July 14, 2023
Message to the Clergy, Religious Communities, and Catholic Faithful of the Diocese of Pembroke
Dear Brother Priests and Deacons,
Members of Religious Communities,
and Catholic Faithful,
On June 26, the first day of a planned short vacation, I received an unexpected call from the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Jurković. He informed me that Pope Francis had appointed me as the new Archbishop of Moncton. This news came as a great surprise, considering my relatively short time as the shepherd of the Diocese of Pembroke, which spans only three years. On that day, I recognized that the Lord, in His divine providence, had been mysteriously preparing me for this significant turning point in my life. Allow me to share an excerpt from the beginning of the first reading, which I read on June 26: “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land I will show you.’ ”
With faith and gratitude, I embraced this appointment, albeit with a tinge of sadness in my heart. Why? Because suddenly, I realized the ramifications of this unforeseen move: parting with the fellow priests and deacons whom I have grown to know and appreciate, as well as the faithful and friends with whom I have forged deeper connections during diocesan activities and social events; moving far away from my elderly mother, who has lost her autonomy and lives within a two-hour distance from my home, along with my nearby brothers and relatives; leaving the diocese amid our joint efforts and initiatives to establish firmly the new evangelization project we embarked on shortly after my arrival; and so on.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that by the time I relocate to the Archdiocese of Moncton, I will have moved six times within a relatively short span of five years.
Now, some might perceive my words as a lengthy complaint or an expression of difficulty in accepting this new change and challenge in my life. I assure you that this is not the case. I merely wish to present myself as I am, with my strengths and weaknesses, human frailties, and the gifts that the Lord has bestowed upon me, and that I wish to share with those whom the Lord places on my path.
Throughout the past three years, I have consistently emphasized the importance of evangelization, as you have likely observed on numerous occasions. This emphasis arises not only from Pope Francis’ exhortations, in which he consistently underscores the necessity for every pastor and Catholic to collaborate in the task of evangelization entrusted by Christ to His entire Church, but also from my personal experience of conversion at the age of 24. Since then, I have been driven by a sense of urgency to evangelize those outside the Church, those who, like me during my teenage years, have lost their faith, and those who have strayed from religious practice due to ignorance or various wounds.
Some of you are undoubtedly very disappointed to learn that after only three years, your Bishop must leave his flock. It pains me to say how sorry I am for this inconvenience, which some of you may find hard to comprehend. But always remember that the Lord’s ways are mysterious. If it is indeed He who calls me to venture into the unknown, He will also provide—perhaps by granting you a Bishop who is better or holier than I am, capable of guiding you on your spiritual journey.
How long will you be without a Bishop? Only God knows. Nevertheless, I can assure you that the process is already underway, which is a very positive sign. Concerning our ongoing Evangelization Project, which stands firmly upon a foundation of prayer and is supported by new initiatives that have already proven their worth, rest assured that it will continue. For the true leader and Bishop of the diocese is none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. When the Holy Father repeatedly stresses the importance of our collaboration in the work of evangelization, it is because the Lord Himself inspires him and urges him to remind us all, so that this reality remains ingrained in the depths of our souls. So, I stress once again: all the faithful must take part, according to their own unique talents and in their own way, in the work of evangelization, which simply entails making God known, loved, and served through every possible means.
Dear friends, the next few months will serve as a preparation period for my installation in the Archdiocese of Moncton. I will soon provide you with more details regarding the specific day and time of my official installation at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption in Moncton. In the meantime, please know that my prayers are with you, and I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to meet and celebrate with you during this significant ecclesial event, which is scheduled to take place within the next three months.
I assure you of my prayers and fraternal support. Please be aware that I am already praying for your new Bishop. May he be a man of God and a friend to all. May he be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit and receive the grace of apostolic zeal, enabling him to effectively share his zeal with everyone he encounters during his time here in the Diocese of Pembroke and throughout his years of ministry as a successor to the Apostles.
Even from a distance, dear fellow priests, religious men and women, faithful lay Catholics of the Diocese of Pembroke, and our brothers and sisters from other Christian denominations within our territory, I continue to hold all of you in my heart. Furthermore, I pray that each and every one of you will be blessed with the grace to be united one day in heaven, where true and abundant life will be eternally granted to us.
Receive my blessing †
+ Guy Desrochers, C.Ss.R.
Administrator of the Diocese of Pembroke, Archbishop-designate of Moncton