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Dear Parishioners and Fathers,

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Liturgical Notes for May
by Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R 

May 2: St. Athanasius (296-373).  Athanasius was born of a fervent Catholic family in Alexandria, Egypt, who provided for his good education.  The story is told that as a body, he and friends were playing in the sea, Athanasius pretending to be a bishop baptizing his friends.  The bishop Alexander observed this and calling them over, remarked that Athanasius had used the correct formula, so these were valid baptisms, but asked Athanasius to cease doing this because his friends had not been suitably catechised.  Ordained a deacon, then priest, Athanasius became a bishop in 328.  His ministry was marked by fierce battles with Roman emperors and Arian bishops.  Seventeen of his 45 years as bishop were spent in five successive exiles.  Athanasius was a staunch defender of the Trinitarian doctrine which declared that Jesus is “consubstantial with the Father”; in this he did battle with the many bishops who professed the Arian heresy.  In his Easter letter of 367, Athanasius listed the 27 books that eventually became the canon of writings in the New Testament.  In 366, Athanasius returned from his last exile, and spent his last years in writing many volumes on orthodox Christian teachings, which earned him the Title Doctor of the Church.  Athanasius was also noted for his biography of the hermit St. Anthony, of the Desert.

May 6: St. François de Laval (1623-1708) was born in France to a noble but not wealthy family.  In college, Francois learned about the Jesuit missions among the Hurons in Canada, and settled in his heart that he wanted to become a missionary.  He was ordained a priest in 1647, at 24 years of age.  His first years were spent ministering in his home diocese in France, but in 1658, on the recommendation of the Jesuits, the Holy See appointed him Vicar Apostolic of New France.  Prior to this, the Church in New France was overseen by the archbishop of Rouen.  Laval was ordained a bishop in Paris before heading across the ocean to Canada.  He arrived a year later in Quebec City and took possession of his vast see: all of New France.  He quickly locked horns with the local civil authorities in Quebec over the sale of alcohol to the Native peoples.  Along with the continuous work of establishing parishes and charitable institutions throughout Quebec, he is recognized for founding the Séminaire de Québec, the first such institution in North America.  His body is entombed in a side chapel at the Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral in Quebec City.  He was canonized by Pope Francis in 2014.

May 14: St. Matthias (died about AD 80)  Acts 1:15-26 tells us of the selection of Matthias as an apostle, one of the twelve, to replace Judas Iscariot.  It was important that he was with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry.  There is no further mention of Matthias by name in the rest of the New Testament.  However, some traditions identify him as the founder of the churches in Cappadocia and Issus (on port on the Caspian Sea).  He is also spoke n of as ministering in Judaea, Ethiopia, and Adjara (in Georgia).

May 21: St. Eugene de Mazenod (1782-1861).  Eugene was born into a rich and influential French family, which fled the French Revolution in 1790 (when Eugene was 8 years old) and lived as poor, itinerant refugees in Italy.  His mother returned to France soon after and tried to regain some wealth; Eugene joined her there when he turned 20.  He entered the Saint-Sulpice Seminary in Paris in 1808, and was ordained a priest in December 1811.  He stayed on at that seminary as a formator after ordination, but later asked his bishop not to be appointed as a pastor, but to be free to reach out to the poor, prisoners and youth – anyone who was ignorant of the faith.  In January 1816, he felt deeply inspired to invite other priests to join him in a new missionary venture, what he called Missionaries of Provence, later renamed Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.  The new community received papal approval on 17 February 1826.

In October 1832, Eugene was ordained a bishop.  He assisted his uncle the bishop of Marseille, until he himself became the bishop of Marseille in 1837, while still serving as superior of his Missionary Oblates.  In 1841, Bishop Bourget of Montreal asked for the Oblates to come to Canada for missionary work in the ever-growing new world Church.  After that, they were requested in many other corners of the world: Asia, South Africa, and South America.  Through his Oblate priests and brothers, he became the missionary he had dreamed of becoming.  Eugene de Mazenod died in 1861.  He was canonized in 1995.

May 25: St. Bede the Venerable (673-735)  Bede was born on lands that belonged to the monastery of Monkwearmouth where he was sent as a puer oblatus at the age of 7, to live and learn in the monastic tradition.  He indeed became a monk, joining Abbot Ceolfrith at the Jarrow monastery; the two of them survived a plague that killed most of the population of that region.  Bede went on to become a prolific author, teacher and scholar.  He authored more than 60 books covering a wide range of interests: theology, history, Scripture, poetry — even and notably the discipline of computus – the science of calculating calendar dates, the most intriguing being the date for celebrating Easter!  His most notable work was The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which earned him the title “The Father of English History”.  Bede died on the floor of his monastic cell on the feast of Ascension AD 735. 

May 26: St. Philip Neri (1515-1595).  Philip was born of a noble family, and educated by the Dominicans in his natal city of Florence.  There were hopes that he would inherit and manage the family fortune, but Philip had a religious conversion and decided in 1535 to move to Rome.  For 17 years, he lived as a layman in Rome studying and reaching out to the poor, the sick and prostitutes, leading them to a conversion of spiritual life.  In 1548, along with his confessor, he founded the Confraternity of the Most holy Trinity of Pilgrims and Convalescents, which assisted pilgrims who had come to Rome, and those who had been released from hospitals but still needed care.  In the year 1551, Philip was ordained a priest.  His first desire was to be a missionary in India, but his friends convinced him that there was ample need for him in Rome.  He settled in to the Hospital of San Giorlamo della Carità, where in 1553 he began a life and ministry that gathered diocesan priests for gatherings of prayer and song, study and refection of Scripture and spiritual writings of sacred authors.  From there, they conducted pilgrimages and excursions to churches in Rome.  Philip was asked to expand this ministry to other centers not only in Rome but elsewhere.  This movement of establishing Oratories officially began in 1575.  Philip was elected for life as superior general, but he wished any Oratories established outside of Rome to be independent.  Philip died in 1595; he was canonised in 1622.

May 29: Ascension.  The Ascension of Jesus is told in Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, and Acts 1:6-11.  After spending forty days among the disciples, teaching them many things, he ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven.  Along with that action was the promise to send an “advocate”, the Holy Spirit, which took place on Pentecost, the Jewish feast of the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai.  In some countries around the world, the Solemnity of the Ascension is still celebrated on a Thursday, marking forty days since Easter; in many others, this feast has been transferred to the Sunday. 

May 31: Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This feast honours the visit that Mary made to her kinswoman Elizabeth, after she heard the news from the Archangel Gabriel that she would become the mother of the Messiah.  This incident is told only in Luke’s gospel chapter 1, verses 39-56.  The last part of this passage quotes Mary’s “Magnificat”, or hymn of praise to God for having chosen her for such a role in salvation, despite her lowliness.  In the City of David there is a church which stands on the site thought to be Elizabeth’s home, with a life-sized mural of this meeting.

Archbishop Pettipas

Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R.

Birth: 1950-09-06      Priesthood: 1977-05-07      Episcopate: 2007-01-25

Conversations with Bertha: Apostolic Succession
Eastern Catholics

Video Messages

New Years & Epiphany Message from the Archbishop


Archbishop’s Christmas Message 2021



Archbishop Pettipas’ Message on the Demolition of St. Mary’s School

Archbishop Pettipas’ Homily for the Mass for Life –         13 May 2020

Past Pastoral Letters 

2021: December letter from the Archbishop (English) (français)
November letter from the Archbishop (English) (français)
October letter from the Archbishop (English) (français)

Archbishop Pettipas’ letter to our priests and parishioners in regards to exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccines

Archbishop Pettipas reflects on saying ‘I Love You’

LETTER: Letter from Archbishop Pettipas on Mass protocols after the lifting of restrictions on July 1st. 

LETTER: Archbishop Girard Pettipas offers his thoughts on the recent tragic discovery at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School. 

April 1, 2021 Letter from the Archbishop (English) (français)

March 1, 2021 Letter from the Archbishop (English) (français)

Archived Letters, Addresses and Other Documents

Pastoral letter from the Bishops of Alberta and NWT in response to reports on sexual abuse in the Church.

Letters on Topical Issues

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