September 2021 - District Superior's Letter: “From Sea to Sea"
In this month’s letter, I would like to present to you some news from our seven priories across the country where twenty-four priests, four brothers and five oblate sisters make up the community of Society of St. Pius X members devoted to the preservation of the Mass, the priesthood and the salvation of souls.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
This Summer, we welcome Fr. Lawrence Barrett (whose parents are parishioners in Calgary) to St. Raphael’s Priory in Winnipeg as an extra priest to deal with the far-spread apostolate. Br. Jonathan Mary from Kentucky will be a second brother at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in New Hamburg, Ontario, and Sr. Maria Victoria will join our community at the Prieuré Sainte Famille in Levis, Quebec.
This past year, two Canadians took the veil. In Browerville, Minnesota, Miss Lace Korte from Saskatchewan became Sr. Mary Edmund of the Sisters of the Society on Low Sunday; and in Bella Italia, Miss Gessica Arendoque from Wellesley, Ontario took the veil of the Consoling Sisters on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us pray for their perseverance, as also for that of our two seminarians, M. Pierre Morin from Quebec who is entering his Subdiaconate year in Switzerland, and Mr. Eric Watt from Edmonton who is entering his third year proper in Virginia. He will be joined there in October by Craig MacFarland from Calgary and Michael Goody from Langley, British Columbia. O Lord, grant us many holy priests!
Thanks be to God, I have been able to visit all the priories in Canada this year, and have been able to witness firsthand the devoted work of your priests and of so many of you, faithful Catholics who intend on preserving the pearl of great price, the Catholic Faith. We hope that a bishop may be able to visit soon. Let us pray for this intention.
Here at the District House, five priests and three oblate sisters take care of the apostolate of retreats and of the chapels in Saint-Césaire, Montreal, Sherbrooke, Notre-Dame des Bois and Ottawa. As seemingly is the case throughout the world, more and more Catholics are attending the Mass of All Time and having their souls fed with the unchanging Faith and sacraments.
While the Government of Quebec seems to have varying rules for the type of activities allowed, the addition of extra Masses and, when necessary, weekday Masses meant that everyone was able to attend Mass or receive the sacraments at least once a fortnight. The priory of St. Joseph’s Centre also takes care of a mission in the Maritime provinces where Fr. Pfluger travels. The particularly draconian position of the provincial authorities there has meant that Father has only been able to visit our faithful there twice so far.
Let us also pray for each other during this time when God is asking of us great patience, prudence and above all unswerving faithfulness to the Truth.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Fr. David Sherry, District Superior and Prior of Saint-Cesaire, Quebec
The Priory of the Holy Family, situated at Levis on the other side of the river across from the City of Quebec, counts three Priests, one Religious Brother and one (soon two) Religious Oblate Sisters and approximately four-hundred faithful, principally including many young families. Many of the faithful moved there because the Priory has a school attached to it, the only Catholic School worthy of the name in Quebec.
For more than a year, the Priory's activities have been significantly affected by the sanitary crisis. Mass attendance was reduced and even forbidden at times. Receiving sacraments was difficult. The Militia Immaculata, far from twiddling its thumbs organized several Public Rosaries in front of the Quebec Parliament to protest the disproportionate restrictions and to ask for Heavenly Protection. At times, movie theatres had the permission to have 250 people while churches were limited to 10 people. Priests and lay faithful alike took part in several strong interventions. There were numerous new faces in our chapels in Levis and Shawinigan during the last few months. The faithful were thirsty for sacraments and their Churches were closed. Many have decided to stay after discovering Tradition.
During spring, we were celebrating Mass outside on our soccer field so as to be able to celebrate for more people. Volunteers generously erected a "Cathedral in the open air" several Sundays in a row to give the greatest number of faithful access to the Mass. Corpus Christi was a beautiful homage to the Blessed Sacrament with Mass outside in the open air and with a procession to a Roadside Calvary Cross nearby.
Thanks to the providence of Our Lady of the Cape, Holy Family School was able to operate somewhat normally during the school year of 2020-2021. Father d'Abbadie, the new principal since August 2020, promised at the beginning of the year to make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape if classes were not stopped during the year; the pilgrimage took place with students from the upper grades with Father on May 31, 2021.
The end of the School Year was marked by a Mass in Thanksgiving celebrated by the District Superior followed by a few skits performed by the different grades and the giving of awards in the nice park of the Priory in the presence of parents.
During summer, renovations are being done to maintain the building so as to be able to receive 120 student this fall. (An increase of over 50% compared to last year) Big jobs need to be done in the coming months to put the building and installations in better shape.
On July 24, 2021, our traditional pilgrimage to Saint Anne de Beaupre took place. May Good Saint Anne continue protecting the work of Tradition in Quebec!
Fr. Joseph Stannus, Prior
As everywhere, our priests had to find ingenious tools to adapt to the ever-changing government restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. For instance, online bookings systems have been implemented both for Mass and for confession and communion appointments. Our Mass in Toronto has been livestreamed every day since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the attendance at daily Mass in Etobicoke increased substantially, especially since the Month of June. We have now between 20 and 50 souls at daily morning Mass. A good number of these new faithful are Polish, who used to go to a diocesan Latin Mass that was recently shut down.
In all our chapels, we have had to multiply the number of Sunday Mass, to give more chances to the faithful to attend Mass within the government restrictions. Last fall and during the winter, we had up to five Masses in Toronto, three in Orillia and two in St. Catharine’s.
However, the multiplication of Mass was not enough to answer all the requests in Toronto, because of harsh government restrictions. The need of larger facilities was urgent. Meanwhile, the good Lord answered our prayers, granting access to a large church with an occupancy of one thousand people, the “cathedral of the Transfiguration” in Markham. We have been renting this privately-owned church since mid-June.
There is much local history about this impressive edifice in Markham, a suburb north of Toronto. While under construction, it was blessed by Pope John Paul II during his cross-Canada tour of September 1984. Canadian mining magnate Stephen Roman of Denison Mines built it on his own land and with his own money for the Slovak Byzantine Eparchy. After the death of Mr. Roman, there was a dispute over the ownership of that building, and the cathedral remained empty for nearly ten years. Built according to the Byzantine style, it is decorated with beautiful mosaics, the most impressive being a representation of the Mother of God, Theotokos, in the sanctuary. So, every Sunday, after celebrating two morning Mass in our church of Etobicoke, one of our priests goes up to Markham, to celebrate Mass at 5:00pm for a crowd of 175 faithful. On August 15, which will fall on a Sunday, we are planning a solemn high Mas and a Marian procession at the cathedral of the Transfiguration. Our Toronto/Markham parish gathers now well over 300 faithful.
The attendance at Canadian Martyrs church in Orillia more than doubled since the beginning of the Covid restrictions. Our little church is way too small to accommodate the 140 faithful who want to come to Mass. For the time being, weather permitting, we have Mass outside every Sunday. St. Catharines also experienced a growth since Covid. About 100 faithful come every Sunday. Because of the increase in Orillia, we had to move the Sudbury Mass to the weekdays.
Fr. Dominique Boulet, Prior
New Hamburg, Ontario
The Year of Our Lord 2021 was hardly underway when the stampede of returning students brought life into the halls of academe once more. A number of brave international students spent Christmas in Canada to ensure that their studies were uninterrupted, demonstrating the unstoppable resolve of our staff and students to pursue a sound Catholic formation. The arrival on January 12th of our long-awaited third priest, Fr. Michel Rion from beautiful Switzerland, heightened spirits even more. However, these joys were soon accompanied by heavy crosses. A young student, Moses Arendoque, passed away suddenly on the Feast of St. Joseph, having received Holy Communion and the Last Rites. The district superior presided over the Requiem Mass, absolution and burial. Then, on April 15th, God called Mr. Dominique Rion, father of our Swiss priest, to his eternal reward. May God grant them eternal rest.
In Holy Week, the ceremonies of the Sacred Triduum were celebrated at two locations in New Hamburg to allow as many Catholics as possible to attend. The forces of law and order, sent by modern pharisees to interrupt the Pascal Vigil at St. Peter’s Church deemed unsafe, were as successful as the original guards at the Lord’s sepulchre in disrupting the joy of Easter, which was embellished that night by William Byrd’s celestial Mass for Three Voices. On the Feast of the Ascension, the boys of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy proudly proclaimed their Faith in God and their devotion to His Blessed Mother by travelling to the nation’s capital to carry Our Lady’s statue and to sing the rosary publicly on Parliament Hill in reparation for the terrible public crimes committed in this land.
For the second year running, the parish held the XL Hours’ Devotion, concluding this year on Corpus Christi. Our prayers to end the unjust prohibition on attending Mass publicly were answered scarcely a week later on June 11th, Feast of the Sacred Heart, and the following Sunday our parishioners and boys gathered on the Academy grounds for the first public sung Mass in months. On this day eleven boys and girls approached the communion rail for the first time to receive the Bread of Angels. Later in the afternoon, a stalwart parish soccer team challenged the Academy students, who nevertheless emerged victorious after an intense conflict. A few days later under azure skies, six young men of character graduated with honours from our Academy, marking the conclusion of the 13th academic year at OLMC, successfully completed against all odds thanks to Our Lady’s maternal protection.
Fr. Marcel Stannus, Prior
Given that the actual Priory in Winnipeg has had many restrictions of varying degrees, from complete lockdown to about 40 faithful at a Mass, it has been a quiet year yet busy from the necessity of having 3 Masses on Sunday, and keeping in contact with many of the faithful to arrange appointments for Confession and Communion on Sundays after Mass or during the weekdays. There has not been a "normal" Sunday at the priory since March 2020.
The quiet year has neverthless witnessed two weddings in Winnipeg. The first in early February, under the restriction of only 10 people allowed. Magdalen Hammerling and Anthony Fetsch exchanged their vows at Our Lady of the Rosary church. The second wedding of Rosalyn Procca and Jonah Bobay also took place at Our Lady of the Rosary in Winnipeg, on May 22nd amid the same restrictions
At the end of May, Anne Fetsch with the help of her parents, brothers and sisters organized a Pilgrimage near Saskatoon, SK on May 29. Fr. Gerspacher accompanied the 30 pilgrims for a 16.5 km walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, at Cudworth, SK. We were also accompanied by a strong wind which moved us along at a brisk pace while chanting the Rosary and hymns and prayers, with a break every 4 kms. The intention was to do the Stations of the Cross at the Shrine as this is the only thing remaining the church having just been demolished as unsafe.
The priests of the priory are finding more to do in the Missions of either Ontario or Saskatchewan, where the Covid restrictions have been less onerous and we are able to have something close to normal in sung Masses and gatherings. In Dryden, ON which is visited twice a month, we were happy to receive a recent convert, preparing for marriage, having received Baptism and Confirmation from Fr. Gerspacher.
Fr. Loren Gerspacher, Prior
The SSPX takes care of nearly 1000 souls in Alberta. As with the rest of the world, the global crisis ensured that there was never a dull moment as we provided for those entrusted to us. Alberta, being a conservative Province, did a bit better for most of the year, but in spring of 2021, the province was forced into a very severe lockdown and the Queens Court signed an injunction authorizing the arrest of any leader—civil or religious, who defied these draconian measures.
Religious services around the province went underground and Alberta became world famous as the jurisdiction which arrested more pastors than any other place in the “Free World”. The Situation was such that U.S. Senator Hawley called on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to consider adding Canada to a watch list for violating basic human rights. These measures made pastoral work very challenging, but by God’s grace all who wanted the Sacraments were able to receive them regularly. In fact, during this time- as everywhere in the world—many souls of goodwill found the treasure of Tradition.
A great help in making the treasure of Tradition available to souls was the purchase of a new Chapel in Gibbons near Edmonton. This small mission which has been in existence for nearly 30 years was in its death throes since we did not own a building and were at the mercy of rented locations and associated restrictions. We bought a chapel which seats nearly 90 people, and the community has grown steadily since the purchase. The Society now provides Mass two weekends a month, and we pray that God sends more laborers into his vineyard so that we may service these souls more frequently.
On June 23, we had the joy of celebrating with Fr. Herkel and Fr. May their priestly anniversaries. Ordained on the same day five years apart, Fr. Herkel celebrated his 20th and Fr. May his 15th year as a priest. Now stationed in Denver Colorado, Fr. May is originally from Rocky Mountain House, which is the very mission serviced by Father Herkel, who is now stationed in Calgary.
Provincial restrictions were sufficiently lifted by June 23 that we offered a Solemn High Mass and celebrated in their honor with an outdoor parish “festival” attended by 150 people. We were also honored with the presence of Father Gerspacher, who was the deacon at the anniversary Mass. We pray for many more Canadian vocations. In order to foster vocations, we will continue to support Our Lady help of Christian’s Educational Institute, which facilitates the education of our children from kindergarten through the 9th Grade. Father Gaydosh taught religion and History and offered Mass and heard confessions twice a week last year. This arrangement will continue as the Institute begins its third year of providing a good Catholic education to the children of our parish.
Fr. Steven Reuter, Prior
Langley, British Columbia
The year 2021 has been a challenging one for our Apostolate in British Columbia, which continues to grow as people are attracted to the stability of the Society and the solidity of Truth within Tradition. Our activity in the past months has been centred delivering the Mass and Sacraments to our faithful without interruption and at the same time continuing a minimum of community life in the context of Covid-19.
In November 2020 all religious services were forbidden by the BC government. Fortunately, priests were still allowed to visit homes and “offer religious services to the occupants”, so this left a door open for us. Another opening was that people could pray privately in church. We worked within the illegal decrees using a broad interpretation of their meaning. Our most dedicated faithful wanted the Mass and Sacraments at any cost. This met with surveillance, not mainly from the police but from ordinary people who were advised on the government website how they could report illegal religious services. So Fr. Guéguen in Nanaimo and Fr. Rusak in Langley were approached by police officers while Fr. DeLallo in Vernon was interrogated by a Bylaw officer over the phone.
At Easter we were allowed the first outdoor Masses with 50 persons. In Langley, we also purchased some tents which our good Faithful equipped even with eaves troughs to protect from rain as we expected the outdoor Mass scenario to last a while. To prevent too many onlookers these Masses were held in the parking lot behind the church. A fence with a privacy screen was put up, and we engaged in a Plant to Protect program, planting some cedars to obstruct the view of over-curious onlookers. Gates to the property were also locked during Masses. Helicopters and planes above were also the order of the day. Lastly a drone followed one of our ushers from the church gate to Mass tents and hover there for a minute. We contacted the police and advised them of this since we live near an airport in a no drone fly zone. The drone did not return.
Finally, by June we were allowed to return to limited indoor Masses and the surveillance seems to have lessened. We look forward to a more normal apostolate until the next wave of Covid-19 or worldwide pandemic.
Fr. Gerard Rusak, Prior.
How to Make a Donation
This letter has given you a glimpse of the Activities of the Society of St. Pius X in Canada.
Generous donations made these activities possible.
The Society of St. Pius exists solely through the support of its faithful and benefactors.
Our Apostolate depends on your generosity.
Your donations enable the Society of St. Pius X to pursue its goals:
- the formation and sanctification of priests and religious
- the handing down of the Faith in its integrity
- the safeguarding of the Traditional Latin Mass
- the defense of Christian values in this apostate world
- the sanctification of families and individuals
- the education in the faith in our parishes and schools
Please make a generous donation today!
May God bless you a hundredfold!
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