The Bishops of Canada are invited to consecrate the country to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary as part of the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Each Bishop is invited to consecrate his individual diocese or eparchy on 1 July 2017 or at another date thereabouts that might better suit the local pastoral situation. Similarly, a Bishop may choose to invite pastors to consecrate their specific parish or mission as part of the celebrations marking the anniversary of Confederation.
Later in the year, all the Bishops of Canada will be invited to participate jointly in the consecration of the country to the Blessed Mother following the celebration of the Holy Eucharist during the CCCB Plenary Assembly in September 2017.
The adult catechetical resource which the CCCB has prepared explains that the consecration is a “renewal of our first consecration at Baptism” but “in the particular form of a personal pledge”. Noting that the Blessed Mother shines forth “in the community of believers as the perfect example, icon, and model of what it means to live by faith”, the resource affirms that “in imploring Our Lady’s help … we welcome with joy and enthusiasm the joys of discipleship in the work of the New Evangelization.” As well as showing how consecration to Mary is linked with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, the adult catechetical resource also mentions the examples of recent Popes who consecrated or entrusted the Church to Mary, while noting the importance of devotion to Mary in the history of the Church in Canada as well as universally.
To assist dioceses and eparchies in the consecration, the CCCB has prepared a number of resources. In the coming weeks, an abridged version of the prayer of consecration will also be made available for the personal use of the faithful. Prepared by the CCCB General Secretariat with the assistance of the English and French National Liturgy Offices as well as the English Sector Office for Evangelization and Catechesis, the resources include:
Beginning with the early Jesuit missionaries who consecrated their missions to Mary Immaculate, a number of Canadian dioceses, eparchies, parishes, schools, cities and buildings have been named in her honour. The first time the country as a whole was consecrated to the Blessed Mother took place in 1947 during the National Marian Congress which was held in Ottawa. Ranked at the time as the largest religious gathering until then in North America, the celebration marked the centenary of the Archdiocese of Ottawa and focused on the hope for lasting world peace. A message by Pope Pius XII was broadcast during the Eucharist and was carried by a number of radio stations across the country. The prayer of consecration was led in French and English by two federal Cabinet ministers, the Right Honourable Louis St-Laurent, then Secretary of State for External Affairs, and the Honourable James J. McCann, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of War Services. Archival information on the 1947 consecration is available on the website https://sites.google.com/site/mariancongress1947/.
As part of the 1954 Marian Year, during a celebration at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape, near Trois-Rivières, Quebec, all the Catholic Bishops of Canada, led by Their Eminences James Cardinal McGuigan and Paul-Émile Léger, then Archbishop of Toronto and Archbishop of Montreal respectively, consecrated the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That first of what until now have been two Marian Years declared by the Supreme Pontiff marked the centenary of the solemn proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. More information on the National Shrine (in French, Notre-Dame-du-Cap) is available on its bilingual website, https://www.sanctuaire-ndc.ca/.