So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Visit to the Cemetery

S. Kopriva 2014

Some fifty-six University of Victoria Catholic students gathered along with their chaplain last Sunday to honour the memory of our departed brothers and sisters and to pray for their souls at a local cemetery.

Attendance has steadily increased in numbers over the last four years since the visits began. At the suggestion of the Chaplain some four years ago, the Catholic Student Association executive consisting of four or five members decided to meet at the cemetery on the occasion of All Souls. The gathering has grown from those humble beginnings into a consistently large gathering of students who come together at twilight on the Vigil of All Souls or on All Souls Day to pray the graveside liturgy by candlelight.

The thirty minute liturgy consisted of the ritual from the Book of Blessings.
Entrance Procession: For All The Saints
Introductory Rite: Sign of the Cross; proclamation
Holy Scripture: 1Thess. 4:13-18
Psalm 25: To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Litany of the Saints: sprinkling of holy water and incensing of graves.
Our Father
Closing Rites: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord... . Final blessing.
Closing Procession

The congregation processed to the gravesite of apostolic missionary Fr. Auguste-Joseph Brabant, missionary to the Hesquiaht people of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Fr. Brabant's grave is located between the monuments of the Sisters of Saint Anne and the Poor Clares in the Catholic section of the historic Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria, BC.

S. Kopriva 2014

The Belgian born Brabant was educated at the University of Louvain. He came to North America with the fervour of a priest dedicated to the well being of the Hesquiaht First Nation of the westcoast of Vancouver Island.

Possessing a keen intellect and gifted with the ability to learn languages, Fr. Brabant soon learned the language of the Hesquiaht and was embraced as a much loved and respected member of the community.
Father Barbant would have people dropping in on him teaching him. He kept a diary and logged everything, especially the language. We use his notes today for reference.—Larry Paul, Hesquiaht First Nation.
Though conversions to the Catholic Faith were slow at first, a younger generation of the Hesquiaht, eager to abandon certain superstitious practices documented by Fr. Brabant in his diary (p. 562, CCHA. Study Sessions, 50 (1983), pp. 553-68. Father Brabant and the Hesquiat of Vancouver Island by Barry M. Gough, Wilfrid Laurier University Waterloo, Ontario), were baptized and married in the Faith.
A medicine woman, dancing, shaking and spitting blood predicted deaths of the sons of three chiefs' families; she was appeased by gifts given from two of the families, though the third, “more sensible than the others,” took no notice. A chief, Nitaska drowned, and partisans blamed a rival, Townissim, and appointed an assassin who, however, was stopped by Brabant’s intercession.—Gough, p. 562. Note 28: Brabant, Mission to Nootka, p. 68.
Fr. Brabant was adamant that no one be baptized unless they were sincere in their commitment to the Faith. 
In January 1878, ... Father P. J. Nicolaye reported that forty Indians, male and female, were willing to be baptized on condition that they observe the priest’s structures to rid themselves of superstitions and the medicine men. Brabant similarly had experienced this at Numukamis, an easy volunteerism by ninety-four men and women including medicine men who were anxious “for the sacrament of regeneration.” Brabant would have none of this, and refused to baptize until convinced of the legitimate expectations of the candidate. Always cautious, he refused to inflate the list on the baptismal register, in his estimation an unworthy practice that was undertaken by less virtuous Protestant (missionaries).—Gough, p. 563.
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In 1882 (Fr. Brabant) conducted the first marriage (after first performing baptisms). Though he regarded this as a progressive step, he found to his dismay that the bride’s parents objected, interested chiefs had not been consulted, and elderly natives railed against priestly interference. Brabant countered the following Sunday by preaching on matrimony; in the older marriages, he said, daughters were property – sold as a canoe or horse “just as of old the chiefs sold their slaves.” That era had passed, and he threatened to arrange marriages outside of the tribe if necessary. This evidently had the desired effect, and helped reduce native concepts of people as property.—Gough, p. 563.
S. Kopriva 2014

Fr. Brabant and many other devoted priests, religious and laity have faithfully served the First and immigrant peoples of what is now known as Vancouver Island.
Missionaries such as Brabant sought isolation and even employed techniques of maintaining isolation for the people of the mission in order to keep Indians such as the Hesquiat from certain contaminating influences disease, liquor, and prostitution, among others. Above all, the object was salvation: “Nothing in the world,” Brabant wrote in his diary, “could tempt me to come and spend my life here were it not that the inhabitants of these inhospitable shores have a claim on the charity and zeal of a Catholic priest.”—Gough.
May this month of the holy souls be a time of solemn reflection on the Four Last Things: death, judgement, heaven, hell. As we approach the great feast of Christ the King, may this month be a time of prayer for those undergoing the the final purification of purgatory before entering eternal beatitude. May this month be a time of thanksgiving to God for the gift of the Faith conserved by previous generations and a time of welcoming the stories of the lives of our elders from whom we have received the gift of Faith.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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