Our website is made possible by displaying online ads to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our site.

Priest credits longevity to staying active

First slide

COLCHESTER, Vt. — An evergreen tree outside of Nicolle Hall serves as a windsock for Edmundite Father Paul Couture. If the branches are swaying in the wind too vigorously, it is not the day to go for a bike ride.

Days filled with skiing, football, baseball, bowling, tennis, jogging and even hockey are gone now, but Father Paul, 90, still bikes five miles around St. Michael's College campus and nearby Fort Ethan Allen in Colchester a couple of times a week.

He attributes his longevity, mobility and memory to staying active. "It's not just about muscles, but our brains benefit from regular exercise," he said. "It helps with memory. There is some kind of movement everyone can do."

Fellow Edmundite Father Stanley Deresienski said Father Paul is a true motivator. "He looks forward to each day, to physical exercise, to private and communal prayer and to study and learn. He is truly a remarkable mentor and friend."

Father Paul is known for his scholarship in scriptural studies and was the founding director of the Summer Theology Program at St. Michael's College, where he served as chairman of the theology department.

"The program was more than just an academic endeavor since it also created a community where faith and reason was celebrated in an intentional way," Edmundite Father Brian Cummings said. "It was a wonderful program that benefited the church in the United States and Canada."

The program, which recently ended after a 50-year run, attracted students from across the nation and several other countries. Many internationally known scholars came to teach there.

Father David Cray, superior general of the Society of St. Edmund, said Father Paul "has great intellectual curiosity and is humble and grateful." He has known Father Paul since his student days at St. Michael's College in the 1960s.

In retirement, Father Paul has conducted well-attended biblical studies programs in parishes in the greater Burlington area, including St. John Vianney where he led a Bible study for 16 years. Now he leads a group at Our Lady of Grace in Colchester.

Father Stan said his friend "shows by his words and actions the importance of prayer and good liturgy. He is a good example of living the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience."

The culture and influences in which Father Paul grew up led him to a devout life. Religious organizations and communities, like the Society of St. Edmund, ran most of the schools and activities of daily living north and south of the U.S.-Canadian border in 1929, the year he was born. His family was Catholic and dozens of his first cousins straddled the border. Three became priests.

Religious life is one way of living in a world of loving God and serving others, Father Paul said. The Society of St. Edmund is small, but that has an advantage. “We all know each other and can help each other," he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019