The National Spiritual Assembly hosted an intimate gathering of dignitaries at the Visitor’s Centre of the Bahá’í Shrine in Montréal to mark the centenary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The former home of the Maxwell family in Montréal, located at 1548 Pine Avenue West on the slopes of Mount Royal, it has become a Bahá’í Shrine owing to its association with the 10-day visit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Montréal in 1912.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to Montréal at the invitation of the Maxwells and stayed in their home for several days. The Shrine has been carefully restored, internally and externally, to reflect the architectural condition of the building when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited in 1912 and it is now a place of quiet prayer and meditation open to all.
The gathering at the Shrine was one of hundreds of gatherings that are taking place across Canada to commemorate ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life and legacy.
Karen McKye, Secretary General of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, spoke with the gathered guests about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “known to Bahá’ís as both the Perfect Exemplar and the Mystery of God, a living embodiment of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings.”
She reflected on the message he shared with thousands of Montréal citizens during a series of public talks in 1912. “His public talks conveyed the essential message of the Bahá’í Faith and related it to pressing needs of humanity, emphasizing the cause of peace, the equality of women and men, racial justice, social reform, and the role of religion in society.”
“He challenged his audiences to accept the ideal of oneness of humanity and work to make it a reality,” she said. “Long before such conversation was common, He made mention of the wealth of Canada’s diversity, its northern peoples, its Indigenous populations and of French Canada.”
Alan DeSousa, Montréal city councillor and Mayor of Saint-Laurent, also addressed the gathering. He observed that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s “powerful message of 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, “ Mr. DeSousa continued. “I have seen this teaching carried forward from words into reality, though the dedication and service of the local Bahá’í community, which has been active here since 1956.”
Finally, he reflected on the needs of society and the important efforts undertaken to promote the common good. In a city that is so diverse, he noted, “we need to achieve commonality of thought, of spiritual ideals and vision that brings people together.”
The Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is a Baha’i Holy Day commemorated this year 1:00 am on November 27.
To learn more about this centenary year, visit: https://www.bahai.ca/ascension-centenary/