Friday 25 May 2018

A Shepherd Entering the Sheepfold

On May 26, 1850, Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel was consecrated Bishop of Toronto in the Sistine Chapel by Pope Pius IX. When he arrived in the city on September 21, he had his work cut out for him: tens of thousands of Catholics had arrived in the city in the past few years. He had to finish the Cathedral, find priests, build churches and schools, and advocate for a group who had very little. 

In his first pastoral address to the Diocese (transcribed below), Bishop de Charbonnel made it clear that he was there to work for the people. During his short time as bishop he accomplished the goals he laid out for his episcopacy and more.    

The first pastoral address of Bishop de Charbonnel after his arrival in Toronto.

October 3, 1850

C AA04.01
Bishop de Charbonnel Fonds

Armand Francis Mary De Charbonnel, By the Grace of God, and the favour of the holy Apostolic See, Bishop of Toronto, To all Our well-beloved Brethren and Children in God, the Clergy Regular and Secular, and Laity of Our Diocese, Grace and Peace in the Lord.

On Saturday, the 21st of September, Dearly Beloved Brethren, We reached Toronto under the auspices of Our Blessed Mother Mary and of the Holy Apostle St. Mathew, in company with the Right Rev. D. Prince, Bishop of Martyropolis and Coadjutor to the Bishop of Montreal, together with several Reverend Gentlemen of the Lower Province.

Despite the uncertainty of our arrival, a large number of the faithful were already assembled on the shore, happy to greet their long-expected Bishop, and proceeded with Us to the Cathedral where We offered the Divine Sacrifice in order to thank the Almighty for all the favours He bestowed upon Us during Our long journey; and also to beg on Our knees, in the presence of the victim of propitiation substantially present on the Altar, that He might grant Us the Apostolic spirit; the spirit of holy Bishops; the spirit of the martyred Bishop, our illustrious predecessor.

The following day, having notified juridically to the Very Reverend J. Carroll, Administrator of the Diocese during the vacancy of the See, Our canonical institution as Bishop of Toronto, and Our Consecration by His Holiness Pope Pius IX., we took possession of Our See according to the rules of the Church, and celebrated a solemn Pontifical Mass.

At Vespers, We addressed Our dear Flock in a familiar allocution, chiefly to illustrate that it was not sufficient for a good Shepherd to enter into the Sheepfold by the door, - that is to say, by the election of the Supreme Pontiff, Vicar of Christ, - but that a good Shepherd should enter into the Sheepfold only to give life to his Sheep, "that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly;" and hence, that he should seek and find for them good pastures, know them, walk before them, and, if need be, give his own life for them.

Such, Dearly Beloved Brethren, is the good Shepherd; such was Jesus; such were the Holy Pontiffs at all times; such is Pius IX, on the See of Peter; such was your first Bishop; such We desire to be amongst you.

We have no other ambition, God is Our witness, but to give spiritual life to the souls who have been so unfortunate as to lose it by sin, and to increase it more abundantly in those who fortunately are living in the state of grace, with a pure conscience and the love of their God.

Poor Sinners! you, above all, are the objects of Our most anxious solicitude. As the good Shepherd of the Gospel, We will leave for a time the Sheep already gathered in the Sheepfold, in order to find you and bring you back in triumph, to the great joy of Heaven.

But in order to give life to souls, and augment it the more by the exercise of the holy Ministry, We will endeavour to multiply the number of the zealous Missionaries of this vast Diocese: for, "The Harvest is abundant, but the labourers are few." With holy Pastors will be multiplied the Houses of Public Prayer, of the Sacraments, of religious instruction, and all the inestimable benefits of the sacerdotal Ministry.

Let us pray, therefore, Beloved Brethren, the Master of the harvest that He may send us fellow-labourers in proportion to our wants.

We have found some already; but as we need more, We have lately sent to Ireland one of them to procure others, and since Our arrival, We confided to his care the great work of preparing for the Sanctuary those precious children elected from above to become labourers in the Vineyard of the Lord.

We shall know them, and you also, Beloved Brethren, as We intend to commence as soon as possible a general visit, it being the duty of a good Shepherd to know all his flock. In the meantime, we shall begin by visiting the Episcopal City; then all the Missions throughout the Diocese. And how sweet will be the fatigues that will bring Us in the midst of you.

May God grant Us to walk before you in the Country as well as in the City, affording unto you the example of all Christian and Apostolical virtues; examples of faith, religion, humility, obedience, abnegation, charity, zeal; - example indeed is a language understood by all; its eloquence is most powerful: teaching by words is long - teaching by actions is short; words may move - examples subdue.
By the present Letter We renew the powers of all the Missionaries, and We feel happy to have this opportunity of apprising them that the Very Rev. J. Carroll, late Administrator of the Diocese, has willingly consented to continue with Us, as Vicar General, an administration which has proved so useful to the diocese and as laborious as it was honourable to him.

This letter will be read, at Mass, in all the Churches and Chapels on the first Sunday after its reception, and after Mass the three Pater, Ave, and Gloria Patri, already ordered by Our first letter, will be recited for the last time, with the intentions expressed in the present.

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