The cathedral took on the appearance of a construction zone, September 14, during which the Church of Montreal launched its missionary initiative for the new pastoral year. In the midst of orange cones, the bishops sent the faithful out on Mission!
The cathedral had never been so oddly decorated. In fact, initially, no one knew it was “decoration”. Did the ceiling sink? A few onlookers, stared at the vaulted ceiling, broken neck, intrigued, looking for the flaws. But there was nothing. Was it perhaps the floor that we needed to be wary of? We scanned it from left to right. Nothing. But what were those big orange cones and yellow banners that warned of “danger” doing there? The central aisle was littered all the way to the front of the first steps of the chancel.
We would have to wait till evening, after the solemn mass of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and after the meal sharing with some two hundred faithful, before realizing that it was indeed a staging, whereby the central character was none other than the archbishop of Montreal, Archbishop Christian Lépine.
It was special! Let us just say that it is not every day that you see your archbishop making his way to the chancel, wearing not his skullcap or even less so his mitre, but a construction helmut…! While his two auxiliary bishops, Thomas Dowd and Alain Faubert, neither wearing the chasuble…but sporting fluorescent safety vests. We were in for a colourful evening of prayer!
“I have not yet seen myself with this hat on my head,” said Archbishop Lépine. “You are the first to see me like this, and I am not sure that I will go look at myself in the mirror!” It was enough for the several gathered, which would reach six hundred faithful, to break out in laughter.
All had come for the missionary launch of their Church, but we were not expecting for it to be held in the middle of a construction site. However, the official invitation sent out last August was clear: the archbishop invited all “to undertake together in the transformation of their church”!
"Were you surprised to see orange cones? But, in Montreal, we are so used to it!" said Archbishop Lépine, with his usual wry smile. "Well, our church in Montreal, like all churches, is mission territory... and it is to be rebuilt, transformed, renewed. In the past, a mission would take us elsewhere. Now, it is here, too. It can be seen as a burden... But I believe that is a good thing, because to be on a mission is the very nature of the Church, it is its DNA. It is the reason for its existence. It is good to be reminded... For sure I could tell you that we are on a three-year plan... And it is true, we have a three-year plan that Bishop Dowd and Bishop Faubert will reveal to you later. However, I do not want to discourage you, but... the real mission is much longer: it is ultimately until the end of the world! And for all the baptized!"
What is the first condition of being a good missionary? The archbishop did not hesitate one bit: “To know that without Jesus, nothing can be done.”
Nothing is possible on a mission without the person of Christ. This is what, in her own words, one of the nine recipients of the 2018 Diocesan Merit, Micheline Marsan, aged 78, said. Invited to give a brief testimony of her forty years of dedication to the children at Ste. Rose-de-Lima Parish (Ste. Rose, Laval), Ms. Marsan recounted how Christ had brought her to give of herself, quietly, at her own pace, to come to eventually follow Him completely.
The evening of prayer, animated divinely by the musical ensemble of the Benoît-Lacroix Student Center, ended with a simple but very significant procession. At the foot of the Holy Cross enthroned on the chancel were placed baskets filled with little coupons on which each faithful had written two things: the church of their dreams, and the actions they wish be made for it to be realized.
Then the bishops sent everyone on a mission each picking up an orange cone. We all exited the cathedral. We placed our cones on the parvis, forming a new kind of Holy Door.
The Diocesan Merits:
- Ms. Micheline Marsan, Ste. Rose-de-Lima Parish.
- Ms. Julie Waters, from St. Thomas Becket Church and Saint Patrick’s Basilica.
- Ms. Claire Nguyen Thi Tuong, Mr. Joseph Nguyen Tùng Lâm and Ms. Thérèse Truong Guynh Chi, Mission Saints-Martyrs of Vietnam.
- Mr. Louis Huynh Ngoc Trung, Groupe Savio, Mission Saint-Martyrs of Vietnam.
- Ms. Gisèle Joannette and Ms. Francine Valiquette Vermette and Father Stéphane Roy, Oeuvre de Jésus Miséricordieux of Montreal, Notre-Dame-de-la-Trinité Parish.
The transformation of our Church continues here (all are welcome to come):
St. John Fisher Parish: 9 October; 10am-1pm (English)
Notre-Dame D’Anjou Parish: 10 October; 10am-1pm (French)
St. Sixte Parish: 11 October; 10am-1pm (French)