Today in Canada we celebrate Blessed Louis-Zepherin Moreau, (1824 – 1901) an exemplary bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe in Quebec. Born rather sickly and undersized to a large Quebecois farming family, he dedicated himself to studies and eventually to the priesthood, enduring many vicissitudes. Due to his continuing ill-health, it was recommended to Louis that he was just not cut out for the priesthood, but he persevered. Bishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal took him into private studies, with his coadjutor, Bishop Jean-Charles Prince, and Louis-Zepherin was eventually ordained a priest on December 19th, 1846. He proved himself faithful, steadfast and solicitous in his ministry, dedicated to his flock, unsparing of himself, and was chosen bishop by Pius IX in 1875, consecrated January 16, 1876.
For the next quarter century he was the mainstay in the formation and guidance of his flock: as one historian put it, Bishop Moreau’s diocese was renowned for “the saintliness and happiness of his priests, the close and fraternal relations he maintained with them, his sense of collegiality, the community life that he was able to foster in his diocese between bishop, priests, religious, and laity, . . . the extraordinary impetus he gave to ecclesiastical studies among both his seminarists and his priests.”
Bishop Moreau also founded two religious orders to further the spiritual work of the diocese, the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Sisters of Saint Martha. After 25 years of episcopal ministry, he went to his eternal reward on this day, May 24th, 1901 and beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II on May 10th, 1987.
Quebec is no longer what it once was, but Bishop Moreau is a beacon of hope, that what once was may one day, in some way, be again. At the least, he provides an example and intercessor for the current members of our Canadian episcopacy, and all of us would do well to follow his lead.
As an aside, someone pointed out to me that the parish just outside of Quebec City given to the Fraternity of Saint Peter, dedicated to the usus antiquior and the Church’s traditional liturgy, is under his patronage. Hmm. A pilgrimage may soon be in the offing.
Blessed Louis Moreau, ora pro nobis!