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Companions of the Cross

Companions of the Cross

The Companions of the Cross (C.C.) is a Society of Apostolic Life based in Ottawa, Ontario. It is a community of Roman Catholic priests, which is Eucharistic, Charismatic, Marian and Magisterial. It was founded by Father Robert Bedard and was approved in 2003 by the Vatican as a Society of Apostolic Life.


Fr. Robert Bedard (1929-2011) was born July 17, 1929 in Ottawa, Ontario. He attended Corpus Christi School, St. Patrick’s College High School, and St. Patrick’s College. In 1951 he entered St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto and was ordained a priest on June 6, 1955. As a curate at Assumption Parish in Eastview (now Vanier), he was involved in youth ministry and formed a small group of young men aged 12 to 16 to encourage vocations to the priesthood.[1]

While teaching at St. Pius X preparatory seminary, he attended Teachers College, Ontario College of Education in Toronto. In 1975 he was appointed official Ottawa Archdiocesan Liaison to the Charismatic Renewal, and from 1977 to 1981 he lived in a community household of men as chaplain of the New Jerusalem Community. He founded the Companions of the Cross in 1985 out of what had initially been a prayer group and support group for seminarians and priests that began informally in 1984. According to Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, a Jesuit who invited the Companions to Halifax when he was archbishop there, Father Bedard's "...main thing was to support seminarians in their formation and support priests in their priesthood by community life.”[2] Bedard stressed a model of companionship that sees priests serving several parishes living in community in one place.

Companions of the Cross

The new community of seminarians and priests adopted the name Companions of the Cross, after Fr. Bedard used the phrase in a homily for the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. In February 1988 Archbishop Plourde granted the Companions of the Cross recognition as a Public Association of the Faithful. In 1999 the first Companions of the Cross ministries outside of the Archdiocese of Ottawa were established at St. Timothy’s Parish and York University Catholic Chaplaincy in Toronto, Ontario and Queen of Peace Parish in Houston, Texas.[1] In 1999, the Companions of the Cross assumed leadership of the Catholic Charismatic Center in Houston.[3] The Companions were formally established as a Society of Apostolic Life in 2003.[2]

Adapting new communication technologies for the purpose of spreading the Gospel, the Companions of the Cross produce a media website called The New Evangelist, hosting videos, articles, Church documents, and formation courses.[4]

In 2011, the Companions took over pastoral responsibility for St. Scholastica Parish in northwest Detroit, Michigan. They also assumed the Catholic chaplaincy at Wayne State University. The community’s seminarians study at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and priests and seminarians reside at the St. Sylvester Monastery, a former Benedictine monastery on the grounds of St. Scholastica. The U.S. headquarters of the Companions was re-located from Houston, Texas to Detroit.[5]

On January 7, 2014, Father Christian Riesbeck, CC, was appointed auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa by Pope Francis. He is the first Companion priest to be ordained to the episcopacy. Bishop Riesbeck was ordained to the priesthood on October 12, 1996[6] and consecrated bishop on March 19, 2014 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa. The Companion’s General Superior Fr. Scott McCaig said, "[I]t becomes his full time job,” and “Rome releases bishops from any obligations to the constitution and rules of a community.”[2]


  1. Prayer - Which is both time spent in private personal prayer (minimum of one hour daily) and in groups together, the members pray together (praise and listening to God). The Companions are a Charismatic community. Prayer tends to include spontaneous prayer and part of the Liturgy of the Hours.
  2. Living in Community - Members live together in community to support one another.
  3. Work - The community of the Companions is one dedicated to active service in their cities, especially in the inner core. They do the work assigned by their diocese which always involves evangelization. The community feels a special calling to the poor, and to youth.


Priests of the Companions of the Cross can be found serving as pastors, teachers, chaplains, and conducting parish missions. They also conduct a special travelling ministry of relic expositions.[5] They promote exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in each of their parishes, and perpetual adoration if possible. Companions serve in Ottawa, Halifax, Toronto, Houston and Detroit with 10 parishes, three university chaplaincies, 37 priests, one deacon and 14 seminarians.[2]


A definition of the beliefs, practices and goals of the Companions is:

  • To give God permission to use the members however He wants.
  • To seek God's will and follow it.
  • To surrender fully to Jesus as Lord and Saviour
  • To regard Eucharist as the source and summit of their Catholic faith, and promoting its Exposition and Adoration

"We are a Roman Catholic community of priests, committed to living and ministering together as brothers in the Lord. We are called to the ongoing renewal of the Church through a dynamic evangelization in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit. We proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to all we are called to serve, with special attention to parish communities, the poor, youth, and those alienated from the Church."

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