Fr. Léonard Audet, CSV, who served as the 12th Superior General of the Clerics of St. Viator, has passed away. Fr. Audet died Jan. 18, 2024 at the Centre Champagneur de Joliette, where he had moved in 2021, in his retirement. Fr. Audet was 91.

Fr. Léonard Audet, CSV, in 1988, when he was elected Superior General

Fr. Audet brought many strengths to the community — both academic and pastoral — during his 68 years as a Viatorian. He obtained a doctorate in theology from the Université de Montréal, followed by a license in Holy Scripture in 1964, in Rome, and a certificate from the École Biblique de Jérusalem in 1965.

He taught theology as a member of the faculty at the Université de Montréal, and in 1977, he was appointed Dean of the Theology Department. In 1986, after a year of study in Paris, he returned as a professor in Biblical Studies.

Fr. Audet was elected Superior General in 1988. He served two terms in leadership, until 2000, and then served another eight years as a member of the Provincial Council in Canada. In both roles, Fr. Audet’s vision and leadership was inspiring.

Fr. Robert M. Egan, CSV, Superior General, was Provincial of the Province of Chicago during a portion Fr. Audet’s time as General. He remembers Fr. Audet as a strong and gentle pastor who had a deep love for the Congregation.

“His contributions and leadership helped to make the Congregation stronger and more committed to the vision of Fr. Querbes,” Fr. Egan said. “I will always be grateful for his challenge to the Congregation to risk the establishment of new Foundations, in the spirit of Fr. Querbes.”

Portraits of Superior Generals hanging at the General Direction in Vourles. Fr. Audet is second from left, bottom row.

It was in 1996 that Fr. Audet sent a letter to Provincials challenging them to carry out the missionary spirit of Fr. Querbes. Called, “Opening New Viatorian Foundations: A Challenge, A Hope, ” his letter invigorated all the Provinces.

The new Province of Chile chose to mission in Bolivia, while Spain went to Honduras, and Canada established schools and a novitiate in Burkino Faso. The Chicago Province chose Belize, accepting a parish, St. Francis Xavier in Corozal Town, with 24 mission stations and 18 elementary schools.

Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, Provincial of the Province of Chicago, served on Fr. Audet’s second General Council, from 1994-2000, and succeeded him as Superior General in 2000. He not only credited Fr. Audet with expanding the congregation, but he also did much to advance and strengthen Viatorian association.

“His profound respect for the lay vocation, coupled with his profound knowledge of the Viatorian charism,” Fr. Francis said, “allowed him to help the entire international Viatorian Community come to a more nuanced and solid understanding of what it means to have lay members associated with professed religious.”

Fr. Audet teaching Biblical Studies in 2016

Overall, Fr. Francis describes Fr. Audet as a mentor and a pastor “with a listening heart,” who could exegete a human situation with insight and clarity.

“I remain grateful to Léonard for his example as Superior General,” says Fr. Francis, “an example I greatly benefited from when I succeeded him.”