On December 11, 2018, Radio-Canada broadcasted a several-minute report on Holy Family Academy in Lévis, near Quebec. The establishment has been directed by the priests of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X since 1990.
On peut y voir les prêtres et les religieuses heureux de présenter leur bel apostolat dans un établissement au sein duquel 88 enfants sont scolarisés.
La mine ravie et rayonnante des enfants et des jeunes au milieu de leurs abbés parle davantage que de nombreux discours.
Même si quelques explications du journaliste sont approximatives, il s’en dégage néanmoins une belle image de l’apostolat réalisé dans la Belle Province par la Fraternité Saint-Pie X.
Subtitles from the video:
All of our days begin with a prayer “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Holy Family Academy was only founded in 1990, but the rites followed by the students are taken from a far more ancient heritage.
“Our Lady of Schools, cover us with your maternal protection…”
The school belongs to the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, a small traditionalist, conservative religious community. Founded in this former orphanage not far from the river banks, the school receives no government subsidies but does have a permit granted by the Ministry of Education. Eighty-eight students between the ages of 6 to 18 study here.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us…”
Too conservative in the Church’s eyes, the congregation has been in rupture with Rome since the 1970’s, but the relations have grown more peaceful over the past few years.
“Pope Francis in particular recognizes us as fully Catholic and he has given us these powers to confess and celebrate marriages, in agreement with the local bishop, obviously…”
“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Take your seats. Take out your notebooks.”
Here, all the classes begin and end with prayers, and respect the program of the Ministry of Education.
“One of the mysteries of the Catholic Faith…”
Religious instruction is given daily by priests in cassocks or nuns with veils.
“Can we see angels usually? Ariane?” “No.” “No.”
“Since I am a nun, it is to show others that I belong to God.”
“It is a part of their daily life to see us in cassock, yes, and to see the religious habit every day…”
“We love this school because we have catechism class.”
“I like the songs about Jesus because I think they’re beautiful.”
Once a week, the students attend Mass that is celebrated in Latin. Genuflections, missals, rosaries, confessions, every aspect of the rite is taught to the children.
“There is nothing more legitimate than being able to continue to pray the way our fathers prayed. It vivifies their hearts, it vivifies their studies, and their Faith shines throughout their entire existence; there are no compartments in their existence.”
But even if they live protected lives, far from the political controversies, the community is not indifferent to the ongoing debate on secularism. The principal of the school admits that religion no longer has the place it used to have in Quebec.
“There has been a loss of reference points, some bad examples, but also, a little like crying children, I think that these souls have not been nourished.”
But he thinks that Quebec is taking a wrong turn in trying to strengthen State secularism and forbid public school teachers to wear religious symbols.
“The sacred is not far from us, but if you do not have symbols, you have no access to it.”
“Quebec’s motto is ‘I remember.’ Well, I remember history, too, I remember what founded us, and if we start trying to erase all religious signs, especially Catholic ones, then we erase history.”
Not to erase history is a preoccupation that can be seen everywhere in this school where religion is everywhere, both in the classes and in the sports.
“I am Catholic, and really, I live this in my life every day.”
Even if their private school will not come under the new law on religious symbols, these students are worried.
“The government as such claims to be neutral, but when you take a closer look, they are more anti-Catholic, they wish to make religion disappear.”
“It is a little illogical with today’s society, that teaches liberalism and individual freedom, especially for the Catholic religion that did so much for Quebec.
“By the German Communist party…”
This teacher, Jean-Claude Dupuis, describes himself as a nationalist Catholic, a follower of Lionel Groulx. He has been teaching history at Holy Family Academy for 23 years.
“They’ll be nicknamed by the Communists…”
He believes that Catholics are going to be the first to pay for the debate on secularism.
“I think that if the Legault Law is adopted, the first person to be punished will not be a teacher who wears a hijab, it will be a teacher who wears a cross around her neck.”
Especially since the issue of wearing religious symbols has resurrected the debate on the crucifix in the Salon Bleu.
“What do you think of the crucifix at the National Assembly?”
“It is amazing that there is one.”
Even if the Catholic religion no longer has the status it once had, they hope it will at least preserve an exceptional status in the Quebecois society.
“When Jacques Cartier arrived, he planted a cross. Because that was what he was founded on; that was his identity. If we take away the cross, what do we replace it with? If we just leave the blue wall, a big empty space, what will Quebec be founded on?”
“I’m afraid we will end up losing these human values.”
“God is all-powerful; He rules over everything. We have to trust that one day everything will be put back in order.”
Rooted in Tradition
Romain Pons, vice-principal, Holy Family Academy
Olivier Berteaux, principal, Holy Family Academy
Jean-Claude Dupuis, history teacher, Holy Family Academy
Journalist, Hugo Lavallée
Producer, Françoise Letarte
Sound, Georges Sheehy
Cameraman monitor, Sylvain Roy-Roussel