Today Salt + Light received a beautiful and inspirational reflection from one of our readers and friends, Kyle Ferguson, about his experience of the Montée Jeunesse Youth Summit in Montreal this past weekend. Kyle is the National Coordinator for the Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry Association.
I am currently in Trois Riviere, QC and this past weekend I attended the Montee Jeuness (Youth Summit) in Montreal. On Saturday evening about 450 young people accompanied by Bishops Lepine (Montreal), Dowd (Montreal), Lacroix (QC) and Prendergast (Ottawa) took part in a Eucharistic procession which started at St. Josep's Oratory and cut right through the heart of downtown Montreal arriving at the Cathedral: Mary Queen of the World.
For five kilometres, the four bishops walked shoulder to shoulder sharing the task of carrying the monstrance every step of the way. As one got fatigued the other bishop stepped up and took on the weight for his brother bishop. It was an incredible witness of episcopal friendship, collaboration and solidarity.
When we turned onto St. Catherine's Street, Bishop Lepine, the Archbishop of Montreal, held the monstrance high and quite bravely lead us down the middle of St. Catherine's with 450 young people joyfully clapping, singing and bearing witness to Christ in the midst of the glamour, glitter and sensuality of St. Catherine's night life as it unfolded.
In this act, it was as though the Archbishop was reclaiming the city and its people to Jesus. Those who passed by were visibly touched by this public witness to Christ, many stopping to applaud us, take pictures, join in the procession, or with arms tightly crossed to their chest watch curiously. The procession did not go unnoticed!
People, young and old, were being drawn to their apartments and shop windows to witness not a protest of aggression unfolding, but a procession of love outpouring. Moreover, spectators were being drawn out of themselves, out of the mundane and into the mystery and joy of the Christian faith. To say the least, it certainly was a juxtaposition to the recent protests in Montreal.
I really think the bishops of Quebec should be commended for this act of bravery. I am certain that the bishops of Montreal received no shortage of advice telling them to cancel this procession given (a) the current circumstances of the city and its student protests, and (b) the precarious position, in general, of religion and its public displays in Quebec society. Yet, despite these serious concerns, they went ahead and took the risk.
The Quebec Church, I think, provided a great witness to three things this weekend: first, that we need to be bold in our proclaiming of the Gospel, yes, we must listen and be attentive, and have charity rooted in everything we do, but we cannot hide out light under the bushel basket; second, being bold will involve vulnerability and risk and if we try to mitigate all risk and vulnerability from our efforts we end up burying our talents in the sand; and third, the unity and community of our Church is essential for effective proclamation and witness - no person is an Island, we need to stand together.
Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry Association