Providing Healing Welcome
Rev. Denis Prescott, C.S.C.
I joined Holy Cross just as two major events forever changed Quebec society in the 1960s. The first was the “Quiet Revolution,” which removed an enormous civil power from the Church, a power that had accumulated over more than a century. The state took over all of the educational and health systems, much of which had been built up by the Roman Catholic Church. The Church had played a major role in education and health care in French Canada, and particularly in Quebec, since the time of the first missionaries, including those sent by Blessed Basile Moreau in 1847.
The second major event was the Second Vatican Council. The Council and its teachings came as a grace from God to help the French Canadian Church in the aftermath of the Quiet Revolution. All religious congregations, Holy Cross included, looked to the Council to help redefine their apostolic mission in the wake of this radical shift in Quebec society.
Today, although Quebec society remains very critical of the authoritarianism practiced in the past by the Catholic clergy, St. André Bessette is a beloved figure. Ordinary people still talk of the humble brother who despite everything cures with the medicine of a living faith. His humble, servant faith continues to mark people’s lives as it did while he was alive.
St. André’s heroic characteristics, especially his open mind and humility, help orient our mission in the secularized society in which we find ourselves. From the beginning of his ministry, St. André received all who came to him, including Protestants whose help he enlisted in building the Oratory of St. Joseph.
Holy Cross today continues this welcoming, ecumenical mission among the over 135 ethnic groups that paint the spiritual canvas of Montreal with their own religious traditions, customs, and languages. Through our ministry and work, the Oratory continues to be – just as it was during St. André’s life – a place where they and all who hunger for God can find hospitality and healing.
Fr. Denis Prescott, C.S.C., is a member of the Canadian Province (Montreal, Quebec).