By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.
The Redemptorists help sponsor the largest gathering of Catholic university and college students in Canada. All provinces and most campuses across the country were represented at this year’s conference held in Montréal between December 28th, 2015 and January 1st, 2016. This year we put into the hands of every participant, the icon of Our Mother of Our Perpetual Help along with contact information about the Redemptorists.
As sponsors for this Catholic Christian Outreach convention, we are able to meet young adults from all across the country and speak to them about St. Alphonsus and about our life as brothers and sisters in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. I was impressed by the attendance by over 75 young adult men at a pizza lunch hosted by diocesan clergy and religious orders of men! These young adults learned about the priesthood and religious life from the stories of young men already in formation.
Three Redemptorists from our Montréal and Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré communities joined me at this conference (see picture at left). Fr. Guy would ask people going by, “Would you like to become a saint?” Always receiving an enthusiastic response, he would then hand each person a booklet by St. Alphonsus entitled, Uniformity with God’s Will.
We were greeted warmly by the archbishop of Montréal, His Grace Christian Lepine (pictured at left). Other bishops visited during the week as well.
We were brought greetings from Pope Francis through His Emminence Msgr. Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio for Canada (in picture at right).
We experienced splendor and beauty in the church during our Eucharistic celebrations which took place at the Cathédrale Marie-Reine du Monde and at L’Oratoire St Joseph.
Later in January, I was able to reconnect with participants at the conference. I went to JAM (Jesus and Music) sessions at the University of British Columbia and at Simon Fraser University. There we began our time of prayer with songs and petitions. Then we took time to meditate on the Sunday Mass readings in Lectio Divina format. I was very inspired to see small groups of Catholic university students excited about their faith and reaching out to invite others into a deeper relationship with Christ.
Pictured here is the CCO group who meet at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Campus.
As usual, I greatly appreciated a warm welcome from the confreres in Vancouver. As you can see, Fr. Brendan Boland is staying very healthy. He and Fr. Bill Comerford and I, were able to enjoy an overnight trip to the house at Birch Bay. In fact, parishioners gave three hockey tickets to the Redemptorists which enabled them to attend a game at Rogers arena at the beginning of January (see picture below). Frs. Bill and Brendan can often be found in the common room following the Canucks on TV, so this game was a great treat for them to see the Sedins in live action. Fr. Joseph was able to see his first live hockey game!
Fr. Babu missed out on the occasion, but was quite happy to be visiting with his family in India from the end of December through the end of January.
Also in Vancouver and area are groups of Catholic teens and young adults, called Youth for Christ! I was invited to join one such group on a Saturday afternoon for some prayer and some fun.
We asked the question, “How do I click with this Icon? – Our Mother of Perpetual Help.” Using the prayers of St. Alphonsus, we learned to gaze upon Mary and her son Jesus, and to speak to Mary like a friend.
Somebody please make sure that Brother Dan Korn C.Ss.R., our resident expert on this Icon of Love, is sitting down when he sees this. He will be blown away to know that young people took time out of their busy lives to venerate the Icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help!
Through St. Mary’s parish in Vancouver, you can find out more information on their website here.