January 26, 2009

In self-published book, Fairfield woman tells of priest who fathered
her son
Staff Writer

MEMORY: Judy Soucier of Fairfield on Monday speaks about her book
"Perfect: A Love Story" she wrote about her past relationship with
local priest Father Marcel Dumoulin that led to the birth of her son
FAIRFIELD -- Judy Soucier sits in her Fairfield living room and talks
tenderly about the Roman Catholic priest who fathered her child 36
years ago, but who would not commit to a lifelong relationship.
"He still was the man I loved," she says. "He still is, to this day."

Soucier, 65, wrote a book about her love affair with the priest called
"Perfect: A Love Story."

Self-published in 2008 as an autobiographical work, but with
characters that have fictional names, it describes the priest's
alleged, but futile, attempts to convince Soucier to abort her child
and the church's alleged insistence that she go out-of-state to have
the baby and then give it up for adoption. She was 28 at the time; he
was 36.

Soucier now identifies the priest as the Rev. Marcel Dumoulin, who
until 2004 served as pastor at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in
Fairfield. He also served at parishes in Augusta and Winthrop.
Dumoulin, 73, lives at a nursing-care facility in Lewiston, where he
has Alzheimer's disease. Their son, Christian Soucier, is 36 and lives
in New York City.

Catholic priests are required to be celibate; however, the Roman
Catholic Diocese of Portland last week acknowledged that Dumoulin
fathered Soucier's son. But the Diocese says the church would never
support an abortion, as the book suggests, and would not encourage a
woman to give her child up for adoption if she did not want to do that.

Soucier took Dumoulin to court in Androscoggin County on Nov. 17,
1983, seeking child support when her boy was 11. The court awarded
Soucier a lump sum of $6,000, plus monthly payments until he was 18.
The case was entitled "Judith Soucier vs. Marcel Dumoulin."

Soucier says she didn't at first plan to publish her story, which she
initially wrote as a memoir intended for just her son, Christian

"I wrote it because I wanted to give it to my son for Christmas in
2006," she says.

But she self-published the book and approached the Morning Sentinel
after friends and family read the manuscript and convinced her it was
a story she needed to share with the world.

"They said, 'This must be told.'"

Romance turns a corner

Soucier's book recounts her life as a teacher, friend, daughter and
lover of the sea whose life takes an unexpected turn when she meets a
Roman Catholic priest -- Dumoulin -- who in the book is called
Matthew, in Lewiston, and falls in love. It forever changes her life.

The book is set mainly in Brunswick and Lewiston, where Soucier lived
in the 1970s. It describes a happy romance that turns sour when she
becomes pregnant.

Father Matthew takes her to a trailer at the edge of what now is a
parking lot for the Marden's Surplus & Salvage store in Lewiston.
There, they meet with a tall minister and the two men arrange for her
to have an abortion.

Matthew then drives her to a clinic in New York City and she is
prepped for the abortion, but she cannot go through with it. The book
describes in detail the events that took place when Dumoulin drove her
to New York for the abortion and she decided not to have the
procedure, she said.

They drove home in silence. Once back in Maine, a diocesan vicar asked
her to come to St. Paul's Retreat Center in Augusta. Once she arrived,
the vicar urged her to leave the state, have the baby and give it up
for adoption but she refused, she said. She met with him again in
Portland at his request and he was unsuccessful in trying to convince
her to go away, have the child and offer it for adoption. That vicar
has since died.

Soucier says that afterward, another priest came to her home and said
he was a messenger from the bishop, who asked that she leave the
state, have the baby and give it up for adoption.

The priest allegedly offered her an envelope containing cash and said
the money was separate from any travel and medical expenses, which
would be paid by the church. Soucier said she did not accept it.

"He brought $3,000 and said, 'This is for you, and all arrangements
and expenses will be paid,'" Soucier said.

That priest also has since died.

'Why take the back door?'

After she gave birth to her son, Soucier had minimal contact with
Dumoulin; their romance ended after she became pregnant, she said.

The last time she saw him at the nursing home several months ago, his
mind was merely a shell of what it once was.

"He didn't even know me," she said. "It's just very sad."

Soucier's cousin and lifelong friend, Yvette Rousseau, accompanied her
on that visit.

Rousseau, 73, of Lewiston, introduced Soucier to Dumoulin many years
ago and her character is featured in the book. Rousseau was a
parishioner in Dumoulin's church, The Holy Family Church in Lewiston,
and he was a close friend who spent time with her and her family
during picnics, parties and snowmobiling trips, she said.

Rousseau, now retired after 52 years of nursing, describes herself as
a devout Catholic who is disturbed by the way the church handled
Soucier's pregnancy.

"I think the true message is, why doesn't the church deal with their
problems the right way?" she says. "Why take the back door? Why hide
it and deal with these poor little children that could have been put
up for adoption or aborted? I kind of blame the church for not taking
a stand. That's why the church has gotten away with so much. The
Catholic Church has to take a stand on important issues."

Rousseau says her first husband reported Dumoulin's love affair with
Soucier to the bishop and after that, Dumoulin stopped visiting her
family for a while. She and her husband ultimately divorced and he has
since died.

Rousseau says Dumoulin never acknowledged to her or anyone in her
family or circle of friends that Soucier's baby was his.

"He always kind of beat around the bush about it but never actually
came right out to say, 'I have a son and Judy was the mother,'"
Rousseau said. "He never was honest about it. I think now, why wasn't
he truthful? As close as we were, he never told us. I always felt bad
about that."

Rousseau says it was as if his position as a priest was more important
to him than anything else.

"He never let down his guard. The worst part was, he was trying to get
rid of the child. I don't know how he could sleep at night and then
preach in the pulpit. I just feel like he goofed, big time, and so did
the bishop."

But despite Dumoulin's foibles, Rousseau still holds an affection for

"He made a mistake, he goofed, but he is human. He made a big mistake.
But he's still Father Dumoulin."

She says there is no question in her mind that Soucier is telling the
truth about his plans for her abortion and the church's subsequent
attempts to send her away to have the baby and then give it up for

"It all took place," she says. "I've always admired her for staying
strong and taking a stand. She's the strong one."

Nancy Snow is another longtime friend of Soucier who is featured as a
character in the book. She saw Dumoulin and Soucier together in the
early 1970s. Snow says she also admires her for carrying her baby to
term and raising him, despite pressure to do otherwise.

A retired 33-year teacher, Snow, 75, of Brunswick, describes Soucier
as someone who loves children and is very good with older people.

"She's very kind, and if she does something, she takes on a project
and she does it 110, 120 percent. She always, always went above and

Snow says she hopes big things happen with Soucier's book, which is
being sold in bookstores and on the Internet.

"I thought it was wonderful and I think it would make a great movie."

'Mon dieu. It comes back'

Father Dumoulin smiles and welcomes a guest at the nursing-care
facility in Lewiston, where he shares a small room with another patient.

The retired priest appears cheerful, lounging in a recliner, wearing
casual clothes and sporting a navy blue beret.

He talks easily, but does not seem to have a grasp of history. Asked
when he left Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Fairfield, he says he
does not remember.

But, shown a photograph of Soucier, his face lights up immediately.

"That is good," he says. "She's good. Judy Soucier. Mon dieu. It comes
back. She's so good, kind, you know. Look how beautiful that is. Oh,
it's good."

He then touches the paper on which the photo is printed.

"That was the lady that was the best for me, you know?" he says. "Tres
bien. It's wonderful."

The neat, simply decorated room has puzzles, books, and photographs on
a table.

The only clues to Dumoulin's spiritual past are a crucifix that hangs
on a wall and small statues of Mary and Jesus on a bureau.

'I still try to fly'

Dumoulin's son, Christian Soucier, is an environmental consultant and
marine biologist, married and living in New York City.

He declines to talk about his relationship with Dumoulin, other than
to say he is not comfortable discussing it because of the priest's
advanced age and medical condition.

The book, he says, is his mother's story, not his own.

"I support her 100 percent," he said. "It made her strong. What I'm
most proud of is where we are today. She gave me an opportunity to go
out and try to fly. I still try to fly, every day."

He says his mother worked hard all his life to provide for him and
make sure he went to college -- even working with pregnant and
parenting teens, ironically, for the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Portland. Christian Soucier ultimately earned a Ph.D in biology with a
focus on ecology evolution and behavior.

"I think that, obviously, a lot of what she experienced in our
situation drove her to the career path that she took," he says. "It
was the ultimate sacrifice."

When he read the book, he was horrified by the treatment his mother
received, he says.

"It's true hypocrisy -- there's no doubt," he says. "The hypocrisy of
the church in instances like these is appalling."

He hopes the book's release provides closure for his mother, whom he
never knew to have a relationship with a man while he was growing up.
He says he learned why, after reading it: She long harbored a great
love for Dumoulin that continues to this day.

Judy Soucier says she chose a life of celibacy after her breakup with

After giving birth, she stayed home for three years to raise her son
and then went back to work as a social worker for the Diocese for 11
years. She then worked for the March of Dimes for 21 years.

Judy Soucier was adopted at birth, grew up in the Catholic church in
Lewiston and describes her adoptive family as loving, caring and very
supportive. After her parents died, she searched for her birth-family
members and found them in 2003. She moved to Fairfield to be near them
in 2007.

She describes herself as a Christian but stops short of saying she is

"I go to church, but I go to the church God built," she says,
referring to nature. "I went to the Catholic church until I was
pregnant with Christian. I've always believed in God. I've never lost
my faith. Actually, I think I have a deeper, stronger faith than I
ever did. I do know that the reason I have Christian today is, God
wanted him on this earth."

Amy Calder -- 861-9247


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