Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bishop Patrick Ahern: Apostle of the "Little Flower" - Launching Development and Peace's Careme de Partage-Share Lent appeal

Yesterday, I heard the news that Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop Patrick Ahern of New York had passed away on the Solemnity of St Joseph, his 41st anniversary of episcopal ordination.

Most Reverend Patrick V. Ahern (March 8, 1919 - March 19, 2011)

I had only met Bishop Ahern once for a couple of days in 2001, when he came to Halifax to help us reflect on the spirituality of the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face on the occasion of the visit to Canada and the closing of the cross-country tour of the Relics of this remarkable woman, now a Teacher (Doctor) of the Church.

Bishop Ahern had a few years earlier edited, commented and published Maurice and Therese: The Story of a Love. Doubleday: 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, 1998. Pp. 284. Hardback. $19.95. It is the interpretation of spiritual letters written by a seminarian and then a young priest to a Carmelite sister who could pray for him and support his vocation.

Of course, Therese far outstripped Maurice in spiritual insight, but theirs is a fascinating story of spiritual friendship. Bishop Ahern gave two conferences, one more technical for priests and those more familiar with spiritual realities, and a second for the general public.  Each was fascinating and engaging.

Bishop Ahern had become fascinated as a seminarian with the Journal of a Soul, Therese's spiritual autobiography, even though it had been "sanitized" by literary executors and, after his retirement as an active bishop, he travelled to France to understand her better and to persuade church officials to give the Theresian spiritual vision in its unadulterated form. 

Bishop Ahern and I never met again but I treasure still the hours we spent together at my residence and driving around Halifax to take part in the activities associated with the marvellous pilgrimage of the relics of the spiritual dynamo who discovered that her vocation was to be "love in the midst of the church". 

Later Therese was named co-patron of the missions (with the great St. Francis Xavier) for her "little way" of offering the tiniest sacrifices in union with the cross of Christ and, in the end, knowing that salvation was none of our doing but entirely God's free gift bestowed on his "little ones".

Archbishop Dolan will preside at his funeral at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on Thursday.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. 


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This took place last Wednesday, with a focus on Haiti's challenges; some photos follow.

Mercredi passé je suis allé au lancement du Carême de Partage à l’Église Sacré-Coeur (Ottawa).  Il y avait une belle assemblée, et nous avons dédié  beaucoup de notre attention au peuple de Haïti et leurs défis, possibilités, souffrances, peines et joies. 

Voici quelques photos de la session :

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Prayer for Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent

Guard your Church we pray, in your unceasing mercy, O Lord, and since without you mortal humanity is sure to fall, may we be kept by your constant helps from all harm and directed to all that brings salvation. Through our Lord.

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