.”

Simard was born in 1947 in Québec’s Charlevoix region in the village of St-Aimé-des-Lacs, the 11th of 13 children “in (an) environment where religion was very important,” he said.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1972, he has taught at Laval and the University of Sudbury. In 2000, he joined the theology faculty at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the International Federation of Catholic Bioethicists and is a founding member of the Canadian Catholic Institute of Bioethics in Toronto.

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