WINNIPEG (CCN) — Archbishop Raymond Roussin’s life of dedication, faith, struggle and hope is over. The retired archbishop of Vancouver died in Winnipeg April 24. He was 75. Roussin’s public struggle with clinical depression in 2006 earned him the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Voices Award for his efforts to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and advance the cause of mental health. But his life in Christ and in service to the church could never be defined by his illness.
Archbishop Roussin was just 18 years old in 1957 when he vowed poverty, chastity and obedience with the Society of Mary. Born in Winnipeg in 1939, he had been educated in the French Catholic schools of St. Boniface, Man. He went on to university studies in San Antonio, Texas, and St. Louis.
By 1970 he had obtained a licentiate in theology from the University of Fribourg, where he was ordained a priest.
As a teacher, a school administrator and a chaplain he worked in St. Louis, St. Anselme, Que., St. Boniface and Winnipeg, where he was chaplain to St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba.
Within his own Marianist community, Roussin was a trusted leader on the provincial council of the order, eventually serving as provincial superior from 1980 to 1987.
He was ordained bishop of Gravelbourg, Sask., in 1995. He became coadjutor, then bishop, of Victoria, B.C., in 1998. He led the Diocese of Vancouver as archbishop from 2004 to 2009.
After four months leave to deal with depression in 2006, Roussin returned to speak to his priests about drawing closer to Jesus.
“There is no doubt about it, this past year has been most difficult for me,” Roussin told a gathering of Vancouver priests on his return. “I have always preached the way of Christ, which ultimately brings us to his cross and resurrection. . . . These last months helped me enormously to refocus my life on Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ specifically present to all I live, to all we live.”
After his return in 2006 Roussin stepped back from administrative tasks to spend more time visiting parishes, schools and hospitals — to spend more time with Catholics of the archdiocese.
Roussin’s funeral was May 2 in Winnipeg, where the retired archbishop had been living with his sister, Lucille Lang.