The death of Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte (1936-2015), Archbishop-emeritus of Montreal, fills our hearts with sadness at the loss of a good shepherd, a great friend and long-time supporter of Salt + Light. At the same time, his entrance into eternal life during the Easter octave is cause for rejoicing. I would like to think that the first to welcome him home was one of heaven’s gatekeepers, St. André Bessette, CSC, of Montreal. I am sure that Brother André then introduced the Cardinal to St. Joseph, then to the many saints and blesseds of Montreal and Quebec. Together they brought Jean-Claude to the Lord whom he served with much love and devotion as priest, bishop, archbishop and cardinal.
Cardinal Turcotte loved Brother André and imitated him in so many ways, especially in his care for the poor and those on the margins and peripheries of society. In one of the Cardinal’s most memorable homilies at the mass of thanksgiving for St. André in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on October 30, 2010, he said:
“Brother André was convinced that God could use him to accomplish wonderful things. For many decades, people came to him as a worker of wonders. It never went to his head. In fact, he often said: “The world is silly if it thinks that Brother André is doing miracles. It is the good God who does the miracles. Saint Joseph obtains them.” And, following Saint Paul, he said, in reference to God, “An artist makes the most beautiful paintings with the smallest of brushes”.
This is not a small Saint that has been canonized, but a great, great one. This great saint—Brother André—is from our home. Among our parents and grandparents, or among the friends of our parents and grandparents, many knew him. He lived close to us on Mount Royal and said, “When I die, I’ll be much closer to the good God than I am now, I will have much more power to help you.”
Brother André…Saint Brother André, we pray to you, keep your promise. Pray for us: pray that we become women and men of attentiveness and compassion, women and men who love God with a great love because they know they are very loved by Him, women and men who, having become “disciples” of Jesus, become “meek and humble of heart” like Him and in Him find “rest”.”
Monsieur le Cardinal, today we speak those words about you and to you! Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you as his paintbrush all these years. The Lord used you to write words of compassion and mercy upon the canvas of your diocese and upon the Canadian Church. Your tall stature among us rallied the Canadian Church and our entire nation together at moments of great sadness, upheaval, confusion and uncertainty. Your calming, encouraging words gave hope to many people, especially to all who worked on World Youth Day 2002 and to each of us at Salt and Light Television. Thank you for believing in us. Though a Cardinal with great responsibilities at the universal level, you never lost the common touch with us ordinary folks. We say to you today: “Merci. Pray for us: pray that we become women and men of attentiveness and compassion, women and men who love God with a great love because they know they are very loved by Him, women and men who, having become “disciples” of Jesus, become “meek and humble of heart” like Him and in Him find “rest”.”
Merci beaucoup, Eminence. Rest in peace and please don’t forget us.
Watch Fr. Thomas Rosica speak on CBC regarding the passing of Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop Emeritus of Montreal.
Witness interview: Carinal Turcotte (French)
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