50 Years of Priesthood
50 Golden Years of fulfilled and dedicated life as a Priest, Bishop and Missionary
In the year 1945, after God had planned and formed him in his mother’s womb, Reverend Gilles Joseph Côté, smm, was born on the 24th of November 1945. He is the second born of the 8 children in the Côté family. On Tuesday 24th of November this year, he celebrated his 75th birth day – 50 years of which he spent in Papua New Guinea as a missionary priest and 25 years as bishop.
Born in the town of Ottawa, Ontario province of Canada, he was lovingly nurtured and brought up in a Christian faith by his loving parents. His hard working Father Mr. Léo Côté, was a great father, whom the Lord called to eternal rest in the year 2005 at the age of 87 years old. His loving and caring mother Mrs Alda Noël, is still alive today at the age of 95 years old. Her deepest longing, prayers and long awaited hope now, is to see the face of her loving priest son, bishop son and a missionary son back home to Canada.
After formal education, he responded to God’s call and pursued to the seminary to study to become a priest. With the prayers and support of his loving family, he completed his priesthood studies and was ordained a priest to the religious congregation of the Montfort Missionaries on the 19th of December 1970. Today, the 19th of December 2020, he celebrates his 50th Anniversary (Golden Jubilee) as a priest.
Inspired by the spirit of the founder Saint Louis Marie de Montfort and imbued with a personal missionary heart and zeal, he accepted his first mission to PNG as a Montfort Missionary on the 6th of November, 1971. Upon arrival, he lived a daring missionary life in many remote and underdeveloped parts of the Western Province, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. It was tough and hard but he loved priesthood, his mission work and the people very much. Nothing feared him from returning to the comforts of Canada. Even after surviving the crashed of the mission plane he was on, at Membok village on the 19th January 1990, killing the pilot priest, one sister and one small boy, after a period of healing at home, he did not give up. He stood up, took courage and was ready again to proclaim and witness Jesus even more boldly to the Melanesians who have by then become his brothers and sisters. Miraculously, God had saved and preserved him from the plane crash for a higher leadership role in the Church. Subsequently, on the 23rd of April 1995, he was called and ordained as Auxiliary bishop of Daru-Kiunga Diocese and on the 14th of March 1999 was appointed as the Ordinary of the Diocese. On the 23rd April this year, he celebrated his 25th Anniversary ( Silver Jubilee) as Bishop of Daru-Kiunga Diocese.
The most Reverend Bishop Gilles Joseph Côté, smm has spent almost his entire life as a missionary in the Western Province, Papua New Guinea. His 50 years of priesthood and 25 years as bishop has been very fruitful, satisfactory and fulfilling in many ways. Under his leadership as priest and later as Bishop, he richly contributed to the spiritual, social, physical and economical development of the people of the Western Province. Currently, he is the last Montfort Canadian missionary left in the Western Province and hopes to return to Canada soon as a retired bishop and missionary.
Bishop Gilles, has been a good and faithful priest to the people of Daru-Kiunga Diocese. He has been a real shepherd to the people with a strong vision, mission and focus for the Church, and inviting the people to journey as one people. The people are very grateful for his strong, examplary and model leadership as bishop.
Certainly, these 50 years of his priesthood are a fulfilled life, not for profit, wealth or power, but for the buiding up of God’s kingdom. We have been blessed, loved, and protected through his leadership as priest, bishop, missionary and a friend. Fulfilling his motto “Unity in Diversity” he has created a stronger sense of church communion, unity and fratenity in the diocese.
On this occasion, as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of his priesthood ordination, we thank God for all the blessings we have received through his leadership and as a person. We congratulate him as he remembers and celebrates these important milestone moments of God’s work in his life. We pray that God who has called and consecrated him for his mission in Papua New Guinea continue to give him good health and shower more abundant blessings upon him with many more fruitful years ahead.
At the level of the Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, he established the Vangeke Institute to offer renewal and on-going formation programs to all our Melanesian priests. He also led the process to write Protocols to deal with cases of sexual abuses by priests, religious and Church workers and as well the Policy for Child Protection.