The friars of St. Albert the Great Province (Central, USA) have been on pins and needles the past six days, as the delegates to the provincial chapter convened and discussed, among other important items, who ought to be our new prior provincial. Fr. Michael Mascari, OP served our province well these past eight years, but his term ended last Thursday. In fact, one of his last acts as prior provincial was to receive my vows in place of Fr. Bruno Cadore, OP, Master of the Order. Michael's term will be remembered for many things, most notably moving our Bolivian vicariate closer to its merger with the German Bolivian vicariate, and spearheading the purchase of the former Loretto Academy in St. Louis to be the new home of the House of Studies (studentate) for the Central and Southern provinces.
The process for voting on the new prior provincial is necessarily a prayerful and slow one. The friars at the chapter celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, asking for the Spirit's guidance on all aspects of the chapter. They also had plenty of silent time for reflection. Eventually, they gathered to discuss possible candidates, and once a fair number of candidates was agreed upon, the friars in question were brought in for interviews. This morning the delegates voted. Their pick was Fr. Charlie Bouchard, OP. I celebrate their pick, as my impression of my brother Charlie is that he is a hardworking, wise man. He brings energy and vision to everything he does, especially his preaching, which I have enjoyed several times while attending Mass at St. Francis Xavier College Church, the campus parish for the University of St. Louis.
One of Fr. Charlie's most important contributions to the province already has been the time he served as president of Aquinas Institute of Theology, a position now held by Fr. Richard Peddicord, OP. As president, Fr. Charlie oversaw the purchase of a new building for our school of theology and worked hard to establish AI as a well known institution of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Our new prior provincial faces many challenges, as do all of the men and women who have leadership ministries in the Church today. In particular, St. Albert's province has a growing number of older friars in need of medical care, and a growing number of younger friars in need of education. The friars in active ministry, too, have needs,--a sizable family of brothers to care for, indeed. He also has the new cost of a renovation project to work on, negotiations in Bolivia to participate in, as well as the continued need to proclaim the Word of God.
Please join me in praying for Fr. Charlie Bouchard, OP, as he begins the ministry of prior provincial. May the Holy Spirit who inspired the brothers to elect him, stay with him as friend and guide. Please also pray for the continued work of the provincial chapter, as it works to establish the vision for the province in the coming years.
Br. Paul, OP