Urban monks set up first mission in North America
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- A thousand voices echoed through the large Montreal cathedral for sung vespers Sept. 25 during the welcoming ceremony for a new religious community that is also new to the city and the continent. Seven monks and 10 nuns of the Monastic Jerusalem Communities arrived in the archdiocese Sept. 17 to run the Sanctuary of the Blessed Sacrament (Saint-Sacrement). Following an invitation from Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, who presided at the vespers at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, the Paris-based religious community decided to open its first North American monastery here.

Thirty-five-year-old Sr. Cecile has been a member of the community for the last 12 years. She said she had prayed for her community to come to Montreal for the last 10.

It became possible when the Blessed Sacrament Fathers decided that they could no longer run their sanctuary, located in the heart of Montreal in a trendy, artsy section called the Plateau Mont-Royal, because they did not have enough new vocations.

A lack of vocations has not been a problem for the Monastic Jerusalem Communities, which has only kept growing since its founding in Paris in 1975.

Contrary to most monastic communities, the fraternity chooses to live in the heart of a city instead of in a secluded, peaceful area. The fraternity consists of monks (brothers and priests) and nuns, who dedicate their life to prayer, contemplation and action. Most members work outside the monastery. Some have professional careers, such as computer programming and teaching; others work at whatever jobs they find.

The fraternity differs from many religious communities in North America in that it has relatively young members; the average age is below 35. And unlike most local religious communities, the monks and sisters wear a habit – blue robes and veils. In their first week in Montreal, it was not uncommon to see passers-by approach the monks and nuns to exchange a few words.

Founding a new community

The fraternity was established by Br. Pierre-Marie Delfieux. The diocesan priest had worked as a university chaplain at the Sorbonne in the late 1960s before he left to live in the desert with the Little Brothers of Jesus, a monastic community inspired by Charles de Foucauld.

Realizing that the desert wasn’t in the sand but at the core of the city itself, returned to Paris and founded the Monastic Jerusalem Communities.

Currently, the community has urban monasteries in France, Belgium, Italy and now Canada. Its members represent 30 nationalities.

“If young people are joining this movement, it’s because they realize the city can be inhumane in its spiritual, human and even material poverty,” said Sr. Cecile. “Those who discover Christ want to share their faith and show the happiness it can bring to people while living in the city.”

The monks and nuns welcome the public to join them in lauds, matins, vespers and Holy Eucharist nearly every day. The Sanctuary of the Blessed Sacrament is located at 500 Mont-Royal Ave. East.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 29, 2015

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20