Monday, October 11, 2010

Chapter of Affairs & Election: Sœurs de Charité d’Ottawa - Blessed Pope John XXIII

A visit to Mont St-Joseph in the Rockcliffe section of Ottawa gave me an opportunity last Sunday afternoon before my departure to Rome to preside at the Mass of the Holy Spirit, invoking God's blessing on the Chapter Delegates of the Sisters' of Charity of Ottawa's Thirtieth General Chapter.

To accommodate the large number of delegates, as well as Sisters from the Ottawa area, the gymnasium was set up as a Chapel for the occasion, decorated with posters wiht the Chapter Theme, "Being a Light to Others Is to Make My Life a Gift".

The delegates came from eleven countries and the readings and prayers were done in French, English, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese and tribal languages of Africa.

Having transferred to Maison de la Providence in Orleans for the rest of the Chapter, this week will see the election of the Superior General and her Council.

Prayers and best wishes for these dynamic women of faith who carry on the legacy of Mere Elisabeth Bruyere and her devotion to the ministry of teaching and health care.

Some photos from the Opening Mass:

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Optional Memorial of Blessed John XXIII (1881-1963)

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Council, which was chosen as the feast day of "Good Pope John" (as he was called by so many) when he was beatified ten years ago.

The firstborn son of a farming family in Sotto il Monte, near Bergamo in northern Italy, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was always proud of his down-to-earth roots. In Bergamo’s diocesan seminary, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order.

After his ordination in 1904, Angelo returned to Rome for canon law studies. He soon worked as his bishop’s secretary, Church history teacher in the seminary and as publisher of the diocesan paper.

His service as a stretcher-bearer for the Italian army during World War I gave him a firsthand knowledge of war. In 1921 he was made national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith; he found time to teach patristics at a seminary in the Eternal City

In 1925 he became a papal diplomat, serving first in Bulgaria, then in Turkey and finally in France (1944-53). During World War II, he became well acquainted with Orthodox Church leaders and with the help of Germany’s ambassador to Turkey, Archbishop Roncalli helped save an estimated 24,000 Jewish people.

Named a cardinal and appointed patriarch of Venice in 1953, he was finally a residential bishop. A month short of entering his 78th year, he was elected pope, taking the name John, his father’s name and the two patrons of Rome’s cathedral, St. John Lateran. He took his work very seriously but not himself. His wit soon became proverbial and he began meeting with political and religious leaders from around the world. In 1962 he was deeply involved in efforts to resolve the Cuban missile crisis.

His most famous encyclicals were Mother and Teacher (1961) and Peace on Earth (1963). Pope John XXIII enlarged the membership in the College of Cardinals and made it more international. At his address at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, he criticized the “prophets of doom” who “in these modern times see nothing but prevarication and ruin.” Pope John XXIII set a tone for the Council when he said, “The Church has always opposed... errors. Nowadays, however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”

On his deathbed he said: “It is not that the gospel has changed; it is that we have begun to understand it better. Those who have lived as long as I have…were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.”

He died on June 3, 1963. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 2000.

In 1903, young Angelo wrote in his spiritual journal: “From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents of their virtues. I am not St. Aloysius, nor must I seek holiness in his particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character and the different conditions of my life. I must not be the dry, bloodless reproduction of a model, however perfect. God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it into our own life-blood, adapting it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances. If St. Aloysius had been as I am, he would have become holy in a different way” (Journal of a Soul)
 [Saint of the Day at].

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Several of us Canadians in Rome will be going out for supper this evening, though we doubt that turkey, cranberries and all the trimmings will be anywhere to be found.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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