July 2002 - District Superior's Letter
25 years of the Society in Canada. Father MacPherson, a canadian priest was recently ordained as well as other priest around the globe. The basic history of the Society in Canada is described herein.
Ordination of a canadian priest, Fr. Robert MacPherson
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of our Society in Canada and what better anniversary gift can the good Lord give us and what better way to celebrate this anniversary than by the ordination of a new Canadian priest. Indeed last month at St Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona H.L. Bishop Fellay conferred holy orders to Father Robert MacPherson of Salmon Arm BC. While we will not keep Father MacPherson in Canada, he will be going to England, it is nevertheless an immense grace to have another priest. In return we will receive a young Swiss priest ordained in Ecône on June 27: Father Patrick Abbet.
In fact last June 22 H.L. Bishop Fellay ordained 4 priests in Winona and 4 deacons. Another priest was ordained July 6 by H.L. Bishop Williamson in Australia bringing the number of priests from Winona this year to 5. In Ecône on June 27th H.L. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais conferred holy orders to 16 new priests: 15 for the SSPX and one for the traditional Dominicans in France. So with the 6 ordinations in Germany on June 29 and those to come in Argentina the SSPX will have about 30 new priests this year. In reality it is just a drop in the bucket in comparison with the great need for priests all over the world. But these ordinations are nonetheless very encouraging. We must thank Divine Providence, which never abandons the Church and continues, even in this degraded world to provide true priests for the faithful. By our prayers and our sacrifices we must continue to do our part in fostering and supporting vocations. I am very happy to say that Canada now has 4 seminarians in Winona. Please sacrifice and pray for their perseverance.
History of the Canadian District of the SSPX
The history of our Society in Canada begins July 16 1977, feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the date on which was signed the contract for the purchase of St Pius X priory in Shawinigan Quebec by a group of laymen. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then and we certainly have many graces for which to thank Divine Providence.
From 1977 to 1979 many priests came and went either to take care of the faithful for a time and to insure the that house was occupied or to preach the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. These retreats would start the steady flow of Canadian vocations. The year 1979 marks the real beginning with the arrival of Father Pierre Vignalou and his assistant Father Freddy Mery in 1979. The years between 1979 to 1984 were years of planting the seed. In those days there was only one Society house in Canada: St Pius X priory in Shawinigan.
From 1984 onward others reaped what others had sowed. Since then, thanks mostly to Father Jacques Emily (1984 - 2000), the Society has expanded across Canada with 34 Mass centres from coast to coast. Many churches have been purchased: in Quebec: two priories in Shawinigan and Holy Family School in Lévis with churches in Montreal, Sherbrooke, Beauce, and Precious Blood Residences, in Ontario: Toronto, St Catharines, Orillia and Wyoming. We also rent a church in Ottawa. In Manitoba we have a priory and church in Winnipeg as well as a church in Welwyn Saskatchewan. In Alberta we have churches in Calgary and Rocky Mountain House and finally in BC a priory in Vernon with churches in Langley, Nanaimo and Oliver. We have as well 2 schools: St John Bosco in Calgary and Holy Family in Lévis.
These material successes are not to be despised. They are a sign of expansion and vitality of the faith as well as of the generosity of the faithful. It is normal for the faithful who have been expelled from their parish churches because of the new religion to seek new places to worship God and provide more worthy places for the offering of the holy sacrifice other than rented halls, funeral chapels and private homes. It is also normal where possible to have schools which grow naturally from the proximity of the church. We also now have a home for our seniors where they can prepare to appear before God.
We have also been blessed with many vocations. Many young men and women have tried their vocation thanks to Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society. If not all have been able to stay in the seminary or noviciate they have all received graces to help them survive life in the world, graces they would not have received without the sacrifice made to leave the world for a time to test their vocation. Despite the defections there are 11 Canadian SSPX priests. We also have brothers and sisters as well as oblate sisters. A source of these vocations is without doubt the singular grace of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. These retreats, which were brought to the Society by Father L. M. Barrielle († 1983) have changed many lives. These have not only in helped many persons to hear our Lord's call to the priestly and religious vocation but also in helped others to simply discover or rediscover the faith resulting in many conversions to the Catholic faith, the return of many to the sacraments and many large families.
Mass of thanksgiving to be offered in Shawinigan
On August 15th a Mass of thanksgiving will be offered at St Pius X priory in Shawinigan. All are invited. In Ontario a Pilgrimage of thanksgiving to the Canadian Martyrs Shrine in Midland will be held Saturday September 28. It will begin with Mass on the site of the martyrdom followed by a 5 km walk to the shrine where we will be able to venerate the relics. Bring your picnic lunch and good walking shoes. These Martyrs are the secondary patrons of Canada and we owe in great part the coming of the faith to our country to their heroic sacrifices and especially to the shedding of their blood. More details will be given in a later letter. At Holy Family School in Lévis Fr le Roux is organizing 3 days of conferences from September 19 to 22. We will be pleased to receive the visit of Father Emily for these two events in September.
We were blessed this last month to receive the visit of our Superior General, H.E. Bishop Fellay who, on his way to Winona, stopped in Toronto and St Catharines to administer confirmations and give two conferences on the relations between Rome and the Society. His basic message was: the fight is not over. Rome is trying to divide us. To a certain extent they have succeeded with Campos. Even if Father Fernando Arêas Rifan, the current vicar general of that apostolic administration and the fraternity's representative in talks with the Holy See, has been designated as coadjutor bishop with right of succession to Mgr Rangel, they are more or less handcuffed and have been rendered ineffectual in the fight for tradition. But as Bishop Fellay reminded us, the prize Rome is after is not Campos but the SSPX. This attempt at isolating us is an effort to lure us back into the new church fold. So now things will probably go on peacefully in Campos for a while, much as they did for the Fraternity of St Peter until Rome lowers the boom again. However, unfortunately, there are many signs that Campos is in a worse situation than the Fraternity of St Peter and has more or less given up the fight. A true solution will come in God's good time. Let us not be impatient.
Thank you all for your continued support. As usual the monthly Mass for friends and benefactors will be offered on the last Sunday of the month.
With my blessing,
Father Jean Violette