Friday, May 21, 2010

St. Eugène de Mazenod & Mgr Joseph-Eugène-Bruno Guigues - MJ's DISCIPLES - Death of a Canadian Jesuit in Darjeeling

St. Eugène de Mazenod and Bishop Guigues

In showing visitors the portraits of the bishops and archbishops of Ottawa depicted in my residence, I often point out the our first bishop was a colleague of, and sent to us by, a saint: today's memorial, the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, great missionaries here in Canada and around the world.

St. Eugène

In 1815, St. Eugène de Mazenod founded the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to evangelize the poorest populations of Provence that were being neglected. He then sent his missionaries to proclaim the Gospel in America, South Africa and Asia.

Later on, he was appointed Vicar General of Marseilles and, in 1836, Bishop of this same diocese. Until his death on May 21, 1861, he was at the service of his people with an extraordinary pastoral charity, nourished by an intense interior life. In his city, rapidly developing at the time, he created numerous parishes, built new churches and installed new Religious Institutes.

St. Eugene De Mazenod, refused to follow the established modes expected of someone born into nobility. From an early age, Eugene was troubled by the living conditions of the poor and their degraded status in society. When he became a priest, Eugene was not satisfied to accept the traditional role of a pastor serving a large, affluent parish. Instead, he sought out the poor laborers and preached the message of God’s love — a message they had not heard before.

Born in France in 1782, Eugene lived amid turmoil in his country and in his family. Although he grew up with the privileges and luxuries of wealth, his family life was far from ideal. His parents came from very different backgrounds and they eventually divorced, a rarity for Catholics in the 18th century.

As the French Revolution grew, Eugene’s family was forced into exile, and at different times, he was separated from his mother or father for years at a time.

After years of struggling to find his place in life, Eugene experienced a conversion at the age of 25 and entered the seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1811. In 1816, Eugene invited others to join in his ministry to the poor and founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Since that time, thousands of Oblate priests and brothers have dedicated their lives to serving those most in need. He died on May 21, 1861.

On December 3, 1995, Pope John Paul II canonized Eugene De Mazenod a saint and recognized his example of untiring dedication to the poor. (— Excerpted from Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Website)

Last year, in recognition of the impact of the OMIs as missionaries the world over, the Bishops of Canada recommended to the Congregation of Divine Worship the extension of the feast of St. Eugène to the church universal.

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Mgr Guigues

Joseph-Eugène-Bruno Guigues (1805-1874) fut le premier évêque catholique d'Ottawa.

Né à Gap (France) le 28 août 1805, fit profession d'Oblat de Marie Immaculée entre les mains de Mgr Charles-Eugène de Mazenod, le 4 octobre 1824, à Aix, en Provence. Il fut ordonné à Aix par Mgr Fortuné de Mazenod, évêque de Marseille, le 26 mai 1828. De ce jour jusqu'à l'année 1844, il donna des missions dans les diocèses d'Aix, de Marseille, de Tréguier, de Gap, de Grenoble et de Valence. Arrivé au Canada le 18 août 1844, il fut supérieur et provincial des R. P. Oblats, à Longueuil.

Nommé par Pie IX évêque de Bytown (Ottawa), il fut consacré dans sa cathédrale, le 30juillet 1848 par Mgr Gaulin. Mgr Guigues admit, dans son diocèse, les sœurs grises de la Croix, les sœurs de la congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal et les sœurs de la Charité du Refuge. Il se rendit à Rome en 1850 et en 1867 pour les grandes fêtes du 18ème centenaire du martyre des apôtres St-Pierre et St-Paul, et en 1869, au concile du Vatican. Décédé le 8 février 1874, il fut inhumé le 12, dans sa cathédrale.

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Saint Christopher Magallanes was joined in martyrdom by twenty-one diocesan priests and three devout laymen, all members of the Cristeros movement, who rose up in rebellion against the anti-Catholic Mexican government during the 1920s. Having erected a seminary at Totatiche, he secretly spread the Gospel and ministered to the people.

Captured by government authorities, he was heard to shout from his jail cell: "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico."

This optional memorial for May 21 will not generally be observed in Canada because of the feast of St. Eugène.

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As the Youth Summit approaches, the immediate preparations kick into high gear. But there are also spiritual dimensions to be realized by the thirty youth who came a week early to train as DISCIPLES, leaders for the big weekend coming up.

They have been living at Algonquin College and holding sessions at St. John the Apostle church on Baseline Road, hosted by the parishioners and their pastor, Father Thomas Riopelle.

Each day begins with Eucharistic adoration, followed by devotions personal and communal (recited rosary) and an opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Daily Mass is celebrated at 9AM and I had the joyful privilege of presiding yesterday morning, with Fathers Dominique Perron, FMJ and Jonathan Blake concelebrating.

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Canadian Jesuit Edgar Burns (born April 25, 1925; ordained March 19, 1958) passed away on May 17 in Darjeeling, India where he had served over fifty years. The description of his death shows the difference in culture from our own pratices. A priest who was with Father Burns gave a wonderful write-up of his last hours:

Love and Greetings from Fr. Kennedy,

On Thursday, May 17, 2010 at 7.30 pm Fr. Burns passed away. The flame that burnt with love joined the eternal flame of everlasting love. The river that sustained the lives of thousands of people in Darjeeling collected itself and joined the ocean of life. “By dying we are born to eternal life”.

As usual I was with Fr. Burns in his room during the tea time from 4 pm to 5 pm on May 17th. We had a wonderful conversation. During the conversation he asked me how old I am. I said I am 43. Then he went on to say “you are young, you have got into the work of Hayden Hall, you are doing very well, continue to do the work…”

Very little did I know that he was blessing me, as though he knew very well that his hour had come and he must depart from the world.

I have been with Fr. Burns for the past 11 months as the Director of Hayden Hall. I have come to know him … there are times I had gone to give retreats … when I came back to Hayden Hall…… he would say “ I missed you”… I recall and cherish those moments at this time as I miss him a lot.

As usual Ms. Dunne comes in the evenings to Fr. Burn's room, goes through the check list of medicines he has taken or not taken, then guides him through some simple physical exercises. It is at this time, the Time had come for him. At 7.30 pm, I was in my room which is next to Fr. Burns' room, I heard a knock on my door and Ms. Dunne was calling me out… I rushed to Fr. Burns' room, he was collapsing; Ms Dunne, the room boy Mr. Sundeep and I shifted him from his chair to his bed. By then Dr. Plaban Das had arrived. He checked Fr. Burns and pronounced “Fr. Burns had cardiac arrest and I am unable to revive him”. Then I give my blessings and prayed for him.

I first informed the sad news to Fr. Peter Pappu, the provincial of Darjeeling, the local Jesuit communities and the HH (Hayden Hall) staff members. Fr. Kinley, Rector of St. Joseph’s School and his community is the first one to arrive in HH they all prayed over Fr. Burns. Then came the Sisters of St. Joseph’s of Cluny. The bishop of Darjeeling Fr. Stephen Lepcha was there to console us and to pray for Fr. Burns. The HH staff rushed in with tears in their eyes.

Ms. Shanti, the cook for Fr. Burns and me kept on crying and weeping. She looked after Fr. Burns with love and care. That same night around 11 pm I had small meeting with couple of staff members namely with Mr. Khgan and Mr. Gopal to plan out and organize the coming days. The staff members took turns to keep vigil at Fr. Burns' body.

Ms. Dunne began to inform Fr. Burns' relatives and friends. Ms. Edith, professionally a nurse and a social worker was here much ahead of everyone. She cleaned the body with warm water, anointed the body with oil, dressed it with very new cassock which I had and we put on him the Mass vestments. The body of Fr. Burns looked very fresh as though he is just sleeping and it remained in that state till we placed the lid over the coffin. Thanks to Ms. Edith.

On May 18, 2010 at 10 am we shifted the body to the big hall in HH itself for the public to pay their last respects. Fr. Peter Pappu was here in HH in the morning. People from all walks of life came in hundreds. The HH staff members had arranged tea and biscuits for all. Ms. Dunne and I planned for the following Day.

On May 19, 2010 at 9.30 am we had a short prayer service in HH, I blessed body and placed it in a decorated pick-up van arranged by St. Joseph’s College community for the funeral procession. I never witnessed a funeral procession such as this for any priest in my life. The entire town came to a stand-still, shops were closed, roads were cleared, vehicular traffic was held up, the people were lined up on either side of the road with Khadas (a scarf traditionally used in all the religious and civil functions to put on the person around the neck to welcome and give farewell…etc). It was so wonderful to see, it is a witness to the life Fr. Burns lived and the Life he would embrace.

By the time the procession reached the school the number of people swelled up to thousands. Thanks to the old students of Fr. Burns who were very much involved in arranging the procession.

The Mass began at 11.30 am at St. Joseph’s School gymnasium hall. It accommodated more than 1000 people. The hall was overflowing with people so many outside the hall. Fr. Stephen Lepcha, the Bishop of Darjeeling diocese, Fr. Clement, the Bishop of Jailpaiguri diocese, Fr. Thomas, the Bishop of Bagdoghara diocese were presiding over the Mass. Nearly 60 priests were there for the Mass. Hundreds of religious sisters belonging to various congregations were gathered there. Above all Fr. Burns' people, whom he loved and helped were there with tears in their eyes. He was their Hero, a Home to the homeless and a Light House to so many who were confused in sea of life. Fr. Van gave the homily; it was personal therefore at times emotional. It was well received. At 3.30 pm the entire ceremony including the burial was over. The burial ceremony was conducted by Fr. Papadil.

Mid-April Fr. Burns was in the hospital when Ms Rosana Pellizzari and her Husband Mr. Sil visited us in HH. Their visit was a real healing to Fr. Burns. We brought him back to Hayden Hall and celebrated his 85th Birthday, meticulously planned and arranged by Ms. Rosana. The Jesuits too in good number joined the celebration. I recall how happy he was just a few weeks ago in the presence of Rosana and Mr. Sil. Thank you so much you have made a difference in the last days of his life. I must say he remained happy till the last moment of his life.

On this occasion, I like to thank the parents of Fr. Burns, his brothers and sisters and his relatives for giving us the gift of Fr. Burns. I continue to remember you in my prayers, most of whom I have met while you were in India. I request you to pass on the message to the friends, well wishers of Fr. Burns and all those who support his work in HH.

I love you and pray for you.

Fr. Kennedy

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