The excitement is palpable within the Catholic Church and among the members of the First Nations, who are busy with the final preparations to welcome and meet Pope Francis, whose arrival in Quebec this summer was confirmed Thursday.

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“We are all very excited, we have been waiting for this confirmation for a long time. But there are now billions of details to predict! laughs Father Scott Katzenberger, rector of the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré shrine.

Canada’s Catholic bishops unveiled the itinerary and schedule for the papal visit to the country on Thursday.

He will notably be in Quebec on July 27, before celebrating mass at the basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré the next day.

The building can accommodate up to 2,000 people, but up to 15,000 more will be able to attend Mass from the outdoor gardens and parking lot, Fr. Katzenberger estimates.

Pope Francis will eventually leave the province to meet with Indigenous leaders in Iqaluit, Nunavut on July 29 before returning to Rome.

Work to be completed

Until then, preparations are being made at short notice at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, to ensure that everything is perfect for the arrival of the Holy Father.

Work that was supposed to take three years will finally be completed in one year.

“The gardens have been revamped, the parking lot and the street will be repaired, the paint has been redone and the stones of the structure have been examined”, lists Father Gilbert Lévesque, priest of the place since 2002.

And that’s not to mention the particularly complex logistics behind the security deployed for the event.

The Quebec City Police Service must also make an announcement on this subject in the coming weeks.

“It’s really a race against time, we’re going to have things to prepare until the last minute,” continues Father Lévesque, who says he feels a certain excitement in the air.

A much-needed discussion space

A significant mobilization has also been organized for several weeks on the side of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, in view of the event. Especially among the Nations that house survivors of residential schools.

“We are trying to get everyone to converge on the same space for discussion, but it is very complex because you have to be able to fit into the very tight itinerary of the Pope”, explains the leader of the Assembly, Ghislain Picard.

“But we believe it is a legitimate request […] [considérant] the importance that this visit represents for the survivors”, he continues, stressing that he has very little time left to complete his project.

The aspect of financial support – to help with the travel of those who wish to participate in the event – ​​and psychological support is also subject to reflection, it is said.

A busy schedule

JULY 27

  • Arrival of Pope Francis in Quebec from Edmonton
  • Visit of the Citadel and public address
  • Indigenous cultural events on the Plains of Abraham

JULY 28

  • Movement of the Holy Father to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in the popemobile
  • Celebration of Mass at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré by the Pontiff
  • Meeting of bishops, priests, seminarians and other lay collaborators
  • Dinner between Indigenous leaders and representatives of the Catholic Church

JULY 29

  • Meeting of the pope with the Society of Jesus, then with the native leaders of eastern Canada.
  • Depart for Iqaluit, Nunavut, to speak with residential school survivors.
  • Depart for Rome in the evening

Source: Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

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