to friends and Benefactors
/ November 2009
of St. Pius X, District of Canada,
45 Guthrie Avenue, Toronto, ON, M8Y 3L2,
Telephone: 416.251.0499 Fax: 416.251.7430
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Wherever there is a belief in the continued existence
of man through and after death, religion naturally
concerns itself with the relations between the living
and the dead. And where the idea of a future judgment
or of Purgatory exists, prayers are often offered on
behalf of the dead to God.
Prayer for the dead appears in the second book of the
Maccabees. “The most valiant Judas exhorted the
people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they
saw before their eyes what had happened, because of
the sins of those that were slain. And making a gathering,
he sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem
for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead,
thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection;
(For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should
rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain
to pray for the dead); And because he considered that
they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great
grace laid up for them.” (2 Macc. 12:42-44) Judas
Maccabeus offers a sacrifice as a propitiatory sin-offering
and a memorial thank-offering. These prayers and sacrifices
were intended to improve the standing of the dead during
A passage in the New Testament which refers to a prayer
for the dead is found in 2 Timothy 1:16-18, which reads
as follows: “The Lord give mercy to the house
of Onesiphorus: because he hath often refreshed me,
and hath not been ashamed of my chain: But when he was
come to Rome, he carefully sought me, and found me.
The Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in
that day.” As with the verses from Maccabees,
these verses refer to prayers that will help the deceased
“on that day” i.e. the Judgement Day.
In the Christian tradition Prayer for the dead is well-documented.
Christians pray for “such souls as have departed
with faith, but without having had time to bring forth
fruits worthy of repentance”. In the Catholic
Church the assistance that the dead receive by prayer
on their behalf is linked with the process of purification
which we call the purgatory. While prayer for the dead
continues in all the early Christian traditions many
Protestant groups reject the practice. Among Church
writers Tertullian († 230) is the first to mention
prayers for the dead, and not as a concession to natural
sentiment, but as a duty: The widow who does not pray
for her dead husband has as good as divorced him.
In Western Christianity there is ample evidence of
the custom of praying for the dead in the inscriptions
of the catacombs, with their constant prayers for the
peace and refreshment of the souls of the eparted. The
faithful felt that it was inappropriate to pray “for”
the martyrs, since they were believed to be in no need
of such prayers. Also prayer for those in hell would
be useless, but since there is no certainty that any
particular person is in hell, prayers were and are offered
for all the dead.
The various prayers for the departed have as their
purpose to pray for the repose of the departed, to comfort
the living, and to remind those who remain of their
own mortality. For this reason, memorial services have
an air of penitence about them.
Limits were placed on public offering of Mass for the
unbaptised and notorious sinners, but prayers and even
Mass in private could be said for them. The present
Code of Canon Law states that, unless the person concerned
gave some signs of repentance before death, no form
of funeral Mass may be offered for notorious apostates,
heretics and schismatics.
This year again, following Christian Tradition, I would
particularly ask you to pray for the repose of the
souls of the departed. During the first week of November
you may visit a cemetery every day in order to obtain
the plenary indulgence to free a soul out of purgatory.
You should say some special prayers every day during
this month for departed family members or friends; you
could take the resolution to assist at Mass during the
week and to offer your Communion for the poor souls;
and, as you already did in past years, you may write
the names of the departed in the enclosed envelope provided.
This will be placed on the altar. Whenever the priest
will say Mass in the month of November, he will remember
the dead and pray for them; he will ask for the graces
necessary to purify the souls from sin and to prepare
them to be united with God and to enjoy eternal life.
May I ask you to be generous and to practice charity
towards the poor souls?
In my last letter I announced the changes of priests
which would take place in our District during this summer.
Meanwhile the new Fathers came over to Canada and are
settled in. They all enjoy their new nomination and
are adjusting to their new duties.
In Calgary new portable classrooms had to be purchased.
The growing number of pupils made it necessary to extend
the number of classrooms. Apart from this, one of the
older buildings being no longer safe to house the children,
had to be replaced. Meanwhile the General House in Menzingen
gave the permission to acquire four new classrooms.
Soon the children will be happy to move into their “new
Fathers Scott and May were challenged by the miraculous
increase of children in our school in Wilmot.
Last year Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy started up
with 14 pupils. For a long while it seemed as if there
wouldn’t be many more pupils this year. But suddenly
the parents seemed to wake up and start to inscribe
their children for the school. The numbers went up to
twenty, thirty, forty and finally to fifty-six pupils.
Twenty of them are boarders. You can imagine the amount
needed to be done at the ‘last-minute’!
Where to find the teachers, how to arrange the classrooms,
where to put the boarders…? We ask all future
parents to think already now about their plans for next
year. When they let us know early enough how many and
which children they want to inscribe for the next school
year, we can take the time to prepare on time all that
will be needed for your children.
On the contrary, our school in Lévis is still
suffering. Father d’André had a hard time
to find certified teachers willing to work in our school
and willing to provide a teaching which agrees with
the Church’s teaching. During the vacation period
much work had to be done: fixing up different classrooms,
refectories and workspaces for teachers. In spite of
all the efforts the number of pupils stagnates and makes
it very arduous to run the school. For next year, we
will reopen the boarding facilities. Thus, even pupils
coming from the furthest corners of Quebec, New Brunswick
and Nova Scotia can be received.
Saint Joseph’s Bursary will continue the collections
on the 2nd Sunday of every month in order to help
families. Many of them are in the very difficult - sometimes
even impossible - situation to pay the tuition fees
for one, two, three or even more children. Be generous
and help with the important school apostolate. Our future
is in the education of our children! Be also aware of
the necessity of your prayers, for the priests, the
teachers, the children, for our schools. It will be
God’s grace which illuminates the minds, which
strengthens the wills and which opens the hearts for
The priests in British Columbia have planned for many
years to move the priory from Vernon to Langley. From
the beginning, the Church in Langley attracted more
and more faithful coming from the great Vancouver area
to assist at Mass, to receive the Sacraments, to follow
up catechism classes, to be members of the Eucharistic
Crusade, the Legion of Mary or to participate in all
kinds of parish activities. From the parishioners’
commitments resulted a growing need of the priest’s
presence. So finally this year the moving-plan will
be realized. Initially the date should have been October
25th, the Feast of Christ the King. But construction
works progressed slower than the Fathers hoped, and
so the date had to be postponed to a later date this
year. You can imagine that this move will make it necessary
to reorganize the priests work. Especially community-life
will become much easier and much more regular for the
two priests, they will be closer to their work, and
they will have less travelling...
For sure, our faithful in Vernon will be sad. They suffer
from these changes losing the daily presence of
their dear priests. But the good of the priests and
the good of the larger number of the faithful in Langley
made this decision necessary. We apologize for this
inconvenience and we assure the faithful in Vernon of
our entire support in the future. There is no doubt
that a priest will be at their disposition for all the
In Shawinigan we have the project to subdivide our
property to create residential lots in order to sell
them. A first phase will concern the southern part of
our property close to the city of Shawinigan. A road
will be opened by the city of Shawinigan and forty lots
will come open for building of residential housing.
This first part of the work is to be started in the
spring of 2010. It will not concern our retreat house
since several rows of trees will protect the priory
from the developing work. Once we have an idea how the
properties are selling we will decide on the next steps.
For certain, it will take several years before the developing
of our land will also have an impact on the priory.
Nevertheless, we are already inquiring into the most
diverse possibilities for the future. The goals of all
the future changes are to maintain a retreat house for
Quebec, the Mass for Shawinigan and a priory for Montreal.
I will close this letter with positive news concerning
the Canadian vocations. This year two young men
entered into our seminaries. One of them coming from
the province of Saskatchewan entered at Winona and started
there his formation to the priesthood. The second coming
from Ottawa entered the seminary in Zaizkofen, Germany.
He had already passed a time in the Society’s
St. John Bosco school and decided for this reason to
do his formation in Germany.
May I ask your prayers and your generous aid for them,
for more future vocations and for all the projects of
Tradition in Canada,
Father Jürgen Wegner
to list of Fr. Wegner's letters