Catholic Free Press

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  • Dec
  • 19

Msgr. Goguen, 71, pastor of St. Cecilia

Posted By December 19, 2013 | 11:57 am | Lead Story #3
Goguen, FrancisWEB

A Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. Francis T. Goguen, pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Leominster since 1992, was held yesterday in St. Cecilia’s Church. Bishop McManus celebrated the Mass.
On Wednesday, calling hours and a vigil service led by Bishop Reilly, bishop emeritus, were held there. Burial was in St. Cecilia’s Cemetery.
Msgr. Goguen died unexpectedly Dec. 12 in St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester. He was 71.
“We’re hurting; we lost our leader,” Deacon Ronald J. Aubuchon said of the people of St. Cecilia’s.
“I just saw him to be a caring, humble, pastoral person,” he said of Msgr. Goguen. “If there was a need, he was there. … As soon as he got the call for assistance, he was in his car.”
Deacon Aubuchon, who has served at Cecilia’s for 24 years, said many of the older French Canadians looked up to Msgr. Goguen. He also wanted to keep in touch with the youth, so he taught the confirmation class, the deacon said.
Msgr. Goguen was proud that his parents were Acadians from New Brunswick, where he visited in the summer, said Father Robert E. Gariepy. The 83-year-old retired U.S. Army chaplain who helped  Msgr. Goguen at St. Cecilia’s for about 15 years said he gave up that ministry in November because he felt weak. He said Msgr. Goguen wanted him to stay on, even offering to preach at his Masses. He also had Father Gariepy keep his room in the rectory.
“He was very, very considerate,” he said, noting that Msgr. Goguen shared his “Inside the Vatican” magazine with him.
“A lot of them are still thunderstruck,” Father Gariepy said of  the parishioners. “They didn’t expect that.” He said Msgr. Goguen  worked even when he was sick.
“He’ll be rewarded, won’t he, for being so committed?” he said.
“Any time that I needed help of any kind, he was here to help me,” said parishioner Louis Charpentier, 103, who carved the crucifix at St. Cecilia’s.
“He loved St. Cecilia’s so much that every single Christmas card of his for the past 21 years has been an aerial view of St. Cecilia’s,” said Father David E. Doiron, pastor of St. Columba Parish in Paxton. He and Msgr. Goguen are cousins.
He said Msgr. Goguen was very devoted to Msgr. George E. Denomme, his predecessor, whom he took care of in the rectory and nursing home.
Father Doiron said his cousin buried most of their aunts and uncles. Father Doiron’s mother, at 101, is the last of more than 20 of them. She was one of the youngest of 11 children; Msgr. Goguen’s father was the oldest. He leaves many other cousins.
“He was very intelligent,” Father Doiron said of Msgr. Goguen. “He always excelled in academics.” That’s why he thoroughly enjoyed being in Rome and attending some of the sessions of Vatican Council II, he said.
He was a student of Scripture and was interested in its relationship to religious education and how it affected the common person, he said.
He said he thought his cousin’s greatest gift was his ability to listen. He said he was gentle, soft-spoken, always positive, encouraging. And, being an only child, he made the parish his home and family. His time off was measured in hours, rarely days or weeks, Father Doiron said.
Around the holidays, when other area priests were gone, Msgr. Goguen felt responsible for staying in the rectory to be available to the people, said Father Michael N. Lavallee, pastor of St. Ann Parish in North Oxford, who was associate pastor at St. Cecilia’s from 2005-2007.
“He really had a very strong sense of the mystery of the Church,” he said. “It was a place for everyone. The Church really was like a family. His staff members were like a family to him.
“He had a real faith that was not ostentatious or showy … manifested in his steadfastness,” he said.
Msgr. Goguen was born in Gardner, Feb. 13, 1942, the son of Maxime J. and Claudia M. (Cormier) Goguen.
He graduated from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary School in Gardner and from Assumption Preparatory School in Worcester in 1959. He studied from 1959-1961 at Assumption College. He attended the Seminary of Philosophy in Montreal, where he obtained his bachelor’s in philosophy in 1963. He then attended the North American College in Rome and obtained a licentiate in theology from the Gregorian University there in 1967.
He was ordained a priest Dec. 17, 1966 in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome by Bishop Francis F. Reh, rector of the college.
In 1974 he received his master’s degree in religious education from Loyola University in Chicago.
He was associate pastor of St. Anthony Parish, Fitchburg, and St. Mary Parish, Spencer, before being assigned as an associate to St. Cecilia’s in November 1976.
In 1983 he was named pastor of Notre Dame Parish, Southbridge. He was appointed pastor of St. Cecilia’s in June 1992.
He was given the title Monsignor in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.
“I was very surprised, and humbly honored and grateful to
the Holy Father … and also grateful to Bishop McManus, who communicated this news to me,” Msgr. Goguen said at the time. “I see it as an honor for all priests, coming at the beginning of a special year … to focus our attention in a special way on the unique role that priests serve in our parishes … The priesthood focuses our attention on Christ himself, who came, not to be served but to serve, to give his life for our salvation.”
Msgr. Goguen has been a dean and member of the diocesan Presbyterian Council as well as a Consultor of the Diocese. He was also a member of the Board of Governors of The Catholic Free Press for the past 16 years.
Wright-Roy Funeral Home, Inc., 109 West St., Leominster, directed arrangements. Those wishing to light a candle, sign the guestbook or send a message of condolence can visit www.wrightroyfuneralhome.com. Memorial donations may be made to Saint Cecilia’s Restoration Fund, 170 Mechanic St., Leominster, MA 01453.

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