May 21, 2018 — Jesuit Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, capped off the second day of his trip to Canada with a visit to Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario, which was constructed in 1926 in honor of six Jesuit and two lay martyrs from the 17th-century missions along the Wye River.
Jesuits arrived in the area in the early 17th century to minister to the Indigenous Wendat people. Fr. Sosa began his day with a tour of the recreated village of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. French Jesuits began the mission in 1639, and it ended in 1649 when they were forced to abandon and burn it down. The site was then dormant for centuries until 1964 when it was excavated and historically reconstructed.
Fr. Michael Knox, SJ, (right) director of Martyrs’ Shrine, gave Fr. Sosa a tour of the recreated village of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. (Moussa Faddoul)
Fr. Sosa was welcomed there by Father Michael Knox, SJ, director of Martyrs’ Shrine, who gave him a tour and explained how the Jesuits would have lived with the Huron people in the 17th century.
Tools at the mission were made from iron imported from France. A Jesuit blacksmith would ensure that the settlement had nails and other necessities.
Next, Fr. Sosa visited the nearby field where Jesuits Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were tortured and killed by the Iroquois in 1649. In 1967, Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ, another Superior General of the Jesuits, knelt in prayer at the site, and yesterday, Fr. Sosa prayed there as well.
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, praying in 1967 at the site where two Jesuits were martyred.
Fr. Sosa’s third stop was to the Martyrs’ Shrine itself — the centerpiece of the pilgrimage area — which is dedicated to the six Jesuit and two lay martyrs. The Shrine houses the relics of St. Jean de Brébeuf, SJ; St. Gabriel Lalemant, SJ; and St. Charles Garnier, SJ. More than 110,000 people from around the world visit the Shrine’s expansive grounds each year.
Fr. Sosa praying at the site where two Jesuits were martyred.
Fr. Sosa celebrated the Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost at the Shrine, and in his homily reflected on a number of themes, including how the 17th-century Jesuits trusted in the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Sosa received a tour of the grounds of Martyrs’ Shrine. (Moussa Faddoul)
He also talked about the Pentecost moment we find ourselves in. “While the original mission of Ste. Marie has been abandoned since 1649, might we consider it a ‘Pentecost moment’ to find ourselves here today? For Pentecost celebrates the presence of God among us who, through his Spirit, pursues the ancient desire to ‘renew the face of the Earth’ (Ps 103). And on this great feast, 50 days after Easter and following the celebration of the Ascension where Jesus tells us ‘remember, I will be with you always’ (Mt 28), Jesuits and friends remember and renew what has been accomplished here, often at great cost.”
Fr. Sosa celebrated the Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost at the Shrine. (Moussa Faddoul)
Fr. Sosa said that he came there to listen and to learn. “Thus, together, will we better serve and proclaim the Gospel in ways that many, in the incredible diversity of our contemporary world, will better understand and accept.” He ended his homily with an Annishnabe/Ojibwe blessing.
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