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In response to wishes expressed at a Catholic Action congress held in Ottawa in 1935, the Catholic Centre undertook its first major project. The congress had expressed the desire that the faithful be able to attend Mass “missal in hand” in order to better understand what was taking place. Father Guay, borrowing an idea from a pamphlet published in Austria since 1928, adapted it to local needs and hired some unemployed locals and young people from Catholic Action to sell it at church doors on Sunday mornings for one cent.

Thus, on June 7 1936, Prie avec l’Église was launched. By the end of the year, the English edition appeared: Pray with the Church, which became Living with Christ in 1948.

By providing the texts in English or French as opposed to Latin, these liturgical pamphlets aimed to permit each reader to participate more fully in the Sunday Mass. Today, Living with Christ, while remaining an aid to eucharistic participation, also fosters personal and communal prayer and places the Word of God within reach of all the faithful and according to the rhythm of the liturgy.

On January 1 1965, as the Second Vatican Council was drawing to close, Prie avec l’Église became Prions en Église. More than simply a change of name, this new moniker reflects the new theological understanding reached by the Council: the People of God at prayer do not unite themselves with the Church, we are the Church. On October 2 1966 appears the first Complete Edition of Prions en Église which offers the liturgical texts for daily Mass. In English, the first Complete Edition appears in 1977. In 1978, the Sunday edition of Prions hits a peak print run of 650,000 copies. A few years later, in January 1989, Novalis launches a large-print edition of Prions to meet the needs of an aging readership; Living with Christ appears in large-print beginning in December 1994. In addition, Novalis has published the Living with Christ Sunday Missal, a pocketbook-size annual edition, since 1986.

Celebrate! A Novalis publication

Novalis established the magazine Homiletic Service in 1961 just as preparations were under way for Vatican Council II. Its purpose was to provide priests with homiletic materials. In 1988, recognizing that the liturgy was more than the homily, Novalis changed the name to Celebrate! and, at the same time, broadened the audience of the magazine to include the many people who are actively involved in various parish liturgical ministries. In 1991, Bernadette Gasslein took the editorial helm of the magazine, a post she retains to this day. Under her direction, Celebrate! has won over 50 awards for excellence, editorial writing, and outstanding articles from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and the Canadian Church Press. Celebrate! authors include men and women from coast to coast in Canada, and around the English-language world. Bernadette has guided the magazine through two major redesigns, one in 1996, and the most recent in 2008. The last redesign saw Celebrate! become a full-colour, 8.5 x 11 “pastoral magazine with the liturgical heart,” now serving all those engaged in pastoral ministry. Its heart and core always remain the commentaries on the readings and prayers for Sundays and feasts, surrounded by articles addressing all aspects of twenty-first century pastoral life. Celebrate!’s 2011 50th anniversary project is the development of a major new online presence, the Celebrate! Pastoral Resource Centre to complement its four 56-page issues per year.