Montreal, 27 November 2021 - Many friends in Montreal neighbourhoods gathered to commemorate the centennial birthday of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, one of the central figures of the Bahá'í World Community.

The Friends of Saint-Laurent in partnership with the neighbourhood's Centre d'action bénévole et communautaire organized a teleconference meeting during which a donation of 11 digital tablets to support"L'ABC DES AÎNÉS" was offered to the Centre ABC. This tool is to enable our seniors to keep in touch with their family, to have access to online leisure activities (games, movies, music, etc.)

About 40 people including the Mayor of Saint-Laurent Alan de Sousa, members of the City Council, the Member of Parliament (federal) for Saint-Laurent, Mrs. Emmanuela Lambropoulos, the MNA, the Executive Director of the Centre d'action bénévole et communautaire as well as several other community organizations were present.

In his speech, Alan DeSousa, Montreal City Councillor and Mayor of Saint-Laurent, noted that "the powerful message of 'Abdu'l-Bahá on the equality of the human race and universal peace has taken root throughout the world.”

"The Bahá'í Faith teaches us that we must be actively concerned with the needs of humanity," continued Mr. DeSousa. "I have seen this teaching move from words to reality, thanks to the dedication and service of the local Bahá'í Community, which has been active here since 1956." In such a diverse city, he noted, "we need to achieve a community of thought, spiritual ideals and vision that brings people together."

A varied program of music, video and a presentation on the life and charitable works of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was presented. During the testimonial period, one of the participants, Michel Atallah, whose family lived in 'Akká and Haifa area during the period of the Ottoman Empire, related the memories of their friendship with 'Abdu'l-Bahá and his family. This relationship lasted at least three generations in his family.

Another event in connection with the commemoration of the centennial of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's passing was a reception hosted by the National Spiritual Assembly. This intimate gathering, held at the Visitor Centre of the Montreal Bahá'í Shrine, was attended by an impressive number of dignitaries such as Most Rev. Christian Lépine , Archbishop of Montréal, professors from universities, religious organizations, the Human Rights Centre, City Councillor, and a professor from the Urbaniana University in Rome.

Originally from Persia, 'Abdu'l-Bahá spent most of His life as a prisoner and exile because of His Faith. In 1912, shortly after His release from the notorious Ottoman prison of ‘Akká, He came to Montreal at the age of 68 on a tour of North America, Europe and Egypt.

A well-known ambassador for peace in Europe and North America, 'Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in Montreal to draw the attention of the people of Canada to the vital and essential importance of cooperation among the world's inhabitants in order to stop a devastating war that soon afterwards ravaged humanity!

As a result of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's visit, the residence of architect William Sutherland Maxwell, located on Pine Avenue West in Montreal and itself designed by its owner, was designated the only Bahá'í Shrine in the West.

During His visit, He addressed thousands of people in various churches, lecture halls, and had personal meetings, including with Robert Stanley Weir, author of our national anthem "O Canada", Archbishop Paul Bruchési of Montreal, and the Rector of McGill University, Sir William Peterson.

"The apostle of peace", "the oriental sage", "the oriental seer" were some of the names given to Him by Montreal's English and French press in some 34 newspaper articles published during His nine-day visit.

"He spoke to various audiences about the oneness of religion, the eradication of prejudice, the equality of women and men, science and religion, the search for truth and economic justice. He warned, prophetically, of the imminence of war in Europe.

In 1912, the New York Times quoted 'Abdu'l-Bahá as saying, "The time has come for mankind to raise the banner of the oneness of the human world, so that dogmatic precepts and superstitions may end."

These are some of the principles that the community in and around Montreal is striving to implement in their lives and communities through Bahá’í-inspired educational programs. They will commemorate the centenary of His death online and in small face-to-face gatherings.

The legacy and impact of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's visit to Montreal lives on and this year reminds us that His words and teachings are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.


References : « ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Canada », publication of Bahá’í Canada

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