Ed. We spoke with Fr. Arsenault in November about the activities of the Moncton Havurah. Here is Father’s report. This article was taken from The Hebrew Catholic, #79. All rights reserved.
Every nation cherishes one of their own: England –Shakespeare, Germany – J. S. Bach, France – Joan of Arc etc. Which nation other than Israel can claim to have the most perfect human creature the world has ever known, the Virgin Mary, but more so, to have the glory and the honor to say that God himself became one of them, a Jew.
How can I not love Israel when the Lord God loves them, cherishes them and chose them from among all other nations as His first-born son. How can I not bless them when God said to Abraham:
“ Go … to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you …” Gen. 12:1-3
With that in mind and upon reading and praying the Old Testament, I had the inspiration to start a prayer and study group on Israel. To my great surprise, in [The Hebrew Catholic, #75], Summer–Fall issue 2001, there was a detailed programme, how to commence a Havurah. The Lord is good!
We held our first monthly meeting on July 9, 2002, with 11 persons present at the beginning. Our members are all French speaking Gentile Catholics. One extra person has been added to our group since its inception. All meetings are very well attended.
As suggested in the A.H.C. newsletter, our format is as follows:
First part of the meeting is dedicated to prayer:
• prayer to the Holy Spirit
• prayer by Rabbi Paul Drach, convert
• blessing for Israel
• one decade of the Rosary with a meditation referring to the mystery of Israel
The second part of the meeting is dedicated to the study of our Jewish roots. Up to this point, the teachings were delivered on the following topics
• Abraham – father of our faith
• Divine election of Israel
• Mystery of Israel
• Israel, first born son of God
• This Jew by Rev. Arthur Klyber, past 8 meetings.
• Various articles taken from The Hebrew Catholic.
We conclude with a second decade, followed by the prayer of Fr. Klyber and a final blessing by the priest (myself). Each member is given photocopied handouts of each teaching, as well as any additional material available. There is a very good rapport and discussion among our group.
In March, 2003, a one day seminar: JEWS, JESUS and YOU, was held with 30 people participating.
• prayers • teachings • video on the “Lost Tribes of Israel” (Discussion groups with questions related to the video followed by general exchange on the topic.)
• Display set-up of some 160 items, photos, maps and related material.( Discussion groups with questions on the display set-up, also followed by a general discussion exchange.)
• Closing Mass
The general feeling among the participants was very positive about the whole project.
One group suggested that the experience be repeated next year. The Havurah group even proposed that we come back on the same display set-up to deepen its study of the rich material.
A few members of our group and myself visited our local Synagogue and participated in the Chanukah.
I trust that this information will be of use to you and that you will be able to let other groups know of our existence by means of your publication.
Fr. Donald Arsenault
Here are a few of the comments from our members regarding their experience since starting the meetings;
Now that we are studying the many links between the Judaic faith and our own Catholic faith, I can accept even more the fact, that salvation comes from the Jews as Jesus said, and that we Catholics are truly Jewish, at least spiritually. Denis Laplante
Through the teachings on Havurah, I have learned to better understand my faith in God and this understanding has brought me closer to Him and to His chosen people Israel. Diane Vautour
Thanks to Havurah, I have understood that the mystery of Israel is not out-dated It is always on the way to accomplishment. It is important not to dilute it in any way, but to pray it and to live it according to the Heart of God and the Holy Spirit who cries out “ MARANATHA”. Gilles Nadeau
This study confirms my faith in the God of Israel manifested in His Son Jesus as Messiah for both the Jews and the Gentiles as our only hope Yvette Maillet
I have been struck by the depth of our relationship and closeness as brothers and sisters of the same God, that we share with our Jewish brothers and sisters, our ancestors. Paul LeBlanc
The Havurah helps me to deepen the link between the Jews and Catholics: it also increases my knowledge of Israel, people of the First Covenant and the Church; people of the New Covenant. Linda Letourneau
For me, the Havurah brings the Gospel alive. The Jews and Catholics are rooted in Jesus Christ and that gives me a greater joy in the Salvation promised to His Chosen people, Israel, and through them to us Gentiles. Roland LeBlanc
I have just read on the web, Roy Schoeman’s interview by ZENIT news service about his new book, Salvation is From the Jews. (Jn: 4,22) I am learning much in our Havurah. We appreciate our Spiritual guide, Fr. Donald very much. His great love for our “elder brothers”, an expression dear to our beloved John Paul II is contagious. I always look forward to our monthly Havurah. Sr. Cecile LeBlanc
Havurah is about the only avenue available for exploring our Jewish-Hebrew heritage as adopted children of God and inheritors of the promise to Israel. It can be seen as the start of a very large scale family reunion. Stuart Halpine
Ed. We are grateful to Father Arsenault for establishing and leading the Havurah of Moncton, N.B. We are also grateful for Father’s prayers and for the Masses he offers for our work.
Those who wish to contact Father can write to:
Father Donald Arsenault
273 rue LaFayette #4
Dieppe, NB E1A 4T5