Joseph L’Heureux, Lay Minister
This week, the church celebrates two feast days, St. Patrick, March 17, and St. Joseph, March 19, the stepfather of our Lord Jesus Christ. I say stepfather because, according to our faith, God is His actual Father.
St. Patrick, as a young boy of 15 or 16, was captured by Celtic warriors on a raiding party in Wales, and dragged off to Ireland as a slave, a herdsman for his master. This was about the year 400 A.D. He escaped after a few years and journeying into Gaul, what is now known as France, he prepared himself for missionary work by attending schools in Tours and Lerins. It was his desire to return to that pagan country of Ireland to evangelize his captors. He did and today he is the patron saint of Ireland.
His solitary time as a slave had obviously led him to a conversion and relationship with Jesus, his creator and saviour. St. Joseph, on the other hand, was engaged to be married to a young woman, who he discovered was with child, he could have had her stoned to death according to the law. However, an angel of God appeared to him in a dream saying, “Do not be afraid to take this woman as your wife, for this conception is from the Holy Spirit.”
Joseph must have known the scripture which promised, “Look. The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
The apparition of the angel thereby convinced him to take Mary as his wife. [Matthew 1:21 & 23]
Today, St. Joseph is the patron saint of Canada. We are Canadians, yet I am positive that most people will remember to celebrate St. Patrick’s feast long before St. Joseph, whose son died to bring salvation and Christianity to the world.
Is it because many pubs March 17 will serve green beer and that is a lot more fun than going to church rather than celebrating St. Joseph’s feast day with the body and blood of His Son, Jesus Christ?
It does not seem to make much sense does it?
Closer to home, we have Rose Prince who was sent to a residential school in northern British Columbia, between Vanderhoof and St. James. After her eight years at school, she returned home only to find conditions unbearable. She returned to the school to work at assisting the younger girls in adjusting to life in residential school. She spent close to 20 years in this work until she died, and today she is being considered and promoted for canonization.
There is probably a lesson to be learned from these three people: Rose Prince, St. Patrick and St. Joseph. I have attended three truth and reconciliation conferences for the healing of residential school survivors. One such conference in Edmonton hosted by our government, I attended a session where 1,200 to 1,400 students, junior high and upward, attended from surrounding schools, as part of their Canadian History class.
I found the presentation too one-sided with not enough background on the conditions in the country that led to residential schools during that period of history. It left me feeling sick. I went home after two hours and missed the second day. I returned the third day and found it a little more positive.
In this conference there were youth of all races: Chinese, Koreans, East Indian, Ukrainian, Italian, German, French, Filipinos, English and Muslim. My reasons for disgust were, we do not need other nationalities of youth with a grudge bearing attitude towards government and churches.
Over the years I have heard from many former residential schools students who are grateful that they had the opportunity to attend school and many at their parent’s request. My own mother attended a residential school here in Joussard, as a day school student. Her comment was “They certainly ate much better than we did, and they did not have to pay to attend, nor walk two to three miles to attend daily.”
Such were the conditions in the twenties, thirties and forties in this country, the abundance was not as we know it today.
We have just entered another Lenten season, in preparation for Easter. Maybe we should take time to reflect on how well off we are because this country was settled under Christian principals of education, morals and prayer.
Let’s consider the St. Patrick’s, Rose Prince’s and many other martyrs who gave their lives to educate our ancestors here and abroad.
Happy Lenten season and God bless!