The Montreal Peace Prayer in the Spirit of St. Francis (continued)

In the previous posting of H.H. the Dalai Lama, the photo was taken :
From Tsem Rinpoche Website: photos of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. “On 27th May, His Holiness the Dalai Lama paid a visit to Vienna and while he was there, His Holiness attended Mass and visited the St. Stephen’s Cathedral!”
 
 
(Continuation of the Montreal Inter-faith Peace prayers)
 

 It is good to say:

All during those years of the Inter_Faith Peace Prayers in the Spirit of St Francis which we were asked to do for the Franciscans in Montreal, were done without any financial benefits from outside.
 
Some have asked, “how much were the Franciscans paid to promote those meetings? 
The answer is “Nothing!”  We never asked for any financial help neither from the Govt. of Quebec nor any other!
 
All the bills for the rental of space, for the hiring of a sound tecnician, for the rental of mikes and loud-speakers and for the catering of food, all the expenses incurred over the years, were all budget approved and paid for by the Franciscans, accountancy at the Office on Blvd. Rosemont and approved by the Minister Provincial, Fr. Gilles Bourdeau O.F.M. and after him, by his successor, Fr. Regent Raymond, O.F.M.
 
I owe it to the Franciscan friars to make it clear, so that in years to come, no one can accuse them.!
 
The work that we did to help the Franciscans of the Maltese community in Toronto was also supported by them. They paid my train passage and I had room and board  in their parish during that time.
 
Every time I was asked to help initiate the event in Montreal, or elsewhere, it was done without any financial aid from the Govt. or outside.
 
And the biggest event which I worked on, was in demand and collaboration with the Tibetan community when I was asked to design and co-ordinate at the request of H.H. Dalai Lama, the Inter_Faith ceremony at St. Joseph’s Oratory.
 
 We were not given any money and we were not paid. The committee had a bill to pay for the use of the Oratory. Neither the Franciscans  nor I had any financial benefits for this work
 
 In 1998 A Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue (DIM) produced an article written by Fr. Benoit Standaert, osb.
It was titled “The Interreligious Space”
 
“…..2, By introducing the category of the “Jesus Space” Fr. Benoit hopes to find a way out of the present impasses. For him, the term “space” refers to everything understood by the Paulinian Greek expression ‘en Christo’ or ‘en Kurio’
 
It refers to the living out of Christ, who is perceived as freedom, grace., justice, wisdom, light, pardon, redemption, peace. The realisation of this ‘space’ takes place by all kinds of means, e.g. the “lection divina’, sacramental life, the prayetr of Jesus, silence, psalms, veneration of icons, etc.
 
3. Startinfg from the “Jesus space’, it must therefore be possible to encounter whoever lives in the “Buddha space’ since the two spaces do not constitute a threat for each other on the life level. The two spaces could thus provide for an enlargement of respective horizons.”
(Fr. Benoit Standaert osb   “The Interreligious Space”)
 
 
 In the spring of 1993 on an occasion of a visit of H.H. Dalai Lama to Montreal, I received a visit from a Tibetan gentleman Mr.Thubten Samdup who was Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama  and chairman of a Tibetan commitee.
He said that the Dalai Lama was coming to Montreal and he was asked if there was something he would like to see during his visit. He said that he would love to take part in an Interreligious Prayer gathering. Thubten then said to me that he was enquiring around the city and he was told to see me.
 
I was then a member of the Montreal Inter-Faith Council and I invited him to come to our next meeting and make a request for that, which he did.  I just listened and they accepted and looked at me and said ‘Rolph can do it!”  That was not the answer I expected but they insisted and I said I will do so, provided that all the members there present would come to represent their respective faith groups and it would save me the trouble of running around finding people. The only delegates I did specifically go and invited, were the traditional elders who I knew from the Khanawaki Community.
 
The ceremony was scheduled for 6:30 pm on the 22nd June, ’93. I wanted it to be in the spirit of what Fr. Benoit referred to as a ‘religious space”.
 
It was going to be simple and I decided there will be no chanting and prayers of each group otherwise it will be too long. The format was that all the delegates should meet in the sacristy and from there we will come in procession into the basilica up the main isle. I suggested that some Tibetan instruments be played on tape. It would have been too costly to hire an organist and the Tibetan committee already had a price to pay for the rent of the space.
 
Leading the procession would be Br. Francois bearing incense, and following would be Geyshela Kenrab Gajam from the Tibetan temple in Montreal followed by the Inter faith representatives, and finally the president of the Oratory and the Dalai Lama with the Cardinal Turcotte.  There will be words of welcome and then a word from the Dalai Lama then the delegates would be invited to come up one by one and meet him with a traditional exchange of scarves.  Then will will have a moment of silent meditation and that will be the end.
 
It all went as planned. The church was packed to capacity. There were many young people and those who could not find seats, were seated on the floor. There were quite a few thousand people present. I remember one morning some time before, I received a call from Cardinal Turcotte’s office and I was told that the Cardinal was wondering how come he did not see any posters or anything advertising the event. I mentioned a small article had appeared in the English Newspaper, ‘the Gazette’ and that was enough.
 
All the delegates we invited showed up. I was the only one who knew the names of them all and so i was assigned to introduce them one by one in the sacristy before the entrance procession. And at the particular moment also for the exchange of scarves. After they had all receieved their scarves, I gave him my scarf and introduced myself.  He got up from his chair and hugged me and held my hands and kissed them. It was quite a humbling experience. He was beaming and evidentally very pleased
 
At the end of the ceremony I beckoned to him to follow me and I led him back through the sacristy where the plain clothes special police awaited to lead him through a back door and over the other side of the mountain.  Crowds were already gathered and pushing and trying to get into the sacristy and I had to ask one of the police officers to explain to them that he had already left.
 
It was a memorable experience.
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2 thoughts on “The Montreal Peace Prayer in the Spirit of St. Francis (continued)

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