Friday February 3

 Who We Are

Novalis, Canada’s largest religious publishing house publishes in English and French for parishes, schools, and individuals of all ages. Well known for its missalette Living with Christ, Novalis is also the publisher of other periodicals in both languages, as well as around 50 books every year.

The Catholic Centre of the University of Ottawa, later known as Novalis, was founded by André Guay, OMI, in 1935. Father Guay was part of a group of Oblate priests, all professors at the university, who worked to assist the victims of the Great Depression during the severe economic crisis. These priests were intimately involved in the Catholic Action movement.

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.


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