La Salette Father Ronald Beauchemin was born in a Catholic family in Rhode Island. He remembers being brought up with a strong religious formation nurtured both at home and his local parochial school. In fact, he was still a young boy when he first had the idea of becoming a priest.
“I remember telling my grandmother that when I get older I was going to be a priest and have a nice car like our pastor had so I could take her around in it,” laughed Father Beauchemin. “I thought about it more seriously though during my later elementary school years. A parish priest used to come to school and talk about the priesthood to get us interested in a vocation.”
Initially Father Beauchemin was interested in the diocesan priesthood, but the local seminary did not accept students until their second year of high school. He then learned about the La Salette seminary in Enfield, New Hampshire. The more he learned about the La Salette order and their focus on missionary work, the more interested he became in joining them. He was ordained on December 21, 1968. Just a few months later, his bags were packed for his first mission and he arrived in the Philippines in June, 1969.
“My years in the Philippines were very rich. They were some of the best years of my ministry,” said Father Beauchemin, who served twice in the Philippines, the second time to create a formation program for La Salette seminarians there.
His other assignments have included parishes across New England, Canada, and in the Archdiocese of Houston. He has served as the superior at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, MA and has frequently done formation work with the La Salettes, recently completing a three-year term in Washington D.C. last August. He retired and came to the Diocese of Orlando in October 2017 where he now assists at Blessed Trinity Parish in Orlando.
“I’m officially retired, but we kind of stretch that definition!” said Father Beauchemin. “I still do a lot of ministry.”
Father Beauchemin says there is a lot to love about the life of a priest. He particularly pointed to the opportunity to preach, celebrate Mass, and hear confessions as especially meaningful.
“I often tell people, ‘You’re not the only one touched by the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The minister is also touched by it. The grace of God working in another person is for us a great benefit. It’s a tremendous moment.”
Looking back now, Father Beauchemin can’t imagine himself in any other life.
“Priesthood is a very rich life. I’ve been really pleased with what the Lord has done for me and through me.”
By Elizabeth Wilson, Florida Catholic correspondent – March 12, 2018