S+L logo

A charismatic founder pens his memoirs

August 30, 2010
Few Canadian Catholics are as beloved as Fr. Bob Bedard. Initially, I had mixed feelings about the founder of the Companions of the Cross. But he won me over, too.
Give God PermissionSeven years ago I worked in campus ministry in Ottawa, and so sometimes I had the opportunity to hear Fr. Bob preach. I recall fuming at one politically-tinged homily, the conclusions of which I didn’t share. Back then, I wasn’t very comfortable with the charismatic spirituality of the Companions, either. (Passion and conviction can intimidate those of us who are lacking.)
But one could not help but be taken in by his priestly heart. Though Fr. Bob was the founder of a growing community of forty priests serving in five cities, he enthusiastically agreed to help with our small events at Carleton University. I distinctly remember one reconciliation service where Fr. Bob spent hours listening to students pour out their souls in confession.
Heaven knows how many confessions he's heard in his half-century as a priest. Yet to each student, he listened with rapt attention. His counsel was reflective and personal, God’s absolution assuredly pronounced, as if each sacrament was the most important he would ever administer. Because each one was.
Years later I spotted Fr. Bob at a conference in Toronto. I was about to reintroduce myself, since it had been so long. Instead, he called me by name and pulled me in for his trademark hug. (Someone once told me that a Fr. Bob hug would result in a priestly vocation, though this hasn’t yet taken effect on me.)
One month later, I learned that he was hospitalized in grave condition. A combination of cognitive, respiratory and heart problems left him unconscious. Fr. Scott McCaig, the moderator and superior general of the Companions, warned that death could be imminent. He later regained consciousness, but was diagnosed with dementia and, cruelly, was further struck by pneumonia and a stroke.
According to the most recent update on the Companions website, Fr. Bob “has defied the odds again and rallied amazingly”. He is presently at a long-term care facility. “It seems the Lord has more for Fr. Bob to do yet,” wrote Fr. McCaig.
His ministry never really stopped. Talks by Fr. Bob, filmed before his health crisis, can still be seen on Food for Life, which S+L airs Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8 am.
Now there's new material from Fr. Bob that reveals insights into his remarkable life. The Companions of the Cross have published Give God Permission: The Memoirs of Fr. Bob Bedard. Written over the course of several years, the book will be released tonight at the community’s 25th anniversary dinner. The event also commemorates the ordination anniversaries of 13 priests, including Fr. Scott McCaig’s 15th and Fr. Bob’s 55th.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa endorses the memoir as “a testament to his profound openness to the Holy Spirit”. Those who miss Fr. Bob's presence—his countless friends, former students and parishioners do so achingly, myself included—will find solace in 'hearing' his voice again through his writing.
UPDATE: Give God Permission: The Memoirs of Fr. Bob Bedard can be now ordered by calling the Companions of the Cross at 1-866-885-8824. The book can also be purchased from their online store.

Related posts

Deacon-structing Sacraments | Part 1: A Sign of Grace
FacebookTwitter
I guess you can’t blame Catholics if they don’t know the meaning of a Sacrament. I was a Catholic for 38 years and had received 5 of the 7 Sacraments before I really came to understand what Sacram ...read more
Read Fr. Thomas Rosica's reflection on the Broadway sensation WICKED, and it's themes of evil, redemption, friendship, and power of forgiveness. ...read more
St. Thomas More and the responsibility <br>of Christian citizenship
FacebookTwitter
Read Sebastian Gomes' article on St. Thomas More, who lived in turbulent times and is a model for the Christian citizen of today. ...read more
“To set the world at naught”: <br>Thomas More, John Fisher, and the role of conscience
FacebookTwitter
Read about St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher: two heroic saints who defied a tyrannical king and gave their lives rather than act against their conscience. ...read more
"I am not He, I prepare His way"
FacebookTwitter
John was identified with the people of Israel, and his vocation was ultimately not only the restoration of Israel but also the conversion of the world. John was the sharp-edged sword who pointed out t ...read more
SLHour: The Real Uncle Tom
FacebookTwitter
The name Josiah Henson probably doesn’t mean much to you. This week, author and film maker Jared Brock tells us about the former slave whose life story inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin and possibly igni ...read more
Welcome to S+L’s Weekly News Round-Up. As part of my job, I come across many interesting Catholic news and stories on a daily basis. Some of them I'll cover on Perspectives Daily and the others I’ ...read more