Most Reverend Donat Chiasson
Third archbishop of Moncton (1972 – 1997)
Most Reverend Donat Chiasson was born January 2, 1930 in Paquetville, a small village situated in north-eastern New Brunswick. He was the fourth child of a family of six. He was the son of Louis Chiasson and Anna Godin. He died accidentally on October 8, 2003 at the age of 73.
After having completed his primary studies at the village school, Most Reverend Chiasson undertook classical studies at the Saint Joseph University in Memramcook from which he graduated in 1952. That same year, he entered the seminary in Halifax. He was ordained to the priesthood in his hometown by Bishop Camille-André LeBlanc, of Bathurst, on May 6, 1956.
Following his ordination, Fr. Donat Chiasson worked in several parishes in the diocese of Bathurst, namely in Caraquet and in Lamèque. At one point, he took advantage of a sabbatical to further his theological studies in Rome and in Brussels.
During the sixties, Most Reverend Chiasson did pastoral work for the diocese as well as working as a professor of philosophy for the university in Bathurst. In July 1970, he was named as parish priest for the parish of Petit-Rocher.
He was named archbishop of Moncton on March 23, 1972 and was consecrated at the Cathedral in Moncton on June 1st that same year. He would serve the archdiocese until his retirement in 1995.
From the beginning, Most Reverend Chiasson would strive to allow the laity to take their rightful place in the Church and to let their concerns be known. Among his preoccupations, he was already conscious of the aging clergy and that recruiting new priests was a difficult task. He invited people to action in order to give rise to priestly vocations so that parishes would not have to be without a pastor.
He also relied on religious communities, of whom he spoke eloquently in describing their importance in the Church of Moncton. He also invited them to constantly reinvent their field of action and their presence.
Most Reverend Chiasson was able to receive Pope John Paul II during his visit in the fall of 1984. Further, he had the privilege of receiving the Pope in the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Moncton. Outside these doors, thousands waited in the hopes of seeing the Holy Father.
At the national level, Most Reverend Chiasson was a member of Episcopal commissions on Christian education and ecumenism for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.