Sunday, March 18, 2018

Archbishop-elect Jose Bettencourt's Arms and Motto Interpreted

Coat of Arms of Archbishop José Avelino Bettencourt


At the focal point of the arms is a triple, inlaid eight-pointed star in the shape of a Greek cross, which recalls the words of Saint Paul in the Letter to the Philippians: “You will shine among them like stars in the sky, as you hold firmly to the word of life” (2:15-16).

The threefold star evokes the Church’s faith in the Triune God, as expressed in the ancient Nicene Creed.  Its cross-like shape alludes to the mystery of our salvation in Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, while the third inlay represents the Holy Spirit, Patron of the Azoreans.  The eight points of the star refer to Mary, the Mother of God, and to the mystery of the Incarnation.  Mary is present as Mother of the Church and Patroness of Lusitania (Terra Mariae), also invoked since the seventeenth century as “Our Lady of the Bettencourts”.

The chevron is the heraldic symbol of Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Patron of Canada and the Archdiocese of Ottawa, as well as the Archbishop’s namesake.

A black lion, the symbol of courage, rampant on an argent shield, is from the arms of the first Bettencourt to be granted this distinction in the later part of the first millennium.  It is found among the seventy-two shields in the Hall of the Coats of Arms in the National Palace of Sintra (Portugal), and appears etched in basalt over the house of the same name in Angra do Heroismo (Azores). 

The two lions on the chevron allude to the two branches of the Bettencourt genealogy united by the marriage of the Archbishop’s parents (Silveira Bettencourt and Soares Bettencourt).

The Latin motto – FIDES SPES CHARITAS – is drawn from the conclusion of Saint Paul’s hymn to love in the First Letter to the Corinthians:  Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (13:13).   The deep red colour of the shield symbolizes love, strength and faithful service, while the scroll contains the armorial bearings of four of the various distinctions conferred on Archbishop Bettencourt: Commander of the Military Order of Christ (Portugal); Conventual Chaplain Grand Cross ad honorem of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta;  Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem;  and Insígnia Autonómica de Reconhecimento of the Azores.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Msgr. Msgr. Gérald Joseph LeBlanc (1935-2018)

Saddened to learn of the death of Msgr. Gérald LeBlanc, whom I got to know during my years as Administrator of the Diocese of Yarmouth (2002-2007). 

He was a fine human being, a devoted and zealous priest and a supportive companion to me during the five years I was associated with the clergy, religious and faithful of Southwestern Nova Scotia.  

Msgr. Msgr. Gérald Joseph LeBlanc, Priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, died on March 11, 2018 in Halifax.

Born in Wedgeport on September 11, 1935, the youngest son of Éloi and Laurianne LeBlanc, after his early education in Wedgeport, he attended Collège Ste-Anne in Church Point (1951-1955), studied with the Eudists in Québec (1955-1959), and then the Grand Séminaire, Montreal (1959-1963).

Father LeBlanc was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Yarmouth on May 23, 1963 in Wedgeport by Most Rev. Albert Léménager. He did post-graduate studies in Pastoral Counselling (Ottawa) and Pastoral Theology (Montreal).

Father Gérald served as assistant priest in the parishes of Stella Maris, Meteghan (1963); and St. Ambrose Cathedral, Yarmouth (1965). He served as pastor of the parishes of St. Peter's, West Pubnico, and Immaculate Conception (1971); Stella Maris, Meteghan (1983) as well as St-Alphonse de Ligouri (1990); St-Michel, Wedgeport including the faith communities of Melbourne, Comeau's Hills and Pinkney's Point (1996); and for a second time at St. Peter's and Immaculate Conception, Pubnico, (2005-2017).

From 1992-1993, he was the Administrator of the Diocese of Yarmouth, and from 1993 to the present Vicar-General of Yarmouth and later of Halifax-Yarmouth. In this capacity, he served on numerous diocesan councils.

In 2004, on the occasion of Père Gérald's 40th anniversary of ordination Saint John Paul II appointed him Honorary Prelate of the Church, which carries with it the title of Monsignor.

Msgr. Gérald is survived by his nieces and nephews, Guy Pothier, Philip (Mary) Pothier, Claudine (Paul) Renault, Lorraine (Richard) Phaneuf, Colleen LeBlanc, Phillip (Joanne) LeBlanc, Lorie (Michael) Stewart and Joanne (Andrew) LeFrank. He was predeceased by his siblings, Ona, Iva, Chester, Joseph and niece, Dianne Pothier. A special thank you to Claudine and Paul Renault, for their hospitality while they generously accompanied Msgr. Gérald in their home through their ministry of care and compassion during his final months of life.

Visitation will be in l'Église St-Pierre, 1144 Rte. 335, Middle West Pubnico, Tuesday, March 13th from 3-9 p.m., with Vigil prayers at 8 p.m.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 14th at 2 p.m., Most Rev. Anthony Mancini, Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth, presiding, in l'Eglise St-Pierre.

Interment will be in the parish cemetery of St-Michel, Wedgeport. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to “the ministry of care and compassion” in trust to the parish of St-Pierre, or a charity of your choice.

Requiescat in pace.