Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 14, 2008
Celebrations mark 350th anniversary of Canada's first bishop
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
The 2008 International Eucharistic Congress coincides not only with the 400th anniversary of Quebec City's founding, but also with the 350th anniversary of Canada's first bishop Francois de Laval and the 300th anniversary of his death.
"He built the Church with boldness," said Father Jacques Gourde, who with Sister Lucienne Boisvert, is organizing a series of special events to mark the jubilee year begun on the feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8.
Beatified in 1980, Laval established the first cathedral in North America and the New World's first Catholic seminary, establishing a community of priests to minister to both French settlers and native peoples.
"He was like Abraham, going to a strange land," Gourde said. Ordained a bishop in 1658, Laval came to the New World in 1659 as an apostolic vicar. He established the seminary in 1668. He became North America's first bishop when the Quebec Diocese was established in 1674.
Laval, like the fur traders and the Jesuits, travelled by canoe, risking attack by hostile bands, harsh weather and difficult portages as he constantly visited the parishes he planted as far away as Montreal and Tadoussac.
More information is available at www.francoisdelaval2008.org