The Feast of the Immaculate Conception holds special meaning for all of us here at Novalis. It was on this feast day, Dec. 8, 1935, at a Catholic Action congress in Ottawa that Fr. André Guay proposed to create what would eventually become Canada’s premier religious publisher.
So it was 80 years ago today that Novalis was first conceived. The Oblate missionary priest at the University of Ottawa wanted this new “Catholic Centre” to take on the challenge of educating lay Catholics in the fundamentals of Christian life.
The first fruits of this centre were Prie avec l’Eglise and Pray with the Church. These missalettes, in French and English, were first published in 1936 and quickly became hugely popular throughout Canada. By bypassing Latin and adopting Canada’s two official languages, these publications took a giant step forward in the process of helping Catholics to more fully participate in Sunday Eucharist.
Eventually, the names changed to Prions en Eglise and Living with Christ, as you know them today. They are published in five countries throughout the world, with more expansion planned. Throughout the decades they have remained true to their founder’s original intentions as accessible and affordable liturgical resources for people in the pews.
By the way, we are often asked how Novalis got its name. After the Second Vatican Council, the leaders at the Catholic Centre decided to adopt a name that more fully encompassed their vision. So they chose Novalis, a Latin term loosely meaning a freshly ploughed field, ready for sowing. It was thoroughly biblical, yet clearly modern at the same time.
While the missalettes have been our foundation, Novalis has come to mean much more to the Church in Canada. Over the years we branched into sacramental preparation resources for marriage, confirmation, First Communion and First Reconciliation. We also publish dozens of books every year on prayer, spirituality, church history and the Church in the world. In recent years we have begun to enter the digital world with ebooks and a Living with Christ app. And we are active participants on social media with Facebook, Twitter and our popular blog Seeds of Faith.
Together, all these efforts underline the fact that Novalis remains loyal to its founding vision as an accessible and dependable resource to Catholics and other Christians throughout the country who are seeking to live more fully a life of faith.
-Joseph Sinasac, Publishing Director