Archbishop Terrence Prendergast celebrated the funeral Mass for Archbishop Joseph-Aurele Plourde. Photo by Robert Du Broy, courtesy archdiocese of Ottawa

Archbishop Plourde a leader among bishops

By 
  • January 15, 2013

OTTAWA - Ottawa Archbishop-emeritus Joseph-Aurèle Plourde, who participated in the Second Vatican Council and helped create Development and Peace, was a leader among bishops, current Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast told those gathered for Plourde's funeral Jan. 11.

Prendergast noted Archbishop Plourde’s coat of arms, etched onto his sarcophagus in the crypt below the cathedral, display a star, “the depiction of the Stella Maris, the Star of the Sea, a symbolic representation of Mary.”

“She helps draw each believer to Christ, just as the Star of Bethlehem drew the Magi to the Christ Child,” he said.

Prendergast described Archbishop Plourde as “a seeker who, seized by God, became himself a star showing others the way to Christ.” Prendergast noted Archbishop Plourde died on Epiphany Eve, “when followers of Jesus are full of joy at His manifestation of God Incarnate.”

“The liturgy urges us to be attentive because the Lord Jesus is indeed near,” said Prendergast. “He is coming at the end of time, yes. But he is also coming to each of us in the mystery of our own personal death. Like Archbishop Plourde, we know neither the day nor the hour.”

Prendergast noted how the Second Vatican Council stressed the importance of baptism as the moment a Christian dies to sin and rises to new life.

“For Aurele Plourde, the eighth of 11 children, the first sacrament marked the start of his nearly 98-year journey as a faithful Christian,” said Prendergast, who noted Archbishop Plourde served 48 years in the episcopacy.

“He could be at the same time hospitable, crusty, humourous, tender and brilliant.” 

He described the late archbishop, who died Jan. 5, as “always sociable,” as someone who enjoyed company and loved a card game, especially bridge. But Prendergast focused on Archbishop Plourde’s role as a bishop, as a shepherd, an emblem of the Christ as the Good Shepherd.

“This role of the Good Shepherd is one Joseph-Aurèle Plourde, a successor of the apostles, strove to fulfill throughout his ministry,” he said. “As president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and a key figure in the founding of what is now the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, Archbishop Plourde exercised leadership roles with his fellow pastors.”

Archbishop Plourde’s interest and training in social studies were among God-given gifts expressed in his outreach to the poor, both locally and worldwide, Prendergast said. He also advocated for workers’ rights and for Ontario francophones’ right to education in their own language.

“In his ordination homilies and ministry, he invited those called to be deacons, priests and bishops to become Jesus’ companions and friends. Our entire Church is to become a fellowship of disciples and friends in the Lord who would go forth and bear fruit, fruit that will last,” Prendergast said. “This is what Archbishop Plourde had in mind as he encouraged the people of his diocese, at the start of his ministry in Ottawa, to confide in him their thoughts, fears and hopes.”

Apostolic nuncio Pedro Lopez Quintana delivered a statement from Pope Benedict XVI and Gatineau Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, who is vice president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of his brother bishops.

The funeral of Ottawa’s eighth bishop and seventh archbishop drew nearly 20 bishops and more than 50 priests. Hundreds came to the cathedral to attend the funeral despite freezing rain and treacherous driving conditions.

Following the funeral Mass, Archbishop Plourde’s remains were interred in the crypt below the cathedral.

 

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