On October 27, more than 250 catechists and pastoral ministers from Francophone, Anglophone and various cultural communities of the diocese were invited to a day of renewal to pray, receive formation and to meet with one another.
At nine o’clock in the morning the Notre-Dame du Rosaire Church was full of healthy liveliness: volunteers welcomed the catechists and parish leaders held posters written with the names of their parishes to assemble their troops.
Before an enthusiastic gathering, Pascale Haddad, the new director for the Office of Faith Education introduced the day with Archbishop Lépine and Bishop Faubert: “This day is focused on the mission: catechesis is at the heart of the mission and the mission is at the heart of catechesis; with a common thread: encountering Jesus Christ.”
The dream: a Church that is open, welcoming and inclusive
Bishop Alain Faubert proposed that they begin with a moment of silence and reflection: “Your mission is like a construction zone that is built up with prayer.”
Faubert spoke of this pastoral year of mission, insisting upon the missionary shift that must be undertaken: “Each Christian and each community must get out of their comfort zone and have the courage to reach out to all the peripheries that need the light of the Gospel.” (Pope Francis, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium)
This transformation concerns each one of us: “transformation of our hearts, of our ways of thinking, getting away from our attitudes of “What’s the point”, “We’ve always done this”. It is only by changing our ways of doing, speaking and listening, that we will be able to go out to meet a diversified world, contemporary mentalities and that we will be able to welcome those who are alone and isolated. To regain the sense of mission, we only have to look to Christ who “manifested himself through his actions, by bringing people together, by breaking down barriers and by speaking to everyone, without exception.”
Auxiliary Bishop Alain Faubert finished by exhorting the catechists to “move with the world to bear witness: now! Not tomorrow!”
Pray, see, discern and serve
Beginning with these 4 verbs, Most Rev. Lépine gave the catechists a teaching that was punctuated with 4 moments of reflection and meditative Gospel readings.
“Christ is my joy: I give thanks every day for the gift of faith, I cannot imagine my life without God” said Lépine at the beginning of his catechesis. It is in prayer that each catechist is called to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, an encounter that is indispensable to discovering the heart of Christ at the heart of catechism.
“May Jesus Christ be the heart of your lives: in what you say, do and think.” – Archbishop Christian Lépine
As the Arhcbishop spoke of “his professional experience of seeing God everywhere”, he demonstrated that through a life of prayer, each person can have an experience of God acting in their lives: “He guides us, gives us peace, strengthens us, and helps us grow in trust.” Also, God is at work in our own lives, but through prayer we also learn that “God is at work in the hearts of others.” He said that we must not “underestimate the power of prayer”, adding that we must not hesitate to pray for unruly children in catechism… “if you have any!”
Concerning discerning God’s call, Archbishop Lépine gestured, saying: “one had on the beauty of the world, the other on the suffering of the world, and the heart in Jesus Christ.” Beauty and suffering are calls: Each person is brought to the discovery of their call through the heart of Jesus Christ, in prayer.
The Archbishop also broached the subject “What is the meaning of my life?” The only worthwhile answer is one that is valid at all times: “What is the most profound meaning, the most solid meaning that gives meaning to my life no matter my situation, no matter the circumstances?”
Finally, Most Rev. Lépine encouraged the catechists to delve into the beauty and the suffering of Jesus Christ to be touched by the beauty and the suffering of the world. He proposed a plan for them: be in the heart of Jesus Christ while praying the rosary and its mysteries. “I cannot start my day without a prayer, an encounter with God.”
A time of sharing in groups of 3 or 4 people was proposed. Each person had a turn to say one sentence that touched them. Claire and Nathalie, catechists from Pointe-Claire, said they were touched by “the compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience (Col.3, 11-12), mercy, and forgiveness (…) as a response to indignation or suffering.”
After a time of fellowship during lunch, the catechists created a collective work of art and the day ended with Mass presided by Bishop Faubert.