SASKATOON — Colleagues and friends gathered March 2 to honour Agnes Pelletier on her retirement after eight-and-a-half years as the bishop’s assistant in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
Since July 2008, Pelletier has served as executive assistant to two bishops and two diocesan administrators: Bishop Albert LeGatt, now Archbishop of St. Boniface; diocesan administrator Rev. Ron Beechinor, now retired; Bishop Donald Bolen, now Archbishop of Regina; and Rev. Kevin McGee, presently serving as diocesan administrator as the diocese again awaits the appointment of a bishop.
Pelletier is known for her calm, gentle presence and spirit of hospitality, said Blake Sittler, director of Pastoral Services during a brief program during the reception held at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
Mona Goodman, co-ordinator of the diocesan Lay Formation program, spoke about Pelletier’s 18 years of volunteer service on the Lay Formation team, after her own graduation from the program in 1994. “We were very pleased and blessed to have Agnes as part of the Lay Formation program,” said Goodman, recalling how she was often the one holding and rocking the infants that accompanied parents to the program.
Dubbing her “Agnes of God,” McGee said there is no way to measure the many lives Pelletier has touched in her years of service.
In addition to expressing his own appreciation for the support Pelletier has provided to him during his time as chair of the Council of Priests, as vicar-general and now as diocesan administrator, McGee also read messages from former bishops LeGatt and Bolen.
“Nine years ago you accepted to take on the many responsibilities of being my executive assistant. I am sure you didn’t quite know what that would all entail. However, you took on the challenge with openness and generosity, with professionalism, and especially with a smile,” wrote LeGatt.
Bolen said that working with Pelletier for six-and-a-half years was a privilege and a blessing. “Day in and day out, Agnes and I worked closely together in navigating the many challenges and tasks that came across my desk,” he said. “Agnes’ competence and conscientious was extraordinary, and the whole diocese benefited greatly from that.”
Bolen said that such impact is often hidden. “I think we underestimate just how much the health of the diocese is affected by the hidden work of the women and men who make the pastoral centre thrive, and the bishop’s administrative assistant is at the hub of much of that activity — at the hub of almost everything that involves the bishop.”
“I am truly overwhelmed,” said Pelletier, expressing her gratitude at the conclusion of the program. She described the richness of encountering “the folks” across the diocese during her years of service. “As Bishop Don and I travelled to confirmations and rural parishes where I thought I wouldn’t know anyone, there was a familiar face — someone from Lay Formation — and I just felt at home.”
Colette Chantler will serve as executive assistant to the bishop effective Feb. 1. A member of St. Philip Neri Parish in Saskatoon, a graduate of Lay Formation, and an active member of the Lay Formation Alumni Association, Chantler has served as the executive assistant to the CEO of Genome Prairie in Saskatoon for the past eight years.