01/08/2013 02:30 EST | Updated 03/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Longtime Ottawa archbishop Joseph-Aurele Plourde dead at age 97

OTTAWA - Joseph-Aurele Plourde, who was a Roman Catholic bishop for almost 49 years, has died at the age of 97.

Plourde took part in the famous Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, which brought in a number of major church reforms.

He was born in Saint-François-de-Madawaska, N.B., on Jan. 12, 1915, and was ordained a priest in 1944.

He was named auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall in Ontario in 1964.

In 1967, he was appointed appointed archbishop of Ottawa and held that post until he resigned with health problems in 1989, about six months before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.

In addition to his work with the Vatican council, Plourde played a pivotal role in the restructuring of what was then the Canadian Catholic Conference, now known as the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In 1967, he was elected to an ad hoc committee which brought forward recommendations on the nature and role of the conference in the wake of the Vatican council.

He led a second committee which oversaw the establishment of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

In 1989, he was named an officer of the Order of Canada.

Plourde's funeral mass is scheduled for Friday at Ottawa's Notre-Dame Cathedral-Basilica.