Archbishop Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec died on Jan. 10 at the age of 71. He served as the president for the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec during the debates of euthanasia and a secular charter. CCCB supplied and CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

Rimouski Archbishop Fournier's sudden death a blow to Church

  • January 13, 2015
OTTAWA - Rimouski Archbishop Pierre-André Fournier died suddenly Jan. 10 in hospital shortly after losing consciousness and being taken to hospital by ambulance.

Archbishop Fournier, 71, had been serving as president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec during the province’s contentious debates on euthanasia and on a secular charter.

The archbishop travelled to Quebec City in December for heart surgery and was in Rimouski recovering at the time of his death.

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow and condolences in a letter to Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher through the Holy See’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. He expressed sympathy for the deceased bishops’ family and hard-hit Christian community, describing Archbishop Fournier as a faithful and zealous pastor. The letter noted Archbishop Fournier’s service not only to the local Church but his responsibilities on the regional level.

Parolin assured those affected by the sudden loss of the Archbishop of the Holy Father’s prayers and passed along the Pope’s apostolic blessing.

“We share the great sadness of his family and the Archdiocese of Rimouski,” said Quebec Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix in a statement. “Msgr. Pierre-Andre Fournier was so loved in the Archdiocese of Quebec, his diocese of origin where he served among others as auxiliary bishop. Turning to the Lord in this moment of trouble, He will give us hope and strength to live through this moment.”

Lacroix will celebrate the funeral for Archbishop Fournier Jan. 18 at the church of Saint-Robert-Bellarmin de Rimouski. The cardinal will hold a vigil on Jan. 14 at the church of Saint-Roch in Quebec City where the deceased archbishop served as a priest from 1983 to 1995.

Born in Plessisville, Que., on June 8, 1943, Archbishop Fournier was the third of nine children. He entered Quebec’s Grand Séminaire in 1963, obtained a licentiate in theology from Laval University, and was ordained a priest in 1967.

Archbishop Fournier will also be missed outside Quebec, particularly at the Madonna House apostolate based in Combermere, Ont.

“This man was a good friend of (Madonna House), from his seminarian days, an associate member of our community, who invited us to open our house in Quebec when he was made Archbishop of Rimouski,” said priest, author and blogger Fr. Denis Lemieux on Facebook. “He was a wonderful man of God and the Church, and his sudden death is a blow for the Church in Quebec.”

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