Roman Catholics are invited to join Winnipeg’s archbishop as he asks the Virgin Mary to protect Canada during the coronavirus pandemic.
Richard Gagnon's service of consecration will be live-streamed from St. Mary’s Cathedral at 2 p.m. Friday. He is presiding over the service as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is sponsoring the consecration.
Gagnon said the consecration is needed during this time of "national concern and health crisis."
The pandemic is something that "transcends culture, language and provincial boundaries," he said, adding it is bringing Canadians together to fight it.
People need "hope, faith, strength and courage" to get through the outbreak, Gagnon said. Mary, as mother of Christ, will be asked to help provide those things.
The service will include scripture reading, a prayer of consecration and hymns, Gagnon said.
"It’s fairly short," he said, adding the liturgy is available on the Archdiocese of Winnipeg's website so people can follow along at home.
Gagnon is quick to point out consecrating Canada will not prevent people from getting sick or dying from the virus.
"As Christians, we are very much aware of the realities of the world, with its sickness, death and suffering," he said.
Gagnon said he hopes the service will give people hope, inspiring them to show the same motherly care as Mary by "helping their neighbours" and by performing "loving actions towards others."
That includes prayer. "Praying for each other is also important," he said, adding "Mary gives us inspiration for that."
Gagnon said he is doing the service at the national level in the name of all Roman Catholic archbishops across Canada and that they have also been encouraged to consecrate their individual archdioceses to Mary.
Inspired by Canadian Catholics, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will also consecrate their country to Mary at the same time, he said.
"It’s an honour for me to do it in the name of the church in Canada," Gagnon said of the service. "It has great meaning for me."
This is the fourth time Canada has been consecrated to Mary. The last time was July 1, 2017, on the 150th anniversary of Confederation. The country was first consecrated to Mary at a National Marian Congress in Ottawa in 1947, then again in 1954 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape near Trois-Rivières.
For more information, go to the Archdiocese of Winnipeg website at www.archwinnipeg.ca.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
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