life’s transitions

Ray Roussin
Bishop Raymond Roussin, SM in Gravelbourg, SK

The optimist views life’s transitions as opportunities for character building, the metaphorical fires that purify gold. Sometimes, the transitions are overwhelming. We yearn for the boring days of “same old, same old”.

Life events have forced me to face inevitable transitions for over a year now. Some are glorious. Our family rejoiced as we welcomed two more beautiful grand-babies last summer.

We are also grieving the end of a child’s marriage and the pain and uncertainty that it brings when young children are involved.

We mourned the loss of David’s father, and journeyed with his mother and family through the difficulties of the first year without him.

After selling our practice to a wonderful young dentist, we have been mulling the big retirement question. What next?

Last month, we lost a dear mentor, and spiritual guide. Archbishop Raymond Roussin, SM has been a treasured friend for almost 40 years. His death marks the end of an era for many of us. I struggled to write a fitting tribute to him for the Prairie Messenger.

Sometimes we can control transitions, choosing when, where and how we choose new paths in life. Other times, especially with unexpected losses, all we can do is hope that the journey will eventually bring us to new truths and deeper wisdom.

12 thoughts on “life’s transitions

  1. Isabella, you have certainly had your share of “transitions” this year! Thanks for sharing. Helps all of us know how to navigate them with grace and dignity.

  2. It is surprising how much our choices and choosings are limited. So much simply “happens”. A lesson? Respect and appreciate those we have and the “how” of those we endure. Someone made the point that our grief is often the surprising revelation of how much we love. My paltry addition: grief mellows; love is who we are and presists if we want it to do so. Blessings….

  3. Thank you very much for this column on Ray. I knew him well. I was the Rector at St. Paul’s College when he volunteered to take over the chaplain’s role at the College, and subsequently worked with him closely while he was chaplain. I remember very well when he was appointed to Gravelbourg; he came into my office in tears and told me how he had tried to turn it down. He would have been much happier continuing as college chaplain – or going off to India where he hoped to work in a Marianist seminary there. The episcopal appointments were, in my view, too heavy a burden for his gentle and humble man.

    Richard Lebrun

  4. Oh, Richard….thank you so much for sharing this. It is so true that Ray had no desire for titles and promotions. When he was in Gravelbourg, he felt so uncomfortable being called by his episcopal title of “Monseigneur”. He shared many stories with us of his time at St. Paul’s, a time that he enjoyed so much! He had such a gift for relating with young adults. Thank you, again, for sharing your memories.

    P.S. I was a student at St. Paul’s College at the time I first met Ray, several years before he was chaplain.

  5. Isabella, it was so great meeting you and your husband, and your Marianist friend, Father William Meyer, at Bishop Ray’s funeral in Winnipeg. As I told you there, Bishop Ray was a light of hope for me when he made arrangements for his Marianist community in St. Louis to take care of my family while we were there for life saving surgery in 1997 for my youngest son, Braden, who was only three years old at the time. He is now twenty. Through Bishop’s Ray’s kindness, we were given shelter, food, a car to drive, and tons of prayerful support from the Marianists. As it turns out, I was heading to Winnipeg on the weekend of his funeral to celebrate the birth of my grandson who still hadn’t arrived yet when I chatted with you. He was born the next day. This gift of new life just seemed so appropriate as this baby’s uncle was the boy who was given his new lease on life in St. Louis. As I write this post, Braden would have just arrived in Winnipeg where he will now be seeing his nephew, Kai for the very first time. My family will be forever grateful for Bishop Ray’s kindness and the support of the Marianist community. I’ll never forget when he stopped by my office at St. Patrick School in Swift Current (where I was principal) presenting me with a personal cheque and instructions of who would be meeting my family at the airport in St. Louis. None of these favours were requested, but instead they were given freely because he saw a family in need. Isabella, that was an excellent tribute you wrote in the Prairie Messenger. As you said in your piece, Bishop Ray took his gospel call to heart. I know how close you were to him and how he will be forever missed by you and so many others. I will never listen to the hymn Shine Jesus Shine without thinking of him. What an appropriate and simple hymn to celebrate a life well lived! By the way, when you next see our mutual friend, Marianist Father, Tim Dwyer who befriended my family in St. Louis, please say hi from my wife Doreen, and my kids Genna (now age 30 and the mother of a three year old girl, Mayte), Trent (age 28 and the proud new dad of Kai), and Braden (age 20). When Father Tim last saw them they were just little kids. Please tell him I that my family thinks of him often. Blessings!

  6. Delmer, it was a blessing to finally meet in person. The connections within our international Marianist Family have always amazed me. We may not be large in numbers, but stories like yours show how small acts of kindness can spread across time and space. Marianists are known for their generous hospitality, and Ray truly had a Marianist heart. We first experienced this with our brothers in Winnipeg. Over the years, in my Marianist leadership roles, I’ve experienced the same warm hospitality in Marianist communities and homes around the world.

    I saw Fr. Tim in Cape May Point, New Jersey just days before Ray’s death. Wherever I went on Marianist travels, the brothers asked about Ray. He was much loved by so many. Thank you, Delmer, for sharing this story. And, many blessings on you and your growing family!

  7. Dear Isabella,
    After I read your article in Prairie Messenger, May 13, 2015, since I had some spear time, I decided to write to congratulate you. Thank you very much; I appreciate very much what you wrote about Raymond Roussin.

    Being a priest of the Saint Boniface Archdiocese, 3 months older than Raymond, I knew him quite well. I remember him saying to me, more than once, while preparing himself for his Episcopal Ordination, that “religious like him should not be call to the episcopate; that diocesan priest were more prepared for that type of responsibility.” It was his way to say how much courage it was asking on his part to accept the Pope request. Only in his faith could he finds the strength needed to say yes: “Fortes in Fides”.
    At the beginning of his stay at Foyer Valade, I had rich talks with him. I felt he was a courageous man to accept his situation like he did.
    At his funeral, mostly during the second reading in French, that fits him so well, I had a request to God through Raymond intercession: I was asking for a part of his courage. I was going through something difficult in my life and I felt Raymond could help me. His courage inspired me.
    Thank you again, Isabella, for honouring Raymond’s memory. I feel touch by what you wrote about him.

    (Fr.) Robert Campeau

  8. And I’m very touched with your beautiful memories, Fr. Robert! Thank you so much for sharing these with us all. I especially appreciate the following, “it was his way to say how much courage it was asking on his part to accept the Pope request.” In his humility, Raymond must have prayed mightily for this courage….and what a man of prayer he was. He always assured us of his prayers during difficult times – often with an unexpected and much welcomed card or letter. I still have many of these reminders tucked away in books and desk drawers. It brings much comfort and peace to know that he continues to pray for us in that glorious communion of saints.

    Thank you, again, for your beautiful words. May God’s blessings and peace be with you!

  9. Thank you for this wonderful sharing. I was disappointed that I was unable to be at +Ray’s funeral mass, but prayed with you all in spirit. He was a humble man and a wonderful brother; he’s now among the Saints, always our friend.

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