Bishop Fellay is such a saintly bishop and priest. Despite the pain of a broken foot, he keeps up his good cheer and is a saintly example of joyful suffering to all of the Faithful. Read this story of a true shepherd of souls:
On 4 November, 2016 – the day of the opening ceremony of the new seminary of the Society of St. Pius X in Dillwyn, Virginia – three little children were blessed to be confirmed by His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay. Everything surrounding this little ceremony – with some twenty priests, seminarians and different family members gathered around – turned an otherwise small event into something very big and holy. Each individual who was present there will no doubt count it as one of the great blessings of his life.
As with so many such blessings, it started with a cross. The confirmations were to start in the evening, at 6:30 pm, after the long opening ceremony for the seminary. The small group of families, sponsors, and seminarians was gathered around in the provisional chapel of the seminary (which shall one day be replaced by a larger, more beautiful church adjacent to the seminary) when suddenly a seminarian walked up the aisle, stood in front of the faithful, and told them that Bishop Fellay just had had an accident, and that he had injured his foot. Some medical experts were just then examining him, the seminarian said. We were to wait another thirty minutes in order to be further instructed. As it turned out, we waited an hour or so, not knowing whether the ceremony would take place at all.
It was around eight o’clock in the evening that the seminarian came one last time (after several updates) into the chapel. Since the bishop could not walk, we were invited upstairs to the private chambers of His Excellency so that he could help the Little Ones become Christian Soldiers. When all had gathered in a modest little room, Bishop Fellay came in to greet us. Nobody who was in that room is likely to forget what happened next: Bishop Fellay came in, with his as yet untreated foot – which turned out to have been seriously broken – on crutches, and with a big smile on his face! After first apologizing for the “inconvenience” (!) his injury had caused, Fellay then suddenly said, with an even bigger smile: “This is a very good sign! It is a very good sign, because it shows that the devil is very angry that these little children receive the Sacrament of Confirmation!”
The faithful present were astonished. How was it that this holy man smiled through the pain of a broken foot and yet rejoiced over obstacles put into his way? (One lady present said later that she had once had a broken foot; she confessed that she was not able to sleep all night because of how much it hurt.) And how was it that he ignored his suffering and did not allow such obstacles to hinder him from performing what might have otherwise be seen as only a small ceremony for just three children?
It was not much later that we were given a little more insight into Bishop Fellay’s deeply rooted conviction and principles. As soon as he was able to perform the ceremony – he had to be seated carefully – his eyes lit up even more. He completely focused his attention on the little children, looking only into their eyes – and quite intensely so – in order to explain to them the greatness of the Sacrament of Confirmation. His eyes were radiant and glowing when he explained to the children with words they could understand what they were about to receive. The warmth of his gaze toward the little ones was touching, as were his smile and tone of voice. It was quite a witness to us adults, seeing how a man of his stature paid no heed whatsoever to the adults around him, and how he gave his best to prepare the hearts of the little ones for the sacrament, and in a language that they might understand. Bishop Fellay had no prepared remarks, yet he cheerfully and with great concentration spoke for about twenty minutes or so, in what was for him a foreign language, and all without any sign of rushing or impatience. He was fully present for the children, acting as a supreme pastor for their souls.
Thankfully, I was able to record most of what His Excellency said. I received permission to make use of the transcript I have produced of those remarks in order to spread to as many Catholics as possible the radiant depiction of this channel of grace and a glimpse of the abundant graces we received that night in a bare room, in the twilight. The words speak for themselves and will bring us all back to the foundations of our beloved Faith. Here now the transcript which I have produced to the best of my ability:
~Damsel of the Faith