Active throughout the world, the Cenacolo is a community that is often the last refuge for young people addicted to drugs, porn, gambling, alcohol, or who are suicidal. Discover this ministry that seeks to establish a refuge in Montreal.
At the heart of Montreal's red light district, amid the hustle and bustle on Sainte-Catherine Street, Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Chapel is nestled between the brick walls of the UQAM.
Dominating the exterior facade of the chapel is a golden statue of the Virgin Mary. The Madonna is young and majestic, standing on a globe, crushing the ancient snake with her left foot.
There couldn't be a more perfect place for the Amis de la Miséricorde. This small group consists of mothers and fathers who pray for their drug addicted children and those of others and for a Cenacolo Community to be established in Quebec.
Cenacolo Community? This is the last refuge for these kids, whether they are addicted to drugs, pornography, gambling, alcohol or are suicidal.
Short piece of history
In 1983, Mother Elvira (Rita Agnese Petrozzi) established the first Cenacolo Community near Turin, Italy, to provide a place for young people with drug addiction problems who hung out in the streets without purpose in life. Many came to her for help. With them, she built this first shelter.
It is entirely free of charge, but involves a very demanding, although simple and friendly, way of life: human relations, "rediscovering the gift of work as a means of developing maturity, prayer and faith in Jesus Christ as the solution to the infinite need that dwells in the human heart". Throughout this recovery process, each young person is accompanied by a "guardian angel," a recovered addict, who will watch over him or her night and day. Finally, help is also offered to the parents of these young people.
Today, there are approximately 60 Cenacolo communities worldwide... But not one in Canada! That's why this small group of former young addicts from Montreal, given a new life by the Cenacolo communities in Lourdes and Lyon, France, get together with their parents and friends.
Suzanne, a young Montrealer originally from France, explained how for three years she was "lost in the depths of addiction and related depressive disorders. I underwent several therapies. Each time I felt good while at the respective centres, but once outside, I would inevitably relapse, and the lying, guilt and shame would follow. I no longer had the will to live, even though hidden deep inside me was the desire to get clean and love life once again."
Her doctor told her about the Cenacolo Community, and how his own son was saved by the "fellowship." "He just asked me to do some research to see if it appealed to me. At first, I was resistant. I thought I was dealing with a sect. I was born into a Catholic family, but I had stopped practicing a long time ago..."
After 18 months at the Cenacolo Community in Lourdes, Suzanne rediscovered her taste for life and never touched drugs again. She now lives in Montreal and is confident that she will find work. She prays for the Cenacolo Community to come to Quebec.
Gérald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, and Bishop Marc Pelchat, Auxiliary Bishop, travelled with a large Quebec delegation to Italy in November 2017 and attended the Cenacolo Youth Festival in Saluzzo.
The person behind all of this is Julien Foy, founder and Director of l'Association Regina Pacis, who has been working many years on trying to bring the Cenacolo Community to Quebec.
He said that the community wishes to ensure it has a strong foundation before establishing itself in a new country. It needs to know that there is a strong community on site, ready to contribute.
"Yes, they will come to Quebec. They said they would. But it will all be realized through a process that remains to be established," he said. In a letter to the friends of the Cenacolo Community he wrote, "I came to the realization that I had to increase my efforts and roll up my sleeves, like Mother Elvira, and continue with this roadmap. 'We will come' is not an absolute. I clearly understood that 'we will come' is to be the final outcome of a fraternal collaboration between us, one that is spiritual in particular. At the same time, I know more than ever which path to take and I know we are heading in the right direction. I am filled with inner peace and a certainty that the process has truly begun."
It is clear to everyone: Quebec needs the Cenacolo Community; the youth of Quebec need the Cenacolo Community. So... Ready! Set! Come and pray!
The Amis de la Miséricorde are supported by Father Loïc, chaplain of the Bordeaux Prison and of Maison du Père. They get together every third Tuesday of the month at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Chapel, at 430 Sainte-Catherine Street East, Montreal. Métro Berri-UQAM.
Upcoming meetings (in french):
Tuesday, March 20, 6:45 pm
Tuesday, April 17, 6:45 pm
Tuesday, May 15, 6:45 pm Program: 6:30 pm: Greeting
6:45 pm: Rosary
7:15 pm: Adoration led by a priest
8:00 pm: Fraternal meeting
9:00 pm: End of the meeting