Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Father Frank Ramsperger, SJ (RIP) Saint of the Week: Mark, Evangelist St. Paul U. - Chevaliers de Colomb - Confirmations - Family Gathering - Mass of the Neophytes - PFLC Meet St Paul HS: A Man for All Seasons

Father Frank Albert Ramsperger, S.J. died peacefully in the Lord on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at Rene Goupil House, Pickering, Ontario in his 82nd year of life and in his 58th year of religious life.

Born and reared in Montreal, Frank Ramsperger attended Loyola High School and College for eight years before entering the Jesuit Novitiate at Guelph on September 7, 1955. Following studies in the humanities and philosophy, he went in 1960 to Lebanon where he studied Arabic at Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour in Beirut. Two years later he took up studies in theology there at the Université Saint-Joseph and was ordained a priest on June 29, 1965. After a final year of theology at Regis College, Willowdale and a spiritual year at Port Townsend, Washington, USA, where he learned to drive a school bus, he studied counseling at the University of Minnesota.

Father Ramsperger returned to Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour Beirut in 1968 and for the next 36 years, in spite of periods of bloody and destructive civil wars, gave spiritual direction and wrote books on spirituality, counseling and psychology. He also taught English as part of the college’s curriculum and served as chaplain of the Newman Club at the American University of Beirut. Annually in later years he would return to Canada in the summer months to direct retreats and give spiritual counseling.

Debilitating health brought his return to Canada and residence at the Jesuit Infirmary at Pickering in 2004. A good listener, patient, compassionate, practical and spiritual, he was suited to the role of counselor. His sense of humour was evident in a dry wit and enjoyment of jokes. His cheerful and pleasant personality was a boon to many at the infirmary who suffered from the symptoms of old age and infirmities.

There will be a wake from 7-9PM this evening and the Funeral Mass tomorrow at 11AM at St. Ignatius Chapel of Manresa Retreat House, Pickering. Burial will take place on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30PM at the Jesuit Cemetery, Guelph.


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Saint Mark in Ottawa's Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica

I have a great affection for St. Mark, on whose gospel I wrote my doctoral dissertation, "Without Understanding" (Mark 7:18): A Redaction-Critical Study of the Disciples Lack of Understanding in Mark's Gospel (Toronto: 1977).

So, I chose Mark's Feast Day for my episcopal ordination, April 25, 1995.  Thursday will be my 18th anniversary and I will preside at a Mass of Thanksgiving at Notre Dame at 5PM: all are most welcome to attend.

John Mark, later known simply as Mark, was a Jew by birth. He was the son of that Mary who was proprietress of the Cenacle or "upper room" which served as the meeting place for the first Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). He was still a youth at the time of the Savior's death. In his description of the young man who was present when Jesus was seized and who fled from the rabble leaving behind his "linen cloth," the second Evangelist might possibly have stamped the mark of his own identity.

During the years that followed, the rapidly maturing youth witnessed the growth of the infant Church in his mother's Upper Room and became acquainted with its traditions. This knowledge he put to excellent use when compiling his Gospel. Later, we find Mark acting as a companion to his cousin Barnabas and Saul on their return journey to Antioch and on their first missionary journey. But Mark was too immature for the hardships of this type of work and therefore left them at Perge in Pamphylia to return home.

As the two apostles were preparing for their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take his cousin with him. Paul, however, objected. Thereupon the two cousins undertook a missionary journey to Cyprus. Time healed the strained relations between Paul and Mark, and during the former's first Roman captivity (61-63), Mark rendered Paul valuable service (Col. 4:10; Philem. 24), and the Apostle learned to appreciate him. When in chains the second time Paul requested Mark's presence (2 Tim. 4:11).

An intimate friendship existed between Mark and Peter; he played the role of Peter's companion, disciple, and interpreter. According to the common patristic opinion, Mark was present at Peter's preaching in Rome and wrote his Gospel under the influence of the prince of the apostles. This explains why incidents which involve Peter are described with telling detail (e.g., the great day at Capharnaum, 1:14f)). Little is known of Mark's later life. It is certain that he died a martyr's death as bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. His relics were transferred from Alexandria to Venice, where a worthy tomb was erected in St. Mark's Cathedral.

The Gospel of St. Mark, the shortest of the four, is, above all, a Roman Gospel. It originated in Rome and is addressed to Roman, or shall we say, to Western Christianity. Another high merit is its chronological presentation of the life of Christ. For we should be deeply interested in the historical sequence of the events in our blessed Savior's life.

Furthermore, Mark was a skilled painter of word pictures. With one stroke he frequently enhances a familiar scene, shedding upon it new light. His Gospel is the "Gospel of Peter," for he wrote it under the direction and with the aid of the prince of the apostles. "The Evangelist Mark is represented as a lion because he begins his Gospel in the wilderness, `The voice of one crying in the desert: Make ready the way of the Lord,' or because he presents the Lord as the unconquered King."  [Excerpted from Pius Parsch, The Church's Year of Grace].

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On April 12, in my capacity as Chancellor, I attended the Academic Year 2012-2013 Closing Ceremony in the Chapel at St. Paul University--a joyful occasion for the forthcoming graduates who were honoured.  More photos:

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St. Paul's High School invited Father Kerslake and me to attend their drama society's dramatic production of Robert Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons", the story of St. Thomas More's fidelity to conscience. 

A fine performance; I had a chance to go backstage during the intermission to congratulate the cast and crew on their achievement.

Spotted a lovely statue of the school patron in the lobby that I could not resist photographing:

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On the Third Sunday of Easter (April 14), I welcomed some of the Neophytes fully initiated into the Church, the Body of Christ at the Easter Vigil in various parishes to a Mass of Thanksgiving. 

This was followed by my annual tour of the sanctuary of Notre Dame Cathedral and of the treasury of vestments, vessels, ornaments and reliquaries in the Sacristy.

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Récemment, j’ai présidé quelques célébrations de la Confirmation: à la paroisse Sainte Marie (Orléans) avec deux cérémonies (à 11h00 et à 14h00).

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Et, dimanche passé, une seule cérémonie à l’Église Sacré-Cœur de Bourget pour 21 jeunes de cette paroisse et 20 jeunes de la paroisse avoisinante, St. Mathieu de Hammond.

Sacre-Coeur de Bourget

St. Mathieu de Hammond

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Le soir du 14 avril, les Chevaliers de Colomb ont assiste au Vêpres de dimanche soir à l’Église Marie-Médiatrice et, après, ont tenu un souper-bénéfice pour honorer le clergé et faire un don pour mes œuvres charitables

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Today, my younger brother John turns 60.  So a good number of family members joined him and his family at home in Montreal on Saturday evening to anticipate the occasion.  A great time was had by all!

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Priests for Life Canada held a Pro-Life Symposium from April 16-18 at St. Theresa's Parish in Ottawa.  I was invited to preside at the concelebrated Eucharist on the first day; Bishop Brian Bayda, C.Ss.R. of the Eparchy of Saskatoon was in attendance as were a number of Eastern rite clergy.

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