The late Fr. Bob Bedard, the founder of the Companions of the Cross. Register file photo

Looking back on Fr. Bedard’s ‘prophetic dimension’

  • February 15, 2012

OTTAWA - When the Companions of the Cross met for its General Assembly Jan. 30-Feb. 3 in Cornwall, Ont., the priests had their first chance to reflect on the impact of last year’s death of founder Fr. Bob Bedard.

“The passing of a founder, of a spiritual father in Christ, is a watershed for any community in the history of the Church,” said moderator Fr. Scott McCaig, who was re-elected Feb. 3 for a second six-year term as the order’s leader.

“The Lord really spoke a vision for life and spirituality and mission into the heart of Fr. Bob and this is what we’re called to live ourselves now. The Church often speaks of the charism of the founder. Spiritual communities need to be faithful to that initial grace, that initial mission; we need to live that out.”

Until this assembly, the 38 priests, based in Ottawa, Halifax, Toronto and Houston, Texas, never had an opportunity to get together to talk as brothers after Bedard’s Oct. 12 funeral, McCaig said.

“A big part of what we did is talk about the spiritual patrimony passed on to us by Fr. Bob and what gifts we are meant to multiply, to pass on and incarnate.”

McCaig described Bedard as a pioneer of the New Evangelization. Reading Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelization in the modern world in 1975 “changed everything” for Bedard, from his preaching to his priorities as a priest.  

“He grasped the significance of the document,” said McCaig.

The Companions of the Cross can look back and see a prophetic dimension to Bedard’s life and priesthood, as he founded the new order a little more than 25 years ago, McCaig said. Bedard saw the founding as a “move of God” that was in the current of grace announced by Pope John Paul II when he spoke of the New Evangelization.

But just as the first evangelization required Pentecost, where the disciples waited in the Upper Room to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pope John Paul II also spoke of a new Pentecost to provide the new gifts to lead and empower the New Evangelization, McCaig said, noting Pope Benedict XVI has also spoken of this.  

“Fr. Bob was prophetically aware of that early on.”

Bedard was a pioneer of the New Pentecost through his experience of the Holy Spirit in 1975, and a leader in the Charismatic Renewal up to the last years of his life, McCaig said.

“The reason he was so effective as a leader of the renewal was he was able to bring it into the heart of the faith,” McCaig said.  

Evangelization needs Pentecost and the full life of the Holy Spirit living in the Church, McCaig said. He relates that Bedard used to say, “This is not the Catholic historical society; it’s the Church of the living God.”

After his experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1975, Bedard “absolutely fell in love with the Lord” and “became very much attuned to the infinite love of God for people,” he said.

But while Bedard embraced the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, he opposed any whiff of a prosperity Gospel or the idea that you could have Jesus without the cross, McCaig said.

“The beauty of Fr. Bob’s life was that he did not only preach the cross, he lived it.”

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