2022 Pentecost Message to Catholic Movements and Associations

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

Regardless of the liturgical value of the song, a very popular tune years ago declared boldly, “The Spirit is a-movin’, all over, all over this land!”  The verses of this song went on to declare some of the various ways in which we can see evidence of that Spirit.  Though the Pentecost event took place over two thousand years ago in Jerusalem, this is no singular past even.  We should not despair of the Spirit’s action and presence in the Church today.  The promises of Jesus to send the Holy Spirit are related in John 16:4b-15.  Having provided an action-lesson by washing the disciples’ feet after the last supper, Jesus goes on to tell them of the coming of the Spirit.

One may ask, so what are some of the signs of the Spirit’s presence with us in these times?  This is always the object of discernment, looking at the signs of the times and seeing what can usually only be seen with the eyes of faith.  One contemporary sign of the Spirit’s presence and action among us, assuring us that we have not been left orphaned, is the Synodality process that will lead the whole Church into the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2023.

Despite some confusion around the details, the process of Synodality has been identified as a work of the Spirit.  In each of the gathering circles held in our parishes and dioceses, there are voices of encouragement and hope that the voices of the little people, the common folk, are being heard and discerned as the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Synodality as an exercise of discerning the voice of the Spirit has always been found in the Church.  Beginning with the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29), the apostles and their successors (the bishops) have long gathered to pray over and resolve pressing issues in their day.  One of the unique elements of the present exercise of synodality is the desire to hear the experiences and reflections of those on the periphery, or the edges, of the Church’s life and influence.  Until now, synods have been expressions of episcopal discernment and leadership.  Pope Francis is calling on us to welcome and hear the voices of those whose wisdom we seldom if ever hear.

We must keep in mind that Synodality is an ecclesial exercise.  This is not a civic parliament where the greatest number of votes wins the day, or where factions on an issue or policy negotiate to find common ground.  This is an exercise of prayerful listening to experiences and wisdom, by which we discern the presence and action of the Holy Spirit.  That same Spirit has not been absent from our midst since it came upon the earliest disciples.  The Holy Spirit brought them spiritual gifts, that provided them the courage and universal charity that emboldened them to speak publicly about the person and mission of Jesus.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful.  And enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Standing Committee for Relations with Catholic Associations and Movements
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pentecost 2022

2021 Pentecost Message to Catholic Movements and Associations

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

Spiritual realities are usually so sublime that we only understand them not by speaking about them directly, but by using images and allusions. Jesus was a master at this, especially when it came to speaking about the Kingdom of God. In fact, the Kingdom of God was the object of his parables. “To what can I compare it?” He asks (Mark 4:30). It is like a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds; it is like yeast that a woman mixed with measures of flour; it is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. These images challenge the listener to ponder the qualities and characteristics of the image itself, and then to grasp the meaning of the spiritual realities they reflect.

As we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost 2021, let us linger a while on the action of the Holy Spirit in the Christian community. We speak of Pentecost as “the birthday of the Church”. The earliest disciples, who had encountered Jesus during his time on earth, had sufficient teachings and instructions to continue His mission on earth. But they lacked the Spirit. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, they had the confidence and courage to proclaim Jesus and His message. The Church was indeed born.

The eminent Bishop and theologian St. Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202 AD) uses a fine image in speaking about the formation of the Church: “Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven.” What water might that be? Irenaeus goes on to say, “Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay, we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.”

Brothers and sisters, let us hold these images close to our heart. Jesus prayed that we may all be One in Him. This unity with the Risen Lord is our source of hope as we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic. We likewise receive hope through the solidarities of our communities. The differences of language and culture that distinguished Christian communities in the early Church did not keep them apart. We see in contemporary society (and sadly, in the Church in some quarters) unsettling cracks that arise from ideologies and alliances. “I’m for Paul.” “I’m for Apollos.” (1 Cor. 3:4) And who is for Christ? Only those who are imbued with the true Spirit of Jesus Himself.

During these days of Pentecost, let us be of one mind and one heart. There is but one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. (Ephesians 4:5)

Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pentecost 2021

2020 Pentecost Message to Catholic Movements and Associations

Dear members of Movements and Associations,

Time has ground to a halt – but the Spirit is moving!

Borders are closed, isolation is making itself felt, physical distancing is taking its toll even though we are finding ways to stay connected by various technologies and other media. Through this pandemic, humanity, surrounded by a shared suffering, has embarked on common quest for solutions that will spare people, especially those who are vulnerable on account of their health or employment. Every one of us is affected by the question, “Who are we?”.

Human beings, by virtue of their sense of responsibility, cannot but seek to control situations, and to use their knowledge to forecast what will happen.

The experience of Pentecost allowed the disciples to enter into an attitude of tremendous openness that allowed them to continue Jesus’ mission throughout the whole world, with the Holy Spirit. The Upper Room was no longer a hiding place, and boldness took the place of fear. They say things will never be the same after Covid-19: the ways we have of being Church, our ways of thinking about the world, of living together… Ever since Pentecost, everything has shifted towards a future forever opened by Love and borne along by the Kingdom’s abundance. Each one of us must labour to ensure that this future remains open. Enlightened by faith, the human experience of precariousness and fragility is an opportunity for each person to live the grace of listening and of self-abandonment, of healing and of discernment with the Spirit of God.

As was the case for the two disciples, the compass of a heart that is burning for God guides our hopeful gaze. Many initiatives and examples of willingness to help have revealed the greatness of caregivers and health-care workers. That too is Pentecost, releasing peace from its lockdown and breaking down the distances created by sin.

To all groups and associations borne along by enthusiasm for the mission, may we wish you joy and audacity in that post-Covid time where the Spirit will be at work creating and recreating!

Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pentecost 2020

2019 Pentecost Message to Canadian Catholic Movements and Associations

Pentecost this year has a special emphasis with Pope Francis inviting all of us to live October 2019 as an Extraordinary Missionary Month. Throughout it we are invited to pray for a truly missionary conversion of the whole Church.

We are not selling a product. We have a life to communicate: God, his divine life, his merciful love, his holiness! It is the Holy Spirit who sends us, accompanies us and inspires us. He is the source of our mission. It is he who guides the Church forward.” (Pope Francis, address to the national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies, 1 June 2018).

As members of movements and associations of faithful, we readily hear the call to be marked by personal holiness and new creativity so as to draw our world to the One who makes all things new by his Paschal Mystery. When we reflect on our own personal experience of faith, we call to mind those who guided us on the journey, so that we take our vocation seriously as people who are baptized and sent. Throughout the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October, we will be offered a number of brief biographies of missionary witnesses as well as daily commentaries on the Word of God, so as to awaken our communities to missionary responsibility. Let us be reminded that our Christian identity is strengthened as we give Christ to others: “the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission” (Pope Francis, 20 May 2018)1 .

Saint Paul reminds us that “we have this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Cor 4 :7). The various scandals denounced within the Church these past months are a hindrance to trust; consequently, we are called more than ever before to boldly go out to the peripheries2, enthusiastically offering “the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). In celebrating the centenary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum illud of Pope Benedict XV which sought to give a new impetus to missionary responsibility in favour of all nations (ad gentes), the Holy Father wished to reengage us in a permanent state of mission.

The first proclamation of salvation motivates us to urgent collaboration with others, which includes fostering unity, charity, and a dialogue of salvation. We truly desire that the younger generations with all their desires will discover a yearning for God, to seek him, to love him, and to serve him. They will draw from this living water to the extent that they remain open to forgiveness, gathering together in community and walking with the poor. We are aware that on many levels, our people are getting older and it can be difficult to build bridges between generations. This is why we hope that, together, we might joyfully prepare for this extraordinary missionary month, when possible with the young people of our communities, overcoming intergenerational distance, and recognizing the missionary wealth as God’s gift to all. Younger generations are open to encountering of cultures, and can teach us about this natural and necessary horizon of the Church’s missionary activity in the world. “Significant and creative Christian presences in places that are predominantly indifferent or hostile to the faith, where Christian witness lives daily with the tragedy of the martyrdom of blood, ecclesial movements, lay associations, missionary institutes and new ecclesial forms of community life, are all ecclesial experiences to keep in mind in order to understand the missio ad gentes in a paradigmatic reconfiguration of the entire mission of the Church sent into the world for the salvation and transformation of the world.”3

May the breath of the Holy Spirit take hold of us and through our witness bring forth the fruits of the Good News!


Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pentecost 2019



2 “Human, cultural and religious settings still foreign to the Gospel of Jesus and to the sacramental presence of the Church represent the extreme peripheries. The most desolate periphery of all is where mankind, in need of Christ, remains indifferent to the faith or shows hatred for the fullness of life in God.”


2017 Pentecost message to Canadian Catholic movements and associations

Dear members of Movements and Associations,

In his homily during the Pentecost Eucharistic celebration of 2015, Pope Francis said this:

The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit. […] The world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers. The world needs the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22). The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace.

Our Holy Father is reminding us that the Holy Spirit is the great “Motivator” who not only confirms and strengthens us in our mission as disciples of Jesus, but empowers us to live that mission courageously and enthusiastically. Our world, our communities, our neighbours, our co workers, our families and our friends all need to come face to face with the Good News that Jesus is risen and remains with us. A personal encounter with this life-giving Good News has the power to raise people from despair to hope, from sorrow to joy, from anger to forgiveness, and from emptiness to overflowing love.

Forum 2014Each of you, by your engagement with the Movements and the Associations ministering in our Church, is invited to be renewed in the Holy Spirit – to have a fresh Pentecost moment – so that the grace which motivated the first disciples of Jesus to leave the Upper Room and boldly announce the Good News will also motivate us to make the Risen Christ visible in our words and our deeds.


Alleluia! Alleluia!

Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pentecost 2017

2016 Pentecost message for Canadian Catholic movements and associations

Dear Members of Movements and Associations,

In his Bull of Indiction proclaiming the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis said:

Logo Jubilee of Mercy“The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.” (Misericordiae Vultus 12)

As with all graces from God, the Holy Father is offering us both a gift and a responsibility.

The gift we are being offered is a fresh experience of the Mercy of God. Mercy, as we all know, is a very powerful gift – it is forgiveness, when justice would demand punishment. This is why we can only fully appreciate the gift of mercy when we first understand the consequences our sins might merit; namely alienation from God – not because God has abandoned us, but because we have turned our back towards God’s constant love. The mercy of God is the love that overcomes the loneliness and emptiness our sins can cause. How blessed we are that God chooses to hold out to us the great gift of mercy; freeing us from sin and restoring us completely in a relationship of love.

The responsibility with which we are challenged is to become ambassadors of God’s mercy. In his great love, the Father chose to reveal his mercy in the greatest way possible. In his Son, Jesus became the mercy of God made flesh. As God once chose to do through his Son, he now desires to do through each one of us. We who have first experienced the mercy of God are now asked to be the ones who make God mercy human and real for the sake of those we encounter day in and day out. What a blessing we can be for those whose lives we touch with the mercy of God.

In this Jubilee of Mercy, we are invited to open ourselves to the gift of mercy and we are invited to take up the responsibility of promoting mercy. Our membership in the various Movements and Associations gives each of us unique opportunities to both experience God’s mercy and be ambassadors of God’s mercy. Therefore, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).

Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pentecost 2016


Dear Members of Movements and Associations,

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in their own language. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own language…them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” (Acts 2.5-1).

Forum 2014

In this wonderful passage from our Liturgy celebrating Pentecost Sunday, we witness one of the great works of the Holy Spirit: the power to create unity from diversity. Diversity, when inspired by God, is a manifestation of the many gifts, talents, ways of life and charisms that God chooses to use to fulfill his plans and promises. Unity, when inspired by God, is a manifestation of how the many gifts, talents, ways of life and charisms can work together towards a single goal and mission. In the Church in Canada, this work of the Holy Spirit is ongoing as the diversity of our many Movements and Associations, are, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, working together to bring about the Reign of God.

During the 2014 CCCB Forum for Catholic Movements and Associations, held at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec, many of us spoke about how good it was to come together and discover our diversity – to witness the variety of ways people are living lives of service to strengthen our Church and communities. But, more importantly, we spoke about discovering more effective ways of working together – to discover the complementarity of our Movements and Associations. Our celebration of Pentecost reminds us that this is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit, and our place is to listen carefully and follow faithfully.

Perhaps we should look to the example of Consecrated Life in Canada. Our history is rich with examples of women and men, having chosen to follow Christ by following the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, and, by doing so, contributing to our country’s many educational, social, and spiritual needs. No two religious communities or consecrated persons contribute in the same way, and as a result, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, a diversity of needs is met. We thank God for these women and men in Consecrated Life and for their example.

May the many gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to enliven the charism of all Movements and Associations, and may the Holy Spirit inspire unity in our diversity.

Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pentecost 2015

2014 Pentecost Message for Canadian Catholic National Movements and Associations

Dear Members of the Movements and Associations,

The Movements and Associations of the Church are a sign and instrument of the Holy Spirit in our times. Each member of the Movements and Associations brings a dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit into a very real encounter with the world. Some of the members are quiet and hidden, like leaven in the dough; others engage the world with a bold apostolate of loving action.

Through his words and witness, our Holy Father reminds us that the Gospel of Joy is a call to the peripheries, to the places and situations of the poor and marginalized: “I dream of a ‘missionary option’ that is capable of transforming everything….” Evangelii Gaudium, 27)

A grace of the Holy Spirit that is vibrant within the many Movements and Associations is a decision by your members to be in communion with each other as brothers and sisters of the Lord. Another gift is the grace of leadership for the whole Church directed toward effective evangelization of the margins of people’s hearts as well as to the peripheries of Canadian society.

Your Movement, your Association, is something beautiful to behold. It is like a meadow of flowers in the boreal forest or in the urban jungle, touching many hearts and minds with the beauty, truth, and goodness of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The last three stanzas of the Veni Sancte Spiritus, the sequence given in the lectionary for Pentecost Sunday, provides a poetic challenge for each of us today and a comforting consolation from the Holy Spirit.

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the wayward home once more!

On the faithful who are true,
And profess their faith in you,
In your sevenfold gift descend!

Give us virtue’s sure reward,
Give us your salvation, Lord,
Give us joys that never end!

May the many gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to enliven the charism of all Movements and Associations so the Joy of the Gospel can be known and loved by all.

Pentecost 2014

Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

2013 Pentecost Message for Canadian Catholic National Movements and Associations

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house . . . . All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.2,4). 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In his address to the ecclesial movements and new communities at Pentecost 1998, Blessed Pope John Paul expressed his conviction that such groups are the fruit of a new Pentecost:

You, present here, are the tangible proof of the outpouring of the Spirit.  Each movement is different from the others, but they are all united in the same communion and for the same mission.  Some charisms given by the Spirit burst in like an impetuous wind, which seizes people and carries them to new ways of missionary commitment to the radical service of the Gospel, by ceaselessly proclaiming the truths of the faith, accepting the living stream of the truth as a gift instilling in each person an ardent desire for holiness.

These words are most fitting as we extend to you our heartfelt appreciation for your ongoing participation in the mission of the Church, a true share in the life of Christ.

In the course of this Year of Faith, we have received an abundant outpouring of the Spirit’s gift in the election of the first successor of Peter from the Americas.   On the day after his election, Pope Francis delivered his first homily to the College of Cardinals, focusing on three essential dimensions of discipleship:  walking, building, and witnessing.  He stressed that whatever our call and station in life, if we are not first disciples of Jesus Christ who live the mystery of his cross, then we have missed the point.  This, and no other, is the path to the holiness of life which is our gift and task through baptism.

Throughout the life of the Church, movements and associations of the faithful have responded to the Spirit’s gift to live the Gospel in meeting the diverse needs of the Church and of the world.  It is our sincere hope and our deep prayer this Pentecost that by the Spirit’s gift, the members of your associations and movements might share in the grace of walking by faith, building in hope, and witnessing to love.

Pentecost 2013

Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Message for Canadian Catholic national movements and associations to mark the Solemnity of All Saints

Solemnity of All Saints, 2012

Dear Friends,

The CCCB Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations last wrote to you on the Solemnity of Pentecost. We are pleased to be in contact with you again, this time for the Solemnity of All Saints.

The joyful commemoration of all the saints in heaven is a reminder of the universal vocation to holiness and of the destiny held in store for the faithful followers of Christ.  The Second Vatican Council teaches this clearly: all are called to be saints (cf. Lumen Gentium, chapter 5).

Holiness is a grace and a gift, but it is also a call that engages the whole being. Your movement or association can be an important source of support as you grow in God’s plan for you.

Drawing on the rich spiritual tradition of your group, you will discover, with your brothers and sisters, the joy of responding to the call of Christ in your daily lives.

The Holy Father has proposed that we live a year of faith, so we can return to the source of our Christian vocation. We should not forget that a movement or association is an important opportunity to live in communion, not moving forward alone, but rather deriving strength with the help of those who walk with you.

You have an opportunity to grow spiritually within a group that supports you. You have received the grace to support others in turn. This reciprocity becomes a light to guide your steps. “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” (1 John 4.16)

This reciprocal love is very concrete, and becomes an invitation to others to travel this path of loving service with you.

Dear friends, by staying in touch with you, we wish to underline the importance of your mission that you bring to the life of your diocese. Be missionaries of the Good News, and proclaim the joy of faith in Jesus Christ.

Please also share your experiences with your Bishop. This way, you can be messengers of hope at the heart of your community.

+ Luc Cyr, Archbishop of Sherbrooke
+ Gary Gordon, Bishop of Whitehorse
+ Robert Anthony Daniels, Bishop of Grand Falls

Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops