Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 7, 2008
Quebec church honours Jesus, the Good Shepherd
Le Bon Pasteur - Good Shepherd Sunday – April 13
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
A wood sculpture of the Good Shepherd greets visitors to Eglise Le Bon Pasteur in Matane, Quebec.
By TED FITZGERALD
Special to the WCR
Good Shepherd Sunday, observed each year on the fourth Sunday of the Easter season, is identified as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations to the religious life. It is also a time to remember the physical needs of retired and aging clergy.
In Quebec, Matane's attractive, popular parish church of Le Bon Pasteur recognizes the scriptural personage of the Good Shepherd every day of the year.
The concept of the Good Shepherd goes back to earliest times, both scripturally and in church art where the Lord is portrayed in a variety of poses carrying a lamb or tending his flock. Christ is the embodiment of the ultimate caretaker, concerned with every individual and their well-being.
At Mass, the response for the day is the familiar Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." In the Matane church, a memorial plaque alludes to this Sunday's Gospel (John 10:1-16), the parable that includes Christ's words, "I am the good shepherd."
Matane is about 400 km downstream from Quebec City on the St. Lawrence River south shore. Noted for a ferry terminal serving the other shore and a plant for processing famous Shrimps-Matane, it also displays the town's name on its historic town-centre lighthouse on Highway 132, currently the area's tourism office.
Oldest of the town's three parishes is that of Saint-Jerome near Riviere Matane, just off the popular riverside Promenade des Capitaines with its interpretive panels.
About four long blocks west of the river and the Mathiew-D'Amours Dam and salmon viewing centre is the youngest of Matane's churches. Eglise Le Bon Pasteur began as a mission in 1961 with the first Mass celebrated on Dec. 3 and was registered as a parish in 1967.
Work began in 1978 on a larger, new church. It faces west and is finished in red brick with a low profile, compound low angle roof slopes, and a separate, open modern clocher supported by three steel legs. Close to 3,000 people attend Mass here.
Visitors to the hexagonal church on boul. Dion are greeted at the entrance by a wood sculpture of the Good Shepherd, the 2002 work of Emilien Bouchard. Christ is accompanied by three sheep and is backed by nameplates on the brick wall that identify the 40 streets of the parish.
This and the other artworks of Le Bon Pasteur are the result of the enthusiastic promotion of the new church by pastor Father Rosaire Dionne.
Inside, another portrayal of an almost life-size Bon Pasteur with a shepherd's crook and carrying a lamb was sculpted by Clermont Gagnon of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli.
Elsewhere in the church are some 19 woodcarvings by another famous resident of Quebec's wood-carving capital, Jacques Bourgault, that depict, for example, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph the carpenter and patron of the Rimouski Diocese, and Saint-Germain-de-Paris.
Other tableaus and murals, all in wood, grace the walls of the church. The four evangelists, with their traditional symbols are the subjects of paired carved wooden statues, thus St. Mark and a lion, St. Matthew with his angel, etc.
In addition to the many sculptures, stained glass windows by master artist Olivier Ferland illustrate the Stations of the Cross in a modern style.
Seven holy Canadian women identified in altar windows include Blessed Dina Belanger, Kateri Takakwitha and Marie-Josephte Fitzbach, founder of the Soeurs du Bon-Pasteur in Quebec City.
Mass is celebrated in this active parish daily and parishioners are involved in a variety of spiritual and secular activities year round in Matane's pleasant Eglise Le Bon-Pasteur.\