Standing behind ‘Father Gates’

Share Button

Cornwall Standard Freeholder

Saturday, September 01, 2007 – 08:00

Elisabeth Johns

Local News – A number of Blessed Sacrament parishioners are standing by a priest in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against him.

Rev. Gaetan Deschamps has retired amidst an allegation he sexually abused a man several decades ago in the diocese of Prince Albert, Sask.

However, Deschamps has denied the allegation and has not been charged by either the Cornwall police or the Prince Albert police.

Originally from Cornwall

Deschamps, 76, who according to parishioners, is originally from Cornwall, moved to Prince Albert and worked in the region for 40 years after he was ordained in 1956.

Bud Guilbeault, a Eucharist minister with Blessed Sacrament, and his wife got to know Father Gates, as they affectionately called him, quite well in the five years he was with the Cornwall Catholic church.

Father Gates, Guilbeault said, was semi-retired when he moved back to his hometown to be closer to his family and was only called upon to preside over Blessed Sacrament because there weren’t enough priests.

“He was a very active, very hard-working person,” Guilbeault said.

He figured Deschamps spent about half of his time presiding over the church and the other half being involved in committees with the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese, including the marriage preparation course he taught.

“It’s just very unfair for someone to anonymously make complaints that aren’t corroborated,” Guilbeault said.

“I just can’t see any of that happening – I’ve know Father Gates for five years.”

Roy Lefebvre, a parishioner who has been going to the church since the late 1970s, said he feels he got to know Father Gates fairly well.

“He was unusually conscientious, and very sensitive to (our) concerns,” Lefebvre said. “He was a very dedicated priest.”

Judy Bergeron, who has been attending the church since 1973, met Father Gates after he was appointed to the ministry in 2001.

“He is very kind and generous and has shown empathy, especially towards the less fortunate in our area,” she said, adding that Deschamps helped her and many others through “very difficult” times in their lives.

‘Appalling’ situation

“It is appalling that an individual claiming anonymity can make serious accusations against another person without ever having made any formal complaint to our justice system,” she asserted.

The Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese issued the press release earlier this week advising the public that Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher had received notice of the allegation from the Bishop with the Prince Albert Diocese.

Durocher attested there have never been any complaints about Deschamps received by the Alexanria-Cornwall Diocese.

Deschamps complied with the wishes of the complainant and retired from all active ministry.

Leave a Reply