Died 11 September 2017
Jesuit Father Richard D. Bertrand died on Sept. 11, 2017 at Campion Center in Weston, Massachusetts. He was born on Nov. 28, 1947, in Biddeford, Maine, a center of the vibrant French-speaking community that had moved from Canada to New England in the mid-nineteenth century in search of jobs. He and his sister, Susan, were the children of Lucien and Gertrude (Archambault) Bertrand. He attended parish schools and graduated from St. Louis High School, in Biddeford, in 1966.
He entered Shadowbrook, the novitiate of the New England Province, in Lenox, Massachusetts, on July 30, 1966, and took first vows two years later. From 1968 to 1971, he did collegian and philosophy studies at Boston College, then was assigned to Seattle Prep, where he taught French and English for two years. He returned to Boston College in 1972 for a year of graduate studies in French literature. Two more years of regency followed, the first, teaching French, at Boston College High School, and the second, teaching English and art, at École St. Louis de Gonzague in Paris.
From 1975 to 1978, he studied theology at Weston School of Theology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He then taught French and Spanish and chaired the modern languages department at Bishop Connolly High School, in Fall River, Massachusetts, for four years. He was ordained a priest in Fall River, on Nov. 10, 1979. He spent the academic year 1982-1983 at Fordham University in the CORD Program for Jesuit high-school administrators.
In 1983, he returned to Maine and began his long association with Cheverus High School and Maine parishes, where he was to spend most of the remainder of his life. From 1983 to 1987, he was at Cheverus, as assistant principal and then as principal. In 1988-1989, after a year’s leave of absence, he did tertianship in Quebec. This was followed by a five-year stint at Fairfield Prep, where he served first in admissions and then as school chaplain.
In 1994, he returned to Maine, where he served as pastor or parochial vicar in several locations during a period when the diocese was consolidating and merging multiple parishes: St. Louis in Auburn and St. Mary in Lewiston, from 1994 to 1998; St. Edmund in Westbrook, from 1998 to 2003; and Sacred Heart/St. Dominic to which were added St. Pius X and St. Patrick, in Portland, where he ministered to Spanish and French-African communities, from 2003 to 2010. In 2010, he moved to St. Ignatius Residence, at Cheverus High School, in Portland, where he served as parochial vicar at St. Joseph, St. Patrick, and St. Pius X parishes, which merged to form Our Lady of Hope Parish, in 2011.
In the past year, he was diagnosed with cancer. He came to Campion Center for a period of treatments in Boston. Despite the exhausting regimen, he returned to minister at Our Lady of Hope Parish. In the late summer of 2017 he was finally persuaded to move permanently to Campion Center where, after a brief but determined struggle, he died on the morning of Sept. 11.