On our pilgrimage of unity we encountered people from Louisiana and Maryland to Europe and Africa as well as those from Central and South America.
Daily, young people from across Canada working with Catholic Christian Outreach http://cco.ca welcome pilgrims from far and wide to the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec. Before they enter, pilgrims walk a path which focuses them on the gifts of the Holy Spirit in preparation for the spiritual experience of entering the uniquely designed Holy Door featuring a bronze sculpture of Jesus extending his hand so that pilgrims may grasp the hand of Christ as they enter the holy door.
We learned that the 17th century bishop, St. François de Laval, of Québec, established the first diocese north of Mexico with jurisdiction for all of North America from Newfoundland to New Orleans. 350 years ago Notre-Dame de Québec became the diocesan cathedral and this year the Holy Door welcomes pilgrims with the offer of a plenary indulgence for the Jubilee Year.
Shrine of St. François de Laval, Notre-Dame de Quebéc
Upon entry, pilgrims see relics of the saints who established the Church in Québec and North America including those canonized by Pope Francis in April this year: St. François de Laval (1623 - 1708) and Ste. Marie de l’Incarnation (1599 – 1672) whose shrine is in the nearby Ursuline Convent which she founded as the first school for young women in North America.
It is a profoundly moving experience to kneel at the altar of relics before entering the nave of the historic cathedral. The sense of connection to history and to those with whom we share the communion of saints is overwhelming for many. We then move on to pray at the shrine of St. François de Laval, which incorporates the story of his mission by means of an early map etched in the floor of his tomb. In an adjoining room an exquisite documentary film gives the history of the Québec saints and of the Christian principles, which guided the development of the New World.
The cathedral rector, Msgr. Bélanger, told us that the Holy Door will not likely be open again until 2025 for the anniversary of the Council of Nicea.
With the kind permission of Cardinal Lacroix, we celebrated the Ordinariate Use Mass at 11 A.M. Saturday, July 6, along with a few other pilgrims and a staff member. Msgr. Bélanger then asked for a copy of our STM missal booklet to incorporate in the archives of the Jubilee Year – the first ever Ordinariate Mass celebrated in Québec.
See details of how to arrange a pilgrimage at: http://notredamedequebec.org/en/
St. Benoît du Lac and Madonna House
After our visit to the city of Québec we went to St. Benoît du Lac for a stay with the Benedictine monks at their magnificent monastery on the shores of beautiful Lake Memphremegog just north of Vermont.
Abbaye de St. Benoît du Lac, Québec
Dom Charles Gilman, OSB, a friend and monk at St. Benoît Abbey (and former Anglican) has been given faculties by Msgr. Steenson and permission by his Abbot to celebrate the Ordinariate Use Mass. On July 9 with us and two other monks he celebrated the A.O. Mass for the first time at St. Benoît du Lac.
On then to Madonna House, Combermere, Ontario http://www.madonnahouse.org to pray for the unity of the Church in a community which celebrates both the Eastern and Western rites of the Catholic Church regularly. And finally home to Toronto.
Our Lady of the Woods Chapel, Madonna House
This was the first of what we hope may become regular pilgrimages for STM and other Ordinariate parishes as we explore the rich heritage of the Catholic Church while praying for the unity which is at the heart of the Ordinariate mission.