On February 2, 1947, by his Apostolic Constitution 'Provida Mater Ecclesia,' Pope Pius XII recognized Secular Institutes as a new form of official consecration in the Church. Since that venerable day, numerous institutes of men and women have been officially sanctioned by the Church.
Please click here to see a timeline of the history of the Voluntas Dei secular institute from the Central Administration.
What does the Church ask of these new institutes? Their calling is to bring to our all-too-often materialistic world an evangelical flavor. The challenge which members of Secular Institutes wish to take up is that of being 'as leaven in the dough' by living their total consecration to God in the world. Responding to new needs, the Church's decision is to produce witnesses of Jesus Christ who can proclaim the Good News of salvation in Christ in the midst of life's daily traffic. If the Carmelite witnesses to Jesus Christ by her life of prayer, by a life totally consecrated to the affairs of the heavenly Father, members of Secular Institutes strive to witness to the Kingdom in a Christian hope lived out in a world flooded with false gods and joys but always thirsting for the true God. Our Christian commitment is rooted in an unconditional and dynamic faith in the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth. This faith commitment, daily nourished by the certainty that the Word of God produces what it says, engenders in these committed Christians the happy obligation to live full time the charity of Christ, the most excellent means for helping our brothers encounter the God of all happiness and total life.
It was in response to this hope of the Church as well as to this call of Pope Pius XII that the Voluntas Dei Institute was founded on July 2, 1958.
A man of unshakable faith in Divine Providence, an untiring apostle of the Gospel, a man of prayer, a priest of prophetic gestures, a sought-after preacher, our Founder Father Louis-Marie Parent, OMI was recognized in life and in death as a man of extraordinary holiness and gifts that he used tirelessly in service to the Church. We look forward to the day when his life of heroic virtue is recognized by the universal church.
When he gathered his first recruits together at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec on July 2, 1958, Father Parent's desire was to give to the Church Christians who would be ready to share in his own apostolic ambitions and Christian ideal in real service to the Church. He also wanted to offer others a form of Christian commitment capable of irresistibly drawing everyone closer to God in order to celebrate and live together the joyous hope of our salvation in Jesus Christ.
After five years' experience as a 'Pious Union,' the Voluntas Dei Institute received its first approval from the Sacred Congregation for Religious on May 31, 1963 as an 'Association of Perfection.' On Pentecost Sunday, June 6, 1965, this Association of Perfection was canonically erected as a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite. It is to the late Bishop J. Romeo Gagnon of Edmundston, New Brunswick that we owe this official recognition by the Church. It was Bishop Henri Routhier, OMI, then Vicar Apostolic of Grouard, Alberta, who blessed and encouraged the Institute's first steps. To these two great apostles of Jesus Christ we are forever grateful.
Members of the USA District visit with Fr. Parent near the end of his life.
Please click here to see a video of images from the life of Fr. Parent.
Please click this link to see more pictures and a video of our founder from the Canadian District website.