By Fr Ed Eherer, C.Ss.R.
The instruction from Pope Pius IX was a simple one: “Make her known.” And in the 151 years that have passed since that day, generations of Redemptorists around the world worked diligently to answer that call. Once again, St. Patrick’s Church in Toronto has continued that mission to promote the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, known as “the Icon of Love.” From June 26 to June 28, thousands of pilgrims from around the greater Toronto area gathered to honour Our Blessed Mother under the title of Perpetual Help. The presider and preacher for this year’s celebration was well-known Redemptorist missionary preacher, Father Eugene O’Reilly, affectionately known as “Red.” Red brought together his usual combination of humour, music, and compassion to inspire the people to follow Mary’s example of discipleship and service in their own lives.
Each night of the Triduum followed a different theme. Monday’s theme was “Listening, Struggling and Saying ‘Yes’.” Tuesday’s theme was “Blessed are Those Who Mourn” and was followed by a beautiful celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick. Wednesday’s Theme was “Take Her into Your Home,” inspired by Christ’s instruction to John at the foot of the cross. Father Red showed why he is in such demand as a mission preacher, sharing many stories of help, hope and humour to make his point. Each sermon was punctuated by a song from Father Red, including a crowd-favourite, Charlie Landsborough’s “My Forever Friend.”
The three-day celebration highlighted the cosmopolitan character of St. Patrick’s. The music for the first night was provided by the German men’s choir Harfentöne; Tuesday night we were blessed with the Irish Choral Society; and Wednesday we had our Sunday choir, made up of singers from around the world. The last evening of the Triduum was topped off by an international food fair, with food from many countries.
All in all, I think we have been faithful to that “simple” instruction from Pope Pius IX, to make her known.