Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Pope in the National Capital Region in 1984 - The Clean-Up at Sainte-Anne's Church


Twenty-five years ago this weekend, the Church of Ottawa welcomed Pope John Paul II, the 263rd Successor of Peter in an outburst of joy, enthusiasm and honour.

September 19-20, 1984 were wonderful days in our archdiocesan history, a time to be mulled over in retrospect as we renew our hopes from that time so as to face the future with joyful confidence.

This weekend, we should take a moment to express our gratitude to God for the gift of being called to be Catholics. We should also thank Our Lord for the ministry of Peter exercised now by Pope Benedict XVI.

The ministry of the successor of Peter, the chief of the apostles, guarantees that our faith belongs to the apostolic tradition. As well, we should resolve to take up anew the call from John Paul II to engage in the renewed evangelization needed in our time.

In the words Karol Woytyla used in Ecclesia in America, today’s evangelization must be new in its “ardor, its methods and its expression”.

Yes, we are called—as John Paul was—to proclaim Christ to the world, responding to the challenge he issued at every stop he made during his pastoral visit to Canada.

Building on the pope’s programmatic first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis (Christ, “the Redeemer of Man”), let us boldly proclaim Christ Jesus, the saviour of the whole human who is “the same yesterday, today and always” (Hebrews 13:8).

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On Wednesday, September 19, 1984, more than 250,000 people lined the Rideau Canal to see the Pope's flotilla, --including the specially designed Popeboat -- pass by, as classical music wafted from speakers.

He waved and made the sign of the Cross, blessing the thousandsa who had stood by the railings since early morning. He then boarded the Popemobile to drive through the streets of Hull (now Gatineau), where another 60,000 people lined the city's streets.

From the moment his plane touched down at the airport, Pope John Paul II returned the affection poured upon him by the citizens of the Nation's Capital. Almost 400,000 attended the open air Mass at LeBreton Flats in the centre of the city, the final Mass in the Pope's to our country.

Excerpts from his homilies and addresses:

At the Concelebrated Mass in the Monastery of Les servantes Jesus-Marie (Hull)

Notre monde a plus que jamais besoin de découvrir, dans vos communautés et votre style de vie, la valeur d’une vie simple et pauvre au service des pauvres, la valeur d’une vie librement engagée dans le célibat pour se consacrer au Christ et, avec lui, aimer tout spécialement les mal-aimés, la valeur d’une vie où l’obéissance et la communauté fraternelle contestent silencieusement les excès d’une indépendance parfois capricieuse et stérile.

Si vous recherchez, avec l’Esprit Saint, la sainteté correspondant à votre état de vie, n’ayez pas peur. Il ne vous abandonnera pas. Des vocations viendront vous rejoindre. Et vous-mêmes, vous garderez votre jeunesse d’âme, qui n’a rien à voir avec l’âge. Oui, très chères Sœurs, vivez dans l’espérance. Gardez les yeux fixés sur le Christ et marchez d’un pas ferme sur ses traces, dans la joie et dans la paix...

This evening, at the end of my long apostolic journey across Canada, I am very happy to be ... the guest of the sisters. As Jesus loved to withdraw to Bethany to the home of Mary and Martha - the one more contemplative, the other more active - I have come to your home in order to pray with you.

As Peter and the other Apostles withdrew to the Cenacle, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, I come to invoke the Holy Spirit. May he pour out his light and his power upon all the inhabitants of this dear country, so that the Church here might grow in holiness! Pray with me for all religious, for all those who are consecrated, for the men and women who are members of Secular Institutes. Let us pray for the priests, who are the ministers of the Eucharist and the guides of consciences. Let us pray for those who educate people in the faith. Let us pray for those who undergo persecution for their faith.

Et, auprès d’Ottawa où je rencontrerai ce soir des responsables de la vie politique, où demain je célébrerai la messe pour la paix, prions pour tous ceux qui doivent contribuer à établir plus de justice, de paix et de fraternité, au Canada et dans les pays moins favorisés.

Seigneur Jésus, que ton règne vienne! Amen.

To the Diplomatic Community in Ottawa, at Rideau Hall, the Governor-General's Residence

Depuis le début de mon voyage pastoral et tout au long des diverses étapes de mon périple dans votre incomparable pays du Canada, je désirais cette rencontre dans la capitale du Canada avec tant de personnalités distinguées. Je suis très heureux d’avoir pu m’entretenir cet après-midi avec Madame le Gouverneur Général et d’avoir pu évoquer avec elle les sujets qui intéressent le Canada et le monde. Je suis vivement touché de votre présence à tous ici et je voudrais vous remercier très cordialement de l’honneur que vous faites ainsi à l’Evêque de Rome, premier Pasteur de l’Eglise catholique.

Il ne m’est pas possible, à cette heure, de tenter, même brièvement, une analyse des impressions profondes et durables éprouvées si souvent au long des heures inoubliables de ma visite auprès du peuple du Canada. Permettez-moi de dire simplement que je remercie le Dieu tout-puissant pour les moments de grâce qu’il m’a accordés au cours des nombreuses rencontres de prière, de partage et de dialogue avec tant de personnes dans ce pays.

En vous rencontrant aujourd’hui, vous qui représentez non seulement le peuple du Canada mais aussi les peuples de tant de pays, je pense une fois encore au monde entier et aux liens qui unissent toute l’humanité: le Nord et le Sud, l’Est et l’Ouest, les hommes, les femmes et les enfants, les jeunes et les anciens....

A tous les peuples et à toutes les nations qui ont sincèrement et honnêtement lutté, au cours des décades qui ont suivi la seconde guerre mondiale, pour créer un monde de relations pacifiques et de justice internationale, nous sommes redevables de ne pas laisser notre conception de la situation mondiale s’obscurcir par le pessimisme et de défaitisme. Un progrès réel a été effectivement accompli dans bien des domaines et il convient de le reconnaître avec estime....

Je fais appel à vous aujourd’hui, Mesdames et Messieurs, et à travers vous à toutes les personnes que vous représentez à des titres divers: soyez les défenseurs d’une conception nouvelle de l’humanité, une conception qui n’envisage pas seulement les problèmes de société en fonction des équations économiques, techniques ou politiques, mais en fonction des personnes vivantes, des êtres humains créés à l’image et à la ressemblance de Dieu et appelés à un destin éternel; une conception fondée sur les valeurs humaines véritables et donc qui les défende; une conception qui inspire l’action et surmonte l’auto-satisfaction, l’insensibilité et l’égoïsme....

Nobody will deny that today’s world is truly in need of a new vision of peace. People are being killed in war-torn countries. People live in fear of the ever present possibility that tensions and conflicts will be settled by the might of weapons and not by the force of reason. People feel threatened by the very existence of powerful arsenals of destruction and by the absence of meaningful progress in disarmament negotiations. People suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease. Many lack education and the possibility of living meaningful lives, while at the same time they see immense funds being engulfed in the arms race. It is important to state again and again that war is made in the hearts and the minds of the men and women of our times, and that true peace will come about only when the hearts and minds of all are converted to compassion, to justice and to love.

In the new vision of peace there is no place for self-centredness and antagonism. We are all involved; we all carry the responsibility for our own conversion to thoughts and actions of peace. One person alone cannot change the world, but all of us together, strong in the conviction and determination that peace begins in our own hearts, will be able to create a peaceful and peace-loving society. On my part I have decided to devote my annual Message for the forthcoming celebration of the World Day of Peace to the theme: "Peace and youth go forward together". Today’s world population is made up in large measure of young people. Their commitment to peace will make a meaningful difference for the future of the world, and the contributions of everyone - when put together - will change the world.

The relationships between individuals and between peoples are at the core of the problems of society. The relationships must be based on a vision of the human person that proposes and extols the dignity and sacredness of every human being. The dignity of the human person is the basis of all human rights. We cannot but rejoice at the growing awareness that exists of the importance and centrality of respect for human rights for the building up of society in peace and in justice. It remains necessary, however, in the promotion of respect for human rights, to refer to their ultimate foundation: the human person and his or her dignity viewed in all their dimensions. Every human being lives at the same time in the world of material values and needs and in that of spiritual aspirations and achievements. The needs and the hopes, the freedoms and relationships of the human person never concern one sphere of values to the exclusion of the other. It is in this light that human rights and liberties, and the corresponding duties and responsibilities, have to be viewed.

Today I wish to draw your attention in a particular way to what I consider to be extremely fundamental in the whole question of all human rights: the right to religious freedom. Religious liberty is a right that directly concerns what is essential in the human person and what fully manifests his or her dignity: the relationship to God, the Creator and the ultimate destiny of every human being. It is all the more reprehensible that various forms of denial of religious freedom and of discrimination against believers and the whole community of the Church still take place, notwithstanding the existence of constitutional legislation and international instruments which guarantee the right to religious liberty.

I wish at this time, in union with all men and women of good will, to proclaim again the right to life, and to make a renewed plea that the right to life of the unborn be respected. We must abhor the fact that in not a few societies abortion has become socially acceptable and is made readily available. Abortion is being presented as the ready answer to many problems: the problems of unwanted pregnancy, the problems of the unmarried pregnant woman, the problems of a fast growing population, the problems of the poor. Not only does society permit the destruction of unborn human beings, it often tries to justify that destruction. When respect for human life is systematically denied or refused, the dignity of every human being and the sacredness of all human life is being attacked....

Ladies and gentlemen: I present to you these elements of an uplifting vision of humanity for your reflection and encouragement as you discharge the lofty responsibilities that are yours. Be always the bearers of this vision here in Canada and throughout the world. Let it become an incentive and a moving force towards actions and commitments that will make the world a world where peace and justice reign. This, dear friends, is the world which God in his goodness has entrusted to our care.

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Scenes of the Clean Up at Lower Town's Eglise Sainte-Anne

Just before Palm Sunday 2009, the roof collapsed in St. Anne's Church, an historic edifice not far from Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. The building was immediately condemned and cordoned off until it would be safe for people to enter.

There were also issues with insurance (who was liable, what was covered in picking up the pieces) as well as about the future of the church and the congregation that worshipped in it. Since Palm Sunday, the nucleus of faithful Catholics has been meeting for Mass in a meeting room at the nearby Patro d'Ottawa.

Now, the clean-up has begun, though it is slow and tenuous as engineers consider how to make the whole complex safe.

Photos of the church's interior at this time have come to my attention and indicate the extent of the challenges the archdiocese and the parish face.


  1. I am am glad to see that the clean-up has begun. As an organist, I am worried about the state of the organ after all the dust that fell in over everything in the church. Will the organ be looked at in the near future?
    Gilles Leclerc

  2. J'abonde aussi dans le sens de M. Leclerc. Qu'adviendra-t'il de l'orgue, l'un des plus beaux à Ottawa? Il faudra sûrement procéder à un nettoyage poussé et surtout, consulter les experts en la matière.Le fait que cet instrument vive dans la poussière depuis des mois n,est certainement pas le meilleur traitement. Le protège-t'on lors des travaux?