Monday, July 21, 2008

A Small Mission Church in Quebec restores Ad Orientem

We are all used to hearing some good liturgical stories and developments coming out of major urban centre's like New York, Oxford, London and so forth, but what is perhaps even more encouraging is when we can begin to also hear them from what might seem to be amongst the remotest of places. The reason I say this is it can be demonstrative of just how widespread the liturgical revival we are beginning to see can be.

A priest friend of mine, Fr. Mitchell Beachey, that I have known for years sent me some encouraging news from one of his parishes, located in the province of Quebec. At this parish, he recently removed the temporary altar and re-instituted the use of the former high altar, thereby also bring back Mass ad orientem to the faithful there:

These images are in the context of the modern form of the Roman liturgy I should point out -- though Father is open to both forms.

I asked Father to give us a little history of the parish.

The parish itself is linked to the historic Hudson Bay Company which was in existence at this particular site since 1763, and prior to this time, the Compagnie du Nord since 1695. The first chapel was built on this site in 1839 by the Hudson Bay Company after having been established as a mission in 1823 by the Bishop of Montreal.

This mission served as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate's headquarters for the Indian missions on the Upper Ottawa for several years. During the years 1846 to 1849, victims of the Irish famine came and settled this area. The present church, seen above in the pictures, was built in 1857 and is a log building structure. To this very day, there is no electricity in this church and it sits on a foundation of un-mortared stone in a serene woodland setting about 150 feet from the Ottawa River.

Kudos to Fr. Beachey for re-instituting ad orientem -- which has taken on something of a mission like quality itself.

From what he has told me, the response in this church-chapel has been very positive. I hope it might encourage other priests, or seminarians soon to become priests, similarly.

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