Catholic Vancouver Jan. 22, 2018

Deacon ahead of his time dies at 86  

By Agnieszka Ruck

Deacon Guy Delionnet, shown in this 1999 photo, served in the Archdiocese of Vancouver before it had a Permanent Diaconate Office.  (RCAV Archives)

COQUITLAM—More than a decade before the Archdiocese of Vancouver would start training men to become permanent deacons, it had Deacon Guy Delionnet.

Deacon Delionnet, ordained in 1980, was an unlikely missionary for the Church. He came to Canada as member of the French Air Force, completed his training in Canada, met and married Helene St. Pierre, and moved back to France.

He worked there as an aircraft engine mechanic and a radar navigator with an all-weather NATO fighter squadron before moving back to Canada. He then slowly shifted from aviation engineering, to working in a planetarium as a technologist, to starting a French-English translation company.

God had bigger plans for Delionnet than an impressive resume. He was ordained a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of St. Boniface, Winnipeg, in 1980.

“Everybody, when they reach a certain period in life, starts to wonder, is that all there is to life?” he told writer Susan Haire in 1992.

Deacon Delionnet served the Church in Winnipeg for 12 years, on top of his job as a translator for the Canadian Wheat Board. Then, he felt God calling him to the north.

He retired from the wheat board in 1992 and moved with Helene to the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, where he served in pastoral care, led retreats, reached out to seniors, and was a vice-chancellor for then-Bishop Denis Croteau.

“My aim … is to go and work as a missionary,” he told Haire.

Five years later, he moved to a diocese that was unfamiliar with permanent deacons: Vancouver. There were no permanent deacons in the area, and the Permanent Diaconate Office, which now trains and ordains them locally, was more than 10 years away from forming.

“The archdiocese was blessed by the ministry of Deacon Guy, a humble man of great ability,” said Msgr. Gregory Smith, the director of the archdiocese’s Permanent Diaconate Office, in a press release.

“He gave us an excellent model of diaconal ministry at a time when the Archdiocese was discerning the possibility of instituting the Permanent Diaconate here. He was a warm and friendly man.”

Deacon Delionnet served the community at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Coquitlam, which has a significant French-speaking population, for 12 years.

He retired for health reasons and moved to Kelowna in 2010. He died there Jan. 9 at age 86.

Deacon Guy Delionnet. (RCAV Archives)