When Bishop Gérald Caussé first walked down the aisles of the Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City, he felt right at home. The native of France had never lived in the United States, but the sights and smells in the warehouse reminded him of his career working with several supermarket chains and food distribution companies. “When I smell the special smell at the bishops’ storehouse the memories flow,” he said. “The call I have now is a blend of many diverse things I have seen all my life. I know what questions to ask and what to do.”
Bishop Caussé, 52, of France, was named Presiding Bishop on Oct. 9 — after serving three and a half years as first counselor in the bishopric. He filled the vacancy created when Elder Gary E. Stevenson was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Oct. 3.
Joining Bishop Caussé in the Presiding Bishopric are Bishop Dean M. Davies, who had been serving as the second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric and is now the first counselor; and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, who as a member of the Seventy served as a counselor in the South America Northwest Area Presidency in Lima, Peru.
Before being called in 2012 as first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Bishop Caussé served as a General Authority Seventy and as a counselor in the Europe Area Presidency. He is the third presiding bishop born outside the United States and the first for whom English is a second language.
Gérald Caussé was born in Bordeaux, France, on May 20, 1963, to Jean and Marie-Blanche Bonnet Caussé. “My parents joined the Church when I was a little baby,” he said, noting that he was raised in small Church units filled with first-generation Latter-day Saints. “We started from simple beginnings.”
Back then, youth in the Church had many callings and responsibilities. Among other things, he played the organ for Sunday services. Because of this Bishop Caussé learned a pattern for serving in the Church in his youth.
After earning the equivalent of a Master’s in Business Administration Degree from ESSEC Business School, he worked in the food industry. At age 33, he was given responsibility for 1,800 people in a food distribution company. At the time of his calling as a General Authority, he was working as managing director of Pomona, France’s largest food distributor.
Bishop Caussé credits much of his success in business to the support of his wife, Valerie Babin Caussé They met in a young single adult ward in France. On Aug. 5, 1986, the couple married in the Bern Switzerland Temple; they have five children and five grandchildren.
Together they watched the growth of the Church in their native France.
There are almost 38,000 Church members, 108 wards and branches, 10 stakes and two missions in France today — a stark contrast to the small branches that dotted the country in their youth. The Church is also building a temple in France, not too far from where Bishop and Sister Caussé once lived.
“See how the Church can grow in just my life-time,” said Bishop Caussé, who served as president of the Paris France Stake.
When Bishop Caussé was called at age 44 to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy and as a counselor in the Europe Area presidency, the couple moved their children to Germany and began the process of adjusting to a new culture and language; the family moved again — this time to the United States — when Bishop Caussé was called as first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric in March 2012. Bishop Caussé said the family could not have made the moves without Sister Caussé, who “always kept faith and a good sense of humor.”
Bishop Caussé said the three and a half years he spent serving with Elder Stevenson were years of learning and training. It was a “wonderful experience,” he said, where he and the other members of the Presiding Bishopric enjoyed what Elder Stevenson called “Heavenly unity.”
While serving with Elder Stevenson and Bishop Davies there was “no contention or disagreements,” just “harmony and love,” he said.
Elder Stevenson is an “inspired, incredible leader in the Church” who is a “humble man and great mentor,” said Bishop Caussé.
Now he hopes to continue that pattern while continuing his service with Bishop Davies and Bishop Waddell.
Looking forward, he continued, there is much to be done.
The Presiding Bishopric holds the keys to the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood and has the responsibility for the temporal affairs of the worldwide Church under the authority of the First Presidency. The Presiding Bishopric also has an additional “very important responsibility which pertains to all bishops around the world” — that of caring for the poor and needy, said Bishop Caussé.
“A wide range of responsibilities pertain to the temporal affairs of the Church,” said Bishop Caussé, noting that the bishopric oversees the design, construction and maintenance of temples, meetinghouses and all other Church properties around the world. “We have the responsibility to support the priesthood leaders in their divinely appointed responsibility to invite others to come unto Christ.”
That means scriptures, hymn books and Church manuals have to be sent around the world in more than 100 different languages to a constantly growing Church membership. “This is our commitment and also our challenge of every day,” he said.
The bishopric also works to help and support Latter-day Saints become self-reliant, he said. “What is amazing to me is that any time anyone works to become temporally self-reliant there will be spiritual blessings in their lives.”
Church aid also extends, under the direction of the Presiding Bishopric, to those in need of other faiths. “Recently, under the direction of the First Presidency, we have focused on refugees,” said Bishop Caussé, noting that the Church is reaching out to refugees living abroad in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and to those living close to Church headquarters.
Bishop Caussé never served as a bishop of a ward; in fact, he wasn’t ordained as a bishop until his call to the Presiding Bishopric in 2012. However, he has been blessed by the example of many faithful bishops, including his father, as well as his father-in-law, Jean-Albert Babin. “I am grateful for those bishops that have blessed our life,” he said.
He also expressed deep gratitude to the thousands of bishops and branch presidents serving across the globe. “The Church rides on the backs of bishops,” he said.
Bishop Caussé said it is special for any presiding bishop to work and serve under the direction of President Thomas S. Monson.
“He has the heart of a bishop. He will never miss an opportunity to teach us on welfare. He is a source of inspiration. His life is, for us, a model and example to follow.”
As Bishop Caussé looks back on his life, he sees the Lord “put this all together as a path, preparing me for what I am doing.”
The Lord will “guide us in a way we don’t know in advance, but that has great consistency.”
Learn about Bishop Dean M. Davies, the new first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Learn more about Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, the new second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.