Friday, May 1, 2009

May 1--St. Joseph the Worker; Paul's Conversion; Mgr Roger Quesnel

The Eucharist this morning was very rich: the commemoration of St. Joseph the Worker, along with the story of the first account of St. Paul's conversion in Acts 9 and Jesus' powerful invitation to go beyond his words in drawing near to him for life by eating his flesh and drinking his blood in the Holy Eucharist.

When Paul asks the voice from heaven, "Who are you, Lord?"--in reply to "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"--the answer was not convoluted, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting" (in the members of the church being sought out for condemnation, imprisonment and possible death). Not the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Son of David, the Messiah or any other such title, but only Jesus [of Nazareth]. The rest would come later in Paul's contemplation, reflection and exposition of his theology. Right now only: the Church = Jesus, an incipient treatise on the Church as the Body of Christ.

This afternoon, I visited Mgr Roger Quesnel at the Deschatelets Residence (named in honour of Pere Leo Deschatelets, omi [Montreal, 9 March 1899-Ottawa, 11 January 1974], superior general of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate for a quarter century [1947 to 1972]).

Though Abbe Quesnel is a priest of Ottawa he was a long-time member of the Theology Faculty at St. Paul's University, so he lived in the nearby Oblate residence and continued on there in his retirement. Now, aged 83, he suffers from sudden falls and is no longer sufficiently autonomous to be able to stay in his quarters. The Oblates have invited him to join their retired men in the Oblate Infirmary in Richelieu, south of Montreal. He will go there on Tuesday and is now engaged in disposing of his affairs and bidding his farewells.

I first met him when I made inquiries about the status of the Diocesan Process to explore the saintly virutes of Governor-General Georges Vanier and his wife Madame Pauline Vanier, parents of l'Arche founder and spiritual author Jean Vanier. Mgr Quesnel had written up the report and presented three bound volumes to me. I have also learned of his role in preparing the formation program for the restoration of the Permanent Diaconate. He assured me that appropriate files were being transferred to the Diocesan Archives and that he would pass on other helpful or suitable items.

Teasingly, he mentioned that when, with nine other priests, he was named a Prelate of Honour by John Paul II in 1997 as part of the Archdiocese's sesquicentennial, he had purchased the appropriate cassock with coloured piping. He allowed as how he had only worn it once, that it was in mint condition for an appropriately-sized candidate and that he would leave it in my care. I said I would try not to be influenced by his build and the thought of saving money when the time comes to consider a new batch of monsignori!

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