This priest of the Emmanuel Community values sharing, welcoming and no-charging, over efficiency. Building a community instead, is what matters, in order for parishioners to become a family.
As the pastor of Sainte-Madeleine parish in Outremont, Father Patrick Vedrenne’s main wish is: “getting together”!
“My first wish is to see someone come into the church and say: ‘I know at least five people here!’ My second wish would be to know that that person does not go out of the church feeling more alone than when he or she came in,” Father Patrick adds.
In order to achieve that, Sainte-Madeleine’s Sundays have been implemented every other Sunday of the month. After Sunday Mass, as children attend catechism classes, parishioners are invited to take the time to share their thoughts on the Word. They discuss the Gospel reading of the day and what touched them. This is a privileged opportunity for each individual to “anchor the Word, because the Word is shared”, Father Patrick explains. It is followed by times for adoration organized by children to which everyone is welcomed. These are beautiful moments to share one’s thoughts with the community, because “to meet God, one must become little children again to find back one’s spontaneity, like the children attending catechism”. When little ones become teachers to the adults…
“What is not given is lost” (Saint Teresa)
Around noon, there is a potluck for all: “the meals are the backbone of the Gospel”, the pastor of this parish explains. Parishioners meet around meals, build relationships and develop a sense of belonging. Often these meals have a theme (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Saint Patrick’s Day, etc.). A cake created by and for the parish, made up of ‘madeleines and orange blossom’ concludes the meal!
These meals are also an excuse for Father Patrick to find a place to hold the potluck for everyone to attend after Mass. During those meals, people share a coffee and specific personal calls emerge and “everyone can evolve according to his or her own personal gift”, the pastor explains.
Communication at the Service of the Parish
It is in that spirit of friendliness that Sainte-Madeleine parish created, a year ago, a modern and dynamic newsletter and a Facebook page, and remodeled its website.
It also helps in solidifying the bound: “It is not enough to give announcements at the end of the Mass anymore: the newsletter, the website, the Facebook page and the new flyers help to keep the parish vibrant, even when one misses one Mass!,” Father Patrick explains. This new way of communicating enables a lot of people to stay in contact with the Church. “There are some people I don’t know who like our publications, people from the neighbourhood for sure, couples married here some years ago, also some elderly,” he says with joy.
With these new means of communication, parishioners stay informed on the state of affairs of the parish and, thus, build a true community.
Sharing and Christian Formation
The parish offers many opportunities for people to meet: catechism classes, of course, but also movie nights, evenings of glory and praise, recitation of the Rosary, marriage and baptism preparation, and young adults group. The Burning Bush offers to young professionals a biblical training and a prayer school.
Last year, we launched Father’s Weekend. It was a two-day event for everyone to find its specific calling: “A society without fathers is a society without benchmarks.” That weekend focused on sports events, prayers, time for adoration and teachings on paternity.
Friendliness and Mission
The Alpha Journey is a new event we launched this year. This is a place where conviviality and Christian formation meet. “Walking side-by-side, sharing questions, one’s faith and sufferings, as if one was on the Way to Compostela, bring parishioners closer”, Father Patrick thinks. This journey, which is in complete agreement with the diocesan missionary shift, will also enable “everyone to reclaim the basics to convey and to meet God personally in a better way”. The missionary shift must be written on the hearts: “There cannot be a mission without an overflow of the heart,” Father Patrick emphasizes.