On 30 January, I attended the episcopal ordination of our former General Minister, Br John Corriveau. Although the episcopal see is in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, the ordination took place in Kelowna in order to accommodate those coming from a distance.
The ordaining prelate was Archbishop Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Delegate for Canada. His homily drew extensively from the writings and biographies of St Francis, and at one point he urged John to bring his Franciscan joy to the pastoral care of the people of his diocese.
About 30 Capuchins from around the world braved the frigid Canadian winter to attend the ordination. Among them were 4 Capuchin bishops: Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver (USA), Joseph Oudeman, Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane (Australia), Luis Pepeu, Bishop of Afogados da Ingazeira (Brazil) and Andrés Stanovnik, Archbishop of Corrientes (Argentina). Also present were the provincial ministers of all the provinces of the United States and Canada, friars from Great Britain, Poland, Italy and, of course, many from his own Province of Central Canada. Four Friars Minor who minister in British Columbia were also in attendance, happy to welcome a bishop from the Franciscan family.
John's ordination was a bittersweet moment for me. Of course, I was happy that John's abilities were recognized by the Holy See. He will be a great bishop for the Diocese of Nelson. On the other hand, I was sad that the Order is losing John's energy, enthusiasm and creativity. The title of this post reflects my frustration that we have lost so much leadership in the Order to the episcopate. I don't want to be selfish, but, hey, we need strong leadership, too! I am reminded of the comment made by a friar of my province when our then-Provincial Minister, Charles Chaput, was named a bishop and shortly afterward I was assigned to work in the General Curia. He complained about Rome "reaching in" and taking the good friars, then added, "And what are we left with? Excrement!" (not the actual word he used). I'm sure it's not as bad as that, but you get the point. As an Order that emphasizes its obedience to the Holy Father, clearly John could not have refused the Holy See's request.
In case you are interested, Nelson is a town of about 10,000 people. It has a small airport nearby and few hotels, but was until recently one of the more historical and important towns in the area due to mining for gold and other metals in the area. As the importance of mining wained, Kelowna overtook Nelson in terms of population and importance, with people being drawn there by viticulture and tourism. Kelowna is a 350 kilometer (215 mile) drive from Nelson.