Address given by His Excellency the Most Reverend Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio, at the celebration of the Mass commemorating the tenth anniversary of the episcopal ministry of the Most Reverend Christian Lépine as Archbishop of Montreal Mary Queen of the World and Saint James the Greater Cathedral Basilica.
Your Excellency, Most Reverend Christian Lépine,
Dear confreres in the episcopate,
Dear priests, deacons, members of institutes of consecrated life and laity,
Dear members of Archbishop Lépine's family,
Dear representatives of the civil authorities,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is a great joy for me to be here today, in this splendid Cathedral Basilica, to celebrate with the diocesan community the tenth anniversary of the Most Reverend Christian Lépine's episcopal ministry as Archbishop of Montreal. I accepted gratefully and eagerly your kind invitation to join you on this occasion. With me are the Most Reverend Antons Prikuls, First Secretary of the Nunciature, Father Andrew Taylor, our local collaborator and two of our religious, Sisters Catalina and Claudia.
As Papal Representative, I have come here today in gratitude and fraternally in order to concelebrate the Eucharist of Thanksgiving, to take part in the festivities and to convey to you, dear Archbishop Lépine, His Holiness Pope Francis’s sentiments of closeness and affection.
Together, we rejoice for the ten years of faithful service of Gospel proclamation, of Kingdom building, of prayer and sacrifice, of discernment and engagement, of teaching, sanctifying and governing God’s Holy People here in Montreal. This is a gift from the Lord. A gift which you have received through the episcopal consecration and papal appointment; a gift which you have shared through your personal witnessing and your shepherding in the name of Christ the Good Shepherd; a gift which speaks to us of your deep love for the Lord, of your fidelity to Holy Mother Church and of your pastoral zeal in bringing into communion, unity and co-responsibility all those women and men entrusted to your fatherly care.
The Second Vatican Council referred to Bishops as “vicars and ambassadors of Christ” (LG, 27; CCC 894) – challenging titles to which are added those of servant, disciple, father, brother, and witness. Your episcopal motto, Si Scires Donum Dei, drawn from the discourse of our Blessed Lord with the Samaritan Woman (Jn 4:10), is a constant reminder that the Lord precedes us with his love and care and bestows on us innumerable and transforming gifts ... if only we have the faith and spiritual poverty required to let them penetrate our inner soul.
Your ministry has been and remains undeniably a gift from the Lord - a gift not fully comprehensible this side of Heaven. As you reach out to the men and women of the city of Montreal, known for its diversity and complexity, you constantly share the gifts and promises of Christ for the benefit of all. Your consoling presence, your prayers and the spiritual fatherhood you provide are gifts that enrich all the beloved faithful of this Archdiocese. The courageous and life giving initiatives undertaken in such areas as in the prevention of abuse, promoting families, protecting the life of the unborn child, supporting marriage and evangelization, all these bear witness to the power of the sacrament of Holy Orders, but also to your own commitment and to the need in all of us to respond, through our personal conversion, to the graces that are bestowed upon us every day. These graces, too, are precious gifts deserving of our deepest gratitude.
Echoing the Council’s intuitions, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that "the individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular churches" (CCC, 886; LG 23). This unity is what we strive towards, it is what we are called to, and it is that which, in faith, we already are: the Mystical Body with Christ as our head. This unity must be built and celebrated in our faith communities. It expresses the holiness of God.
In this world of ours, torn and disfigured from time to time by divisions and hostilities, suffering under violence and vice, rampant secularism, atheism and dangerous ideologies, we profess and believe that our strength and our hope lie solely and uniquely in Our Saviour Jesus Christ. He alone satisfies the hunger in our hearts and quenches our deep thirst for meaning and truth, for the beauty, goodness and eternity sought by all men and women created in his divine image.
I want to thank Your Excellency for the brave leadership, the determination and faithfulness you have shown in these uncertain and perilous times. Your apostolic work in bringing together the Holy People of God, as well as the example of your dedication are deserving of our most sincere acclaim.
As I conclude, allow me to quote from a homily by the Holy Father on the occasion of recent episcopal ordinations (17 October 2021), where he spoke of a Bishop’s need to stay close, first and foremost, to God in prayer; then, to his brother bishops; and then, to priests, the latter being “a Bishop’s closest neighbours”. The pope went on by emphasizing the need for a bishop to make himself available to his priests, as a father does for his children. And, finally, Pope Francis underscored the importance for bishops to be close to their flock, reminding them, that they too, were "taken from the flock."
Dear Archbishop Lépine, as we give thanks for the great gift of your episcopal ministry here in Montreal, we pray that may you know deeply the closeness of the Lord God Almighty. May you experience the mercy of the Father, the joy in the Son and the consolation of the Holy Spirit, as we pray to Our Lady of Ville-Marie so that she may accompany you and guide you, protect you and embrace you in her motherly love.
Ad multos et faustissimos annos!