400th Anniversary of Francophone Presence in Canada: CCCB Letter to the Archbishop of Halifax on the Occasion of the Third Acadian World Congress

Tuesday, July 27 2004


Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Archbishop of Halifax
P. O. Box 1527
Halifax, NS
B3J 2Y3

Dear Archbishop Prendergast:

From July 31 to August 15, Nova Scotia will host the Third Acadian World Congress in the very places where — exactly 400 years ago — the first French colonists settled on Canadian soil. What a path has been trod from those earliest painful origins, first on Saint-Croix Island and then at Port Royal! From that point onward, the history of the Acadian people has become part of our collective memory. It is a history that has been marked with happy events, but also with tragic occurrences, ones that even today evoke compassion and respect on behalf of those who were victims.

After the congresses held in New Brunswick and Louisiana, it is fitting that the 3rd Acadian World Congress be held in Nova Scotia, the very place where the French language and Catholic faith first took root in our midst, thanks to the labours of such precursors as Pierre Dugua, Samuel de Champlain, Reverend Jessé Fléché and Father Énemond Massé, to name only a few. It is with legitimate pride that the thousands of descendants of all of the first Acadians should flood into various places in Nova Scotia to participate in the numerous activities of this grand reunion. As President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, I would have liked to be able to join them, but other engagements prevent me from being present.

In the name of all of the Bishops of Canada, I would be very grateful if you would kindly transmit to those taking part in the Acadian World Congress my warmest best wishes and assure them, as well, of my fraternal prayers. May Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption and Patron of the Acadians, protect them and bless them with her maternal smile all through these festivities.

+ Brendan M. O’Brien
Archbishop of St. John’s
and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops