Cardinal Thomas Collins and Pope Francis exchange the sign of peace during the Oct. 12 Mass celebrating the canonizations of Marie de l'Incarnation and Francois de Laval.


Cardinal Thomas Collins and Pope Francis exchange the sign of peace during the Oct. 12 Mass celebrating the canonizations of Marie de l'Incarnation and Francois de Laval.

October 20, 2014

Missionaries do enormous good for the world and the Church by bringing God's love to the far corners of the earth and by keeping the Church healthy and fruitful, Pope Francis said.

Missionaries, who leave their homes and even risk their lives, "have done immense good for the Church," the pope said during an Oct. 12 canonization Mass for two Canadian saints.

"Once the Church stops moving and becomes closed up inside herself, she gets ill, she can be corrupted, either by sin or that false knowledge separated from God that is worldly secularism," the pope said in his homily

The pope presided over a thanksgiving Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the canonizations of Sts. Marie de l'Incarnation and Francois de Laval, two 17th-century pioneers of the Church in Canada.

Pope Francis declared the new saints April 3 without requiring the verification of a miracle through their intercession or holding a canonization ceremony.

St. Marie de l'Incarnation was a French Ursuline who traveled to Quebec in 1639; and St. Francois de Laval, who arrived in Quebec 20 years after St. Marie, became the first bishop of Quebec.

More than 300 people came from Canada to take part in the Mass.

Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto told Catholic News Service Oct. 13 that everyone can find inspiration in the heroic missionaries.

People love heroes, especially young people, but most of "today's heroes aren't that wholesome," he said.

The challenge is to help people learn about the heroes of the Church because they're "great models for all of us, in Canada and beyond," Collins said.

Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the new saints serve as a model for people today to find new ways to "preach the Gospel, which does not change."


Durocher said St. Francois de Laval, who was born in 1623, "was a kind of 17th-century Pope Francis," setting aside the ornate material trappings and living a simple, "nearly austere, lifestyle."

"He journeyed by canoe and on foot to go and celebrate with the people. He had a great love for the native people that he met, for their struggles, for their trials," the archbishop said.

Laval came to Quebec – a town of just 500 people – in 1658 as the apostolic vicar of New France and there he began his missionary work among colonists and aboriginal peoples. He died in 1708.

St. Marie de l'Incarnation was born in 1599 and although drawn to the religious life, she followed her parents' wishes and was married at the age of 17. Six months after her son was born, her husband died.

When the child turned 12, she entered the Ursuline order and, in 1639, set sail for Quebec with several other Ursulines.

Durocher said she, too, found ways "to make the Gospel relevant to the native people" she encountered.

She dedicated herself to teaching, but soon realized "the traditional French school was not going to work here at all. And so she moved her classroom outside" to teach the young children. She died in 1672.

Collins said even Catholics who do not become missionaries can still live by the missionary spirit – turning one's gaze outward toward others and "taking care of the gathered and scattered," those in the pews and those who have drifted from the Church.

"If we're doing that we're really alive and sharing the faith," he said.