SAO PAULO, November 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Matthew Hoffman, LifeSiteNews’ Latin America correspondent, had the opportunity to interview Human Life International’s new president, Fr. Shenan Boquet, on November 6 at the conclusion of the Second International Congress for Truth and Life in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (See video of 20 minute interview). Fr. responded to questions about his background and life as a parish priest in Louisiana, how he eventually came to be selected for his appointment, his vision for HLI and the delicate issue of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer’s sudden departure.
The trip to the Sao Paulo conference was Fr. Bouquet’s first out of country venture for HLI and came only two days after he moved to Front Royal, Virginia, to occupy his office as president of the world’s largest pro-life organization. Bouquet told Hoffman that he arrived at the Virginia offices on a Sunday night early in November and then flew out on Tuesday to Brazil for the Sao Paulo conference.
Fr. Bouquet related that he did not apply for the HLI position and that someone had recommended him. At the time, he was pastor of St. Gregory Barbarigo Parish in Houma, Louisiana. When he received a telephone call last March from the HLI board stating he was being considered for the presidency of the organization, Boquet told LifeSiteNews he thought it was a practical joke. He further said, “It came as a surprise and an unexpected invitation from Our Lord.”
Bouquet was eventually asked to make a formal application this past August 8 and on September 1 officially took possession of the position, although he was not able to complete his Louisiana parish duties and fully take up his role in Front Royal until November.
The new HLI arrangement of Fr. Bouquet, as president of the organization, now being able to share the substantial leadership duties with a vice-president, Fr. Peter West, is appreciated by Bouquet. He indicated this management structure change will allow him to give more attention to the “building of a better presence (for HLI) in the US” and bringing “more people into the mission of HLI.”
The purpose of Bouquet’s emphasis on US organization growth is to generate a stronger foundation for HLI’s international work. Fr. West, who comes to HLI from Priests for Life, has much pro-life experience and will undertake a larger share of the international travel requirements, said Fr Bouquet.
Bouquet indicated it had been too onerous a task for past president Fr. Euteneur to undertake the substantial travel required to nurture the international affiliates while at the same time having to manage the large US operation.
An emphasis in Fr. Bouquet’s vision for HLI is his belief that there is a need for HLI to grow into more nations and more locations in some of those nations. As well, he will be attempting to strengthen already existing pro-life organizations in countries that are essentially still pro-life, but under tremendous pressures to change. The new HLI president will be working to help these groups to better resist anti-life and anti-family pressures on their nations and to maintain their pro-life cultures.