By Fr. Ed Eherer, C.Ss.R.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception has always been near and dear to the hearts of Redemptorists, which goes right back to our founder, St. Alphonsus. As you may know, Alphonsus was one of the handful of Catholic writers who championed this doctrine of Mary even before it was officially adopted by the universal Church a century later. So, it is fitting that on this day, under the patronage of Mary, Redemptorists around the world publicly renew their religious vows.
In keeping with this time-honored tradition, the five members of the Grande Prairie community (Albert Sterzer, Rajmund Dorawa, Remi Hebert, Leo English, and Ed Eherer) gathered on December 8th to renew the religious vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, as well as the vow and oath of perseverance. Because of mobility issues, Fr. Rajmund was unable to be there in person, but was united in spirit with the rest of the community as they reaffirmed their commitment to the mission of the Congregation. Also in attendance at the evening Mass was His Grace, Archbishop Gerry Pettipas CSsR, who presided and preached at the liturgy.
On this occasion we were reminded that all Redemptorists are missionaries “…whether they are occupied with various services on behalf of the Congregation or are advanced in age, sick, or incapable of external work or whether, above all, they are suffering and dying for the salvation of the world.” (Constitution 55). And while it is true that our senior members are now unable to be involved in parish ministry because of age and health, they are nevertheless missionaries, actively engaged in the important ministry of prayer.
After the service a small reception was held for those who had gathered to witness the renewal of commitment made by these men, hosted by the Redemptorist Associates.