Father Lucien Bochard, OMI

Father Lucien Bouchard, OMI, says he has not had much stress in his life. He might be the only person in the world who believes such a claim.

Father Lucien has survived assassination attempts, attacks by soldiers with small arms, and living in some of the most remote and unhealthy places on the planet. But despite the risks, Fr. Lucien says he has slept well every night of his nearly 65 years as an Oblate priest.

“I knew it was dangerous, but I was never nervous,” said Fr. Lucien. “I had put my life in God’s hands, and when you do that you will always be fine, no matter what situation you are in.”

Fr. Lucien Bouchard, OMI Father Lucien put his life in God’s hands on June 17, 1955 when he was ordained a Missionary Oblate priest. He felt called to the Oblates after reading a book about their diverse and difficult missions around the world.

“I thought the Oblates might be a good fit because I wanted to go somewhere that was difficult,” said Fr. Lucien. “And they didn’t disappointment me.”

Fr. Lucien was surprised when he received his first assignment. He was being sent to Laos, a country he couldn’t even find on a map. Luckily, Laos would become his dream assignment, because it was very, very difficult.

In the 1950s, the Communist regime began their violent campaign to take control of Southeast Asia. War in the region would last for 20 years, and Fr. Lucien would spend nearly that much time working in Laos caring for the needs of the very poor, including refugees.

Newly ordained, Fr. Lucien soon found himself living in the remote mountains of Laos among the Hmong people whose language he did not speak. For a few weeks, he ministered with another priest, but he soon left, making Father Lucien the only priest in the area for six months.

The Hmong are an ethnic minority in Laos and opposed the Communists, siding with the United States during the Vietnam War. The Catholic Hmong were also persecuted because of their faith.

For more than a decade, Fr. Lucien worked to avoid the Communists. Guards would be in the villages where he ministered to keep an eye out for people coming to arrest him.

“I was fortunate, once I left a village and the next day it got attacked and several people died,” said Fr. Lucien.

One of Fr. Lucien’s most fortunate events was when he was traveling along a path in the jungle to deliver medicine to a leper community.

“There was a group of Communist soldiers hiding close to the trail. As I walked by those soldiers, one of them aimed at me with his rifle. But another soldier from behind told him not to kill me, because I had been coming there to help his relatives who had leprosy,” said Fr. Lucien.

During Dr. Lucien’s time in Laos, six other Oblate priests who became martyrs in Laos at the hands of the Communists. Father Lucien ministered with some of them, and like the martyrs was willing to lay down his life for the people of Laos. But God had other plans.

As the war intensified, Fr. Lucien worked in villages that were often attacked with small arms fire. He would live in squalid conditions, and most of his meals were primarily rice that had been dropped into the camps by transport planes. He jokes that twice he was nearly killed by falling bags of rice.

The military, after years of being outfoxed by the missionary priest, was growing more agitated with Fr. Lucien. They began to intensify efforts to silence him. Eventually, the only option for Fr. Lucien to stay alive was to get out of Laos.

“I got on a ferry around noon and if I had stayed just a couple of hours longer that would have been the end of me,” said Fr. Lucien. “The soldiers arrived in the afternoon and would have arrested, tortured and killed me.”

After 18 years of struggles in Laos, Fr. Lucien chose another difficult mission and accepted the challenges of ministering in Borneo. He would spend 28 years there.

“Laos was my first dream to come true and Borneo was my second dream to come true,” said Fr. Lucien. “I loved every minute I was there.”

Father Lucien spent most of his time in Borneo serving small Catholic populations in isolated villages. His last parish had 22 villages attached to it, and it would take Fr. Lucien more than two months to complete a circuit, mostly by foot.

Fr. Lucien Bouchard, OMI After 47 years of missionary work in Southeast Asia, Fr. Lucien returned home to the United States. Decades of difficult living conditions were having an impact on the diminutive priest.

Even though Fr. Lucien left the foreign missions at age 76, but didn’t stop being a missionary. He took an assignment at Christ the King Parish near Miami, Florida. Just a few weeks before he arrived a hurricane had damaged much of the area. Father Lucien ministered at Christ the King for more than seven years, a diverse parish comprised mostly of immigrants from the Caribbean and South America.

In 2013, Fr. Lucien returned to his native Massachusetts to live at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence, a home for elder and infirmed Oblates. Today, at the age of 90, he still ministers and occasionally travels to Hmong communities in the United States.

Father Lucien also ministers through the power of prayer and is always there for a brother Oblate who is in need of a friend. He often sits at their bedside well into the night so that they know they are not alone as their earthly journey comes to an end.

Father Lucien admits that he is slowing down a bit. He usually needs a nap in the afternoon to recharge his battery. And when he lays down, he usually sleeps well. That is because Fr. Lucien continues to live without much stress, because he knows that God is always there by his side.