Father Mario Laroche hails from Arthabaska, Québec (Canada), where he was born on May 18, 1939, the third child from a family of 14 children.
He was studying philosophy in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, when he first met Father Louis-Marie Parent who was visiting the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (O.M.M.I.) of western Canada. There was another student, Maurice Roy, who knew Father Parent; Maurice had been part of a “trial foundation” of a secular institute by Father Parent (1954). Along with a few others, the young men asked Father Parent to attempt a new foundation. Mario took interest in the mission project of such an institute, and he then contacted Father Parent.
Mario joined the Institute when it was founded in 1958 and did his theology at the St. Boniface, Manitoba major seminary. He was ordained a priest June 22, 1963.
After ordination he first served as curate in the parish of Fatima in the Magdalen Islands (Québec). From 1964 to 1970, he was professor and then director of the I.V.D. Philosophate at Trois-Rivières. In the 1970s he worked in pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Amos (Québec) as a school chaplain and in parish work. He was also a Canadian District councillor. In 1980 he was elected Director General of the Voluntas Dei Institute, and re-elected to a second six-year term in 1986. He then spent one year in India to help set up the formation of our members there. From 1994 until his retirement in September, 2009, he worked mainly in parish ministry in the Diocese of Amos. Since then, he has been collaborating in pastoral ministry in several parishes.
From 1980 to 1986, under the direction of Father Mario Laroche, he Central Council placed major emphasis on member formation and support. It was during that time that the formation guides were published, along with many resource documents for reflection and facilitation. At that time, too, the Institute revised the Constitutions in order to “highlight the presence of married couples in the Institute” (Cf. The Present Moment, Volume 9, January 2008). On July 12, 1987, the Voluntas Dei institute was granted the status of a secular institute of pontifical right and the Constitutions were approved September 21 of the same year. In 1989, as intermediate Assembly was held on the theme “The Experience of Secular Consecration in Our Institute.” An editorial committee published a brochure as a follow-up to this assembly.
In the course of these twelve years (1980-1992), with the growth of the Institute in several districts, there grew a need for “houses of formation”for the seminarians of the Institute, especially in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, and India, all of which called for a major effort on the part of the Institute’s central administration.