Saturday, May 22, 2010

St. Rita of Cascia - Photos from Visit to St. Leonard's Parish, Manotick

My home parish in Montreal was named in honour of ST. RITA OF CASCIA so her feast on May 22 has long been part of my devotional life. Rita's feast was dropped in the reform of the post-conciliar liturgical renewal, but Pope John Paul II returned him to the calendar as an optional memorial.

St. Rita of Cascia (born: 1386; died: May 22, 1457; canonized: May 24, 1900, by Pope Leo XIII; patron saint of impossible cases [along with St. Jude]).

Despite her marriage being arranged against her wishes at the tender age of 12, Rita remained loyal to her spouse for the entire 18 years of their marriage. Rita was also a devoted mother of two boys. Rita's religious and spiritual convictions so frustrated and angered her husband that he often flew off in a fit of rage, beating and abusing her.

Sixteen years into their marriage, her consistency and persistence finally had their toll - she converted her husband her her way of life; but two years later he was murdered, in what was believed to be a politically motivated assassination. Knowing this, Rita's two boys immediately began to scheme to avenge their father's murder.

Rita exhausted all efforts to convince her boys not to go forward with their plans, but she did not succeed. Fearing for her boys' souls, as a last resort, she prayed for their death before they could carry out their plans. Her prayers were answered.

After losing her entire family, Rita asked to join the local convent in Cascia but she was turned down, as widows were not allowed to enter. Unswayed by her failed attempt, her prayers were again answered, this time in grand fashion. Saints Augustine of Hippo, John the Baptist and Nicholas of Tolentino accompanied her on a journey to the Augustinian Convent Santa Maria Maddalena. When the party arrived, they found, as was the practice for the convent, that the entry way securely locked.

Proving no challenge for this saintly crew, Rita was found the next morning praying in the convent's chapel. Realizing that greater powers than just Rita were at work here, the convent waived the non-admittance of widows and allowed Rita to join the convent.

During the remaining years of her life, this future saint prayed to join with Jesus in His suffering and was given the stigmata gift of a thorn in the forehead. Although the thorn itself was not visible to anyone but Rita, the wound certainly was. This wound remained with her for the rest of her life, festering and exuding a horrible smell for some 15 years. The stench was so extreme that she became a recluse within the convent.

At the time of her nearing death, it was reported by several witnesses that the smell turned from revolting to a sweet, pleasant odor. And at the moment of her death, a bright light, the source of which was the wound in her forehead, filled the room.

"Bestow on us, we pray, O Lord, the wisdom and strength of the Cross, with which you were pleased to endow St. Rita, so that, suffering in every tribulation with Christ, we may participate ever more deeply in his Paschal Mystery. Who lives and reigns with you."

* * * * * *


In reviewing my reporting on visits and activities, it became clear that the visit to St. Leonard's Parish, Manotick (April 22, 24-25) had not been covered, for which my apologies to pastor Father Daniel Hawkins, MSF and his parishioners.

That period coincided with my trip to the first (francophone) Wedding Anniversary Mass and my travel to Turin and Rome.

On April 22, Father Dan Hawkins Father Muldoon and me at St. Francis Xavier High School and for the visitation activities the rest of that day: 9:00 am Visit to St. Francis Xavier High School, Principal- Peter Atkinson; 10:00 am Visit to St. Jerome’s Elementary School, Principal- Gerry Gilmore; 11:00 am Visit to St. Leonard’s Elementary School, Principal- Kimberly Giles; 12:00 pm Orchard View Seniors Home for an informal luncheon with the owner and residents, Contact - Agatha Thissen; 1:45 pm Carleton Lodge Seniors Home, Contact- Barry Gauthier.

The other main event took place on Saturday, April 24th a "Meet the Volunteer Leaders" session (members of the Pastoral and Finance Councils, as well as leaders of K of C, CWL, Outreach and Pastoral Care Teams: 6:30 pm Presentation on Parish
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm Discussion with Archbishop, feedback on the questions that I asked them to consider was presented for discussion. In particular, many parishioners would like to know what that the Diocese’s plans are for Riverside South and what impact that will have on the future of St. Leonard’s.

Here are some photos of the day and of the meeting with committee representatives at a Saturday evening supper in the parish hall.

St. Francis Xavier students explain the motivation and outcomes of the various committees, bodies in this brand new high school

Presentation of a gift to me after the exchanges



After lunch at Orchard View

Carleton Lodge Exchange

Meeting with Parish Reps

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