February 20, 2012

OTTAWA – When the Companions of the Cross met for their general assembly Jan. 30-Feb. 3 in Cornwall, Ont., the priests had their first chance to reflect on the impact of last year's death of their founder, Father Bob Bedard.

"The passing of a founder, of a spiritual father in Christ is a watershed for any community in the history of the Church," said Father Scott McCaig, who was re-elected for a second six-year term as the order's leader.

"The Lord really spoke a vision for life and spirituality and mission into the heart of Father Bob and this is what we're called to live ourselves now," he said.

"The Church often speaks of the charism of the founder. Spiritual communities need to be faithful to that initial grace, that initial mission; we need to live that out."

The order has 38 priests who are based in Ottawa, Halifax, Toronto and Houston, Texas.

McCaig described Bedard as a pioneer of the new evangelization. Reading Pope Paul VI's apostolic exhortation Evangelization in the Modern World in 1975 "changed everything" for him from his preaching to his priorities as a priest, he said.

"The Companions of Christ can look back and see a prophetic dimension to Father Bob's life and priesthood, as he founded the new order a little more than 25 years ago," McCaig said.

Bedard saw the "move of God" that was in the new evangelization announced by Pope John Paul II.

Just as the first evangelization, required Pentecost, where the disciples waited in the Upper Room to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pope John Paul II also spoke of a new Pentecost to provide new gifts to lead and empower the new evangelization, McCaig said.

Bedard "coined a phrase for us: Fully Catholic, with an evangelical heart and Pentecostal fire."

Evangelization needs Pentecost and the full life of the Holy Spirit in the Church, he said.

Bedard used to say "This is not the Catholic historical society; it's the Church of the Living God," McCaig recalled.