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February 19. 2014 3:30PM

Friends of Archbishop Lacroix are en route to Vatican for his installation as cardinal


GERALD LACROIX 

BERLIN — Like many North Country residents, the Rev. Andrew K. Nelson is taking a trip to warmer climes.

But instead of a beach-side resort, he and a delegation of Roman Catholic clergymen are off to Rome to watch a friend installed as Canada’s third cardinal, the first raised in New Hampshire.

Last month, Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals, including Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, archbishop of Quebec, all of whom will be installed into the College of Cardinals at a Vatican consistory on Saturday.

A native of Saint-Hilaire de Dorset, a town about 200 miles east of Montreal, Lacroix has been Quebec’s archbishop since 2011. Born in Canada, Lacroix moved with his family to Manchester when he was 8 years old.

Lacroix grew up as a parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua in Manchester and attended the parish elementary school there. His parents still live in the Queen City, and during his regular visits to see them, Lacroix often celebrates Mass at St. Anthony.

A 1975 graduate of Trinity High School of Manchester, Lacroix studied at St. Anselm College in Goffstown before returning to Quebec to prepare for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1988, appointed an auxiliary bishop of Quebec in 2009 and, two years later, appointed archbishop of Quebec by Pope Benedict.

Nelson, who graduated from St. Anselm and later taught at Trinity before entering the priesthood, is currently the vicar at Good Shepherd and Holy Family parishes in Berlin and Gorham.

He has covered and written about special religious events for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

On Wednesday morning, Nelson, accompanied by the Rev. Fr. Richard Dion, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church, and others, was westbound from Berlin to Quebec, where the group will take a plane to Paris and, from there, to Rome.

During an en-route telephone interview, Nelson and Dion said it was an honor to have been invited by Lacroix to his installation, with Dion using a football metaphor to describe the event.

“Someone asked us, not too long ago, how we felt as priests, and the perfect analogy is, at the end of the day it’s the Vatican. This is the Super Bowl, and we’re at the 50-yard line,” Dion said. “It’s an incredible thing to witness and celebrate.”

Nelson called Lacroix a “very inspirational man” who has a “great sense of faith and is particularly committed to evangelization in the church.”

Lacroix, he added, is a “hometown guy who’s done great things and is being called” to do even greater ones.

Dion said Lacroix was “authentic” and a man without pretense “who invites people into his world.”

In that way, Nelson added, Lacroix is much like Pope Francis.

Lacroix is scheduled to be in Manchester on March 22, when, as a cardinal, he will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Anthony Church. Dion said while the date is tentative, the celebration is also pretty firm.

“The whole thing is very exciting,” Nelson said of his friend’s ascension to cardinal. “He has a very big and loving family, and just to tell how he got where he is, is very inspirational.”

Lacroix’s “whole affect is reaching out,” Nelson added, “and perhaps that might be the reason why the Holy Father elevated him.”


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