Augustinians of the Assumption

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Home WHO WE ARE Assumptionists Profiles Fr. CAMILLUS THIBAULT, A.A. (1929 - 2020)

Fr. CAMILLUS THIBAULT, A.A. (1929 - 2020)


Interviewer - As an Assumptionist priest, would you share with us some of your family's background?

Fr. Camillus - I was born in Nashua, NH and was one of ten children. Growing up, we were a poor family but were deeply rooted into a very strong work ethic. My father, born in Canada and one of seventeen children, worked in a cotton mill and also as a plumber, among a variety of other jobs. My mother, born here in the US,  worked summers in a wool mill. In 1934 two of my brothers died of diphtheria while another one died at birth a month later. I am very close to my sister who is a Sister of St. Joseph in Los Angeles.

- How did you come to know the Augustinians of the Assumption?

- My vocation was rooted in my family life which focused on the strong values if christian living. We all participated in the life of the parish, especially with faithful attendance at Mass. Because of this lived experience, I was interested in religious life from an early age. When it came time for high school, I went to Assumption Prep. Fr. Armand Desautels, A.A. visited our home prior to my acceptance into the school. I helped with the expenses of my schooling by working summers. Education in an all boys school was important to my parents, especially after the death of my brothers. I loved the Assumptionists and it was with them, after being well grounded at home, that I continued to learn what it meant to be faithful. My home, parish and school were my three "families."

- Where did your early years of formation in the congregation and subsequent studies take you from there?

- After two years at  Assumption College, I entered the congregation in Quebec, Canada where I also did my novitiate. After returning to Worcester and graduation from Assumption, I went back to Canada to study at Laval University. From there my next assignment took me to France for three years of theological studies, after which I was ordained in 1956. I enjoyed my studies in Europe and in keeping with the example of Fr. d'Alzon, I continued to develop and nourish a love of reading and study.

- Would you share with us some of your assignment experiences in ministry?

- After coming home to the US and a brief one year teaching assignment, I was sent to Our Lady of Guadalupe in NYC for three years. There I was blessed to have Fr. Denis Cornelisse, A.A., who was a Dutch Assumptionist, as a mentor and model of Fr. d'Alzon's fidelity to Assumption and hard work.While there I earned a master's degree at Fordham University in French Literature. Then I went to Our Lady of Lourdes Seminary in Cassadaga, NY to teach until the school closed in 1967. It was during those summers that I earned another master's, this time at Georgetown, in linguistics. That experience was followed by a four year assignment at Assumption College where I taught French literature and linguistics. It was then that Our Lady of Guadalupe was in need of a superior/pastor. Leaving teaching was the biggest and most difficult decision of my life. Taking on this new position for me was quite unique because it was also the provincial house at that time. But I must say that my six years there were wonderful. It was also a good preparation for my next move which was to the Parroquia de Emperatriz de America in Mexico. While there I helped found a vocation house in a poor area not far from the parish before returning there as pastor. I was in Mexico for thirty one years.

- What is your vision and/or hope for the future of the congregation and/or the Church in the light of this year's "Bicentennial Celebration of the Birth of Fr. d'Alzon?"

- My hope and vision for the future is for growth in vocation work, especially among the poor. Also, I believe we need to look at the possibilities of expansion and risk as did Fr. d'Alzon. It is important to work with and among the laity and to trust them, as the Spirit works through them. With regard to my own future, I would love to work with the sick, especially in hospitals. We need to embrace the cross and the suffering Christ, always trusting in God's mercy and love.

Note: Since this interview took place, Fr. Camillus Thibault, A.A. passed away on April 18, 2020. May he rest in peace.

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