Young and old venerate the arm relic of St. Francis of Xavier in Mississauga on Jan. 13. Photo by Anna Chelmecki

Mississauga youth encounter relic of their patron saint

By  Anna Chelmecki, Youth Speak News
  • January 17, 2018
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – When 15-year-old Shania Netto sees the glass-encased arm of St. Francis Xavier, she sees the instrument that converted thousands of her ancestors.


“Personally it was eye-opening seeing the relic because my mom is Goan and St. Francis Xavier evangelized parts of Goa,” said Netto. “If he didn’t do that with his right hand then I wouldn’t be a Catholic today. So the fact that the hand that he would have baptized my ancestors with is right here is incredible to see,” Netto said.

More than 13,500 people flocked to see the incorrupt right arm of St. Francis Xavier on Jan. 13, hosted in the church named after him in Mississauga, Ont. The relic also visited St. Michael’s Cathedral (Jan. 12) and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish (Jan. 14) in Toronto as part of its month-long Canadian pilgrimage tour.

Like Netto, many parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Parish have roots in the Indian state of Goa, one of the first places St. Francis Xavier visited and evangelized, which made this a very special stop on the tour.

“We know that this parish, this night, is the biggest night that we will have,” said Angèle Regnier, co-founder of Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), one of the organizers of the relic pilgrimage.

She called the veneration at St. Francis Xavier Church “the pinnacle of our trip.”

As the patron of missionaries, St. Francis Xavier is known for leading an extensive mission to Asia and baptized more than 100,000 people. He died of a fever in 1552 at 46 years old while waiting for a boat to travel to mainland China.

An athlete and popular student in university, he experienced a deepening of his faith because of his roommate, St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Francis Xavier later joined the priesthood and helped found the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.

For Grade 12 student Joshua Creado, it is the evangelizing spirit of St. Francis Xavier that he admires most.

“I really like how he was able to bring so many people to the faith. Even right now, his influence is still here,” said the 17-year-old.

As a student at St. Francis Xavier Secondary School and a member of the youth group at St Francis Xavier Parish, Creado it seems the saint has always been part of his life. It was especially moving, he said, to have the chance to encounter a physical part of the saint.

“Often we become desensitized to the power that saints have, but seeing a part of him in front of me was an incredible sight,” said Creado. “This man has had such an incredible impact on my life, it was amazing seeing a part of him in real life.”

Roberta Skoko, the youth ministry coordinator at the parish, was inspired by responses and reactions from visitors to the relic.

“It’s been amazing to witness the number of people here today venerating the relic, especially as I saw our young people being inspired by the experience,” she said.

The relic’s tour continues until Feb. 2. Visit cco.ca/relic for further information.

(Chelmecki, 23, is a second-year Master of Teaching student at the University of Toronto.)

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