On this Victoria Day Weekend there are quite a few tourists and visitors in the Capital (catching the tail-end of the Tulip Festival, which has been lenghthened by the cool weather of late).
Among these, we hosted the student body from the Minor Seminary of Québec, re-established during the current school year with twenty students. They were accompanied by their rector Abbé André Gagné and his assistant, Abbé Jimmy Rodrigue, a chaperone, their bus driver and ten aspirants for admission to the Petit Séminaire diocésain de Québec next fall.
Their motto is Semper et diligenter attentus--"toujours a l'écoute pour discerner" (= always attentively listening to discern) and the expectation is that each student will be open to hearing and answering a call from God. One of the seniors, Jonathan, expressed an interest in the Dominican Order.
I met them at 8am at the Cathedral entrance for a guided tour; they had lots of questions and were full of enthusiasm for this weekend adventure in Ottawa, visiting the various museums, the Parliament Buildings, exploring the Rideau Canal. They have accomplished more on this weekend than I have in two years!
Following the tour they had breakfast and left all the platters utterly clean: that's what teenage boys are like! Then they asked me questions about my own vocation and faith journey. What a wholesome group of boys!
Reestablishing the junior seminary was a response by believing Catholics to the secularization of the schools in Quebec and the conviction of Cardinal Ouellet and his advisors that there is a place for a faith-based schooling in that Province. The little information card that they left with me described the kind of student who is welcome:
You are a boy between 11 and 17, have faith and want to deepen it as you complete your high school education (secondary years 1-5 or grades 7-11), with a desire to answer the Lord's call to you, in group living that is dynamic and supportive; if this is the case, the Petit Séminaire is for you. Say to Him, "Here I am!" Come, join us.
Interestingly in my study of the randomness of names, of the 33 young men, five bore the name Raphael, two Gabriel and one Michel. There must be a renewal of interest in archangels in Quebec City.
Then, at 10 o'clock we bid our adieux and they headed towards Rockcliffe Park for Mass at the Nunciature with Archbishop Luigi Ventura as their host.
Following this, I went to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish on St-Laurent Blvd., next to Beechwood Cemetery, recently designated a National Historic Site(Pastor Fr. Stephen Liang, with Deacon Norm Levesque) for the Confirmation and First Holy Communion of 44 second-graders from OLMC and St. Bridget's schools.
Returning to the Cathedral, at two o'clock I found myself before a packed Notre Dame and 94 candidates for Confirmation and First Holy Communion from St. Leonard's Parish, Manotick (Pastor Fr. Geoffrey Kerslake).
After supper I will fly to Québec City for the Montée Jeunesse - Youth Summit, which concludes tomorrow with the transfer of the Ark of the New Covenant (L'Arche de la Nouvelle Alliance) to the Ottawa delegation as we will be hosting this youthfest next Victoria Day weekend.