Friday, October 1, 2010

Memorial of St. Therese of Lisieux - Fostering a Culture of Life in Ottawa this October

Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, one of the most instantly popular saints of the twentieth century, was canonized less than thirty years after her death at the age of twenty-four.

A principle reason for her great appeal to ordinary Catholics was her "Little Way" to holiness—her example of achieving sanctity, not through undertaking great deeds, but through personal devotion and dedication. The young nun's autobiography, L'histoire d'une âme (The Story of a Soul), written at the command of her prioress, was much admired for its deep spiritual wisdom and beauty.

The book presented people with a compelling example of spiritual maturity and piety achieved by an ordinary young girl. An anecdote, that she had promised to send roses as a sign of her intercession led to the affectionate nickname, the "Little Flower". Her shrine at Lisieux, France, is still one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Europe.

Thérèse was born in Alençon on January 2, 1873 to Louis Martin and Azélie-Marie Guérin (both of whom were recently beatified). When Thérèse was only four, her mother died, and so her father moved the family to Lisieux, where the five children were watched by their aunt. An older sister, Mary, ran the household and the eldest, Pauline, made herself responsible for the religious upbringing of her sisters.

Pauline later entered the Carmel, an order of contemplative nuns, at Lisieux and Thérèse began to be drawn in the same direction. When Thérèse was fourteen another sister joined Pauline in the Carmel.

During the following year Thérèse told her father of her wish to become a Carmelite, and he agreed; but both the Carmelite authorities and the bishop of Bayeux refused to hear of it because of her young age.

A few months later she was in Rome with her father and a French pilgrimage. At the public audience, when her turn came to kneel for the Pope Leo XIII's blessing, Thérèse broke the rule of silence on such occasions and asked him, "in honour of your jubilee, allow me to enter Carmel at fifteen".

Pope Leo was clearly impressed by the young girl, but he upheld the decision of the immediate superiors. At the end of the year the bishop gave his permission, and in 1888 Thérèse entered the Carmel at Lisieux, taking the name of Theresa of the Child Jesus.

One of the principal duties of a Carmelite nun is to pray for priests, a duty that Sister Theresa performed with fervour. Although she was physically frail she carried out all the practices of the austere Carmelite rule. Yet, photographs taken by her sister within the cloister show Sister Theresa in high spirits in the costume of Joan of Arc for a drama the nuns staged, working happily in the kitchen with other nuns, and in the familiar portrait.

In 1893 Sister Theresa was appointed to assist the novice mistress. In 1894 her father died, and soon after her sister Céline, who had been looking after him, becoming the fourth Martin sister to enter the Lisieux Carmel.

Eighteen months later, Sister Theresa heard, "as it was, a far-off murmur announcing the coming of the Bridegroom": it was a haemorrhage at the mouth from tuberculosis.

Although she had hoped to serve as a missionary, her disease advanced, and the last eighteen months of her life was a time of physical suffering and spiritual trials.

In June 1897 she was removed to the infirmary of the convent where she died on September 30. She was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1923—he canonized her in 1925. In 1927 she was named the heavenly patroness of all foreign missions, and of all works for Russia (from Butler's Lives of the Saints Concise Edition. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1985).

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O God, who open your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Therese, so that, through her intercession, we may see your eternal glory revealed. Through our Lord.

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In the Catholic dioceses of the United States, October is Respect Life Month. Recently, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston spoke of what he perceives to be the greatest threats to human dignity in society, calling on Catholics to work towards transforming culture “into one that welcomes every human person.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who serves as chairman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, noted recently that with “each passing year, the need for personal and public witness grounded in God’s boundless love for each and every human being grows more urgent.”

While we do designate October as Respect Life Month, there are significant opportunities to witness and work for the cause of life in Ottawa this month. 

Here are some of them:

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The current manifestation of 40 Days for Life began on September 22 and will conclude on October 31, 2010 at 7:00PM.

40 Days for Life is an international campaign of prayer and peaceful witness outside of the world's abortion facilities (locally at 65 Bank Street, Ottawa) to highlight and defeat the scourge of abortion in our time. There have now been five coordinated 40 Days for Life campaigns in Ottawa, beginning in the autumn of 2007 until now.

These efforts have mobilized people of faith and conscience in 240 cities across all 50 of the United States, five Canadian provinces, plus locations in Europe and Australia. Thousands of lives have been saved! After so many years of legalized abortion, many people of faith are experiencing a renewed sense of HOPE! (

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On Sunday, October 3 across North America the silent witness in favour of life will take place from 2:00-3:00 PM (local times may differ). Local silent demonstrations will take place at the following locations:

LIFE CHAIN ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, OTTAWA - several locations, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.:
Bank St at Nepean St
Carling Ave at Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus
Montreal Rd at St. Laurent Blvd                                       
Vanier Parkway at Montreal Rd
ALMONTE - Martin St at Ottawa St
KANATA - Hazeldean Rd at Eagleson Rd
KANATA - March Rd at Dunrobin Rd
NEPEAN - Merivale Rd at Meadowlands Dr
ORLEANS - St. Joseph Blvd at Orleans Blvd
OTTAWA SOUTH - Bank St at Hunt Club Rd
RUSSELL - Castor St at Concession St

For info on other sites across Canada, in the USA, cf:

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Birthright of Ottawa is a chapter of Birthright International. Birthright is an organization born of the need to help women—married or single—that are distressed by an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. Each woman seeking help receives the warmth of another person's friendship and practical assistance.

We are organized on a volunteer, non-sectarian basis and are free of charge. We operate a twenty-four hour crisis centre and have been serving the Ottawa community since July, 1973.

The first stage in helping a woman, who is distressed, is to determine if she is really pregnant. A free pregnancy test is done, and if the pregnancy is confirmed, the next stage is to discuss her problems and needs. She will then decide for herself what she is going to do.

Birthright will help find financial and medical assistance for those who need it. We also offer assistance in obtaining, directly or through other social or community agencies, help, according to the individual needs of the pregnant woman.

Birthright Director Elaine Redmond and her husband Frank visited with me recently to update me on Birthright's activities and to inform me that BIRTHRIGHT OTTAWA will host the international convention at the Crowne Plaza Hotel next June.

Pledging Archdiocesan support, I also promised to attend the Karaoke and Dance in support of BIRTHRIGHT OTTAWA at St. Basil's Church Hall last Saturday evening.  Uncharacteristically having left my camera at home, there are no photos of the gathering; nor did I dare to take the microphone...!

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The beneficiaries of this year's Charity Dinner included three centres in the Archdiocese who affirm life, supporting Marguerite Centre - Prescott-Russell, Myriam Centre & Youville Centre, who offer help to mothers who are struggling with an unexpected pregnancy or new-born.

Details available at

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This will take place at Ottawa's Hampton Inn (Vanier Parkway and Conroy) from Friday, October 28 until Sunday, October 30.

Have you ever wanted to attend something rare, unique and inspiring? The International Pro-Life Conference (IPLC) is a rare gathering, under one roof, of some of the greatest pro-life leaders in the world. If you want to really learn about the advance of the culture of death and what is being done to push back and build a culture of life, then you need to be at the annual 2010 International Pro-life Conference. Become a pro-life expert! Whether you're a newbie to the pro-life movement or a long-time activist, the collective wisdom of these international titans in the battle for life and family will bring something to inspire and encourage you.

For more information, cf.


  1. Thank you, his Excellency, for all the good things you do and post on your blog. i am a young catholic from Austria and am allways very uplifted when i see how brave so many North-Amercian Bishops are, especialy with Pro Life issues! Very Motivating!
    With Peter through Mary to Jesus

  2. I really appreciate it.