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"The return to God of Bishop Guy Gaucher," by Jacques Gauthier

head shot of Bishop Gaucher, in color

 Bishop Guy Gaucher, who died on Thursday, July 3, was an authority on St. Therese of Lisieux and is best known to English speakers as the author of The Story of a Life: Saint Therese of Lisieux (Harper and Row, 1993), a truly invaluable companion to St. Therese's own Story of a Soul.  See other books in English by Guy Gaucher.  

 “I am not dying; I am entering into life,” wrote Thérèse of Lisieux a few weeks before her death in Carmel on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. Her dear friend, Bishop Guy Gaucher, went to join her on July 3, 2014, at the age of 84 years. The phrase “All is grace” perhaps expresses best the desire of these two souls as they greet each other in the love of Christ.

“All is grace!” It was reading these words at the end of Diary of a Country Priest, by novelist Georges Bernanos, that guided the young Guy Gaucher, aged 18, toward Thérèse. He would become an authority on both subjects, even preaching a retreat in a Carmel in 2004 on the affinities between the great Georges and Thérèse (“All is grace,” Cerf, 2009). Bernanos might have quoted these words of Thérèse, his spiritual master, but Guy Gaucher found in them the beautiful flower of his life. When he sought the source of the text, he discovered the true face of Thérèse and her spirituality based on trust, mercy, and hope. From that day he never left Thérèse.

Ordained at age 33 in 1963, Bishop Gaucher was professed in the Order of Discalced Carmelites on October 3, 1968. When he was appointed Bishop of Meaux in 1986, the change from the life of a contemplative religious to that of an active bishop was a trial. A few months later, he rediscovered his beloved Thérèse when he became auxiliary bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux until 2005, when he reached the age limit. He was a member of the team that published the New Centenary Edition of Thérèse’s writings. Bishop Gaucher devoted all his energy to making known the life and writings of St. Thérèse, who was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997. In 2010, Bishop Gaucher published a definitive biography of Thérèse (Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux: Biographie, 1873-1897.  Cerf, 2010), containing more than 700 pages.

The friends of our friends often become our friends. So it was through Thérèse that I met Bishop Gaucher. I visited with him several times in Lisieux, together with my wife and his faithful secretary, Sister Monique-Marie, who accompanied him until the end of his life. I remember his good nature, his simplicity, his sense of history. Quiet and with a subtle sense of humor, he loved playing the piano, inviting friends out for crepes, making notes in a small notebook, and sharing his experiences as he traveled around France with the reliquary of Thérèse.

Bishop Gaucher also visited Quebec several times. He was there in 2001, during the pilgrimage of the relics of Thérèse in Canada. He writes in the journal Thérèse of Lisieux in January 2002: “Once again, I saw with my own eyes, always astonished that I was seeing the same sight again in a completely different context-- Moscow, New York, Manila, Rome, Belgium: the crowds that come from who knows where, who wait in silence, in prayer before the reliquary, confessing their sins, listening to the Thérèsian teaching. All these families, the disabled, children, the elderly, all these friends of Thérèse who have a secret relationship with her, some of whom had not set foot in a church for decades …”

Guy Gaucher had the look of a child who would “sing God’s mercies” with Thérèse. He wrote the foreword to my book Thérèse of Lisieux, A Hope for Families, revealing my love for the saint which, in fact, reflected his own: “I have seen in this book that love for the young Carmelite of Lisieux comes alive.”

Dear Guy, I hope you are now with Christ, St. Thérèse, her Blessed parents Louis and Zelie Martin, and all the others, so many brothers and sisters of the same Father. You have not left; you have arrived. You have not died; you have entered into life. On this day, July 3, Thérèse confided in her last conversations that with her death “I will do all that I please.”  I hope that, like Thérèse, you will spend your Heaven doing good on earth.

I remember presenting a program with you on Thérèse for Radio Ville-Marie in Montreal. Toward the end, the facilitator asked for a sentence that summarized the Patroness of the Missions. I read this excerpt from one of her letters: “It is confidence, nothing but confidence and trust, that will lead us to love.” You chose this amazing sentence said by Thérèse on July 13, 1897, and it reveals something of your life also: “The Good Lord will do all my will in heaven, because I've never done my own will while on earth.”

The funeral of Bishop Gaucher will be celebrated in the Basilica of St. Thérèse in Lisieux on Thursday, July 10, at 3:00 p.m. The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Boulanger, bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux. The homily will be given by Carmelite Father François-Marie Léthel.

This article was translated by Mary Davidson, OCDS.  I thank her for translating it and Jacques Gauthier for his generous permission to translate and republish his tribute to Bishop Gaucher.  Please see this article in French (Retour à Dieu de Mgr Guy Gaucher) at his blog, Le blogue du Jacques Gauthier.

About Jacques Gauthier:

Jacques Gauthier, longtime professor at the University of St. Paul at Ottawa, now dedicates himself to writing and to giving conferences in France and in Quebec.  He has written many books, including eight books about St. Therese.  His two books about her that have been translated into English appear below.







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Reader Comments (1)

God rest his soul. His books were of tremendous help to many people. May Therese welcome him into paradise.

July 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSr. Dorcee

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