Father Leon Gagnon
J Leon Gagnon
Ordained 17 June 1928, probably for the Diocese of Chatham, New Brunswick which would later be renamed Diocese of Bathurst. It is known that for most if not all of his priesthood he served in the Diocese of Chatham/Bathurst. In 2004, 90-year-old Elie Theriault confided to his family that, in 1931 at the age of 16, he had been molested by Gagnon.
It is difficult to list the names of bishops from the time of Gagnon’s ordination in what is now the Bathurst diocese. The communities in which Father Gagnon served have been subjected to boundary
changes several times, hence a boundary change could mean a change in diocese for a specific church. For example, the Diocese of Bathurst was once the Diocese of Chatham. Here is the history of the diocese: In 1860 portions of the Diocese of Saint John New Brunswick went to the newly erected Diocese of Chatham, New Brunwick. In 1936 portions of the Dioceses of St. John and Chatham went to the erection of the Archdiocese of Moncton. In 1938 the Diocese of Chatham was renamed the Diocese of Bathurst. In 1944 portions of the Diocese of Bathurst went to the newly erected Diocese of Edmunston, New Brunswick.
Gagnon was definitely answerable to Bishop Chaisson (Bishop of Chatham New Brunswick – renamed Bathurst in 1938). And Gagnon was definitely a priest with the Diocese of Bathurst from 1931 until his death in 1982. It would seem therefore that Father Leon Gagnon was probably ordained as priest for the Diocese of Chatham (renamed Bathurst) and remained a priest with the Diocese of Bathurst until his death in 1982.
Bishops of Bathurst Diocese from 1931 to 1985: Patrice Alexandre Chiasson, C.I.M. (09 September 1920 – 31 January 1942); Camille-André Le Blanc (25 Jul 1942 – 08 January 1969 ); Edgar Godin (09 June 1969 – 06 April 1985).
14 September 2012: Jean-Guy letter to the Editor in response to Archbishop Vienneau comments
15 January 2012: JG’s parent’s wedding picture
09 December 2010: Word document of Michel Bastarache letter to Jean Guy Theriault (the original French pdf file will be added later)
05 June 2010: Jean Guy Theriault letter to Michel Bastarache (French. Word document – can be translated)
05 June 2010: Jean Guy to Michel Bastarache (pdf)
Headstone on grave behind St. Andre Roman Catholic Church, Saint Andre, New Brunswick
Unless otherwise indicated the following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) of the same date which I have on hand, and the Letter to the Editor of Jean Guy Theriault and also information received from Jean-Guy (JGT)
1982: died (picture). Buried in cemetery behind St. Andre RC Church, St. Andre, New Brunswick ( this is in the vicinity of Grand Falls, New Brunswick)
1973-74: Pastor, Canadian Martyrs, Port Landry, New Brunswick( Bishop Edgar Godin) (CCCD)
1971-72: Pastor, St. Francis Xavier, Charlo, New Brunswick (Bishop Godin) (CCCD) (according to S. Mealey Gagnon was replaced by Father Chiasson in 1970)
1970: Retired in Balmoral, New Brunswick (JCD) (despite reports of retirment Gagnon was listed in both the 1971-72 and 1973-74 CCCDs. Barring errors in the CCCDs it would seem he was serving for at least a short time after 1970.)
1968-69: Pastor, St. Francis Xavier, Charlo, New Brunswick (Bishop Camille André Leblanc) (CCCD)
officiated at a wedding at St. Francis Xavier in Charlo, August 1969 (http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/m/c/i/Kristine-A-McIntyre/GENE2-0047.html)
1966-70: Charlo, New Brunswick (JCD)
“In late 1960, early 1970, a young man, 30 years old, working on a construction site near the presbytery of the Village of Charlo, N.B. , becomes intrigued by the constant flow of young children in and out of the priest’s residence and ask one of his co-workers what that is all about..??..”…the priest is a homosexual, he pays the poor kids for sexual favours, $10.00 at a time…”. The young man is so outraged that he informs some of the elders in the community and a decision is made to meet on a particular day and to travel to Bathurst to inform the Bishop. On the day in question, A. McI. and his wife are the only ones who show up. Nonetheless, they proceed to visit the then Bishop Godin, who argues about proof, about the seriousness of the accusations, about the good character of Leon Gagnon” (JGT) Gagnon is moved to Balmoral.
1967: pastor at St.Theresa RC Church in the Gloucester region (Robertville?) (Bishop Camille André Leblanc) (CCCD)
1963-66: Robertville, New Brunswick (JGT)
1963-65: Robertville, New Brunswick (http://www.theinquiry.ca/wordpress/charged/gagnon-father-leon-gagnon/comment-page-1/#comment-115280) (Reginald tells us that he was sexually abused by Gagnon in Robertville from 1963-65)
1953-63: St. Benoit RC Church, Balmoral, New Brunswick (JGT)
1959: Pastor, St. Benoit RC Church, Balmoral, New Brunswick (Index of priests gives address of Allardville, but the diocesan section of the CCCD lists him as pastor at St. Benoit) (Bishop Camille André Leblanc) (CCCD)
1944-1953: Allardville, New Brunswick (JGT)
1941: new parish of Beresford, New Brunswick (JGT)
1940-41: Drummond, New Brunswick (JGT)
1936 – 1940: Lameque, New Brunswick (JGT)
Gagnon was re-assigned to this church by Bishop Patrice Alexandre Chiasson. Chiasson was then Bishop of Chatham, hence the villages at the time fell within the boundaries of the Diocese of Chatham. In 1938 the Diocese of Chatham, New Brunswick was re-named the Diocese of Bathurst. There were no boundary changes involved in the renaming of the Diocese.
1931-35: Arsenault Siding (now St. Martin de Restigouche) (JGT)
– In 2004, 90-year-old Elie Theriault confided to his family that, in 1931 at the age of 16, he had been molested by Gagnon.
– “1935, three men, three Fathers of young boys, boarded a slow train in a small town in northern New Brunswick and traveled to Bishop Chiasson’s residence in Bathurst. They arrived late and were unceremoniously scolded and sent back on their way after reporting that Leon Gagnon, their priest since 1931, had been abusing several boys, their sons. The Bishop’s reply was to tell them that if they didn’t want this priest, they wouldn’t have any!!… The Parish of Saint-Martin de Restigouche did not again have a resident priest until 1948 ” (JGT)
“when he [Gagnon] was told of his removal from the said Parish in 1935, he directed the caretaker to ¨burn it all down!¨…The barn with three heads of cattle was burnt to the ground and another fire which had been started in the presbytery was discovered and put out by a neighbour…” (JGT)
– the village of Arsenault Siding underwent several name changes. Before 1931 it was known as Arsenault Siding. In 1931, around the time of the arrival of Leon Gagnon, it was renamed Saint Arthur. The new name created confusion because of the existence of another similarly named community. In 1936, the same year that Gagnon was relocated to Lameque, the village name was changed to Lauvriere, Then, in 1948 the village was re-named yet again and became Saint Martin Restigouche. The new priest, Thomas Beaulieu, was the first resident priest in the church since the Gagnon. (I have been told that Beaulieu was assigned by the Bishop of Edmunston, Marie-Antoine Roy. It seems then that, with the erection of the Edmunston Diocese in 1944, the village – at one time within the boundaries of the Diocese of Bathurst – was as of then within the boundaries of the new Diocese of Edmunston)
1931: Arsenault Siding/St-Martin de Restigouche (JGT)
– allegations of sex abuse by Elie Theriault (JGT)
1928-1931: Petit Rocher, N.B. (JGT)
17 June 1928: ORDAINED, Grand Sault, New Brunswick (JGT)
seminary at Holy Heart of Mary in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
studied at a college in Bathurst and University of St. Joseph College in Memramcook, New Brunswick
22 November 1900: born in St. Andre de Madawaska
Letter to the Editor of the Campbellton Tribune
from Jean Guy Theriault (the letter was published in its entirety)
11 December 2010
Letter to the editor:
In last weeks Tribune, dated 10 Dec 2010, a Mr. Bob Jensen is quite upset at the way the Catholic Church or the Bathurst Diocese is handling the abuse cases of children. Mr. Jensen I have some bad news for you; the Church is not interested in justice and certainly not in their moral responsibility which I now understand to have slipped from their collective conscience centuries ago.The Church is only interested in maintaining its control over the ¨flock¨.
I am just coming out of an eight(8) month ¨dialect¨with the Diocese over the abuse of my now deceased father. Elie THERIAULT, my father, was able to talk about the abuse which victimized him and our entire family from the time he was 16 years young. At 90 years old, in 2004, he told me for the first time that Father Leon Gagnon and another unnamed priest from Beresford had abused him. I am sparing you and my family the details! I can tell you that it happened at or about the end of July 1931 for the first time in the new parish of ¨St-Martin de Restigouche¨ My father witnessed that same priest’s physical abuse of a 6 year old orphan and he had good reasons to fear he was also sexually abused by Gagnon. There are stories of many others being abused by the same predator.
I could go on but I will simply say that the abuser, after he impregnated a young servant was simply transferred to a new parish, in Lamèque or on the island of Miscou. Later in the 1960’s the same priest was in Balmoral. The pattern has not changed over time because it worked so well!
Mr. Jensen, when Judge Bastarache’s assistant called me on the 02 dec past, he seemed genuinely happy to hear of my father’s passing! Yesterday I got an Email from Judge Bastarache telling me in a few words that the church’s legal responsibility ends with his passing.The church use to rely on divine right when dealing with the vulnerable or less educated … now they are seeking their own legal rights!
So my message I suppose is that the church will prolong and delay as long as possible and pray that the victims die off soon enough, as was evident in previous comments that came out of Brother André’s congregation when some of them were accused of abusing children.
The only way the Church will understand the scope of the damages their misguided lack of moral leadership has spawned will be at the ¨cash register¨, just like all the other businesses. With Christmas just next week, the Celebration of the Holy Birth of the ¨Messenger¨ I would encourage that all Catholics strongly think of staying away from church services that day or just bring a photo of their children to express their Love and Support for all the children who have ever gone through that physical and mental torture.They are the true victims in the image of the ¨Messenger ¨, not the Catholic Church.
My Father passed away on the 9th of July 2010. He wasn’t perfect but now I understand the damage. He did the best he could and deserves my respect, forever.
Mr. Jensen, I hope this will be helpful. I will not be in a Church on Christmas Day. I’ll pray and hope, reflect and cry with my children, that this never happens to another of the ¨small ones amongst us¨.