The departure of a “spiritual father”

News 4 February, 2018
  • Photo Annie T. Roussel
    Hundreds of people came to greet Archbishop Maurice Couture, who was exposed lying in state in church all day Sunday. Above, cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix shakes the hand of a faithful coming to pay tribute to the deceased.

    Arnaud Koenig-Soutière

    Sunday 4 February 2018 22:55

    Sunday 4 February 2018 22:55

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    They have been hundreds to scroll to the church of Sainte-Angèle-de-Saint-Malo, in Saint-Sauveur, on Sunday, to pay tribute to Archbishop Maurice Couture, who died on the 19th of January last at the age of 91 years. A man described as being genuine, good communicator, generous, but above all a bright spirit, and near his community.

    “He leaves us the testimony of a man nearby. If you knew the number of people who have told me that they considered him as a friend, a mentor and a father. It is almost nine out of ten people “, says cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, a few steps from a long line of faithful waiting to say goodbye to the man of the Church.

    The archbishop of Quebec for 12 years, Monsignor Maurice Couture was a man simple and accessible in spite of his high ecclesiastical function.

    “He was a passionate man, and always there when there were events, good or bad. He was like a father to us. What I really liked of him is that he always had the capacity to be indignant, even in its 90 years, ” says his niece Colette Sewing.

    Photo Jean-Francois Desgagnes

    Archbishop Maurice Couture

    “Apartheid social “

    Throughout his life, Archbishop Couture has devoted himself body and soul to the cause of the poor. Was also one of his last wishes to be exposed in the church of Saint-Malo, in Saint-Sauveur, a neighborhood where he has worked closely with several community organizations.

    This desire to bring to the defense of poor people do not stop at nothing. In 1997, he wrote that” to be poor “in an affluent society such as ours was” a kind of apartheid social “. A choice of word that had irritated the prime minister of the time, Lucien Bouchard, who had invited him to weigh his words.

    “These words were carefully chosen and highlighted,” recalls today Jacques Côté, a close friend who has worked for eight years at Archbishop Couture as a personal secretary and press attaché.

    “Two words kept coming in his way of thinking : sharing and solidarity “, said Mr. Côté.


    Archbishop Maurice Couture was not his 91-year-old, both of body as of mind. A few days before his death, he remained still well-informed, thumbing through his journal. It was “a critical social very discerning,” says Jacques Côté.

    And for cause, Monsignor Maurice Couture was a prominent progressive. Ear to the issues of the poor, he also advocated for an expanded role for women within the Church and for the men of the Church can marry.

    “He saw the importance of putting in position of responsibilities of men and lay women. It took courage, and we are pursuing this route, ” says the cardinal.

    A last farewell to him will be made today, then that will be celebrated his funeral at the cathedral-basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec. The ceremony will be held from 14 p.m. and will be webcast on the website of the catholic Church of Quebec.


    1926 : Born on November 3 in Saint-Pierre-de-Broughton (Chaudière-Appalaches).

    1951 : Ordained a priest in the religious of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

    1965 to 1970 : President founder of the Seminary community of Cap-Rouge

    1982 : Appointed auxiliary bishop of Quebec, and appointed bishop of Baie-Comeau, quebec, in 1988.

    1990 : Promoted to archbishop of Quebec.

    1993 to 1995 : President of the Assembly of bishops of Quebec

    2007 : Winner of the prix Fernand-Dumont, awarded to a person who has contributed to the updating of the christian faith, or the understanding of religious pluralism and spiritual in Quebec.

    A particular link

    It was in 1988. While he was titular bishop of Talattula and auxiliary of Quebec, this is Archbishop Maurice Couture that the task of ordaining a priest a young man of 31 years, Gerald Cyprien Lacroix. Since then, a special bond has united the two men.

    “It was truly a spiritual father to me. A man for whom I had an admiration without terminals. I admired him and I learned it by watching live. It was pleasure to watch it live, ” says the one who, 30 years later, has the title of cardinal-priest and archbishop of Quebec.

    Unforgettable encounter

    Parishioners will remain marked by moments in which they had been associated with Archbishop Couture. Huguette and Raynald, met Sunday on the occasion of the chapel ardente, have not forgotten the confirmation of their daughter, Nathalie, at the end of the 1980s, during which time they have rubbed shoulders with Archbishop Maurice Couture.

    “I was in the committee, and he had come to the meetings. It had touched me, “remembers Huguette, who has been marked by “great simplicity” of the man of the Church.

    “We accepted it as it was. We were not embarrassed to talk to him, and he was comfortable, ” adds her partner Raynald.

    “Sometimes, I touched his coffin. We had some things this week and I have just entrusted to it sometimes. I asked him if he could go with it and deal with it. It was a special being, ” says Huguette.