Detroit — Windsor natives Raymond Colautti and his wife, Charlotte, were attending Mass at St. Scholastica Parish on Detroit’s west side years ago, when a divine prediction of sorts was made.
Raymond’s uncle, Fr. John Colautti, was part of the Benedictine community at the parish, and gave the couple the chalice given to him in the 1950s when he was ordained. The chalice came with a small note: “Please take good care of this chalice. May this cup be a grail for people who hear the call to ministry.”
Raymond and Charlotte’s son, Alex, was with them that day.
All those years later, that same chalice would be used at the same parish, when Alex Colautti, CC, was ordained a transitional deacon at St. Scholastica, now in the care of the Companions of the Cross.
“We always wondered if this was providence from the Holy Spirit,” Raymond Colautti told The Michigan Catholic before his son’s ordination Sept. 15. “He was 6 or 7 years old when we were given the chalice. Looking back at things, it’s just crazy how it all happened.”
The origins of this happy coincidence can be traced back to 2011, when Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron invited the Ottawa, Ontario-based Companions of the Cross to care for St. Scholastica Parish on Rosemont Avenue and McNichols Road and the chaplaincy at Wayne State University in Detroit.
“Archbishop Vigneron offered a position for two of our priests to teach at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and we were looking for a place to live in community,” said Fr. Allan MacDonald, CC, general superior of the Companions of the Cross.
The Companions of the Cross now have six priests and 18 seminarians living and ministering in Detroit.
“When Archbishop Vigneron approached us about coming to Detroit, we had a community-wide discernment among all the brothers, and we felt it was God’s will to accept our invitation,” Fr. MacDonald said. “The first maxim of our order is community. We feel the quality of life determines the effectiveness of our ministry. I served as vocation director for the past six years, and men are encouraged, attracted by the quality of life together.”
Newly ordained Deacon Alex Colautti joined the Companions of the Cross in 2010 when he was halfway through his studies at the University of Windsor.
“When I was discerning the priesthood, my vocation, I was looking for something, but I didn’t feel I was drawn to the diocesan priesthood or other religious communities,” Deacon Colautti said. “Then I visited the Companions of the Cross, and I was drawn magnetically to this radical brotherhood. I knew subconsciously that I needed a group of brothers who would challenge me, support me, and enjoy living with me.”
Living in community with one another is a reflection of a person living in communion with God, Fr. MacDonald explained. By living closely with fellow brothers, the community lives closely with God.
“Many men want to have that life that comes together with living with men praying and supporting one another,” Fr. MacDonald said. “When you live in community, you realize you don’t have to do this alone. When you have a brother that has your back, it helps to preserve yourself when you need that encouragement.”
The Companions of the Cross place special emphasis on person-to-person engagement, walking the streets of the community, engaging with locals. The community also has a presence in Houston; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Toronto and Ottawa.
“It’s the Companions’ mission to proclaim the Gospel in a way people want to respond,” Fr. MacDonald said. “The first step is proclamation, the second is to respond, and the third is movement and work of the Holy Spirit.”
The order has sent its seminarians to Sacred Heart Major Seminary since 2011. Deacon Colautti said he and his brothers have been blown away by Archbishop Vigneron’s Unleash the Gospel, which he said only further inspires his brother Companions to minister in Detroit.
“The people here are so beautiful, warm and welcoming in a city that’s really hurting, that’s wounded,” Deacon Colautti said. “That’s the type of situation Jesus steps into; the type of situation where He pours out His grace and life.
“It’s really exciting about Archbishop Vigneron’s Unleash the Gospel and the new evangelization,” Deacon Colautti said. “My fellow Companions of the Cross say, ‘This is us, this is what we’re about.’ We’re really excited about the future, and the renewal that’s going on here.”
When Auxiliary Bishop Arturo Cepeda placed his hands on Deacon Colautti, inviting him to make his commitment of celibacy and promise of obedience, Deacon Colautti answered in the affirmative, ready to use his life as an example of living in companionship with Jesus.
“I feel as he progresses in his path to priestly ordination, he’s made all of us richer,” Charlotte Colautti said. “I’m filled with great joy and awe at our Lord’s graciousness and love and the mystery of all of this. We’re proud of all our children, and we’re so grateful and filled with awe in the Lord that He’d called one of our sons to proclaim the Gospel to His people. We know this is what he’s meant to do.”