On September 24, the Italian community of Montreal gathered for its annual pilgrimage to Saint Joseph's Oratory, organized by the C.S.I.M. (Conferenza dei Sacerdoti al servizio degli Italiani di Montreal), This pilgrimage is a 60-year-plus tradition.
This year's solemn celebration was presided by Archbishop Christian Lépine, surrounded by pastors of the Italian parishes and Missions of Montreal, and took place in the presence of the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre and of the General Consul of Italy in Montreal, Marco Riccardo Rusconi.
In his homily, Most Reverend Lépine expressed to the members of Italian community his joy to come pray with them in the peace of Christ. He mentioned how his admiration for the Italian community has grown over the years because the community comprises people of faith who continue to live in parishes, now transformed into multicultural groups. He explained that there are two ways of achieving unity among different cultures: fusion, in which identity disappears, and communion that teaches people to live together, work and create bonds, enriching their culture while respecting the culture of others. Archbishop Lépine asked those present to not forget that our life must be a life of prayer that opens our hearts to others.
In the imposing basilica full of faithful, one could breathe an atmosphere of increasing closeness. The celebration was animated by the united choirs of all Italian Parishes, who sang under the expert conducting of Ms. Giovanna Furci and the organ accompaniment of Dr. Alexandra Fol.
To highlight the 375th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Montreal (Ville-Marie), the Italian community began the celebration with the song "À cause d'une croix" by Robert Lebel.
With this very significant hymn, we wanted to evoke the missionary zeal of those pioneering men and women of faith who came from France, and to pay homage to the founders of this city and of this great country where they came to fulfill their mission of Evangelization and to plant "the cross".
The hymn "À cause d'une croix" was also a tribute to the generous city of Montreal that welcomed this community coming from Italy and made the people feel at home. Finally and above all, this hymn, presented bilingually with alternating verses in Italian and French, paid homage to the numerous Quebecois priests and bishops who, with the same generosity and dedication as the founders, have continued to perpetuate their missionary work in our parishes up to the present day - and this, also in Italian. Since the early years of Italian emigration, these pastors have been our point of reference and our fellow travelers in the journey of faith.
"Oh yes! Je me souviens! ". As some emigrants say "Yes, I remember! We, born under the shadow of the bell tower of our villages where much of our social life was held, we grew under the zealous guidance of our priests. And this, we will never forget."