Mgr. Jean-Marie Fortier 1968-1996
The sixth Bishop and the third Archbishop Mgr. Jean-Marie Fortier 1968-1996
Biographic record :
Born in the parish of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Québec City on 1 July 1920, Jean-Marie Fortier did his elementary studies in the Collège Saint-François-d’Assise and at the boarding school of Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague in Québec. After his studies at the Petit Séminaire de Québec and the Grand Séminaire de Québec, he was ordained priest on 16 June 1944 by cardinal Jean-Marie-Rodrigue Villeneuve in Notre-Dame de Québec cathedral. He has served for a year as Mgr. Albini Leblanc’s secretary in the diocese of Hearst, Ontario (1945-1946). From 1946 to 1950, he completed his studies in Rome and Louvain, after which he taught Church’s history at the Grand Séminaire de Québec (1950-1960) and then became its spiritual director (1955-1960). He was Vice Postulator for the beatification of Mgr. François de Laval (1952) and was a member of the Founders of the Canadian Church Committee. Named titular bishop of Pomaria and auxiliary of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière on 15 November 1960 by Pope John XXIII, he received the episcopal consecration on 23 January 1961. Paul VI named him bishop of Gaspé on 19 January 1965.
To the great regret of the Gaspé faithful, he was promoted sixth bishop and third archbishop of Sherbrooke on 20 April 1968 because of his « qualities of heart and mind ». He was enthroned on 19 May 1968 and remained archbishop of Sherbrooke for 28 years. He founded two parishes and saw to the twinning of many others. He restructured the Diocesan Office and initiated a Presbyterial Council, a Diocesan Pastoral Council and a College of Consultors. He set up Monseigneur Jean-Marie Fortier Foundation, in order to obtain funds for diocesan pastoral work. Due to his initiative, Sherbrooke is one of the first Quebec dioceses to have a Service for the condition of women in the Church. At the level of the universal Church, he was a member of the Pontifical Commission on social communications (1970-1975) and a member of the Holy Congregation for the Sacraments and the Divine Worship (1975-1984). He was president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (1973-1975). At the Assembly of Quebec Bishops, he occupied the following positions: president of the Episcopal Commitee for Social Communications (1976-1984); president of the Priorities Committee (1977-1984); president of the Assembly (1985-1989) and member of the Laity Committee. In 1990, the Quebec Knights of Columbus chose him as their State chaplain.
Being an «historian bent on going beyond accepted ideas», Mgr. Fortier was honoured several times for his involvement in the community and for his great knowledge. He was named, among other distinctions, Doctor «honoris causa» of Theology by Université Laval (1974) and Grand Estrien (1992). Emeritus archbishop of Sherbrooke, he retired in the archdiocese of Quebec on 1 July 1996. He made himself available to preach retreats, mainly to priests. He offered his services to parishes and dioceses throughout Quebec. He died in Quebec Hôtel-Dieu Hospital on 31 October 2002 and was buried in the crypt of the St. Michael Basilica-Cathedral.