Bishop Paul Marchand, S.S.M., of the Diocese of Timmins, Ontario

Timmins bishop dies unexpectedly on vacation

By 
  • July 26, 2011

TORONTO - Bishop Paul Marchand, S.S.M., of the Diocese of Timmins, Ont. died of natural causes on July 23 while on summer vacation.

A “humble” priest with a collaborative pastoral approach, Bishop Marchand headed the Diocese of Timmins at a challenging time of declining numbers of parishioners and priests in the community.

“He was a very collaborative-oriented person. He really believed in the role and responsibility of the laity,” said Fr. Pat Lafleur, rector of Timmins' St. Anthony of Padua Cathedral.

“He was in a difficult position because we have a shortage of priests up here that is rather pronounced,” he added.

There are currently about 14 priests, at least half of whom are from outside the diocese, Lafleur said.

During his tenure, Marchand had to make difficult decisions such as closing five parishes because many residents were moving out of the community and there was a decline in church attendance and vocations to the priesthood.

“Though we are in God's country, a lot of people don't want to come up here,” he said.

“When he had to make really difficult decisions, like closing parishes, that really troubled him.”

Lafleur knew Marchand for 24 years.

“He was a very humble man, very soft spoken and faith-filled,” he said.

Marchand, a Montfortain priest, was on vacation at his religious community's summer camp in the Gatineau, Que. area. He loved nature and the outdoors which was “one of his favourite places to be,” noted Lafleur.

On July 23, Marchand celebrated morning Mass, had breakfast and returned to his room. Lafleur said when the bishop didn't show up at lunch, some people went to check on him and discovered he had passed away in his room.

The wake for Bishop Marchand will take place on July 28 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Cathedral in Timmins. Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast will preside at the funeral Mass scheduled for 1t0 a.m. at the St. Anthony of Padua Cathedral. Alexandria-Cornwall Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher will be the homilist.

Bishop Marchand was born on April 17, 1937 at Lafontaine, Ont., near Georgian Bay.

He attended the college of the Montford Fathers in Papineauville, Que. Ordained a priest on March 17, 1962, he studied pastoral theology at St. Paul's University and the University of Montreal and sacred scriptures at the University of Montreal.

Bishop Marchand was involved in preaching parish retreats and was director of the Centre for Christian Renewal in Drummondville, Que. In 1990, he was appointed Provincial Superior of the Montfort Fathers of Canada. The late Pope John Paul II appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa in 1993.

Bishop Marchand was appointed Bishop of Timmins on March 8, 1999.

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