Thursday, January 12, 2012



VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2012 (VIS) - "The challenges we are currently facing are numerous and complex, and can be overcome only if we reinforce our awareness that the destiny of each of us is linked to that of everyone else. For this reason ... acceptance, solidarity and legality are fundamental values". With these words the Holy Father welcomed the authorities of the City of Rome, the Region of Lazio, and the Province of Rome, whom he received this morning in a traditional annual meeting for the exchange of New Year greetings. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

The Pope went on: "The present crisis can, then, be an opportunity for the entire community to verify whether the values upon which social life is founded have generated a society that is just, fair and united, or whether it is necessary to undertake a profound rethink in order to rediscover values which ... not only favour economic recovery, but which are also attentive to promoting the integral good of human beings".

Benedict XVI expressed the view that the roots of the current crisis lie in "individualism which clouds the interpersonal dimension of man and leads him to close himself into his own little world, concerned first and foremost with satisfying his own needs and desires with scant concern for others". The consequences of such a mentality are "speculation in housing, increasing difficulty for young people to enter the world of work, the solitude suffered by so many elderly, the anonymity which often characterises urban life, and the sometimes superficial attention paid to situations of marginalisation and poverty".

The first step towards creating a more human society is "to rediscover relationships as the constituent element of our lives". Man is called to live in relation with other people and with God, Who alone "is capable of welcoming man unconditionally and of giving him infinite love".

Institutions must foment and increase the awareness that we all form part of the same structure, encouraging values of acceptance, solidarity and legality, said the Pope highlighting the work of Christian organisations which welcome people who have abandoned their own countries due to poverty or violence. He invited his audience to develop ways to integrate people into the social fabric, so that "individuals may learn to consider the place in which they reside as a 'common home', in which to live and for which to care".

Acceptance must be accompanied by solidarity, because "charity and justice require that, in times of need, those with the greatest resources should look after the disadvantaged". Benedict XVI insisted that institutions must give particular support to families, especially large families, in which context he invited the authorities "to defend the family founded on marriage as an essential cell of society". They must also show solidarity towards young people, "who are most penalised by the lack of work, ... implementing policies which ensure fairly priced accommodation and which help to guarantee employment", so as to avoid the risk that young people "fall victim to criminal organisations offering easy takings".

Finally, the Pope turned his attention to the need "to promote a culture of legality, helping citizens to understand that law exists to channel the many positive energies that exist in society, and thus to promote the common good. ... Institutions have the task ... of issuing just and fair provisions, also taking account of the law which God inscribed in man's heart, and which everyone can understand through reason".
AC/ VIS 20120112 (580)


VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Renata Polverini, president of the Region of Lazio, Italy.

- Gianni Alemanno, mayor of the City of Rome.

- Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Province of Rome.

- Bishop John A. Eijiro Suwa of Takamatsu, Japan.

- Bishop Paul Sueo Hamaguchi of Oita, Japan.

- Bishop Thomas Aquino Manyo Maeda of Hiroshima, Japan.
AP/ VIS 20120112 (70)


VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Ignatius Chama of Mpika, Zambia, as archbishop of Kasama (area 59,130, population 1,182,000, Catholics 705,208, priests 66, religious 177), Zambia, and as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Mpika.


The prelate’s beatification process continues. After visiting France, Germany, United States and Australia, a delegation from the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace will be in Vietnam on 23 March-9 April to hear witnesses.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The process of beatification of Card Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận is currently underway. A delegation appointed by the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace has already travelled to France, Germany, United States and Australia. It will also visit Vietnam from 23 March to 9 April 2012 to listen to witnesses speak about the cardinal.

Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận was born on 17 April 1928 in Phu Cam Parish. He entered the An Ninh Minor Seminary in his early teens. After studying philosophy and theology at the Phu Xuan Major Seminary, he was ordained priest on 11 June 1953 by Bishop Urrutia.

He served as vicar general in Hue Archdiocese from 1964 to 1967. On 13 April 1967, Pope Paul VI appointed him bishop of Nha Trang. During this period, he spared no efforts to build the diocese, especially in relation to clergy education. In fact, the number of students rose from 42 to 147 in major seminaries and from 200 to 500 in minor seminaries. He also organised youth and lay groups, set up schools and promoted parish councils.

At the same time, he held a number of ecclesiastical posts, such as president of the Vietnam Bishops’ Conference and chairman of the Justice and Peace Committee and the Social Communication Committee. He was one of the founders of Radio Veritas. In 1971, he was appointed advisor to the Pontifical Council of the Laity, a post he held until 1975. During his time in office, he met the then archbishop of Krakow, the future John Paul II. From him, he became familiar with the pastoral experiences under the most difficult period of Communist rule.

He was arrested and jailed by Vietnam’s Communist regime in May 1975 and released in 1988. He was placed under house arrest until 1991 when he was forced to leave his homeland. John Paul II welcomed him in the Roman Curia, and in 1998 appointed him chairman of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He died on 16 September 2002 after a long illness.

AsiaNews met a number of Vietnamese Catholics who went home for the Lunar New Year with stories about the prelate.

“I saw Cardinal Francis twice in the US,” said Joseph, a Vietnamese American and a former officer of the Republic of Vietnam. “He visited us in Anaheim and addressed crowds of over 10,000 people.”

“Whenever he visited the United States and said Mass for Vietnamese Catholics, people came in droves to listen to his preaching. We liked his cheerfulness and good humour. Although he spent 13 years in a Communist prison, he was always open, living in faith and charity, loving people and the nation.”

“I was in a Communist prison for seven years,” Joseph said. “So I sympathised and admired him. He stayed alive because he believed in God. When you are in the prison, you are hungry. Every day you get just a spoon of rice and salt without drinking water. You are very thirsty and you feel like an iron brush is raking your tongue,” he explained.

“Prisoners suffered from hunger and in the spirit. This was especially true for Catholic prisoners who were always discriminated. Nevertheless, Card Francis Xavier was able to celebrate Mass with three drops of holy wine in his palm. Many people have heard that he celebrated Mass in prison, and that he had kept the faith. For this reason, many already believe that he is a saint.”

“He always talked to us heart to heart. We learnt goodness by listening to his preaching. In 2000, he spoke to Vietnamese Catholic youth and told their parents in the US, ‘You must show them that they are Vietnamese, that we are Vietnamese. We have a responsibility towards our country. [. . .] We have dignity. We must be good Catholics. We are proud of Vietnam and Catholic youth. Catholics do not only go to church or great conferences about Our Mother Mary, they must also live according to the teachings of the Bible.”

“We are living in the 21st century,” he said. “We need to learn morality and the catechism. God heals our wounds as we can help others escape sorrow and evil. We are proud of Vietnam’s Catholics and of the Vietnamese nation.”

The cardinal also visited Tam Biên Parish, which was set up for Vietnamese Catholic refugees after 1975. The parish, which has about a thousand members, is run by Fr Trần Quốc Tuấn. All of them say they love Card Francis Xavier’s religion. “He held young people in high esteem. As president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, he nurtured their sense of justice and peace. He bore witness to his faith in prison, and led a life dedicated to charity and morality. He never showed any hatred or a desire for revenge against the Communist regime.”

In today’s Vietnam, many Catholics are attracted by consumerism, and have lost the joy of family life. However, many have read his book The Road of Hope, and have come gone to their families, children, God and the Church. His book is a school of life. Many also remember his stories.

“I went to re-education camp and lived in the prison,” the cardinal said. “I did not want to complain or blame others for my situation. I wanted to see the future in positive terms,” and “it was a turning point. Although I was not suffering physically, I was concerned about faith and hope. I tried to finish The Road of Hope in Nha Trang City’s prison. I was afraid I might be moved to another place (prison). On 18 March 1976, the day before the feast day of Saint Joseph, I was moved to Phú Khánh Camp in Nha Trang.”

“Day and night, I heard the sound of Nha Trang church bells. I had been the diocese’s bishop for eight years and loved everyone there. I had taught future leaders of Catholic associations, increased the number of major and minor seminarians, organised youth and lay groups, established schools and promoted parish councils.”

“I was worried and asked myself. ‘Does God not allow me to do his work?’ Yet, at a night, I’d hear a voice say, ‘Do not think like that! You must know God and work for him. All your deeds are good but note that when God wants you to hand over a task to someone else, you must continue to believe in him and hand it over. God can do everything. God will entrust the task to others, and they will do it better than you. You must just choose God and look for his holy ideas. Choose God, but do not choose for him. All the task you let go, parishioners will do for you.”

Many people both inside and outside Vietnam know The Road of Hope. In this book, Card Francis Xavier tells us that we must love our country and fellow countrymen. We must have an open heart as well as love and compassion for others and other religions. We must do good deeds for our country and the Church.ăn-Thuận-continues-to-teach-fellow-Vietnamese-about-'The-Road-to-Hope'-23681.html


Scorsese plans film on Jesuit missionaries in Far East | Jesuit missionary,St Francis Xavier, martyrs of Japan,Shusako Endo, Martin Scorsese.

St Francis Xavier
Fr Tim Byron SJ from Liverpool is currently working in the Philippines. In his latest blog, he reflects on a story from the region that he hopes will soon reach the big screen.

He writes: 'The history of Christianity in Asia is marked by terrible suffering and persecution, mixed with power, corruption, ignorance, prejudice, cultural suspicions, terrible mistakes, acts of great generosity and sacrifice. Some of the fiercest persecution was in Japan - after the success of the initial journeys of Jesuit missionary St Francis Xavier. The story of the martyrs of Japan is powerful and it should be known by a wider audience. Well, hopefully it will be thanks to two men: award-winning Japanese author Shusako Endo and one of the greatest film directors of all time, Martin Scorsese.

'Scorsese has announced his next project will be a film based on Endo's classic novel Silence. Scorsese as a young man seriously considered the priesthood, even entering the seminary. Now, having married five times he recently said - 'I'm a lapsed Catholic. But I am Roman Catholic, there's no way out of it.' You do not have to look hard at many of his films to see the Catholic influence.

'The novel is based on the historical figures of three Jesuits - and at the centre of the story is the infamous Fr Cristivo Ferreira, who was the head of the Jesuit mission in Japan. Ferreira was captured and committed apostasy after being tortured for five hours. The tortures for Christians were terrible, often being hung upside down over a pit and slowly bled unless they denied the faith - often by publicly trampling on a crucifix. Ferreira became the most famous of the 'fallen priests', converting to Shintoism, changing his name and writing a book entitled The Deception Revealed in 1636 (a treatise against Christianity). He also participated in government trials of other captured Jesuits. This was a great scandal and shame to many Christians. Two young Jesuits were sent to Japan to succor the local Church and investigate reports about Ferreira, and if possible 'bring him back'.

'Having read the novel about 20 years ago, it has, according to Scorsese himself, 'given me a kind of sustenance that I have found in only a very few works of art.' Daniel-Day Lewis, Benicio Del Toro, and Gael Garcia Bernal are all reported to have major roles locked down. [Note: In an interview in December 2011, Scorsese said he still hoped Day-Lewis would be starring in the film but acknowledged that he would not know for certain until he had finished filming 'Lincoln' with Steven Spielberg.

In a forward to a recent edition of the novel - Scorsese explains his fascination: "How do you tell the story of Christian faith? The difficulty, the crisis, of believing? How do you describe the struggle? ... Shusaku Endo understood the conflict of faith, the necessity of belief fighting the voice of experience. The voice that always urges the faithful - the questioning faithful - to adapt their beliefs to the world they inhabit, their culture...That's a paradox, and it can be an extremely painful one: on the face of it, believing and questioning are antithetical. Yet I believe that they go hand in hand. One nourishes the other. Questioning may lead to great loneliness, but if it co-exists with faith - true faith, abiding faith - it can end in the most joyful sense of communion. It's this painful, paradoxical passage - from certainty to doubt to loneliness to communion - that Endo understands so well, and renders so clearly, carefully and beautifully in Silence."


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
11 Jan 2012

Bishop-Elect Michael Kennedy
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell will be a Co-consecrator at the Episcopal Ordination and Installation of Armidale Bishop-Elect, Wagga Wagga priest, Father Michael Kennedy.
The Ordination and Installation will be held at Armidale's Cathedral of Saints Mary and Joseph on Thursday, 9 February when more than 700 dignitaries, priests and members of the 23 parishes of the sprawling 91,500 square kilometre Armidale diocese are expected to attend.
The Principal celebrant at this important ceremony will be the retiring Bishop of Armidale, the Most Rev Luc Matthys with Bishop Gerard Hanna of Wagga Wagga and Cardinal Pell acting as Co-consecrators.
At 43, Fr Kennedy will become the youngest Catholic bishop in Australia and admits he is both humbled and honoured to have been chosen a successor of the Apostles as the Bishop of Armidale.
Retiring Bishop of Armidale,
the Most Rev Luc Matthys
"I thought I should be nervous but I feel at peace with the news," he says adding he is grateful for the many people who are praying for him and his ministry.

The elevation of Fr Kennedy to become Bishop of Armidale was announced by the Vatican on 8 December and details of his Ordination and Installation have now been released by Bishop Matthys who at 75 is retiring after 12 years as the ninth prelate of the sprawling rural diocese.
Bishop Matthys who was ordained Bishop of Armidale in May 1999, says he is satisfied he is handing over the Diocese of Armidale in a good position.
"More clergy are needed but we are not doing too badly. Organisationally and financially we are not facing any difficulties," he says.
Invitations to the Installation of Fr Kennedy have already gone out and these include invitations to the principal and head boy and girl from each of the 24 Catholic schools within the Armidale Diocese.
Cardinal George Pell will be a
co-consecrator at Ordination
of Bishop Elect Kennedy
Also at the ceremony will be Fr Kennedy's family.
The youngest of nine children, he grew up in the San Isidore locality in the Riverina district of NSW. His father was a public servant in Wagga Wagga while his mother was a nurse prior to the birth of her children.
"Both my parents came from farming backgrounds and I was blessed growing up in such a loving, stable, caring and secure family," Bishop-Elect Kennedy says.

As a young child, the future prelate attended a small two class country school in San Isidore before completing his secondary education at a Christian Brothers secondary school in Wagga Wagga.
"I was so happy with my school I decided to become a teacher myself and as a young man for three years I taught at Xavier Catholic High school in Albury," he says.
Cathedral of St Mary and St Joseph,
Beginning his priestly formation at Vianney College, Bishop-Elect Kennedy completed his studies in Rome at Propaganda Fide, obtaining a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. He was ordained a priest on 14 August 1999 in Wagga Wagga and took up his first appointment as assistant priest in Griffith later that year.
From 2001-2003, he was Rector of St Francis' Residential College at Charles Sturt University before becoming assistant priest in Albury from 2004-2006 and Parish priest of Leeton from 2007.
In addition to his duties as parish priest, Bishop-Elect Kennedy taught Moral Theology and Church History at his former alma mater, Vianney College.
Former Armidale local, Bishop Gerard Hanna, Bishop of Wagga Wagga, is delighted at the elevation of one of his senior priests. "Over the past 13 years he has shown a very balanced approach to his pastoral ministry and I believe he is well suited to his new role."

He also believes the new bishop's rural background will stand him in good stead.
Just before Christmas, Bishop-Elect Kennedy says he visited Armidale to meet the clergy and people of the Diocese.
Bishop-Elect Kennedy from The Irrigator Leeton300
"I'd been to Armidale several times in the past and have also been to Moree and know just how picturesque the region is and how welcoming its people," he says.

Although Armidale is much larger than the Wagga Wagga Diocese, he insists he is accustomed to long drives on unsealed country roads and looking forward to seeing and getting to know New England.
"When Bishop Matthys took office almost 13 years ago he made it a priority to visit every one of the 23 parishes and recommended I try to do the same in as short a period as possible, so people have an opportunity to meet me," he says.
Bishop-Elect Kennedy will arrive in Armidale a week prior to his Ordination. After this, ensuring his successor has settled in, Bishop Matthys will move from Armidale to Tamworth where with a little more time on his hands, he says he is keen to begin "relearning the clarinet."


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Exactly two years ago, on January 12, 2010, Haiti was devastated by a terrible earthquake. Fides collected the first, alarming and terrible news, on behalf of the Apostolic Nuncio, His Exc. Mgr.Bernardito Auza, who told the world, before the arrival of journalists and the media, the disaster that had hit Haiti (see Fides 13/01/2010). Two years later, Fides asked Monsignor Auza to describe the current situation.
"I have to underline that the recovery from a natural disaster is always difficult, and what is even more difficult is the rebuilding after a major disaster like the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010 – says the Apostolic Nuncio to Fides -. I would also add that the reconstruction in Haiti was and is particularly difficult and expensive because everything is imported, even the sand. Then there is the question of the relationship between donors and Haitian instances. The Commission's mandate for the reconstruction of Haiti expired on October 21 last year, so there is no longer a structure or an institution that guides or directs the efforts. Parliament has yet to address the issue, and the question is not in the legislative program. The issues of management on who manages the funds, and especially who gets the contracts, are very hot these days.
There are still about 600,000 people in tents. Even our major seminarians are in tents. Some public squared have been cleared, such as the important St. Peter's Square (Place Saint Pierre), in Petionville.
The Church has dozens and dozens of reconstruction projects, but the technical preparatory stages are long and difficult, we must also consider the issue of funding and priorities. In fact, there are projects that are almost ready, but are not considered as a priority, but for those considered priorities the preparatory steps have not been completed. For example, the reconstruction of two major national Seminars of Philosophy and Theology is a top priority, but the project is not ready yet, because the process for the ownership of the land is not yet concluded. In the meantime, it was decided not to return to the places where they were before the earthquake.
Meanwhile, the serious problems of Haiti, which existed before the earthquake persist: firstly, the material and social poverty is very generalized. Many children do not attend school because their parents have to pay school fees and approximately 90% of schools are private!
The Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Mgr.Guire Poulard, released a beautiful encouraging message to everyone, inviting them to remember the dead and encouraging Haitians to take control of the situation, saying that "the reconstruction will be Haitian or there will be no reconstruction".
The Catholic Church is not discouraged, however, and continues to work in favor of the smaller and poorer". The Nuncio stresses in conclusion that there are many activities planned, including the inauguration of the new Neonathology ward at the Catholic children’s Hospital "Saint Damien", sponsored by the Hospital Bambino Gesù, "Therefore on behalf of the Vatican, therefore the Holy Father, " the inauguration of a new university in the north of the Country (will be called Henri Christophe University), a gift on behalf of the Dominican Republic to Haiti. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 12/01/2012)


Deep in the rugged mountains of Ethiopia, a small village carries enormous historical and religious significance -- and wonder.
Lalibela village, 700 km north of Addis Ababa, has 11 mystical churches that bear the soul of Ethiopia's religious heritage.
On January 7, thousands of Ethiopian Orthodox Church pilgrims made a journey whose significance has outlived generations: the pilgrimage to Lalibela to mark the Ethiopian Christmas.
Located in a valley in the mountains of Ethiopia's Amhara state, the small village has a mix of traditional huts and tin-roofed buildings, and it is dry and quiet.
It is surrounded by rocks and a few trees, swaying to a breeze that pours into the valley from the hills to neutralise the heat of the scorching sun.
A dusty road across the village leads to the main entrance of a cluster of six of the historic rock-hewn churches.
The main church in this cluster now has a shelter constructed over it by Unesco to protect it from adverse weather.
It is supported by pillars on the outside. According to our guide, some of the original pillars, as had been carved by the King, had fallen off but were later reconstructed.
Before we get in, our guide informs us that we will have to remove our shoes first -- it is a holy place.
Two monks are sitting close to the entrance to the holy of holies. According to our guide, only priests are allowed into the holy of holies.
On the right side is a huge painting of Jesus on the cross, and on the left that of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
The church is dedicated to Jesus, and is called 'Saviour of the World'.
A tunnel leads into a second rock-hewn church: the 'House of Mary'. It is smaller, but has a resident monk.
Adjacent to it is the 'House of the Cross', another church in the cluster. Here, cameras with flash cannot be used inside the church, we are told. The two churches share a rectangular hole which acts as a baptism pool.
There are more tunnels that lead to the rest of the churches on this complex.
This is because the church, like all other Lalibela churches, is hewn on the ground rock going downwards.
The churches have a masterful Ethiopian architecture with hints of Hebrew influence.
But it is their religious significance and history that inspire awe among thousands of Ethiopian pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.
According to Ethiopian legend, King Lalibela's brother tried to kill him by poisoning him.
However, the King only fell into a comma and came to a few days later. It is during the comma that God gave him the vision of the rock-hewn churches, according to the legend.
In the 12 Century BC, when he is said to have begun carving out the churches, Ethiopians would go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Having made the journey himself and having seen how difficult and dangerous the journey was, the King is said to have found motivation to create a replica of Jerusalem in Ethiopia, thus saving the pilgrims from the long journey.
And so, this tiny village has come to be Ethiopia's Jerusalem.
By using just a hammer and chisel, and with the help of angels, King Lalibela carved out the churches from pure rock, according to legend. That took him about 23 years to accomplish.
The villagers and pilgrims consider a seasonal river which splits Lalibela River Jordan, the biblical river where Jesus was baptised.
Like those who were there before them, the pilgrims will come and go. But the churches, the solid rock that they are, will certainly carry the soul of Ethiopia's religious heritage and significance into the unforeseeable future.


Mark 1: 40 - 45
40 And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean."
41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I will; be clean."
42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
43 And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once,
44 and said to him, "See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people."
45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.


St. Marguerite Bourgeoys
Feast: January 12 (Canada)

Feast Day: January 12
Born: 17 April 1620, Troyes, France
Died: 12 January 1700, Montreal,
Canonized: 31 October 1982, by Pope
John Paul II
Major Shrine: Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours
Chapel, Montreal
Patron: Against poverty, loss of parents, people rejected by religious orders
MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS was born in Troyes, in the province of Champagne (France), on Good Friday, April 17, 1620. She was baptized on the same day in the church of Saint-Jean, a church that was located near her home. Marguerite was the sixth child in a family of twelve. Her parents were Abraham Bourgeoys and Guillemette Gamier, and she was privileged to grow up in a milieu that was middle class and thoroughly Christian.

Marguerite was nineteen years of age when she lost her mother. In the following year, 1640, in the course of a procession held on October 7 in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, she had an unforgettable experience. Her eyes rested on a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and at that moment she felt inspired to withdraw from the world and to consecrate herself to the service of God. She registered, at once, as a member of the extern Congregation of Troyes, an association of young girls devoted to the charitable work of teaching children in the poor districts of the town. While engaged in this apostolate she learned about the foundation of Ville Marie (Montreal) in Canada. The year was 1642, and at that time she sensed a first call to missionary life. This call was rendered concrete in 1652 when she met Monsieur de Maisonneuve, founder and governor of the settlement begun in New France, who was in search of someone who would volunteer her services for the gratuitous instruction of the French and Indian children. Our Lady confirmed the call addressed to her: "Go, I will not forsake you", she said. Thus assured, Marguerite left Troyes in February, 1653, in a spirit of complete detachment. She arrived in Montreal on the following 16th of November, and without delay she set to work to promote the best interests of the colony. She is rightly considered co-foundress of Montreal, with the nurse, Jeanne Mance, and the master designer, Monsieur de Maisonneuve.

In order to encourage the colonists in their faith, she arranged for the restoration of the Cross on Mount Royal after it has been destroyed by hostile Indians, and she undertook the construction of a chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. Convinced of the importance of the family in the building of this new country, and perceiving the significance of the role to be exercised by women, she devoted herself to the task of preparing those whose vocation it would be to preside in a home. In 1658, in a stable which had been given to her by the governor for her use, she opened the first school in Montreal. She also organized an extern Congregation, patterned after the one which she had known in Troyes but adapted to the actual needs. In this way, she could respond to the needs of the women and young girls on whom much depended as far as the instruction of children was concerned. In 1659, she began receiving girls who were recommended by "les cures" in France, or endowed by the King, to come to establish homes in Montreal, and she became a real mother to them. Thus were initiated a school system and a network of social services which gradually extended through the whole country, and which led people to refer to Marguerite as "Mother of the Colony".

On three occasions, Marguerite Bourgeoys made a trip to France to obtain help. As of
1658, the group of teachers who associated themselves with her in her life of prayer, of heroic poverty, and of untiring devotedness to the service of others, presented the image of a religious institute. The Congregation de Notre-Dame received its civil charter from Louis XIV in 1671, and canonical approbation by decree of the Bishop of Quebec in 1676. The Constitutions of the Community were approved in 1698.
The foundation having been assured, Sister Bourgeoys could leave the work to others. She died in Montreal on January 12, 1700, acknowledged for her holiness of life. Her last generous act was to offer herself as a sacrifice of prayer for the return to health of a young Sister. Forty members of the Congregation de Notre-Dame were there to continue her work.

On November 12, 1950 Pope Pius XII beatified Marguerite Bourgeoys. Canonizing her on October 31, 1982, Pope John Paul II gave the Canadian Church its first woman saint.

(Abridged from Vatican News Services)