Pilgrimage to Canada is one J-Term option

Br. Roberto, Mr. Hepp will accompany students to Montreal


Melissa Sheppard

Junior Nick Busam turns in forms to Mr. Cole Hepp ahead of time for the Canadian pilgrimage course that will take place during the upcoming J-Term. Students are required to turn in money along with a folder of contact information and other important documents to either Br. Roberto Jimenez or Hepp

J-Term will provide new opportunities for students to explore activities outside of school that they might not otherwise be able to experience. Perhaps the greatest of these opportunities is the Canadian pilgrimage.

Br. Roberto Jimenez and Mr. Cole Hepp will take 11 students to Montreal, Canada for two weeks in January for a retreat during J-Term. In Montreal, Br. Jimenez said that the students will be walking through the life of St. Brother André Bessette, who was canonized recently, in 2010. Bessette was a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the same group that founded Cathedral in 1918. 

Br. Jimenez detailed how the students will be examining Bessette’s life, saying, “(The students) can see the beginnings of (Bessette’s) life, and how a saint was made.” 

The group will stay on the grounds of the Saint Joseph’s Oratory, a basilica founded by Brother André in 1904 and the largest church in Canada. It includes a hotel on its grounds, the John XXIII Pavilion, which attracts many groups on retreats and pilgrimages all throughout the year.

The Oratory itself is dedicated to and focuses on St. Joseph, and it also contains relics, pictures and other items from the life of St. André Bessette. People come to the Oratory to pray for healing and to seek the intercession of Saint André. It is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world. Br. Jimenez said, “(The Oratory) gets about 10 million visitors per year just for the faith that André had with Saint Joseph, and it’s one of the greatest things Holy Cross has.” 

They will also examine the lives of members of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Br. Jimenez said, “We’ll meet priests, brothers and sisters who work at the Oratory, and also in Canada.” 

In addition to learning this information about André Bessette, the group will explore other activities around Montreal. Br. Jimenez said, “We will be a part of the retreat, but it’s not just a retreat. We are going to get to know the Canadian culture, go to a hockey game, go see Downtown Montreal, so it’s not just about being at the Oratory, or at the Church. It’s also about getting to see the culture of Canada.” 

According to Br. Jimenez, the trip was not originally planned to include Montreal. He said, “It was funny. We were supposed to go to South Bend and see the family of the Holy Cross there. Then, about 20 of the football players came and they said, ‘Brother, can we go to Canada?’ So that’s the way it was built.” However, Br. Jimenez explained that these players who came up with the idea will not attend, due to the fact that they would be gone from their friends and family for two weeks. 

The small size of the group is due to the cost of the trip, but also its length. Because each student has to pay $1500 to attend the retreat, the numbers have dwindled since the original sign-up. The $1,500 will be used to pay for each student’s flight, hotel room and food throughout the retreat. Originally, 30 students signed up for the trip, only to back out due to the cost or the extended time away from home. Br. Jimenez said, “The kids don’t want to be away from their friends for two weeks.” 

Br. Jimenez said he hopes that this retreat will become a tradition for students during J-Term. He said, “I think it’s a great experience for kids to get to know Holy Cross and the core values that they have and how they are lived. We hope that the kids have fun and that we can make it a yearly trip.”

Br. Jimenez said she believes that the trip will be a great experience for the students, and that they will learn a lot, not just about the Congregation of Holy Cross, but about their faith and Canadian culture as well. He said, “I think this year we are really hoping to have a lot of fun.”