Saturday, June 5, 2010

Memorial of St. Boniface - Ottawa Diocesan Cursillo & Challenge Movements - Fr. Joseph PLEVNIK (1928-2010)

Today is the liturgical memorial of St. Boniface, a monk of Exeter in England, one of the great figures of the Benedictine Order and of the monastic apostolate in the Middle Ages. Gregory II sent him to preach the Gospel in Germany.

A Benedictine monk was chosen by divine Providence to become Germany's great apostle and patron. Boniface's first missionary endeavor proved unsuccessful (716). Before attempting a second he went to Rome and received papal authorization (718). Under the holy bishop Willibrord he converted Frisia within a period of three years. On November 30, 722, Boniface was consecrated bishop by Pope Gregory II.

In 724 he turned his attention to the Hessian people, among whom he continued his missionary activity with renewed zeal. On an eminence near the village of Geismar on the Eder, he felled a giant oak that the people honored as the national sanctuary of the god Thor. Boniface used the wood to build a chapel in honor of St. Peter. This courageous act assured the eventual triumph of the Gospel in Germany.

The resident clergy and the priests dwelling at the court, whose unworthy lives needed censure, were constantly creating difficulties. Nevertheless Boniface continued to labor quietly, discreetly. He prayed unceasingly, put his trust in God alone, recommended his work to the prayers of his spiritual brothers and sisters in England. And God did not abandon him.

Conversions were amazingly numerous. In 732 Gregory III sent him the pallium, the insignia of the archiepiscopal dignity. Boniface now devoted his time and talent to the ecclesiastical organization of the Church in Germany. He installed worthy bishops, set diocesan boundaries, promoted the spiritual life of the clergy and laity, held national synods (between 742 and 747), and in 744 founded the monastery of Fulda, which became a center of religious life in central Germany. In 745 he chose Mayence for his archiepiscopal see, and affiliated to it thirteen suffragan dioceses. This completed the ecclesiastical organization of Germany.

The final years of his busy life were spent, as were his earlier ones, in missionary activity. Word came to him in 754 that a part of Frisia had lapsed from the faith. He took leave of his priests and, sensing the approach of death, carried along a shroud. He was 74 years of age when with youthful enthusiasm he began the work of restoration, a mission he was not to complete. A band of semi-barbarous pagans overpowered and put him to death when he was about to administer confirmation to a group of neophytes at Dockum.

Tradition makes him the patron of brewers; tailors; Germany; Prussia.

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"De Colores": Ottawa Grand Ultreya

On Wednesday evening, I was invited to preside at the Eucharist at Our Lady of Fatima Church for the semi-annual Follow-Up (Ultreya) to the Cursillo Movement .

It's always a vibrant and joyful gathering with testimonies, food and good fun.

The Ottawa Challenge Movement is a version of the Cursillo (short course in Christian life) for youth, so there is lots of energy when these young adults are around.

Some photos from the gathering:

A twenty-something Cursillista tells how her faith gives flavour to her life

The new Ottawa Challenge Movement executive for the 2010-2011 activity year

Father Peter Monty SJ signs for the deaf members of the Cursillo movement

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JOSEPH PLEVNIK, S.J. (December 18, 1928 - June 4, 2010)

Today's posting comes from Toronto where this morning I will preside at the Jesuit Ordinations at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

On arrival yesterday, I was told that my former professor and colleague at Regis College was close to death at the Jesuit Infirmary in Pickering. Brother John Olney kindly drove me there after supper and Father Philip Shano took me to his room where we prayed and grieved in anticipation. Shortly after 9:00 PM, the Lord of his life came to take him to Himself.

Like his life-long friend Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, Joe was from Slovenia and had studied Scripture (New Testament) at Wurzburg, Germany under the legendary Rudolf Schnackenburg; his thesis was on the Parousia of Christ, a brilliant study of the development of Paul's thinking on the Second Coming of Christ. Inter alia,Joe taught courses on Luke's Gospel, aspects of Pauline Theology and a graduate course on New Testament Methodology.

While Christians yearn to be present at the Lord's return in glory, most will meet him when He comes in the mystery of death. May Christ take this loyal disciple to enjoy the gift of God's mercy, which is also, paradoxically, the fruit of his labours.

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