Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 12, 2003
Companions of the Cross becomes newest religious order
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Canada's first religious order of Catholic priests in over 50 years came into being in Notre Dame Cathedral May 3 when Archbishop Marcel Gervais signed a decree formally establishing the Society of the Companions of the Cross.
"My prayer for the Society of the Companions of the Cross is that each member will accept the cross, will give thanks to God for his grace, and will be in the Church a sign of charity and priestly fraternity," said Gervais, the archbishop of Ottawa.
Moments later, hundreds of family members, friends and well-wishers joined the Ottawa-based community of 70 priests and seminarians at the Mass celebrating its coming of age as a Society of Apostolic Life. Among those concelebrating the Mass with Gervais was Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the papal nuncio in Canada.
Founded in 1984 by Father Bob Bedard, the group of priests linked to the Catholic charismatic renewal movement became one of the fastest growing religious communities in Canada and now has members working in Toronto, Halifax and Houston, Texas. The community receives about 100 applications a year from men wishing to become members.
In congratulating the new religious order in his homily, Gervais acknowledged the work of Bedard in founding the community, leading the congregation in a lengthy and boisterous standing ovation.
Gervais' predecessor, Archbishop Joseph-Aurele Plourde, established the Companions as a public clerical association in February 1988. As it grew and its members began ministering outside of Ottawa it became evident that the community "was ready for a more definitive form of recognition in the Church," said Gervais.