March 3, 2015

Sent to the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine in Québec

In May 2008 my life changed. At the time, I was a new seminarian who was about to begin theology studies at the seminary in Toronto the following September. I was sent to the Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré for the summer to join the Youth Pastoral Team. The goal that summer was to get some experience in ministry by helping with the busy summer pilgrimage season at the shrine and hopefully improve my spoken French at the same time. Not knowing much about Saint Anne, the Shine, or ever having visited Quebec City, I trusted that the Good Lord would take care of me and guide my steps.

Each day members of the youth team would join me to lead: the Stations of the Cross on the hillside, the Rosary in the basilica, the Holy Hour with Eucharistic Adoration, and serve at a couple of the Masses celebrated throughout the day. Each evening of the summer ended with the candlelight procession and prayers to Saint Anne. I began to learn much more about who Saint Anne was and the history of the devotion to her by volunteering at the museum next door giving guided tours.

Living in the monastery with the Redemptorist priests and brothers was a great experience. Everywhere I turned a smiling face would welcome me and share a story with this zealous young seminarian from Ottawa. The many lay people who work and volunteer at the shrine embraced me like I was family and one of their own almost immediately. The warmth of the community was enriched by the tremendous holiness I felt from the shrine. There was something very special about this place. The peace I felt in prayer here was like no other I had experienced. From that moment, I knew that Saint Anne wanted me to be a part of her work of leading souls to her grandson Jesus. Since that summer, I return each year for the 9-day Novena in July out of thanksgiving to my Grandma Saint Anne. Come join us this year!

These articles were published in the Annals of Saint Anne Magazine. They are from the column written by Father Matthew while he was a seminarian studying at Saint Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto. The articles describe some of his journey to become a Catholic Priest.