Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall


August 10 2023


Death of the Most Reverend Marcel Gervais

Archbishop Emeritus of Ottawa


The Most Reverend Marcel André Gervais, Archbishop Emeritus of Ottawa, Ontario, died on Sunday, August 6, 2023, in Ottawa, at the age of 92, after almost 43 years as a bishop.


Archbishop Gervais was born in Elie, Manitoba on September 21, 1931. He attended primary school in Manitoba before moving with his family to Southwestern Ontario in 1945. After training in philosophy and theology at St. Peter’s seminary in London, he was ordained a priest on May 31, 1958. Archbishop Gervais then studied theology in Rome, at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum, followed by the Pontifical Biblical Institute and to Jerusalem to study Sacred Scripture. Upon his return to Canada, he served as professor of Sacred Scripture at St. Peter’s Seminary until 1980. Between 1977 and 1980, he wrote and edited Journey, a course of lessons on the Bible translated into 14 languages.


Archbishop Gervais was ordained to the Episcopate in 1980, and was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of London, Ontario. Five years later, the Holy Father appointed Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie, and then Archbishop of Ottawa on September 27, 1989.


For over 17 years, Archbishop Gervais served as the Archbishop of Ottawa. He was deeply and lovingly committed to God, His Church, and to the faithful he had been called to serve. He convoked the Diocesan Synod of 1992, focused on youth ministry and adult faith development, which led to structural changes at the Archdiocese and in the parishes, with greater lay participation in decision-making processes. He supported new communities such as the Companions of the Cross, the National Evangelization Teams (NET) and Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO).


In 1983, he participated in the Synod of Bishops in Rome. He was elected president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1991 and served until 1993. In 1997, he participated in the Synod of Bishops for America.  From 1989 to 1993, he was a member of the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers. He was also President of the Board of Directors of the Cardinal Carter Centre for Bioethics, President of the Ad Hoc committee for Program of Studies Bearing on Family Life, and Liaison Officer for the Biblical Association of Canada. He received the Justice James D. Higgins Award in recognition of his exceptional contribution and unfailing support of Catholic schools in Ontario and across Canada.


On May 14, 2007, Pope Benedict accepted Archbishop Gervais’ resignation due to his age. He chose to retire in Ottawa which he considered his home and be with family in the area. In retirement, he remained active, conducting retreats and doing pastoral ministry. In 2016, he published The Word Was Made Flesh: A Commentary on the Gospel of John, and the French version, Évangile de Jean.


His motto was “Evangelizare,” meaning “evangelize,” proclaim the Good News. This motto reflected the focus of his ministry.


Archbishop Gervais will lie in state at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Ottawa from 2 p.m. till 6:30 pm on Monday, August 14, 2023, and his funeral mass will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m. the same evening. His interment will follow in the Cathedral crypt.


For more information, please contact:


Fr. Alain Guèvremont  

Executive Assistant to the archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall

(613) 738-5025 ext. 238

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