Archbishop Christian Lépine celebrated Sunday Mass to mark the 60th anniversary of Saint-René-Goupil Parish. Parishioners packed the church for the Feb. 23 celebration.

This Mass marked the end of a year filled with festivities and spiritual events within the parish. A year that was synonymous with a real “spiritual increase in the life of the community, especially in prayer and adoration,” says Father Joël Saavedra, parish priest. Father Joël was able to breathe new life into this multicultural community, a revival springing forth from “the richness of everyone’s talents. Our strength lies in the 1000 paths and horizons lying ahead,” he said.

Founded in 1959 by Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger, then Bishop of Montreal, the parishioners of Saint-Michel and Saint-Léonard had to wait until 1964 to have their own church. And it was only 54 years later, in 2018, that the Saint-René-Goupil Church was consecrated by Archbishop Lépine, thus becoming a sacred place to be cherished for eternity!

Before Mass, a video was shown as a conclusion to this beautiful year of celebrations. In fact, in 2019, the parish organized a number of events for this anniversary. Pilgrimage to the Holy Land or to the cathedral, special Mass for Saint John’s Day, “Holywins” evening, setting up of Mass in Latin on the first Saturdays of the month, concerts and festivals, nights of adoration and pastoral visits of families, so many initiatives that made this 60th year “a year of grace, a time that God has granted us to live in a community”, said Father Joël.

“You are important to me.”

During his homily, Archbishop Lépine compared the birthdays celebrated in a family with that of the parish. To celebrate someone’s birthday is to show how happy their presence makes us, how different life would be without them, how they matter to us. On this 60th anniversary, “It is good that the Saint-René-Goupil parish exists!” exclaimed Archbishop Lépine. He also stressed that a birthday is not an end in itself, but a call to nurture ties throughout the year, as parishioners have been able to do since last February. Through this anniversary, Archbishop Lépine called on each parishioner to continue to gather to pray, fraternize and shine in the society around them.

Living the Mission

It is only by praying with confidence that Love in the community can become reality. Only by relying on “the imagination of the Holy Spirit” can we go on a mission. Archbishop Lépine then discussed at length the mission. It can be done through daily little things: by leaving the door of the church open, by witnessing our Love of God through patience, by being attentive to others in our families or by showing, at work, our attachment to Christ.

Young couples and catechumens preparing respectively for marriage and the sacrament of Christian initiation brought the offerings during the offertory. Among them, Elisabeth and Lucas came specially from Toronto to attend the Eucharist celebrated by the Archbishop of Montreal. They were very touched by the words Archbishop Lépine addressed to them and by his blessing few months before their wedding. Ginette (and her daughter Rosie, altar girl) was particularly taken by the silence that reigned throughout the celebration. True that there were many children in the assembly, yet silence prevailed! “The Holy Spirit was over us,” she said, smiling.

To conclude the celebration, Father Joël thanked Archbishop Lépine for his presence and above all for this opportunity given to him to meet a community filled with such human richness, in which his heart could expand and explore its own peripheries.

As an echo to the words of their parish priest, the choir and the whole assembly sang the exit song, “Dance with joy, God comes to stay with you.” This very prayerful celebration ended with an explosion of life.