By Lisa Zengarini
In his Easter Message, Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has called upon the faithful to continue to be “a Church that goes forth with a message of hope and joy”, and to face this difficult time of pandemic with the humble power of love that Jesus showed.
The example of Mary Magdalene the missionary disciple of Jesus
Archbishop Gagnon begins his letter recalling the example of Mary Magdalene who, he says, was “not only the first disciple to see the risen Lord, but she was a missionary disciple - a running disciple”. He then notes that, in spite of the suffering and difficulties experienced over the past year, “Christian families continue to be places where faith lives and even flourishes” and that with the vaccines now being distributed and the gradual opening-up of the churches in the country “there is a new sense of hope”.
Christians called to be “signs of hope”
He goes on to say that in the Church, this hope is reinforced by the Easter celebrations symbolized by the Paschal Candle, that calls on Christians to be, in turn, “signs of hope” and of renewal in the Church in the post-pandemic world: “The lessons we have learned over the past year must play a part in this renewal, especially how important, beautiful and valuable our faith really is; how vital the sacraments are to us; how hopeful the Word of God is to us”, the message emphasizes.
Turning to St. Joseph, the humble servant of the Lord
Reminding that Pope Francis has dedicated 2021 to St. Joseph, who is also Patron Saint in Canada, Archbishop Gagnon urges Canadian Catholics to turn to this humble servant of the Lord for help in “the great task of community building”, both in the Church and the wider community.
The vital role of the family
The message then emphasizes again the vital role of families in nourishing and keeping the faith alive, so that they can rebuild their disrupted communities, recalling the example of the Christian communities in Iraq recently visited by Pope Francis: “This domestic Church is so very important for the wider Church community and the world and we must build upon the fruits that have blossomed over this pandemic period”, Archbishop Gagnon says. He reminds that in the current “Year of the Family, Amoris Laetitia”, the Holy Father calls upon the faithful “to renew their pastoral commitment to place the family at the centre of the Church and society - a source of joy and generous love even in trials and difficulties”.
Good reasons for hope
“This Easter, perhaps more than ever, there is good reason to be hopeful in our faith and to live a true Christian realism where we clearly acknowledge the reality of our present situation with all its lights and shadows”, the message concludes. “An Easter Faith means simply to believe that God’s hand can be found everywhere and, in every event, however happy or sad, knowing, as St. Paul says: ‘…that all things work together for good for those who love God’”.