Social Action

A Man with Dedication and Vision

As soon as he was appointed archbishop, Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte confidently and candidly shared his intentions as the leader of the Archdiocese of Montreal. He was aware of his ability to bring people together, which he wanted to use for the benefit of this benevolent and community-oriented Church.

After consulting with his team, he stated his episcopal and missionary priorities: encouraging youth, helping the poor, fostering multi-ethnicity, and promoting family life. He encouraged everyone to develop bold and creative ways of evangelizing.

From this discourse his motivation for becoming a priest emerged: a need for social involvement and a desire to help the most disadvantaged.

Preaching by Example

From a modest family of six children, the young Jean-Claude worked as a camp counsellor in summer camps of Catholic Action Movements. While in seminary formation, he would visit young prisoners at the former Juvenile Court, on Saint-Denis Street. In 1959, following his ordination, he became, at his request, curate in a working-class neighbourhood. He also became parish chaplain of the Young Christian Workers (YCW).

For the cardinal poverty is a tangible reality. A poor person is someone with a name and address, someone who lacks money, work, education, care, and human warmth, and often someone who does not have anyone to confide in.

"Nothing causes me more pain," he said, "than to see a human being treated with contempt and with disrespect1." He tries to alleviate this sentiment through his involvement with organizations such as La Maison du Père and l'Accueil Bonneau.

Sr. Nicole Fournier, who was the director general of l'Accueil for 22 years, spoke of his unfailing support: "When the cardinal joins a cause, he is devoted to it at all times. The cause of the homeless is far from glamorous. Many people are afraid of the homeless, but not the cardinal. Homeless people form an abandoned social class that is often the object of prejudice, and it is doubtless for this reason that he does so much for them."

Father Sylvio Michaud, former director of La Maison du Père, remembers the following: "On the evening of December 24, after presiding at the Mass, the cardinal distributed Christmas stockings to approximately one hundred of our residents. He had a kind word to say to each of them. He loved making them laugh, encouraging them with a message of hope, telling them that there are people to help them, to love them." Cardinal Turcotte has chosen, "Serving the Lord with Joy" as the motto of his coat of arms, and he can never resist putting this motto into practice.  

1. MAISONNEUVE, Pierre.  Jean-Claude Turcotte. L'homme derrière le cardinal, coll. "Les grandes entrevues Pierre Maisonneuve," Outremont: Novalis, 1998, p. 50. 



Comment by Helene | 2015-04-09

A man of the people and for the people, may God reward him with eternal peace !
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