Friday, May 6, 2016

Saint François Laval: Bringing the Gift of Unfathomable Love

François Laval was born in 1623 into one of the most distinguished families in France. He received the tonsure at age twelve (a symbol of his status as a cleric) and, later, he became a canon of the cathedral of Evreux. Following his ordination in 1647, he was named archdeacon of Evreux. At the age of thirty he was appointed Vicar Apostolic of present-day Vietnam, but he was unable to take up residence there because of the wars that plagued the country during that period; he resigned from that office one year later.

In 1658, François was appointed Vicar Apostolic of New France. He arrived in Canada in May 1659, and reached Quebec one month later. During the next thirty years of his life he founded parishes, fought against the exploitation of the Native Americans, and opposed the Gallicanism of the civil authorities. He founded the first seminary in New France in 1662 and in 1674 he was appointed as first bishop of Quebec. François died in 1708 at the age of eighty-five.

Saint François Laval, “Father of the Church in Canada,” was canonized in 2014.

In his homily at the Mass of Thanksgiving for the canonization of Saint François and Saint Marie of the Incarnation, Pope Francis reflected: “The Church’s mission of evangelization is essentially a proclamation of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Missionaries have served the Church’s mission by breaking the bread of God’s Word for the poor and those far off, and by bringing to all the gift of the unfathomable love welling up from the heart of the Savior.” Saint François certainly embodied this ideal in his ministry as a missionary and bishop.

Pray today for the missionaries who serve the Church, both at home and abroad. Pray that God will sustain them in their difficult service and that he will call many others to join them in their work. Ask Saint François to pray for the Church in Canada and for pastors everywhere.

Prayer +
O God, who gave increase to your Church through the zeal for religion and apostolic labors of blessed François, grant, through his intercession, that she may always receive new growth in faith and in holiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For Missionaries)

This reflection was originally written for and published on their site on May 6, 2016.

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