I have been in Quebec this weekend working on a bunch of stories, but mostly it has felt like a pilgrimage. First I visited Famille Marie-Jeunesse, a new movement of young men and women in consecrated life, devoted to contemplation and mission, especially the evangelization of young people. Many are musicians and artists. They pray four hours a day. It takes them an hour and a half to do one set of mysteries of the Rosary, as they do it slowly, meditatively, with music.
Their main house is a former Fransciscan monastery in Sherbrooke, Quebec, a couple of hours east of Montreal. Five were making temporary commitments and five were making permanent commitments at a ceremony Saturday, Assumption Eve, in the Sherbrooke cathedral.
I love these young people. What a joy to be around them. And I got lots of practice speaking French and found I improved by leaps and bounds — or maybe my confidence improved and I was still making lots of mistakes, but I was conversing, which was pretty cool!
I have posted a few pictures at my blog here.
Then, today, I traveled to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, to the basilica shrine where Cardinal Ouellet celebrated his last public Eucharist in Quebec before he departs for Rome to take up his new role as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
This big events must be tremendously difficult to organize. The basilica which is cavernous, was jam packed and people started coming in a couple of hours head of time. The weather was hot and humid. But what love for the cardinal, just waves of it. I have never seen anything like it for a religious leader, except the Pope.
I have uploaded more pictures here.
There was a reception afterwards in Quebec City, and it is there that I met the Anglo-Catholic reader. It was Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins who mentioned to me that he stops by the blog.
I interviewed several bishops, Collins included, about Cardinal Ouellet. Collins described him as "an extraordinary bishop."
He said he was "obviously very learned, and intelligent, but a man who totally devoted to Christ, first last and always."
"He's a model for all of us," he said. "What every priest should be and every bishop should be."
Every lay person, too, I might add.
I spoke to a couple of bishops who were his auxiliaries in Quebec, and one told me, "He was a father to me." Another bishop shared how he and Marc Ouellet had been seminarians together, and even back then, he was a man of prayer, not someone promoting himself but desiring to be an instrument of God.
Yeah, we're going to miss him a lot. But what's beautiful is that the love he has given each one of us remains with it, it's a grace, an impartation, living water that fills us and allows us pass it on to others because it comes from Christ.
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