[Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall website]
Ottawa – The Most Reverend Eugène Philippe LaRocque, Bishop Emeritus of Alexandria-Cornwall, Ontario, died on 16 December 2018 in Windsor, Ontario at the age of 91. After 28 years as the Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, he had submitted his resignation to the Holy Father upon reaching the age of 75, as required by the Code of Canon Law, and which was accepted on 26 April 2002.
Bishop LaRocque was born on 3 March 1927 in Windsor, Ontario. Following his formation at St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of London on 7 June 1952. Following his ordination, he served as assistant pastor in the parish of St. Theresa in Windsor from 1952 to 1954. He pursued further studies and obtained a Maîtrise en lettres françaises from Université Laval in 1956. He returned to Ontario where he became the registrar and counsellor for student affairs at King’s College in London, Ontario (1956-1964) and spiritual director for St. Peter’s Seminary (1964-65). It was also during 1964-65 that he served as chaplain for university students participating in two projects in Mexico with the Conference on Inter-American Student Projects (CIASP). He returned to King’s College in 1965 in the capacity of Dean, a position which he held for three years until 1968. From 1968 until 1974, he was pastor for two bilingual parishes in the Windsor region during which time he became President of what was then the National Federation of Senates of Priests (1972-1974) and was also an elected member of the Commission des écoles séparées du Comté d’Essex (1972-1974). On 24 June 1974, he was appointed Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall and ordained Bishop at Tecumseh, Ontario, by Bishop (later Cardinal) Emmett Carter on 3 September 1974.
During his tenure in Alexandria-Cornwall, Bishop LaRocque spent 10 years as the Chaplain for the Ontario chapter of the Knights of Columbus (1977-1987), and he also served as the Vice President (1987-1993) and President (1993-1997) of what is today the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO).
As a member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Bishop LaRocque was a delegate on the Jewish-Christian Dialogue in 1974 and later became the first President (1977-1994) of the Canadian Christian Jewish Consultation, a liaison committee involving the (former) Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canadian Council of Churches and the CCCB. In addition, he served as a member of the then Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism (1974-1987), and as Bishop ponens for the Canadian Association of the Knights of Columbus (1979-1989). From 1987 to 1989, Bishop LaRocque was a member of the CCCB’s Permanent Council as a representative for the French Sector. He also served as a member of the French Sector Episcopal Commission for Liturgy, 1989-1992, and the former Pro-Life Committee, 1991-1994.
The visitation will be held at Ste. Anne’s parish, Tecumseh, Ontario on Tuesday, 18 December from 2:00 to 5:00 pm and from 7:00 to 9:00 pm and on Wednesday, 19 December from 1:00 pm until shortly before the funeral Mass at 2 pm. Vigil prayers will be Tuesday, 18 December at 8 pm. The Most Reverend Bishop Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B., Bishop of London, will preside at the funeral Mass on Wednesday, 19 December at 2:00 pm at Ste. Anne’s parish in Tecumseh.
The Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall will also hold a funeral Mass for Bishop LaRocque. The body will lie in state at the Co-Cathedral of the Nativity of Mary, Cornwall, Ontario, on Friday 21 December from 7:00 to 9:00 pm with a Liturgy of Welcome at 7:00 pm. The Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of Ottawa and Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall will preside at the funeral Mass, with The Most Reverend Luc Bouchard, Bishop of Trois-Rivières, as the homilist, on Saturday, 22 December at 11:00 am at the Co-Cathedral of the Nativity of Mary in Cornwall.
Last Updated on Tuesday, December 18 2018
Death of Bishop Eugene LaRocque, Bishop Emeritus of Alexandria-Cornwall
December 17, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2018
Most Reverend Eugène Philippe LaRocque
March 27, 1927 – December 16, 2018
Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall 1974 – 2002
The Most Reverend Eugène Philippe LaRocque, Emeritus Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall, after a long and generous life in the service of the Gospel, died on Sunday, December 16, 2018. Bishop LaRocque was born in 1927 in Windsor, Ontario, one of five children of Eugène J. LaRocque and Angeline Monforton. He remained proud of and attached to his Windsor roots, and in fact retired to the area.
Following his elementary and secondary school studies, Bishop LaRocque entered St. Peter’s Seminary in 1945. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1952. He later did graduate studies at Toronto’s St. Michael’s College and Laval University where he obtained his Masters in French. He then served as registrar for the King’s College of the University of Western Ontario where he also taught French and religion.
On September 3, 1974, he was ordained a bishop by his Excellency Emmett Carter, for the Diocese of Alexandria, as it was then known. He became the Diocese’s sixth bishop.
During his 27 plus years as bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall, Bishop LaRocque oversaw the accomplishment of numerous projects and events. While Bishop Adolphe Proulx can be credited with initiating Synod ‘72, it was largely left to Bishop LaRocque to implement the approximately 100 resolutions of the Synod. Almost 20 years later, on the advice of his council of priests, he once again convened a diocesan synod, EKKLESIA 2000. The synod extended over three years and involved thousands of parishioners.
In 1976, under Bishop LaRocque, Cornwall was added to the name of the Diocese. At the same time, the Holy See approved the raising of La Nativité to the rank of Co-Cathedral.
An important role of a bishop and one that was near and dear to Bishop LaRocque’s heart, was the promotion of vocations. He always encouraged young people to consider the priesthood and religious life, even during his retirement years he continued to visit and support our seminarians. During his tenure as bishop, Bishop LaRocque ordained seven priests. He also welcomed the Legionaries of Christ, who established a novitiate in Summerstown and who worked in the Diocese for 20 years.
Another significant part of the clergy is that of permanent deacons and it was Bishop LaRocque who instituted the diocese’s program for the permanent diaconate, a program that continues to bear fruit today. He himself ordained 12 men as permanent deacons for the Diocese.
In speaking about his own vocation, Bishop LaRocque once stated, “To be aware that one has been chosen to serve the Lord by being at the service of his brothers and sisters, especially those most in need, gives great purpose and fulfillment to my life as a priest and bishop.”
One of the most important tasks of a bishop is to confirm the many young people in his charge. Bishop LaRocque always made it a priority to meet all the families as well as the hundreds of children being confirmed prior to confirmations. With respect to young people, he was also a strong supporter of the Journey to the Father Conferences which took place each summer in St. Raphael’s.
Under Bishop LaRocque, the Diocese was active in promoting the treatment and education program on drugs and alcohol by providing the building (the former Bishop’s Residence in St Raphael’s) for the Mount Carmel Treatment Centre and in encouraging both financial and spiritual help. He recruited Sr. Jeannine Bissonnette and Sr. Georgette Thibault to establish the Shalom Retreat House, likewise located in St. Raphael’s, and which continues to operate today, though out of Alexandria.
Bishop LaRocque was a vocal proponent of extending full funding to Ontario’s separate schools, something that was achieved in 1984. He strongly encouraged the establishment of St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School in Cornwall.
In 1977, Bishop LaRocque became the State Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus of Ontario, a post he would hold for 10 years. That same year, he became the first chairman of the tripartite liaison committee between the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canadian Council of Churches and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He showed great interest in ecumenical dialogue and encouraged his clergy and lay people to be truly involved in ecumenism. From 1992 to 1994 he served as the president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.
Bishop LaRocque was a strong supporter of the Cornwall Children’s Treatment Centre, a cause that the Diocese continues to financially assist.
In his downtime, Bishop LaRocque was an avid gardener who especially loved his roses. He was a very good cook, often inviting his priests for summer BBQs. He was also a wonderful host, welcoming his parishioners to his home for his annual New Year’s Levy.
Unfortunately, his episcopate was not without some controversy and dark moments. During his last 10 years, the Diocese was faced with a number of allegations and lawsuits involving sexual abuse by some of the priests working in the Diocese. Bishop LaRocque participated fully in the Cornwall Public Inquiry, which helped to shed light on this tragic reality. Although the Diocese’s first protocol and the first committee for dealing with sex abuse allegations were begun during his tenure, the inquiry did find that there was still more work to be done. The recommendations of the inquiry have since been implemented in the Diocese.
At this time, funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.
The Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall is made up of the counties of Glengarry and Stormont and includes more than 56,000 Catholics, 26 parishes and 29 priests. The current bishop is His Excellency Terrence Prendergast assisted by an auxiliary bishop, Bishop-elect Guy Desrochers.
For further information please contact
Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall
613-933-1138, ext. 32 or 613-571-4282
This article has been edited from its original version for minor grammar and style errors.
The Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall said goodbye to a beloved bishop.
The Most Reverend Eugene LaRocque’s funeral mass was held at Nativity Co-Cathedral on Saturday.
“There will be no eulogy,” said Bishop Terrence Prendergast. “But I will read a letter from the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who send his condolences to the people of the diocese and offers them his papal blessings and prayers. And also from the bishop who is the president of the bishops’ assembly of Ontario who presided at the earlier funeral in Windsor, Ontario on Wednesday.”
Prendergast said LaRocque had been living in the Windsor area for the past 16 years and a funeral mass had been held for him there.
“There were four or five bishops there on Wednesday and a half a dozen bishops here today,” he said. “Also, there is a message from Bishop (Marcel) Damphousse, the former bishop before I came. He sends his condolences. The highways are snow covered in Northern Ontario and he can’t get down here.
“Bishop Derouchie, who succeeded Bishop LaRocque, is here as well and he is going to be one of the priests saying the Eucharistic prayers. There will be three interventions by Bishop Derouchie and Bishop O’Brien, the Archbishop of Kingston and the new bishop-elect, Bishop Keith Rocher, is here. Those are the bishops who are here as well as all the priests.”
Prendergast said he knew Bishop LaRocque personally.
“When I was in Toronto he was president of the Bishops’ Assembly of Ontario and he actually tried to recruit me for a position, but I said I don’t think so, I’m more suited to the classroom,” said Prendergast. “He accepted that. He was very much a supporter of mine. He wanted me to take the position with the Bishops’ Assembly but I thought I would rather teach, so a few years later I became a bishop and he said ‘Welcome to the group.’
“I don’t think he was entirely happy that the diocese was going to become a part of Ottawa in the next couple of years, but I called him and left him a message on his voicemail when the new bishop was appointed. I wanted him to be the first to know, but he was in the hospital.”
Prendergast said he was told LaRocque did get the message and he was happy.
“He died happy knowing a bishop was going to be living in Alexandria-Cornwall,” Prendergast said. “He was a very strong defender of Alexandria-Cornwall.”
Rev. Dan Delst said he was ordained by Bishop LaRocque in 2001.
“He was the bishop here for 27 years,” he said. “Most of my growing up life in that regard. He really tried to do his best for the diocese.”
Delst said LaRocque will be missed in the diocese.