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September 26, 2012

Hélène Ruel, La Nouvelle Union

Never did Father Gérard Marier think that he would ever claim to be so “proud” of himself. And for good reason! At 82 years old, he just arrived… still as upright, from a long 300 kilometre walk on the rocky road of Compostela. “In my life, I’ve learned a great deal from books. I did not think you could learn as much from walking, from the movement that is so simple and repetitive of your feet!” he said.

On August 31st, he left with a group from Spiritours, he walked for three weeks, at a rate of at least twenty kilometres per day, from Burgos in Spain up to the Cathedral of Santiago.

On the last day of his pilgrimage, on September 19th, at the end of a long 6 hour walk, Father Marier said that he cried in front of the Cathedral. So overwhelmed by gratitude was he.

“I’ve accomplished something by the grace of God”, he said. Throughout the hike, Father  Marier, sometimes apart from the group, prayed to God. Asking Him for the spirit, strength, and energy needed to walk up and down or move forward on the plains of the rocky road.

“I’ve used a large amount of energy on God’s credit card”, stated Father Marier.

We can expect him to, as we know him, devote himself to writing about the story of this pilgrimage, so much was he overcome. “I feel like, in September, I switched over from fall to summer. As if all my inner landscape had changed.”

29 novembre 2012 - Publié par Anne Godbout

2012-04-23 Vatican Radio
Pope Benedict XVI has sent a Message to the participants in the VII World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism,which is taking place in Cancún, Mexico, from the 23rd to the 27th of April.
In the Message, the Holy Father places the pastoral care of tourists in the key of the New Evangelization, saying, « The new evangelization, to which all are called, requires us to keep in mind and to make good use of the many occasions that tourism offers us to put forward Christ as the supreme response to modern man’s fundamental questions. » The Holy Father goes on to encourage participants, « to ensure that pastoral activity in the field of tourism is integrated, as it ought in all justice, as part of the organic, ordinary pastoral activity of the Church. » Please find the full text, below.

On the occasion of the VII World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism which will take place in Cancún (Mexico) from 23 to 27 April, I am pleased to send you my cordial greeting which I extend to my Brother Bishops and to all those taking part in this important meeting. As you begin these days of reflection on the pastoral attention which the Church dedicates to the area of tourism, I wish to convey my spiritual closeness to the participants and my respectful greetings to the civil authorities and to the representatives of the international organizations that are also present at this event.
Tourism is certainly a phenomenon characteristic of our times, due both to the important dimensions that it has already achieved and in view of its potential for future growth. Like other human realities, it is called to be enlightened and transformed by the Word of God. For this reason, moved by pastoral solicitude and in view of the important influence tourism has on the human person, the Church has accompanied it from its first beginnings, encouraging its potential while at the same time pointing out, and striving to correct, its risks and deviations. Tourism, together with vacations and free time, is a privileged occasion for physical and spiritual renewal; it facilitates the coming together of people from different cultural backgrounds and offers the opportunity of drawing close to nature and hence opening the way to listening and contemplation, tolerance and peace, dialogue and harmony in the midst of diversity.
Travelling reflects our being as homo viator; at the same time it evokes that

23 avril 2012 - Publié par Anne Godbout

My name is Jean-Noël André. I was born in France and immigrated to Québec almost 23 years ago. Now I am an engineer and a true lover of the great outdoors.  I am  involved with an inter-cultural corporation, Espace Art Nature locate in Neuville, near Québec City on the North shore of the St-Laurence River, which encourages artistic expression and intercultural exchange. One question has been at the heart of my work for the last 35 years; “What if beauty could save the World?”  This phrase guides the majority of my daily choices and my professional risks.  Today, I am an adventure & back-country guide and, in a related industry, I direct the development of cultural and intercultural-exchange projects.

For years I have reflected on the question of intercultural exchange in a concrete manner; as I began learning the way of life of the native people of the Innu Nation of the North shore.

More than 20 years ago, I met the Innu at Pessmit and together we shared a crazy dream; to produce a film in which Innu, Québecois and French children would be the only actors, and who would experience authentically their first meeting.  At the end of the film, the main characters from each of the three cultures find themselves with the chief of the village and as a group they decide to embark on a voyage to a new land, where they would be forever together. Today, by way of travel experiences which cultivate authentic encounters with aboriginal people, perhaps we can contribute a little towards the realization of the film’s prophecy.

I must admit that having learn about the native people of the north shore and having spent several months living with them; that theirs is completely another culture, another World.  I had to learn to let myself go and to lose my balance. This attitude of letting go permitted me to open myself to diversity. It pushed me to become part of the native North-American culture, so different from our imported European one, and, little-by-little, through the seasons, the geography of the great outdoors and having gotten to better know the different peoples of this continent, I was transformed.

Let us always be moving forward in our lives. Welcome what comes, and trust our abilities to recreate ourselves and contribute to the development of our communities.

An intercultural stay in Côte-Nord « Meeting the aboriginal people of the North shore », is organised by Spiritours in association with Espace Art-Nature and accompanied by Jean-Noël André from July 24 to 28 ! In French only.

19 avril 2012 - Publié par Anne Godbout

Eleven priests from the diocese of Quebec, accompanied by their Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, travelled to the Holy Land for a retreat. Back home as of February 21st, Father Alain Pouliot of Quebec shared his experience with us.

« We travelled with the intention of retracing the route of Christ, to take the time to discover the setting and to immerse ourselves in the experience. We perceived many new discoveries (spiritual, historical and archeological) as we had the chance to be accompanied by Father Christian Eeckhout in the regions between Tiberias and Jerusalem.

This rendez-vous with Christian history also permitted us to meet the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Father Fuad Twal; An exchange which permitted us to better understand the difficult situation in which the Palestinians and Christians live, every day, in the Holy Land.

All have returned home inspired by the Word of God. The writings in the Old Testament and the Bible take on a new life and greater meaning once having walked in the footsteps of Christ. »

3 mars 2012 - Publié par Anne Godbout

When I announce to those close to me that I am going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, people tell me: “Enjoy your vacation Father!”

This is touching but at the same time, it causes me to reflect on the meaning I give to accompanying groups on their pilgrimages. This always brings me to ask myself, “Why do I organize such experiences?”

For myself, a pilgrimage is a great adventure which allows me to meditate on the meaning of my own life and how my Faith is my inspiration.

We all carry important questions within. In this sense, we are all in the same boat; the boat of Life. Where is our boat going? Where are the winds bringing us? We often say how life goes by quickly. Time passes at break-neck speeds and we are often disoriented and pressured by that time. We are often unable to grasp where that time is heading. This is why a pilgrimage is extraordinary in helping us to stop and take some quality. Just as Jesus said to his friends, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert lace, and rest a while.” (Mark 6, 30-33)

A pilgrimage is a time that I give myself to go off to a quiet place and take some distance from the whirlpool of my daily life. I am not wasting time. Rather, I am freeing time. Certainly, we are resting physically, but also psychologically.

An example: During the time that we meditate on mount of the Beatitudes so that we may absorb the silence of this sacred mountain, where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, the essential teachings of his message, to his followers. All of this with the magnificent Sea of Gallilee lain out before us. During a silent walk where we have the time to reflect and meditate; on our lives and those close to us, on what affects us, what makes us suffer, what brings us to life… This time of rest and distance from our daily lives permits us to reset the gears in our hearts to the right time; that of balance, truth and love inside of ourselves.

In a society where the Day of our Lord (Sunday) has lost much of its meaning because we no longer take the time to rest as the Bible teaches us, it is desirable to find creative ways to take the time to submerge ourselves in the mystery of Life by setting aside a little time, from time-to-time.

A pilgrimage is more than a vacation. It is an experience of profound depth which opens places of light, truth, peace, joy and happiness inside our selves. With the aid of an experienced guide who respects every individual’s path, all can move at their own rhythm. No one is pressured. I can recall a man who claimed that he came to the Holy Land to please his wife. As the days passed, filled with visits of Holy sites and explications by our guide, he opened a little more each day; to something inside of him. His active participation allowed him to experience his pilgrimage for himself and changed himself forever.

During a pilgrimage, there is also time to pray and time for silence in some symbolic locations. An example would be the Eucharist celebration in the Shepherd’s Cave in Bethlehem. It seemed strange to sing Christmas hymns in February, let alone that we were conscious of the humidity and discomfort of this place where Marie likely gave birth to her Son. It matters not whether this was actually the historic place where Jesus was born, or not, because nothing resembles more a cave than another cave in this shepherd’s field. The thought touched us deeply and placed us in communion with our own frailties and neediness, wherein we must make a small place for the Lord in our own inner “cave”.

I will finish by telling you that a pilgrimage is a calling to visit the depths of ourselves and anyone can live this experience. It simply requires the decision to do so, to pick up your pligrim’s staff (walking stick) and to head for the land flowing with milk and honey.


Daniel Gilbert, Priest in the diocese of Sherbrooke, spiritual guide for the The Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land and Priest-guide for Spiritours.

1 mars 2012 - Publié par Anne Godbout

« The Meeting of … Cultures Permits an Enrichment of Each One’s Own Reality »

VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2011 ( Here is the message of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers for the 2011 World Tourism Day, which will be observed Sept. 27 with the theme « Tourism Linking Cultures. »

The message, released Wednesday, was signed by Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò and Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, president and secretary of the dicastery, respectively.

* * *

On September 27, we celebrate the World Tourism Day, promoted by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which has enjoyed even from its very first celebration in 1980 the support of the Holy See.

The theme of this year, « Tourism Linking Cultures, » wishes to highlight the importance that traveling has in the meeting of the different cultures of the world, especially in our present day world where more than ninety million people travel internationally, favored thus by modern means of communication and lower associated costs.

In this way, tourism presents itself as « breaking down barriers across cultures and fostering tolerance, respect and mutual understanding. In our often divided world, these values represent the stepping stones towards a more peaceful future. »[1]

With a broad concept of culture that includes — besides the history or artistic and ethnographic patrimony — the lifestyles, relationships, beliefs, and values, we not only affirm the existence of cultural diversity, but in line with the magisterium of the Church, we value it as indeed positive. Thus « once diversity has been accepted as a positive factor, it is necessary to ensure that people not only accept the existence of other cultures, » as Benedict XVI affirms, « but also desire to be enriched by them, » [2] welcoming the true, good, and beautiful therein.

To achieve this objective, tourism extends to us all its possibilities. The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism affirms that

17 janvier 2012 - Publié par Anne Godbout

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