Two Sulpician Confreres Celebrate Together

It is not often that the Superior General gets the opportunity to preside at a Mass celebrating anniversaries of priestly ordination of the confreres. But on 8 December 2011, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, Father Ronald D. WITHERUP, pss was able to do just that at the invitation of two confreres from the Paris region, Bishop Joseph DORÉ, pss, Archbishop Emeritus of Strasbourg, and M. Joseph AUNEAU, pss, pastor of Kremlin-Bicêtre in the Diocese of Créteil. Both were ordained priests in December, 1961 and are former faculty members at seminaries in France.

Father Auneau

Mgr Doré and a Guest

The solemn Eucharist was celebrated at 18h00 in the main chapel of Le Grand Séminaire at Issy-les-Moulineaux, with some 100 guests assembled to honor the two jubilarians, including the seminary community, family, friends, and some fifty priests, among whom were many Sulpician confreres. Among the principal concelebrants were two bishops: Mgr Jean-Yves RIOCREUX, Bishop of Pontoise, and Mgr Michel PANSARD, Bishop of Chartres. Father Auneau preached the homily, and Mgr Doré gave an extended greeting and words of gratitude after the Mass, immediately preceding the festive buffet. All agreed that the seminary choir sang beautifully for the Mass, and the seminary personnel provided an exquisite buffet.

Guests, including Msgr René COSTE, pss, and two Vietnamese Sulpicians

Both jubilarians have other celebrations planned. Bishop Doré hosted a weekend celebration at the Cisterican Abbey of Melleray in late September for a small gathering of family and close friends, while Father Auneau will hold a celebration in his parish for family and friends later in December.

Mgr Doré with a cake of "cannelles de Nantes" in September

The choice of both the site and the date of the December 8th celebration was purposeful. The connection to the seminary was significant, since both jubiliarians have spent many years in priestly formation, and their anniversaries provide seminarians today an excellent model of priestly fidelity over the years. The choice of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception was also significant, since the Virgin Mary is a superb model of priestly dedication, as reinforced in recent papal teachings, such as Pastores Dabo Vobis (§82). Moreover, Mary is the patroness of the Society of Saint Sulpice, a choice made by Father Jean-Jacques OLIER from the beginning of the Society’s history. Honoring this fact was the choice of the communion meditation hymn—the Prayer of Father Olier, “O Jesus, living in Mary…,” in the musical setting of M. Litez.

At the end of the Mass, Father Witherup expressed his personal gratitude for the privilege of presiding, and he congratulated the two confreres on their combined 100 years of priestly ministry. Two days later, another Sulpician, Mgr Gaston POULAIN, Emeritus Bishop of Périgueux, celebrated his 60th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood in the presence of the French Provincial, Father Bernard PITAUD, pss, and various family and friends. The Mass was celebrated in the chapel of “Ma Maison,” the nursing home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Caen, where Mgr Poulain currently lives.

To these dear Sulpician confreres and to all who celebrate major priestly anniversaries this year: Ad multos annos!

Former Superior General, Lawrence Terrien, and Other Guests in September