Jean-François Garneau is a management consultant and an adjunct professor of management at the École des Sciences de la Gestion of the University of Quebec in Montreal. A Rhodes Scholar, Jean-François has held various executive positions within the Transportation Group of Canadian multinational Bombardier Inc. Prior to his involvement with Bombardier Inc., Jean-François was an adjunct professor of Management and Organizational Theory at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Montreal as well as the École Nationale d’Administration Publique of the University of Quebec. Jean-François is the co-author of two books on the economics for the Province of Quebec. Since 2013, he organizes a yearly public policy conference and is a member of the Global Strategy & Leadership Expert Panel of the Desautels Faculty of Management, at McGill University, Montreal.
This is a guest post.
I used to wonder why myself for a very long time. In fact, one of the reasons I spent ten years in psychoanalysis was to elucidate that question. Not so much why I was still a Catholic, for I did not go to Mass, but why I was so preoccupied with questions about the existence of God, the historicity of the Gospel, the possibility of encountering the divine, whether I believed or not, etc.
For almost fifty years I was haunted by those questions. The earliest time I can remember asking them to myself was when I was a child. It must have been before my first communion because my family was still going to mass at St Thomas Aquinas parish church, in the Ste-Foy suburb of Quebec City, where I grew up. And it must have been during or around Christmas time because I remember there was a Nativity scene there, that my parents had taken me to see. So there I was, at Mass, with everybody looking all serious and sitting, and standing, and kneeling, and I felt like yelling very very loud: What are you all doing here? Why are you all so serious and are you all doing this?
It’s not so much that it made no sense, but that I suspected nobody knew what it was they were doing it. My love of the liturgy was never very strong, as you can see, but however bad that love was, it certainly got me hooked on asking the ‘why’ question. And contrary to almost all of my contemporaries, my attitude was not to drop the question as hopelessly without answer but to make it one of the most obsessive ones in my psychological make-up.
To be sure, after this rather unpropitious start, the question lay dormant for many years. Years during which I was educated by institutions that would soon disappear from the face of French Canada’s civic life: an all nun elementary school and an all priest high school where the walls of the school were covered with paintings from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries given to my school by its various alumni. Being a rather obedient kid, more interested in conversing with adults than with people my age, I was fortunate enough to learn all sorts of things religious and not religious from the various nuns and priests to whom I owe a lot of what I still know and think to this day. I remember in particular one nun, who taught me how to pray the Rosary, something which I still do to this day and which I would never have learned were it not for that chance encounter with this most wonderful old lady, Mother St-Hubert.