400TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BAPTISM OF MEMBERTOU
As recommended by what is now the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Catholic, 12 December has been designated “National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples”. The date was not chosen by chance, for it is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. This is a feast that reminds us the message of salvation is for all humanity.
With preparations well underway to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Baptism of the Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Membertou in 1610, the Bishops of Canada join Aboriginal Catholics in remembering this historic event. It is also an occasion to recall the teaching of Christ to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28.19).
In keeping with the spirit of the 29 April 2009 meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and representatives from Aboriginal communities in Canada, the commemoration of the Baptism of Chief Membertou serves as an opportunity to renew and strengthen our common bonds of faith, reconciliation and trust with Aboriginal Catholics.
Pope John Paul II reminded us that “not only is Christianity relevant to the Indian people, but Christ, in the members of his Body, is himself Indian” (Address at the Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs, 15 September 1984). The National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples is an invitation to all Catholics across the country to be united with their Aboriginal brothers and sisters in prayer and in witness that “we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (1 Corinthians 12.13).
+ Pierre Morissette
Bishop of Saint-Jérôme
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops