Well watch out hockey fans, because some superstars of the Canadian Church are about to take the ice! (... or at least the inside cover of Church bulletins!)
This time of year is unparalleled for the feast days of Canadian saints!
Yes, we have some big feasts in the fall (the Canadian Martyrs on September 26th and Saint Marguerite d’Youville, on October 16th) and some in the cold of winter (Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys on January 12th or Blessed Brother Andre Bessette on January 6th), but come April and May it's a saint-a-thon for Canadian Blesseds!
We begin the 'saint season' in April, on the seventeenth, with the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680). The 'Lily of the Mohawks,' was only 24 when she died, but she lived a life of love and commitment to God and has become a popular Blessed for many young people. The next day, April 18th, it is the feast of Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin (1809-1890), the founder of the Sisters of Saint Anne; a congregation dedicated to teaching boys and girls. This humble sister was one of the more recent Canadian beatifications, being proclaimed Blessed just six years ago this past April!
We close April out with the feast of Blessed Marie of the Incarnation on the 30th. Originally from France, Blessed Marie (1599-1672) was the first superior of the Urseline Sisters in Quebec. She felt called to Canada after having a vision of a land with mountains and trees. Visions were not rare for Blessed Marie, as she was considered somewhat of a mystic and has even been called the "Therese of the New World," after the great mystic St. Therese of Avila.
On May 4th, there is the feast of Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis. Blessed Marie-Leonie (1840-1912) was the founder of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family; a group who takes care of the household needs of priests. They have houses throughout Canada, the United States, Rome and the Honduras.
When we think of Quebec's notable institutions of higher learning, Laval University is often one that comes to mind. Laval was named after Bishop Francois de Laval (1623-1708), and we celebrate his feast day on May 6th. Among many accomplishments, Blessed Bishop Laval was the first Bishop of Quebec.
Another act which Bishop Laval was responsible for was setting in motion the biography of Blessed Catherine de Saint-Augustin (1632-1668). A contemporary of Bishop Laval, this holy woman traveled to Quebec in 1648, just a year before the Canada martyr Saint Jean de Brebeuf's life was ended. It's interesting to note this because Blessed Catherine adopted Fr. Brebeuf as her spiritual father and was reported to have seen a vision of Fr. Brebeuf on more than one occasion. Blessed Catherine established ‘Hotel-Dieu’ in Quebec, the first hospital in America north of Mexico, and fervently prayed and offered penance for the conversion of the people and establishment of the faith in the land that would become Canada. In fact, because of the way she gave her life to 'New France,' the diocese of Quebec cites her as the co-founder of the Church in Canada!
Last on our May list is Blessed Louis-Zephirin Moreau (1824-1901). The fourth Bishop of Saint Hyacinthe celebrates his feast day on May 24th. He founded the communities of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Sisters of Sainte Marthe.
What a starting line-up!
It's impressive to see the richness of the Catholic Church here in Canada! We should treasure and appreciate those who came before us; who spread the Catholic faith to our land. Perhaps you will take some time this month to look up some of these Blesseds to learn more about them. What we learn from them can help us to grow deeper in our faith, and help us follow in their footsteps in lovingly serving the Church in Canada.
Let us pray to these great men and women that they may guide all of us to a deeper love for Christ and His Church; that they may watch over our country and help it rediscover our Catholic roots; and that they may protect and intercede for the leaders, and all members, of our Canadian Catholic Church.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin, Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis, Blessed Bishop Francois de Laval, Blessed Catherine de Saint-Augustin and Blessed Louis-Zephirin Moreau – pray for us!