SARA FRANCIS, Cochrane Times
August 30, 2010
Committing to a life of no sex, no personal property and total obedience to God may sound daunting, but this is exactly what Jean-Pierre Ducharme and Billy Isenor plan to do at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cochrane on Friday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m. And everyone is welcome to attend.
The pair will make their solemn profession of vows to live a life of poverty, chastity and obedience to God as a Franciscan friar, becoming the newest addition to the Franciscan Friars of Western Canada. It is the same religious order that runs Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre on the outskirts of Cochrane overlooking the Big Hill Creek valley.
“There’s always a certain amount of freedom that comes with commitment. It’s going to be nice to be in a position where I know where I’m going to be for the rest of my life, at least in the sense of who I am,” said Ducharme.
As Franciscan friars “we’re so rooted in the Gospel. It’s the kind of commitment that stands the test of time. It’s the kind of thing that can be of relevance in every generation and I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than a person who lives out their life authentically.”
The 33-year-olds are welcome youthful additions to the Franciscan Friars of Western Canada, whose members average about 70-years-old.
For years the number of new members has dwindled, but this is a hopeful sign of change for Fr. Kevin Lynch, the friar superior of the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre.
“I think these men are saying, ‘Look, we’ve had a number of experiences in life and we think this is important, the gospel matters,”‘ said Lynch.
“It’s a sign that there is a faithfulness in God, in creation, in our own wills to try to be loyal to a cause or an issue. What’s the old cliché — if you don’t have something to die for, you have nothing to live for.”
Ducharme will spend this next year living at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre and working at St. Mary’s Parish once he is ordained a deacon in Edmonton on Sept. 11.
The decision to join a religious order, however, did not happen overnight for Ducharme. Raised in a Catholic family in Coquitlam, B.C., Ducharme has always looked for a way to stand out as the ninth of 11 children.
“I’ve always been a seeker and wanted to be countercultural,” said Ducharme.