The parish of Sainte-Marguerite-Bourgeoys on Nuns’ Island now has a new parish priest in charge. On Sunday, October 2, Emanuel Zetino was officially installed in the island church by Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal. Mr. Zetino says that living together in harmony will be at the heart of his new mandate.

“Every church has its own individual character,” he points out, “and it is important to bear that in mind. The variety of my experiences has allowed me to have an informed perspective, to listen and respond to the different needs of the community.”

Parishioners of Sainte-Marguerite-Bourgeoys organized a picnic to celebrate the Feast of St. John the Baptist last June 24. The Muslim and Jewish communities of Nuns’ Island both responded to the parish’s invitation and joined in the festivities.

“Located right nearby are a synagogue and a mosque. We really wanted to foster that togetherness. This is a spiritual desire that is not exclusive to the Catholic Church. If we can all work together, especially on the 24th of June, it gives us all an opportunity to come together, ” Mr. Zetino explains.

“A message of welcome”

Then, on August 27, the parish doubled down and put on a community corn roast.

“The point is not just to get together here at the church and then stop the communication,” he goes on. “You say to yourself, ‘Let’s move forward, let’s create ties with those who are alone or with people who have just arrived here.’ The point is to offer a message of welcome.”

And now, this collaborative spirit has become normal.

“We organized a concert, and at the end the imam was close by and came to help us get the space ready for Mass the following day. It’s wonderful to see this kind of gesture. We can’t be thinking, ‘Okay, over here are the Catholics, and those are the Muslims and over there are the Jews.’ No, there’s a real feeling of mutual cooperation. We can come together and do so many things in spite of our differences,” explains Emanuel Zetino.

The church, the mosque and the synagogue are all situated not far from Nuns’ Island’s very aptly named Place de l’Unité.

Language inclusivity

Sainte-Marguerite-Bourgeoys parish offers Masses in French and Spanish to meet the different needs of the community. Masses in English are also being considered.

Mr. Zetino clarifies, “We want everyone to be able to celebrate their faith in their own language.” He himself was born in Montreal to Guatemalan parents and is fluent in Spanish.

“I also spent some time in an Italian parish in Montreal, and so that helped me to learn Italian so I could accompany the community. In addition, I spent four years in Saint-Léonard, where Mass was celebrated in French or Spanish,” he points out. Parish priest Emanuel Zetino has barely begun his new mandate, but already this spirit of community has taken root in Sainte-Marguerite-Bourgeoys parish. - by Clément Gaboury (Translated by the Archdiocese of Montreal)