Address of Pierluigi Molla – Christian Culture Gold Medal May 13, 2105

Fr. Rosica, President Emeritus of Assumption University,

Dr. Wildeman, President of the University of Windsor,

Principal Richard Corneil,

Distinguished Guests and Friends,

It is a great privilege for me to be here with you this evening in Windsor at Assumption University, a great institution of higher learning founded by the Basilian Fathers, and to represent my sisters Gianna Emanuela and Laura who could not be with us. To have been chosen as the recipients of this prestigious and historic Christian Culture Gold Medal is an honor for which we are deeply grateful. To be reunited with our good friend, Fr. Thomas Rosica, fills me with gratitude for his years of close friendship and care for my family. In many ways, it was Fr. Rosica who helped spread the knowledge of and devotion to my mother throughout North America and beyond, ever since we first met in 1998

In receiving this medal tonight on behalf of my sisters, you have chosen to honor my mother, Gianna Beretta Molla, proclaimed blessed and saint by St. John Paul II. The late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini rightly called her: “Women, Mother, Doctor, Lover of Life.” This Gold Medal honors precisely those qualities found in a woman of our time: one who believed in the full dignity of women; one who lived out her lay vocation as a medical student, doctor, wife and mother. More than anything else, my mother Gianna was an outstanding exponent of Christian ideals.  She gave witness to the Gospel and to Christian culture in everyday life. She lived out her lay vocation with joy and hope, generosity and service, sacrifice and unwavering commitment.

I would like to share with you my testimony about my mother’s life, with its constant, daily profession of faith, and the motivations behind her every step that led to her decisions. In what I say, however, I prefer that it be my mother herself who speaks to you, through not only my words but also her own, as well as through her actions. Her message is so clear and luminous that often her words need no further explanation. Her life, sanctified from beginning to end, is best characterized by the themes of family, apostolate and profession. She lived and died an apostle, a doctor and a mother.

In this regard, I would like to evoke some words from the homily preached by Pope John Paul II during my mother’s beatification on the 24th April 1994: “We would like to pay homage to all brave mothers who dedicated themselves to their own family without reserve, who suffer in giving birth to their children and who are ready to make any effort, to face any sacrifice, in order to pass on to them the best of themselves.”

Her Roots: The family of origins

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2: 24)

My grandparents, Alberto and Maria, were profound believers. They raised a large and hard-working family, dedicated to charity and participating in the local Church. A solid Christian education in an atmosphere of serenity and mutual respect formed the first “school” of holiness for Gianna, who would grow to reflect the moral stance of her parents and the spiritual richness inherited from the family. Their example was passed on to the children through the small and simple gestures of a daily life lived according to the Word of God, which has borne fruit. My mother was surrounded by many brothers and sisters who all followed the light of faith, mutually supporting each other throughout their lives.

My mother’s brothers and sisters have been for us children a constant and a guiding light during our lives.  I would like briefly to mention them:

-Mother Virginia is a Canossian Nun and physician who served as a missionary in India;

-Aunt Zita, who graduated in Pharmacy and was really close to Gianna, became our shelter after the death of my mother;

-Uncle Ferdinando, who was also a physician and shared the outpatient clinic with my mother, followed her as private doctor and personal confidante. He was the only one of the brothers who got married and he and his wife had 5 children.

-Uncle Francesco, an engineer and Uncle Monsignor Giuseppe, an engineer too, worked with Uncle Father Alberto, a physician and capuchin missionary, in the project of constructing a hospital in a leper colony in Grajaù in the region of the Maranhao in Brazil. The Church has proclaimed Father Alberto Servant of God and began in 2008 the process for his beatification.

These are the roots from which my mother was born, and from where she started her path of integrity towards her heroic sanctity.

Catholic Action and St. Vincent de Paul Society

“But many of those who had listened to their message became believers; the total number of men had now risen to something like five thousand.” (Acts of the Apostles 4:4)

In Italy there is an association called Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action). Founded in 1868 with its program of Action Prayer and Sacrifice, it was fully accepted by Gianna and lived out in the duties and responsibilities given to her. The purpose of Catholic Action is to spread the name of Christ through acts of the apostolate, maintaining always a strong bond with the Bishop and priests of the local Diocese. During the difficult years of the World War II, a time when many forces were acting against Christian values, this association adopted the role of preparing many lay catholic people to work sustaining the Kingdom of Christ as true supporters of the Church.

Gianna became a member of this association early in her life, at the age of twelve. It was an important factor in her spiritual formation and her apostolate. By reflecting well in her life and spirituality the program of Catholic Action, she has become a role model of holiness for lay people.

As Blessed Paul VI said, she has brought to light the heroism of many Christian mothers. Her exemplary life has been a role model for all mothers of families; her heroic gesture an encouragement always to welcome life with love; her spirituality an example of the path of perfection for the laity. Her life and witness is an invitation to rediscover the Christian love of life and the joy of maternity.

In addition to Catholic Action, my mother was also an active member of another association called St. Vincent de Paul Society, also found throughout the world – even here in Canada.  Mom formed a group in which she was also secretary and animator. This is an apostolate of charity, a group which especially helps those who suffer: sick people, those who live in solitude or in difficult situations, the elderly, those in need of assistance, and those who have been abandoned by their families. To these people, in addition to material help they try to bring joy and serenity. A smile! In these and other situations she wrote that one should always “smile and forgive offenses”.

Her profession of Physician

“I was sick, and you visited me” (Matthew 25:36)

An ancient title for Christ was Christus medicus, meaning the one who cures. As a physician my mother used to say: “It is necessary to act. It is important to bring Jesus to souls and in order to do this he needs us doctors.”

Mom graduated in medicine and surgery in 1949 and she specialized in pediatrics in 1952, finishing first in her class! She chose this specialty not only because of her love for children, but also to be close to mothers – being  able to understand them as both a doctor and a woman. When she became a mother herself, she remained a mother for her patients too.  It has been said about her that “… in her professional activity the thought of her family never limited her generosity in serving the sick; on the contrary it made her more able to understand the problems of other mothers”. She lived her profession as a true mission as she said herself in one of her reflections: “Do your part well and study your science well”.

A woman and a professional, Gianna lived in full coherence those ideas and beliefs, which were the result of her deeply Christian and genuinely evangelical formation, and of her excellent professional and moral preparation, and which arose from her genuine humanity, competence, honesty, devotion and respect for people. In confirmation of this, the first after her death to recognize her stature and influence was the lay governmental authority of the Province of Milan. In 1950 she opened an outpatient clinic in Mesero, which had added to her responsibility as district municipal doctor and where she would work until her death. In addition, after her wedding, she was responsible in the town of Ponte Nuovo for the pediatric clinic, and school physician of the private day care run by the Canossian Nuns in the State Primary School.

She devoutly employed herself for the healing, body and soul, of her patients. From the first period of her work, we still have 5 sheets of her prescription book, in which she noted her thoughts on the medical profession, about which she had very precise ideas. She placed the profession of the doctor squarely in the real word, but also having the particular prerogative of standing before a body in which God has “grafted the divine”, before that bodily and spiritual greatness of the human being, through whom God, not wanting to be an abstract idea, has chosen to reveal himself. For this reason she helped the needy not just with her professional skills but also financially. She wrote: “ If I cure a sick man who does not have anything to eat, what will the medicine do?”  “… We doctors, we work on the man. He is not just a body…. He is a body but also a supernatural soul… . We doctors, we touch Jesus in the body of our patients.”

The Forming of her own family

“Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies? … She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” (Proverbs 31: 10-26)

The first dream of my mother was to travel as a missionary doctor to Brazil, where her brothers, Alberto and Francesco, were building the hospital in Grajau. Because of her health, which would not have been able to endure the climate, she was strongly advised against going to Brazil. At the same time she also felt attracted to married life and having children of her own. She prayed much to understand the will of God. She once wrote to a friend: “The paths of God are all beautiful, in that the end is always the same: to save our soul and manage to draw many other souls close to Paradise to glorify God”.

In June 1954 mom went with a train of sick people to the shrine of Lourdes, in France and coming back she signed up for the Association of Catholic Doctors and the Medical Association of Notre-Dame of Lourdes. She wrote: “…I went to Lourdes to ask to the Holy Virgin what I should do: leave for the missions or get married?”  In December of that year she met my father Pietro Molla. Of that decisive encounter, the day after it happened, my father wrote in his journal: “I feel the serene calm which tells me how good an encounter was the one I had yesterday. The Immaculate Madonna has blessed me.”

Pietro contributed to Gianna’s deeds of charity towards her sick patients and set up in his house a new and more inviting outpatient clinic. They started to exchange letters, the first of many they would write to one another throughout their years together. My father shared fully my mother’s point of view and once he wrote her these words: “Since we have known each other I have witnessed your faith, lived in a clear and complete way, and a spirit of praying so intense, profound and sure of its efficacy.” My parents were married in Magenta on the 24th of September 1955.  Their married life would be very short, only six and a half years, but it was lived with the intensity of a vocation. Convinced that God has placed in men and women the call to life, she immediately wanted children of her own. I was born on November 1956; my sister Mariolina in December 1957, and Laura in July 1959. Finally, Gianna Emanuela was born on the 21st of April 1962.

My mother cared for our moral and religious education, bringing us to Church, teaching us to make small sacrifices, making us reflect in the evenings on the defects of our day.  The family was for her not only a mission, but also the starting point and fulcrum of a life full of many activities, the place of the mind and of the body, from whence comes the energy to face the day ahead of us. In us, her children, there still live many of our mother’s passions – like music and love for the mountains. From the many photographs that we have of her pictured on her skis or during a steep climb, she smiles happily at us, communicating always even after all these years her joy of living those moments in communion with nature and with God. One of my clearest memories I have of mom is being with her in the car when she would ably drive very fast on the roads of those towns where she exercised her medical profession. She would pretend to drive erratically for my own pleasure and hers too! I have always thought that my passion for driving and for cars came from those memories of pure happiness I had with her.

Her Life as Example

“Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

One of her classmates who remembers her well once said: “Gianna had such a communicative faith that all the people who were with her, after only a short period of time, felt attracted to the Church and wanted to attend with greater fervor to the Christian life, thanks to her example”

Many witnesses affirm that they have rediscovered their faith thanks to Gianna who helped resolve doubts and moments of crisis by facing problems with not only reason but also the light of the Gospel. One of her priorities has always been that of defending her beliefs with courage.  Every year of her youth was characterized by an intense apostolate. Even later, as a doctor and in her family she would be a full time apostle. Not satisfied merely with words, my mother’s relationship with the Lord led her to action. She was a genuinely human woman, rooted in life, who was so able to unite her rootedness with higher ideals as to reach the highest point a human being can aim for: an authentic witness of Christ. She was a witness to authentic Christianity, that of the Gospels, not one practiced simply by force of habit, motivated mostly by conformism.

When life demanded more of my mother, her faith never wavered for a moment. Her last pregnancy was immediately problematic and she was fully aware of the risks she was about to face.  Yet she always gave first priority to the new life she was carrying within her rather than to herself. There is a certain hostility to this idea in today’s prevailing culture. Yet in the case of my mother, her consideration for the child simply flowed from everything she ever believed and lived. Mom knew perfectly well how her children needed her, but the unborn child had a primary necessity because the child could only depend on her. The others, already born, could have the help of the Divine Providence, in which she firmly believed. My father remembered very precisely her last days and of that time he wrote: “ With incredible strength and with unchanging commitment she carried on her mission of mother and doctor…she prayed and meditated.   She prayed for her child to be born without suffering. A few days before the delivery, with a tone both firm and very peaceful and with a deep glance which I have never forgotten, my mother said: If it comes to choose between me and the baby, no hesitations, choose, and I demand it, the baby, save it.”

Sadly her conditions after the birth of my sister on the 21st of April 1962 took a turn for the worse and despite the medical care she died with much suffering on the 28th of the same month. Her last thoughts and her last words during those terrible days were of Jesus and her children whom she was leaving behind, as she confided to her sister Mother Virginia.

My mother’s action at the end of her life, in saving my sister, Gianna Emanuela, was heroic in that she prepared for her final action every day of her life. Her final decision for life was the natural culmination of an extraordinary life of virtue and holiness, selflessness and quiet joy. Through the gift of her life, she accepted and honored every human being. Through her married love she became a sign of Christ’s love for the Church and for humanity.

Virtuous people know what to do because of their informed conscience.  They no longer do good out of a sense of obligation, bur rather look for opportunities to do good. My mother, Gianna, continues to remind the Church and the world of the necessity of a consistent ethic of life, from the earliest to the final moments of human life. She shows this world, gripped by a culture of death, an alternative gospel way of compelling beauty. Is this not what a true Christian culture is all about?

On behalf of my sisters Gianna Emanuela and Laura, thank you, Fr. Rosica, and thank you, Assumption University, for this prestigious Gold Medal, which is really a recognition of my mother’s life and witness. May her shining Christian example of wholeness and holiness inspire each of us here present, and all those whom we serve, to bring this Christian culture to the world.

Free and Public Presentation by His Eminence Gérald Cardinal Lacroix – Friday, May 1, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.

Assumption University’s Christian Culture Series

is pleased to announce

His Eminence Gérald Cardinal Lacroix

Archbishop of Québec City and Primate of the Canadian Church

 Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix - No. 2

A country founded by saints: Canada

Canada has been blessed with great saints, holy men and women that shaped our country.  The challenges we face today require that we too become saints!  Are you up to the challenge?

Ste. Anne Parish

12233 Tecumseh Road East, Tecumseh, Ontario N8N 1M3

Tel. 519-973-7033 press ‘0’ or

by e-mail cbertrand@assumptionu.ca

 

Friday, May 1, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.

 

Public and free presentation

Reception to follow.

Please note: This presentation will be televised on

Salt and Light Catholic Television Network.

FREE AND PUBLIC PRESENTATION BY DR. ROBERT VENTRESCA – Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.

Assumption University’s Christian Culture Series

is pleased to announce

“Canonizing Pius XII: His Life, the Cause, the Controversy and the Judgement of History”

Ventresca RobertRobert Ventresca is Associate Professor in the Department of History at King’s College at London’s University of Western Ontario.  A scholar in the study of modern Italian and Church history, the complex intersection of religion and civil society and the role of religious traditions in the modern world.  Dr. Ventresca is an internationally acclaimed expert on the life of Pope Pius XII.  He has recently been awarded The Harry C. Koenig Prize by the American Catholic Historical Association for his publication Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII.  In this public lecture, he will present the fascinating life of Pope Pius XII and the significance of his cause for canonization in the Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 4401 Mount Royal Drive, Windsor, Ontario

Tel. 519-973-7033 press ‘0’ or by e-mail cbertrand@assumptionu.ca

Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.

This presentation will be filmed for rebroadcast on Salt and Light Catholic Television Network.

FREE AND PUBLIC PRESENTATION BY FR. JAMES FLAVIN – JANUARY 11, 2015 AT 2:00 P.M.

ASSUMPTION UNIVERSITY’S CHRISTIAN CULTURE SERIES

is pleased to announce

“Holiness and Healthy Spirituality”

 Flavin Fr. JamesFR. JAMES FLAVIN

Rev. James Flavin, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, is a licensed psychotherapist with a well-rounded view of healthy living through spirituality and psychology for clergy, religious and laity. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and holds a Certificate in Internet Addiction and the Psychology of the Web. He is President-emeritus of the St. John Vianney Center in Philadelphia, a premier facility for behavioral health and addictive disease treatment that integrates Catholic principles with best practices in psychiatry, psychology, spirituality and nursing. Fr. Flavin was appointed Episcopal Vicar, Central Region, for the Archdiocese of Boston July 1, 2014. The focus of his lecture will be how to remain spiritually healthy especially with sexual abuse issues and the lure of the Internet.

ASSUMPTION CHURCH (MCEWAN CAMPUS) 711 MCEWAN, WINDSOR, ONTARIO (PLEASE CARPOOL SINCE PARKING IS LIMITED)

Tel. 519-973-7033 press ‘0’ or by e-mail cbertrand@assumptionu.ca

SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 AT 2:00 P.M.

PUBLIC & FREE PRESENTATION WITH RECEPTION TO FOLLOW.  THIS PRESENTATION WILL BE FILMED FOR REBROADCAST ON SALT AND LIGHT CATHOLIC TELEVISION NETWORK.

Free and Public lecture by Dr. King “The Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person: Inter-Religious and Inter-Worldview Perspectives” November 27, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.

Assumption University Centre for Religion and Culture

Presents

DR. NORMAN KING, The Stephen Jarislowsky Chair in Religion and Conflict

 

“THE SACREDNESS AND DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON: INTER-RELIGIOUS AND INTER-WORLDVIEW PERSPECTIVES”

Norm KingOne of the challenges today is to find a vision of life that illumines and sustains the struggle to fashion a world in which personal integrity, human friendship, and social justice, are honoured and fostered. One possible foundation lies in the conviction of the worth, value, or sacredness of the human person, and, indeed, of all life and being. This notion is one that can be shared both by those who adhere to a religious tradition, and also by people of diverse backgrounds and convictions. These themes will be explored in this presentation.

 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2014 AT 4:30 P.M.

 

HOFFMAN AUDITORIUM, IONA COLLEGE, 208 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, Ontario

Tel. 519-973-7033 press ‘0’ or cbertrand@assumptionu.ca

Everyone welcome – no admission charge.  Discussion and Refreshments to follow.

Sponsored by the Centre for Religion and Culture Assumption University

 

Free and public lecture by Fr. Rosica “What is the Gospel of the Family?” November 23, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

Assumption University’s Christian Culture Series

is pleased to announce

Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.

President and Vice Chancellor, Assumption University
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
English language Vatican spokesperson for the Synod on the Family

 

 

“What is the Gospel of the Family?”

An Inside Look at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family and its Implications for the Church & the World

 

St. Paul’s Church, 5885 Malden Road, Lasalle, Ontario 

(Parking available at Zehrs across St. Paul’s Church)

Tel. 519-973-7033 press ‘0’ or by e-mail cbertrand@assumptionu.ca

 

Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

 

Public and free presentation – Reception to follow.

 

Please note: This presentation will be televised on Salt and Light Catholic Television Network.

Assumption University Stephen Jarislowsky Chair in Religion and Conflict

The Stephen Jarislowsky Chair in Religion and Conflict is currently held by Dr. Norman King, Professor Emeritus in Religion and Culture at the University of Windsor, and Acting Principal and Director of Theology at Iona College.

 

In conjunction with this Chair, monthly interfaith meetings are held which feature a presentation and discussion on a topic, usually from the perspective of one of the major religious traditions.  Recently, we have featured: a perspective on non-violence according to the Christian tradition by Dr. Norman King; a documentary film on Alice Herz-Sommer, concert pianist and Holocaust survivor, who recently died at the age of 110; and a presentation on a more authentic understanding of jihad by Imam Mohammed Mahmoud.

 

Our annual symposium will be held on Sunday afternoon, October 26, 2014.  The theme will be “Violence and Non-Violence: Perspectives of Major Religious Traditions.”  As usual, it will feature presentations from seven different traditions: Aboriginal, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh.

 

The annual public lecture will be presented by Dr. Norman King, on Thursday afternoon, November 27, 2014.  It will address the topic: “The sacredness and dignity of the human person; inter-religious and inter-worldview perspectives. ”

 

More precise details on the symposium and public lecture will be available shortly from Cécile Bertrand at Assumption University.

The Church Alive tv series

The Church Alive tv series

 

The Church Alive is a fast-paced, segmented and interactive show hosted by Salt + Light producers Cheridan Sanders and Sebastian Gomes.  This unique series will be both television and web based.  The goal: to inspire people and get them talking about the faith, to share stories of the New Evangelization, and to highlight the broad and inclusive nature of Catholicism and its rich tradition. “Yes, the Church is Alive… and the Church is young.” – Pope Benedict XVI

 

Biblical Reflection segments of each episode were filmed in the Chapel of Assumption University.

 

Order your copy now of this excellent DVD production in 13 episodes + an important study guide.

13 episodes

Disc One
Episode 1: What is the New Evangelization (28 min); Episode 2: Catholic Education (24 min)
Disc Two
Episode 3: The Media (25 min); Episode 4: The Role of the Laity (24 min)
Disc Three
Episode 5: Social Justice (26 min); Episode 6: Politics (24 min)
Disc Four
Episode 7: Ecclesial Movements (24 min); Episode 8: Ecumenism (24 min)
Disc Five
Episode 9: Economics (24 min); Episode 10: Interfaith/Religious Liberty (28 min)
Disc Six
Episode 11: The Consecrated Life (25 min); Episode 12: The Environment (25 min)
Disc Seven
Episode 13: The Catholic Eastern Churches (27 min)
To place your order, visit: http://saltandlighttv.org/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=185

Homily at Funeral Mass of Fr. Ulysse Paré, CSB – Our Lady of the Assumption Church Windsor, Ontario – March 31, 2014 – Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Revelation 21:1-7; John 11:17-44

 

Bishop Fabbro, Brother Priests, Dear Friends,

 

Our thoughts and prayers today are first for Fr. Paré’s family: Fr. Larry, Geraldine, Clare and Connie gathered here with us in Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Windsor to commend our brother and friend to God. His formal, baptismal, French name of “Ulysse” conjured up a formidable, historical figure of antiquity. His title “Father”, “Père”, “Padre” reminded us that he was priest and pastor. But to his own family, many confrères, students and lifelong friends, he was just “Bud.” Whatever we called him, Fr. Paré has been an outstanding and deeply loved rock of theological intellect, biblical wisdom and practical, spiritual strength whom we shall achingly miss, and for whose life we are so grateful to God. In Bud’s life, God has blessed us hugely, far beyond the boundaries of our small religious congregation and the borders of our nation.

In this liturgy of thanksgiving and farewell, let us first consider the powerful Scripture readings we have just heard and see the important links to Fr. Paré’s life and ministry. From the beautiful, stirring vision of John in the Book of Revelation 21:1-7, we hear of a new heaven and a new earth, of the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  This city of the future lies ahead of us in time. It is the destination of our earthly journey, the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. But we also know that the “new Jerusalem” is not just a reality of a distant, unknown future. Fr. Paré taught us so many times through his teaching, preaching, leading and living that the new Jerusalem is already present among us when we love God and love neighbor, and act with integrity as disciples of Jesus. To countless students who sat at his feet at the University of Toronto, at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Assumption University in Windsor and most recently at St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Bud always reminded us of two things: if a false idea of religion, as detached and purely spiritual was abhorrent, so too was the opposite mistake, to leave God out of the picture.

Heaven begins on earth, in our daily lives, when we live in generous love, in the image of the Blessed Trinity, in the imitation of Christ. Our behavior matters, for religion is more than the aesthetic experience of feeling spiritual. Our consecrated life and gospel witness is essential to the reality of the new Jerusalem unfolding here and now. We do not live only for eschatological realities but also for the here and now. We must live rightly, as citizens of that new Jerusalem here below, in accord with the will of God.

The Gospel we heard proclaimed a few moments ago recounts the moving story of the raising of Lazarus, the longest continuous narrative in John outside of the passion account (11:17-44). The theme of life predominates. Lazarus is a token of the real life that Jesus dead and raised will give to all who believe in him.

Jesus was aware of the illness of his friend Lazarus and yet did not go to work a healing. In fact, he delayed for several days after Lazarus’ death, meanwhile giving his disciples lessons along the way about the light – lessons incomprehensible in the face of grave illness and death but understandable in the light shed by Lazarus’ and Christ’s resurrection. Jesus used the death of his best friend as a teaching moment for a far greater reality.

How often have we, like Martha and Mary, blurted out those same words of pain and despair: “Lord, if only you had been there, my brother or sister or mother or father or friend would not have died.”  And yet this pathos-filled story tells us what kind of God we have… a God who groaned in spirit and was troubled; a God who wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus and a God who was deeply moved at the commotion and grief of so many friends of Martha, Mary and Lazarus.

Jesus declared to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, he will live; whoever lives and believes in me, will never die.” And he adds: “Do you believe this?”  Jesus tells us who he is.  Only the One who has entered death’s realm and engaged death itself in battle can give life to those who have died.  As Christians we do not expect to escape death; but we approach it with faith in the resurrection.

As a great teacher of God’s Word, Fr. Paré would also take us deep into the meaning of the Gospel texts and remind us of the stories within the stories.  When I was a Basilian scholastic, Fr. Paré preached once on today’s Gospel with words I shall never forget.  He reminded us that the story of Lazarus also speaks about another kind of death.  We can be dead, even before we die, while we are still in this life. He was not only speaking of the death of the soul caused by sin; but of that state of a total absence of energy, of hope to fight and to live that one can only call: death of the heart.  Bud told us that all those who for various reasons – a failed marriage, the sickness of a child, financial ruin, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse – find themselves in this situation, the story of Lazarus resounds like the bells on Easter morning.

Who can give us this resurrection of the heart? For certain afflictions, we know that there exists no human remedy. Words of encouragement often fail to suffice.  Many times people in these situations are not able to do anything, not even pray. They are like Lazarus in the tomb. They need others to do something for them. The raising of Lazarus takes place in the presence of the people, in contrast to the call to resurrection given by Jesus to the daughter of Jairus. The latter event was concealed, whereas the command to Lazarus went out like a trumpet blast openly before the crowd.  “Lazarus, come forth!”  The command to “raise the dead” is addressed to all of Christ’s disciples. Even us! When he led us as our Superior General, Bud challenged us to raise one another to life.

As the news of his untimely death spread from Windsor to Detroit, Toronto, Saskatoon, London, Houston and many other places this past week, I found myself asking, “Why do some teachers and professors of Scripture make such a profound impact on the life of the Church and in so many individual lives?”

Two moments of recent history stand out in my mind about Fr. Paré’s contribution to the teaching of integration of God’s Word. The first moment was shared by both Bishop Fabbro and me during the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church several years ago at the Vatican.  Bishop Fabbro, as delegate of the Canadian Bishops Conference, and I, as Communications Secretary of the Synod, patiently listened to the Synod Fathers from around the world at times bemoaning the seeming impasse in Scripture teaching and scholarship due to the atomization and dissection of the Scriptures, and a lack of integration of biblical studies with faith and lived spirituality. Bishops from around the world asked whether today’s Catholic Scripture scholars and teachers were adequately prepared to draw from their exegetical knowledge and their own life of faith and prayer to help fellow Catholics discover the meaning of the biblical Word today. Many try to teach Scripture as a form of literary criticism removed from the context of the Church.  I distinctly remember after that round of synodal sessions going back to the Chapel at Domus Sanctae Marthae where we resided and quietly thanking God for the influence of Bud Paré on my life and studies. For what the Synod was rightly bemoaning and naming, we, Basilians had quite an opposite experience and should be thanking God for the likes of Bud Paré who taught us to love God’s Word in the context of the Church.

The second moment where I felt a deep sense of gratitude in my heart for Fr. Paré was this past November, upon the promulgation of Pope Francis’ masterful Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.” In the centre of that magnificent letter is a brilliant section on teaching and preaching the Word of God entitled: “Words which set hearts on fire” (#142).

I read and reread that section and found it to be a wonderful description of Bud Paré’s method of teaching, preaching and living the Word of God.  Several weeks later, I told Bud that Pope Francis described him perfectly!  And in good Bud form, he laughed!

Blessed John Paul II once wrote, ‘We need heralds of the Gospel who are experts in humanity, who know the depths of the human heart, who can share the joys, the hopes, the agonies, the distress of people today, but who are, at the same time, contemplatives who have fallen in love with God’. These words describe Bud Paré so well: a herald of the Gospel and an expert in humanity who knew the depths of the human heart.

We Basilians are unlikely to forget his two dynamic, creative and hopeful terms of leadership of our Congregation from 1981-1989. I consider those years to have been a banquet of the Word of God for us.  His masterful and witty newsletters, with such titles as “On being pleasant”; “The importance of humor”, “The Authentic Life” had us all talking and thinking.  We would scour the newsletters to find the unique “Bud words” or “Bud expressions” hidden in the text. I have gone back to those newsletters countless times over the years for inspiration and wisdom.

Last night at the vigil service, Fr. Jim Carruthers named many of the initiatives and programs in which Bud participated and which Bud led. While leading Assumption University, he also served as Chair of its Board of Governors as well as Chair of the Board of Governors of the University of Windsor. At the time of his death this week, he was once again on the Board of Governors of Assumption University.

He always reached beyond our Basilian institutions and limited experiences of Church to be in dialogue with and influence the wider world around us. Bud understood what Pope Francis means with the words “geographical and existential peripheries.”

Bud offered us courageous, spiritual leadership – a real sense of “animation” as the French would say.  He was a risk-taker. While he may not have been the strategic implementer of projects and programs, he dared to dream dreams and share them with others for their full realization. He understood that great leadership meant involving many others in our projects and programs.  He was humble enough to recognize that it takes very competent assistants and colleagues to help fulfill dreams. He had the unique gift of encouraging others in ministry and bringing out the best of people and situations. He was also a deeply sensitive man who, because of his boundless generosity and trust of others, frequently suffered when those in whom he invested so much and trusted so generously, quickly forgot who gave them roots and wings and manifested little gratitude for so great a leader.

One effort that we gratefully attribute to Fr. Paré’s wise leadership was the outreach made to former Basilans who had journeyed with us for a number of years and then chose other paths. Bud’s efforts in establishing the association of former Basilians, in many cases brought much healing and reconciliation to individual lives and served as a blessing to our entire congregation.

In conclusion, I let Bud have the last word at this liturgy today. What he wrote to our Congregation at Christmas 1987 is ever so timely and even more necessary for us today:

“Just as [Jesus’] life was complicated by the dust of the hillside, the dirt of poverty and the injustices of the system, so must we expect to live in discomfort, mess and darkness. As disciples of his, we must not be afraid to come in contact with human misery and affliction, we must not fear or disdain a brother or sister in the grips of sin and disease; we must not withdraw from a world which oppresses, victimizes and kills.  We are here because he is here and we pray for the grace to make a difference by our presence and passing. …

“As a community of disciples and stewards we can show what it means to be responsible, cultured, influential without being authoritarian, stuffy or puffed up. By our commitment to education, to serving those in need we try, after the manner of Jesus, to bring light and assistance. We hope that our ministry will be seen as the continuation of the mission of Jesus and that we will be seen as messengers of hope and justice.”

I don’t think that it was mere coincidence that Fr. Paré was called home on the day when the Church celebrated the Annunciation of Mary, Mother of the Lord, a day that recalls the “yes” and “fiat” of the virgin daughter of Nazareth to God’s mysterious ways. Bud gave his response to the Lord on Mary’s feast.

Just as Lazarus stirred when he heard the words, “Lazarus come forth,” may our brother Bud rise quickly and enter into life on high and the eternal rest promised to all those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice each day of their lives.

Thank you, Bud, for being with us and making a difference.  Your presence and your passing have blessed and marked us as individuals and as a community of priests and disciples. Your life, commitment and ministry have shown us the face of Christ and challenged us to carry forward his mission here on earth.

Our love for you and our deep gratitude for the gift you have been for the Basilian Fathers and for the Church provoke this thought: If such were the gift, what must God be like, the Giver of that gift?

Intercede for us, now that you behold his presence and share his eternal life. Don’t forget us now at this critical moment of our Basilian history! We will never forget you, Bud. Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.

Tribute to Fr. Ulysse “Bud” Paré, CSB – 1935-2014

Fr. Ulysse “Bud” Paré, CSB – 1935-2014

A Windsorite who showed us how to put the Bible into practice

 Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

 

Final PhotoWith the sudden death my Basilian confrère Fr. Ulysse “Bud” Paré on Tuesday, March 25, in his 79th year, many tributes and accolades will rightly  be heaped upon him, no doubt, for his academic accomplishments, first at the University of Toronto, then at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute or even at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. His many former students at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, the University of Toronto, Assumption University in Windsor and most recently at St. Peter’s Seminary in London will fondly recall his clear, dynamic presentations on exegetical methods and hermeneutical interpretation of the Bible.

 

We Basilians are unlikely to forget his two dynamic, creative and hopeful terms of leadership of our religious order from 1981-1989. Men and especially women religious from across Canada will cite his memorable retreats and conferences, his boldness and inclusive spirit in addressing the Church’s relationship to the modern world.

 

Throughout his entire priestly ministry, “Bud,” as he was affectionately called by his friends, kept Windsor in his heart.  This city was clearly part of his DNA. In 1991, Fr. Paré became President of Assumption University where in 1992 he founded the Institute for Pastoral and Educational Ministry which educated and formed several hundred lay pastoral ministers for service in the Church of the Diocese of London, the Archdiocese of Detroit and places far beyond. While leading Assumption University, he also served as Chair of its Board of Governors as well as Chair of the Board of Governors of the University of Windsor. At the time of his death this week, he was once again on the Board of Governors of Assumption University. He was a great patron of the Arts, particularly of the Windsor Symphony, and often partnered with religious leaders of other Christian confessions and other religions.  Sane ecumenism and authentic interreligious dialogue were part of Bud’s life.

 

To me and many others, he was a mentor, teacher, and wonderful, faithful friend.  As the news of Fr. Paré’s death spread from Windsor to Toronto to Saskatoon to London and many other places in this vast land, I found myself wondering, “Why do some teachers and professors of Scripture make such a profound impact on the life of the Church and in so many individual lives?”

 

In Ulysse “Bud” Paré, I observed three outstanding qualities at work, which may be instructive for other pastoral ministers, students of Scripture in their own biblical research, teaching and preaching and living as well as for anyone who is serious about walking his or her talk.

 

First is the ability to present the Bible in an accessible way, as a “user-friendly” book or library.  Fr. Paré often recounted a basic principle he learned in his youth:  “Read the Bible as we would listen to a friend.” Reading as a listener implies an openness to hear what is being said and an attitude of expectancy; listening as to a friend implies a large measure of confidence that the message will ultimately be a helpful guide for living, and sometimes for specific situations. “Bud” taught me and many that one never undertakes Scripture studies to master or criticize the Word, but to be mastered and criticized by it.  There is a way in which we must allow the Word of God to read us.

 

Second is the ability to present the Biblical story as a pilgrimage, a set of stories for the long haul.  After all, what is the story of our salvation if not the passage (one might say “the ambling transmigration”) from the Paradise Lost in Genesis to the Paradise found, and symbolized beautifully, in the New Jerusalem of John’s wild dream in Revelation? We who are entrusted with the ministry of teaching and preaching Scripture must help others to prepare themselves to make the journey “as pilgrims”.  Tourists pass quickly through places, but the places pass slowly through pilgrims, leaving them forever changed.

 

Fr. Ulysse Paré also realized how important to this journey are the very lands and places where the biblical story took place. I shall never forget Fr. Paré’s participation in a Scriptural renewal program I ran in the Holy Land for the Basilian Fathers back in 1992. As we were walking together on the Mount of the Beatitudes in Galilee, he stopped me at one point and said: “Tom, how could anyone ever attempt to study the bible without coming here and walking this land?”

 

One reads the Bible as a pilgrim trekking with others through Israel’s deserts, with Jesus walking up to Jerusalem, with Paul en route to Rome, with the countless millions of pilgrims throughout history who have made the journey up to the earthly Jerusalem in the hope of catching a glimpse of the heavenly one.  Teaching the Scriptures without reference to the Holy Land, or without fostering, encouraging, and, when possible, leading others to visit it, is to tell only part of the story of the Bible.

 

Third is the ability to see how Scripture is vivified in prayer and liturgy.  For it is in the silent adoration of prayer and in the congregation’s act of worship in liturgy that the Bible comes alive.  How can the scholar– agile in several languages, ancient and modern – find words adequate to the task of describing biblical salvation, redemption, forgiveness, resurrection, faith, hope and charity? There simply are none. This is the mystery biblical scholarship serves.  Liturgy reveals the fruits of scholarship.  Who could not be moved by Bud’s penetrating homilies and biblical reflections? We must ask ourselves if our teaching and preaching leads others into celebration, prayer and adoration of the Lord of history?  Or has our reliance on scientific methods and writings only compounded the confusion already found in world?

 

We are among the stewards and servants of the “table of the Word,” that first half of every Eucharistic celebration when the Scriptures are broken open and shared, proclaimed and expounded.  Here we spread the table before  diverse congregations and communities, letting each person know that the Bible is a unity, a whole work of God, containing a message for everyone and for each one, no matter where they are along their pilgrim path.  This is scholarship in service of the Church.  This was the method and life of Fr. Bud Paré, CSB. He will be sorely missed and gratefully remembered.

 

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, a friend of Fr. Paré, is CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television and President of Assumption University in Windsor. He also serves as English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office and is a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

 

March 26, 2014