From your Pastor & Parish

Father Monte Peters

Creating a Family Nativity Scene for Christmas
Advent Week One

posted November 27, 2021

St. Francis of Assisi made the first Christmas nativity scene for Christmas Eve in 1223. It was a place where he could slow down and think about the presence of God in his life. Since then, communities from around the world have taken part in this important tradition, often incorporating local customs that remind us that Christ was born for the entire human family. Reflecting on the nativity scene can be a meaningful way for families to gather in prayer, mindful of the great joy in Christ that Advent points us toward.


Week One: First Sunday of Advent


Task: Placing straw in place to form the floor of a stable and adding a stable if one is available.


Sharing Exercise: Family members gather around their manger scene and share memories about the homes they grew up in – remembering the physical structures; events and happenings that occurred there; what the rooms were like, e.g. kitchen, bathroom, living room, rec. room, dining room, etc.


Music: Away in a Manger


A Family Nativity Scene for Christmas

posted November 20, 2021

During Advent we are planning a series aimed at building a Nativity Scene in each of our domestic churches. More information to come.

Roots of the Nativity Tradition

The following reflection is being provided as we prepare to enter the Season of Advent next weekend.

For centuries, nativity scenes have been a popular Christmas decoration. St. Francis of Assisi created the first nativity scene on Christmas Eve of the year 1223, due to his devotion to the Child Jesus.


St. Francis was first inspired by this idea after visiting the historical place of Christ’s birth on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land — the humble stable in a Bethlehem cave. St. Francis recreated the birth of Christ in a Mass he held inside of a cave in Greccio, Italy, inviting both friars and the townspeople for this celebration.


He wanted to do something that would recall the memory of the child born in Bethlehem and display the inconveniences he had as he lay in the manger, surrounded by animals. He set up an empty feeding trough of farm animals to serve as Jesus’ crib inside a cave, with a live ox and donkey as it was believed to have happened on that first Christmas night. Through these visual aids, he wanted everyone to impress more deeply into their understanding how Christ came into the world in such poverty and simplicity. This was a typical perspective of St. Francis’ unique charism of simple, poverty-centered spirituality.


St. Francis’ recreation of that first Christmas night became so popular that eventually every church in Italy had its own nativity scene. This devotion was also observed in private homes, and in modern times even in non-religious institutions. Hopefully, this story of the first nativity scene will inspire you to build your own nativity scene in your Domestic Church along with the nativity scene being built in our Parish Church


It is a historic Catholic tradition and a tool for meditation on the humility, simplicity, and poverty of Christ that he took on, from the moment of his Incarnation, out of his boundless love for his lost sheep. (excerpt from an essay by Fr. Luis Aponte-Merced, OFM, December 12, 2018)


The Gift of Presence
by Becky Keife

posted November 13, 2021

Now when Job’s three friends—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite—heard about all this adversity that had happened to him, each of them came from his home. They met together to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. Job 2:11

My dad’s high school yearbook told the story of a popular teen with the world at his fingertips—track star, editor of the school paper, class council president. So full of promise and potential. But that’s not the story I knew. Nor the one reflected at his memorial the day we gathered to mourn my father.

Had someone asked my dad’s friends back then what his funeral would be like someday, I’m sure they would have described an auditorium packed with old classmates and friends eager to pay their respects. The line to greet the family would be long, but everyone would wait because that’s what you do to honor an extraordinary man.

When we gathered on that somber morning to pay tribute to my father, I think I could count on one hand the people who were there just for him. His life didn’t turn out the way everyone expected. Yes, he had worked his way into a high-paying management position. He got married and had three beautiful daughters. But the majority of his adulthood was marked by pain and broken dreams.

He distanced himself from everyone, except for my sisters and me, because we worked hard to continue a relationship with him. But the sanctuary was not empty that cold February morning. Rows and Rows were filled with friends and loved ones—of mine.

Of my sisters. They came to give a gift—the gift of their presence. When I stood behind the wooden podium next to the big floral wreath to share about my dad, I looked out and saw not only my husband and sisters, I saw my community. There was nothing left for them to say or do. Just be there. And that is one of the greatest gifts we can give someone on the journey of grief. We can give the gift of our presence.


A Moment to Breathe…


If you have a friend going through loss or grief of some kind and you’re not sure what to say or what to do, it’s okay. Just be there. Give her or him the gift of your presence


One Thousand Men are Walking

posted November 6, 2021

One thousand men are walking
walking side by side
singing songs from home
the spirit as their guide
they walk toward the light milord
they walk towards the sun

they smoke and laugh and smile together
no foes to outrun
these men live on forever
in the hearts of those they saved
a nation truly grateful
for the path of peace they paved
they march as friends and comrades
but they do not march for war
step closer to salvation
a tranquil steady corps
the meadows lit with golden beams
a beacon for the brave
the emerald grass untrampled
a reward for what they gave

they dream of those they left behind
and know they dream of them

forever in those poppy fields

there walks one thousand men.


Joshua Dyer 2019 (aged 14)

Remembering Our Loved Ones

posted October 30, 2021

‘By his wounds you have been healed.’
1 Peter 2.24

November brings many opportunities to pause, reflect and pray. On November 1 & 2 we celebrate All Saints and All Souls Day – which traditionally invites us to reflect on our place in the larger reality of life and death, and to give hope in the eternal life with God.

Throughout this month, we remember and pray for our loved ones who have died. Whether your loss is more recent, and you are struggling with feelings of grief, loss, and hopelessness, or if you are commemorating special anniversaries of loved ones who died a while ago, we are offering the following prayer for a time when you are struggling to find the right words.

Dear God,
We thank you for the wonderful memories
we have of our departed loved ones.
We are grateful when these memories
bring us happiness and comfort.
Help us to continue to keep
the memories of our loved ones alive
by living out the gifts and virtues
we treasured so much in their lives.
May our remembrance of them
in this way help their spirit to live on in us.
Amen.

Synod 2021-2023

posted October 23, 2021

What is a synod (Pronounced as Sin-od)? Simply put, a synod is an assembly of the clergy and sometimes also the laity in a diocese or other division of a particular Church. Pope Francis has called for a ‘synod’ that includes the WHOLE CHURCH. The following is homily given by Nelson Perez, the Archbishop of Philadelphia. For me, it makes the most sense and simplifies what is being asked of us during grace time. He writes:


“Our Pope has called for a worldwide ‘synod’ is Journeying together. The four gospels are filled with stories that happened on the journey... for 3-year Jesus journeyed from Galilee to Jerusalem. The purpose: to form, to teach, to listen, to engage and to collaborate. In a way that was a synod... what the world needed, and they wanted to be part of it. As they journeyed, the followers really didn’t get it. As Jesus was speaking about one thing... they were speaking about another thing. But Jesus was patient, and he knew that it was a journey... he was patient with these characters. If we met them in person, we wouldn’t have chosen them. But they were chosen to be part of the journey and encounter.


The call of synod is to focus on our journey and our encounter with Jesus. And yet we are used to programs and steps to follow... like a syllabus at school. Other synods have focused on other aspects of the church... the family, Evangelization and so on. This one is ambiguous. For Francis, the process is very important more so than the end results... like Jesus... end results not great but the process or journey was key.


Because lots of things happened on the journey. Like the church, great things happen but also profound scandal and sin.


And yet, that is human condition... broken sinful people. The only perfect person was Jesus.

Francis says about synod: What he wants from the universal church and our diocese. “Celebrating a synod is walking on the same road and walking together". Let us look at Jesus, first he encounters then he listens, and finally he helps to discern.”Synod is a process of dialogue: to encounter, listen and discern"..


1. Encounter: that is how Gospel begins: God encounters us, Jesus is present to us... God is open to all of us because the Lord has a greater heart than us. Jesus shares in us, embodies us. So, the process of the universal church we are called to be experts in the time of encounter through prayer, adoration, listening to what the spirit is saying to us and to others.


2. Listen: to guide the synod. True encounter only happens with real listening. Jesus simply listened. He was never rushed. And he was not afraid to listen with his heart and not just with his ears.


3. Discern: we are great at encounter listening and then we don’t do anything with it (like our pastoral plan of 2012 DJM). When we enter into dialogue, we allow ourselves to be challenged on the journey. Only doing good transformed the world... following rules keeps order but doesn’t change hearts. We carry too much stuff in our hearts. Through dialogue we learn to discern, by encounter, listening, and we are changed... we are not the same.

Therefore, the synod is a process of a spiritual discernment that unfolds in prayer and with dialogue with the Word of God. Francis concludes his own reflection with:

“Dear Sisters and Brothers, let us have a good journey together. May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit... let us not miss out on the graced filled opportunity born of encounter of encounter listening and discernment... because Jesus is always there to meet us with his love to meet us first.”

So, we need to walk together and talk about what is in our heart for our church now and for the future. It will be short, and we are invited to do our part. In the Fall of 2023, they will examine and discern our responses. And never should we forget the power of the Holy Spirit, our names sake. This will force us to talk to each other and to listen to what the Spirit will call us too. Finished in April, then we will join the rest of North America and to present our findings. We are all invited on the journey, journey of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit still has so much teach us.

+ Nelson Perez

Archbishop of Philadelphia

This weekend is World Mission Sunday

posted October 23, 2021

Pope Francis’ message for World Mission Sunday this year reflects on the theme: “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).


He reminds us that, “as Christians, we cannot keep the Lord to ourselves,” as we “recall with gratitude all those men and women who by their testimony of life help us to renew our baptismal commitment to be generous and joyful apostles of the Gospel.”


This is our chance to show love and solidarity to our global Church family. Through our prayers, we support missionaries everywhere in spreading the Good News. And by donating we respond to Christ’s call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.


Donations support varied needs in the missions:

• New Dioceses and New Seminaries.

• rebuilding of areas that have been devastated by natural disaster and/or war.

• rebuilding of the Church where there has been persecution in the recent past.

• Construction of convents, health centres and rectories.


Special Envelopes are available in the Church Lobby.

Create a Climate of Change – Prayer

posted October 15, 2021

Lord, make us fervent protectors of the world you have given us:


Where there is waste, let us practice frugality.
Where there is greed, let us model sharing.
Where there is exploitation, let us shout out against injustice.

As our environment is threatened, we pray for the impoverished and those in the Global South who suffer the effects more than most.
May we be vocal and persistent in demanding action on the part of governments and world leaders.
May we make everyday lifestyle choices wisely, leading by example.
Deepen our understanding of the environment and our love of each other, that we may preserve your gifts for generations to come.
Amen.

Canadian Catholics can support discussions on climate change by signing an online petition Home - Healthy Planet, Healthy People Petition (thecatholicpetition.org) . The petition will be presented to world leaders when they meet in Glasgow, Scotland, November 1-12 for the United Nations Climate Summit (COP26).

Happy Thanksgiving
The Honorable Harvest

posted October 9, 2021

The “Honorable Harvest” is an Indigenous way of developing a relationship with nature. It asks us to give back, in reciprocity, for what we have been given. Reciprocity helps resolve the moral tension of taking a life by giving in return something of value that sustains the ones who sustain us. One of our responsibilities as human people is to find ways to enter into reciprocity with the more-than-human world. We can do it through gratitude, through ceremony, through land stewardship, science, art, and in everyday acts of practical reverence. Some additional reflections by Robin Kimmerer on the Honorable Harvest include:

1. Never take the first (as it may be the last and taking the last may end the life of a species.)

2. Ask Permission (introduce yourself to the plant and what it is you need from the plant.)

3. Listen for the Answer (look around and see if there are enough plants to harvest; if not, then the answer is no; taking without permission is known as stealing.)

4. Take only what you need (only once granted permission; what we may want and what we need are very different)

5. Minimize harm (only harvest in a way that benefits the plants)

6. Use everything that you take (it is disrespectful to take a plant life and waste it. Have everything that you need but don’t waste what you have.)

7. Be Grateful (Practice Gratitude as we are only one part of the living species. Gratitude is humbling. Give thanks for everything you have received.)

8. Share what you have taken (what the earth has given you, share with others. A culture of sharing is a culture of resilience.)

9. Reciprocate the gift (If you take from the earth, in order for balance to occur you must give back – this is known as the Covenant of Reciprocity)

10. Take only what is given to us (What does it mean ecologically to have something given to us from other life species. As examples, the sun and the wind are given to us but not so as the taking of coal buried deep in the earth which when harvested inflicts irreparable damage.)


Thanksgiving and Gratitude

posted October 2, 2021

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving, a good time to recognize the blessings and gifts we have been given. When we practice gratitude, we recognize the grace and generosity of God and with this recognition, it become easier to show generosity towards our sisters and brothers who find themselves in most need.

Lord, Give Me a Big Heart Today
Lord, give me a big heart today,
a generosity of spirit in all my encounters, 
especially the interruptions, 
the moments of grace by the side of the road, 
the chance to step in and help. 
Give me the grace to be really present in the presence of others, 
to see the “sacred grandeur” of my neighbour, 
to listen well, 
to take the first step towards them, 
to let go of my well-earned assumptions; 
to give less offence, 
to take offence less easily. 
Give me the grace 
to see the needs of the world around me,
to see through normality,
to see injustice hidden in plain sight.
Give me the grace to see
in the most ordinary moments of encounter
the graced reality of our world. 
    (Raymond Friel and David Wells)

Canticle of Creation - Part 3

posted September 24, 2021

“It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Corinthians 4.2

St. Francis of Assisi


Be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for love of you; and for those who bear sickness and weakness in peace and patience – you will grant them a crown. Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face. I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you, and I will serve you in all humility

Canticle of Creation - Part 2

posted September 17, 2021

“It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Corinthians 4.2

St. Francis of Assisi


Be praised, my Lord,

for our Brothers Wind and Air

and every kind of weather

by which you, Lord,

uphold life in all your creatures.


Be praised, my Lord,for Sister Water,

who is very useful to us,

and humble and precious and pure.


Be praised, my Lord,for Brother Fire,

through whom you give us light in the darkness:

he is bright and lively and strong.


Be praised, my Lord,

for Sister Earth,our Mother,

who nourishes us and sustains us,

bringing forth

fruits and vegetables of many kinds

and flowers of many colours.


Canticle of Creation - Part 1

posted September 11, 2021

“It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Corinthians 4.2

September 1st was World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. It is a day we are called to re-affirm our personal responsibility of being stewards of Creation, to savour the beauty of and offer gratitude for God’s creative handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to pray for God’s protection for our common home here on earth.


With this in mind, our September Bulletin will include creation centered prayers/reflections that can help you in our common struggle for justice, love and peace!

O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God,

to you belong praise, glory,

honour and all blessing.

Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation

and especially for our Brother Sun,
who brings us the day and the light;
he is strong and shines magnificently.
O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon,
and for the stars
which you have set shining and lovely
in the heavens.

Care of Creation

posted September 3, 2021

“It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Corinthians 4.2

September 1st was World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. It is a day we are called to re-affirm our personal responsibility of being stewards of Creation, to savour the beauty of and offer gratitude for God’s creative handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to pray for God’s protection for our common home here on earth.


With this in mind, our September Bulletin will include creation centered prayers/reflections that can help you in our common struggle for justice, love and peace!

“For all of us, indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if your lives, both material & spiritual, depended on it.”


-excerpt from the book ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’, written by Robin Wall Kimmerer a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

A PRAYER FOR OUR EARTH


All powerful God,

you are present in the whole universe

and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.


Pour out upon us the power of your love,

that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.


O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned

and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty,

not pollution and destruction.


Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain

at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,

to be filled with awe and contemplation,

to recognize that we are profoundly united

with every creature as we journey

towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle

for justice, love, and peace.


Pope Francis, Laudato Si

Summer Reflections: When You Need a Bigger Towel by Mary Carver

posted August 28, 2021

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26

We’d been at a charity event downtown and had to park a block away. It didn’t seem like such a bad idea when skies were clear. But as a huge storm blew in, we began to regret our walk back. The rain was insane! Finally, soaked and shivering, my brother and I jumped into my car. My brother reached for the napkins I keep in my glove compartment, and he handed me a single napkin. I was completely soaked, head to toe, down to my underwear, if you must know. And he handed me one napkin! I needed a towel, like the kind the store actually calls a “bath sheet.” I needed a huge, fluffy extra-large bath sheet to soak up all that rain.


It's kind of like life, isn’t it? Some problems can be fixed easily. Those types of problems cause inconvenience and frustration, sure, but they can usually be solved with a bit of time (and maybe some creative problem solving). But other challenges—other storms of life—require a lot more than the equivalent of a leftover napkin from last week’s McDonald’s run.


Sometimes our problems are bigger and deeper and harder than Sunday school platitudes and coffee dates and side hugs can fix. Like broken relationships and broken hearts, missed opportunities and the people we miss (the ones who are gone). A handful of napkins won’t keep you from feeling like you’re drowning. Sometimes we need help.


It’s okay to say, “I need a bigger towel!” It’s okay to ask for help, to seek wise counsel. Jesus assured us that this world would bring us trouble. He knew we’d face hard times, but He also knew He’d be right here beside us. He gave us this promise: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Summer Reflections: It Starts With a Yes
by Judy Wu Dominick 

posted August 21, 2021

Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Hebrews 13:16

When my husband Peter and I bought our first house together, we prepared two guest bedrooms for out-of-town visitors. Once we felt reasonably settled, we started having people over for dinner. Although we’re both introverts, we shared a desire to steward our resources well and to learn how to practice biblical hospitality.


We prayed, “Lord, help us be a blessing to others through what you’ve given us.”


Soon after that, a missionary we knew returned home unexpectedly when she couldn’t get her visa renewed. We invited her to live with us as she figured out her next steps. A few months into her stay, we took in a young mother and her son for three weeks as they worked through a family crisis. Facing terrible circumstances, our guests required more than clean sheets and towels. So, we learned how to be advocates and provide emotional and spiritual presence.


Peter and I have hosted more people over the years, weaving in another move and the birth of our daughter. Each time we’ve said yes, God has tested and stretched our limits. But He has also given us glimpses of His heart for the poor, the orphan, and the widow while expanding our hearts in ways we couldn’t have imagined.


Biblical hospitality looks different for all of us, but it starts with a yes. God then takes the seeds of our yeses and transforms them into unimagined possibilities—including us along the way.


Summer Reflections: You Don’t Have to Hide Your Scars by Jennifer Dukes Lee

posted August 14, 2021

”I tell you: get up, take your mat, and go home.” Mark 2:11

I have a scar on my left leg, an accidental souvenir from a head-on car collision in 2009. The insurance company offered to pay for plastic surgery, but I declined. I wanted to keep my scar because I needed to remember what I’d been saved from. When the doctors sewed up my leg, the stitched wound was in the shape of a Y. To me, the single letter stood for Yahweh. I felt as if I’d been marked by God’s first initial.


My scar reminds me to thank God for rescuing me. I have other scars too…ones you can’t see, but if we sat down face-to-face, I’d tell you more. My voice might tremble when I tell you the stories behind the scars.


But our scars remind us that, though we were wounded, we’ve been healed. I know it’s not healthy to live in the past, but that doesn’t mean we ought to completely forget what has happened to us. Every once in a while, Jesus wants us to remember.

We see this in the Gospel of Mark. Do you remember what happened when some friends bring a buddy to the feet of Jesus? After healing him, Jesus tells him to pick up his mat and go home. Imagine the condition of that ratty, dirty mat. Yet Jesus tells the man to take the mat with him, like a wretched souvenir. That man’s mat is like a scar. It’s a reminder of who he had been, what he was rescued from. I think that Jesus is asking the same of us.


Friend, keep your mat. I get it: Maybe you’d rather forget your past. But your mats—your scars—they’re part of your story. Someday, you will cross paths with someone who will have the same kind of wound you once had. They’ll need to know your story. Your voice might shake a little when you pull out your mat, or show them your scar, but don’t be afraid. It doesn’t mean you failed. It means you were healed.


Summer Reflections:
The Stories We Live by Jennifer J. Camp

posted August 6, 2021

They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; for they did not love their lives at the point of death.   Revelation 12:11

I retreat to the living room, my feet up on our old pine bench, trying to read a book. Sitting here with a book gets me thinking about story—about the impact of another person’s life on our own. Stories are more than just words. They’re the choices we make and the experiences that shape us.


We don’t have to write down our stories to be a storyteller, for our stories to shine wide and loud. We take in each other’s stories just by living our own.


Our experiences with other people shape the way we live—and live out—our own story. Sometimes we learn stories through books. And sometimes we learn stories from what someone told us. But for a story to be truly taken in by another person, it needs to be shared, through the sharing of a life. For a story to be told, we need to be among people…live alongside one another. For how we live—what we say and don’t say, what we do and don’t do—is the telling of a story that shapes the listener too.


Consider the story you write with your life. These are the stories of the body of Christ, the children of God. Our stories are pages of hope and light in the larger story God is telling. How we live and share out story affects the story of everyone around us.


Let us understand our own story better by walking alongside others, learning how our stories are similar and true and different too. Let us live our unique stories, with the stamp of the Holy Spirit on us. For that’s the story we want written, the story the community around us needs to read. Help us, God to tell a good story this day.


Summer Reflections:
Because Hope Wins by Nasreen Fynewever

posted July 31, 2021

Now this is what the Lord says—the one who created you, Jacob and the one who formed you, Israel—“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

I moved from the fluorescent lights to the crisp cold of the outdoors. I beheld a new ceiling, a canopy of heaven stretched over the snowy floor. Colors and splays of nature beautifully enveloped me. Yet, depression clung to my every step. It seeped into my pores and crisscrossed my face, leaving hollow eyes and an unrelenting somber sheen.


Life did not wait for me; no, it created a tide of expectations and a current of must-dos. I parceled out my energy to see others, to meet requirements, to do right by a career, family, friends, and a future. My smile, real enough to some and the shallow clear to others.


This week a colleague laid his beloved wife to rest after a torment of days and a life journey with mental illness. This week a student could not stay where bridges were built and allies found. Depression robs us. It thieves from many. Yet this I know, when strangle felt close, my lungs still filled. One more breath, one more day. I cannot do all of life the way I wish or take away others’ pain. I cannot belong in all the ways an orphan girl is supposed to once adopted. I cannot change the color of my skin or how I fit into people’s constructs. I cannot unlearn my trauma or forget my twisting of perception.


But as sorrow lies near—I live. To love. To teach. To lead. To write. To whisper. I do not know who will follow or who will listen, but my steady foundation of faith and the formation of friends and family remind me, to be me to the world. Who I am, whether small and in a ball, tired from the day, or strong and tall, knowing my purpose, I am alive.


One more day, friends. To tasks and talents, give what you can. Allow others to lend you hope when yours is low and depression is real. Let’s walk together. Another day, yes, the light still shines.


Summer Reflections:
Radical Hospitality, Extravagant Love
by Mei. L. Au

posted July 24, 2021

Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.” Revelation 19:9

“What punishment do you think the young man deserves?” the police officer asked my mother-in-law. A troubled teenage boy had broken into her car and stolen her purse.


“I think he should be required to come to my house for Sunday dinner,” she said. The police officer was shocked. So was her family. It was grace exemplified. Radical hospitality extended. An invitation to a new life.


Sunday dinners were always interesting at my mother-in-law’s. Before she would leave church, my mother-in-law would put a roast in the oven and a large pot of vegetables on her stove to simmer slowly. You never knew who would be there; neither did she. If she knew anyone who was eating alone or who just needed to be loved on, she’d invite them to dinner. Somehow, there was always enough food for everyone as we all squeezed into her small dining room.


For the young transgressor, grace reached down and pardoned his crime. He deserved punishment, but he dined with forgiveness. When we openly welcome strangers, outcasts and the neglected, we’re showing them their value and worth in Christ. This is the heart of true hospitality.

My mother-in-law lived the gospel until her final breath. At her funeral, the church overflowed with mourners whose lives were touched by her generous and gracious spirit.


I know that one day we’ll be reunited again, around another table for supper—at the great heavenly banquet, the glorious feast with our Redeemer, the wedding supper of the Lamb. It will be a joyous celebration of his divine kingdom, a new heaven and a new earth. There will be no more death, no more tears, and no more suffering. Together we will gaze upon the bridegroom and behold the full radiance of his glory.

A Moment to Breathe…
Think of someone you can invite to dinner this week—someone who might be completely surprised by the invitation, in the dearest sort of way.

Summer Reflections:
Connecting the Dots  By Kimberly Gillespie

posted July 18, 2021

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

“You are only a dot on a dot.” I have heard this statement plenty of times. Compared to the solar system, the size of the earth is but a dot. And me on earth? A dot on a dot. The universe, this world, our society, does not revolve around my dot, and yet, ironically, mysteriously, my dot, my life—your life—matters. Consider a child’s simple dot-to-dot puzzle: missing a number does not prevent you from seeing the big picture. You can still tell what it is, but even a child knows, something is just not quite right..


Here are a few examples of the “dots” that connected in my life: Twenty years ago, a mentor suggested I attend seminary…(connecting)…I had visited a city years earlier and I fell in love with and determined I would love to relocate. As it turned out, I found a seminary, there, attended, met and befriended many wonderful people—more dots—who impacted my life. One of those “dots” said she knew an organization that would be a perfect fit for me…(connecting)…I ended up working for this organization, and six months later, met my husband. Ten years, three children, and three states later, we’ve connected many more dots.


Would any of these events have occurred without the connection of each dot mentioned? I’ll never know. And that’s the point. Our actions matter. Our words matter. How we raise our children, treat our family and friends and random strangers on the street….it all matters.


So, as you go through your day, week, month, life, remember your significance to the dots around you. Yes, you may be merely “a dot on a dot,” but the bigger picture is not quite right without you.

A Moment to Breathe…


Trace the “dots” in your life. Thank God for those encouraging influences in your life, then ask Him how you can be that kind of encourager to someone else today.

Summer Reflections:
Dear John by Aliza Latta

posted July 10, 2021

Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God. Romans 15:7

The plane had just started to climb into the air when the man sitting next to me knocked his elbow against mine. I turned to him and smiled. (I always smile when I feel awkward.) “My name is John.” He said each word painfully slow, his hand sort of flapping while pointing to his chest.


“Hi John. It’s nice to meet you. My dad’s name is John, too.” He then asked, long and slow, each syllable a marathon, “What is your name?” I felt guilty when the word slipped quick and easy from my lips. “Aliza.”


“Aliza,” he repeated, nodding. He looked at me, his blue eyes sharp but kind. “I have to apologize. I haven’t always been like this. I was in an accident.”


When I understood what he said, I felt this deep sinking in my gut. John felt he needed to apologize because I might think him different.


How many plane trips had he taken where people didn’t talk to him because they thought he was different? How many days did he wake up wishing, praying, begging God to go back to the day when people didn’t think him different? I saw the looks he was given on the plane and my heart hurt, because the truth is, John is no different than me.


We’re both searching and hoping and laughing and struggling, and so yes, maybe those things don’t look exactly the same for the two of us, but who is to say that he is different and I am normal?


John says he reads a lot of books, and he loves Netflix, and he used to be a really good biker. Before we got off the plane, John elbowed me again, I turned to him, and I’ll never forget the words he gave to me. And in the sincerest voice I’ve ever heard, “Aliza, I hope that you are able to do everything I can’t.”

A Moment to Breathe…
When you see someone who might seem a little different, pause and say hello. Look into their eyes. Smile. Give the simple, but important, gift of dignity.

Tom Fraser & Petition 

posted July 1, 2021

So a friend of mine asked if we should celebrate Canada Day. I think I answered her. But this is just my opinion.


So I’m gonna qualify this by saying I am Mohawk of the Six Nations. 

Bow your head in sadness, not shame. You didn’t write the laws that made these places. You didn’t run the churches that made these decisions. Your (mine too) government did. Old dead prime ministers did. Old dead popes, priests, preachers and nuns did.
The country we live in was founded on exploitation, murder, genocide and thievery. But EVERY country in the world is. You didn’t know about these children because the government didn’t want you to know. I’m a conservative minded person, but thank God for the liberals.
Now you know about them. You know about us. You are beginning to understand what we have gone and are going through.
So stand up. Celebrate Canada Day if you want to. But celebrate it because we have been found.
We have been near since Mother Earth bore the first brothers and sisters. We will be here when Grandfather (Moon) puts Mother Earth to sleep. We have always been here. But now you finally see us.

Tom Fraser – June 24/21


PETITION


Saint John Diocesan Council of Development and Peace started this Petition to The Catholic Church:


In light of the heartbreaking disclosure of the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, and the continuing discoveries of other children buried without names or identification on the grounds of Catholic-run residential schools across Canada, we the undersigned wish to petition:


Bishop Christian Riesbeck, CC, Diocese of Saint John,

Archbishop Richard Gagnon, President, CCCB,

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and

Pope Francis


● To issue a formal papal apology to the First Nations people of Canada, for the suffering and deaths of generations of indigenous children        under the care and tutelage of residential schools operated by Catholic orders and dioceses; (Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #58)


● To mandate all Catholic organizations to be fully transparent with any archives and records related to all residential schools, and to urge all    government organizations to do the same;


● To assist all affected First Nations with technological and professional support, in whatever manner these First Nations choose to honour, retrieve and commemorate their deceased children; (Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action #73, #74, #75, #76)

·

● To have Canadian Bishops renew their efforts to listen to indigenous peoples so that the Church can learn how we may best accompany them along the path of truth and justice.

As members of the body of Christ we petition that moral integrity, truth and justice take precedence over the compulsion to minimize legal liability. We believe this is what Jesus Christ would want us to do.

Click the this link to sign the petition. http://chng.it/VXVFn8rBkk

With continuing horrific discoveries of Indigenous Children who died at residential Schools, the urgency of becoming deeply familiar with and acting on the 94 Calls to Action. Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Actions 48, 49, 58, 59, 60 61 specifically call Churches, Religious Denominations and Faith Groups to particular Actions.
To access the full version click or copy and paste in your browser the following link.  Calls_to_Action  

Orange Shirt Day and Every Child Matters

posted June 10, 2021


Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. This project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is a former student himself.


The events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.


Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project. As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl.


The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful decision about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.


The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity to come together for the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. (orangeshirtday.org)


Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha

posted April 17, 2021

Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Saturday, April 17th is designated as the Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. The Honourable Graydon Nicholas, will be addressing the congregation at the 4:30pm Mass on Saturday. The first North American indigenous woman to be canonized, St. Kateri is often called the Lily of the Mohawks. She is the patron saint of ecology, those who have lost their parents and World Youth Day.


Kateri Tekakwitha (pronounced [ˈɡaderi deɡaˈɡwita] in Mohawk), given the name Tekakwitha, baptized as Catherine and informally known as Lily of the Mohawks (1656 – April 17, 1680), is a Catholic saint who was an Algonquin–Mohawk laywoman.


Born in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, on the south side of the Mohawk River in present-day New York State, she contracted smallpox in an epidemic; her family died and her face was scarred. She converted to Catholicism at age nineteen, when she was baptized and given the Christian name Kateri in honor of Catherine of Siena. Refusing to marry, she left her village and moved for the remaining five years of her life to the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River in New France, now Canada.


Kateri Tekakwitha took a vow of perpetual virginity. Upon her death at the age of 24, witnesses said that her scars vanished minutes later, and her face appeared radiant and beautiful.


Known for her virtue of chastity and mortification of the flesh, as well as being shunned by some of her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, she is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Catholic Church and the first to be canonized.


Under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, she was beatified in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter's Basilica on 21 October 2012. Various miracles and supernatural events are attributed to her intercession.


Development and Peace – Share Love, Share Lent Campaign

posted March 20, 2021

This weekend, March 20 & 21 marks the special collection for the Share Love, Share Lent Campaign on behalf of Development and Peace – Caritas Canada. We are inviting you to show solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Global South by donating to Development and Peace’s Share Lent campaign. 


Dignity of the Human Person: The foundation of all Catholic social teaching is the inherent dignity of the human person, as created in the image and likeness of God. The Church, therefore, calls for integral human development, which concerns the wellbeing of each person in every dimension: economic, political, social, ecological, and spiritual.


Examples in Action: In response to crises, Development and Peace works with local organizations not only to provide emergency supplies, such as shelter, bedding, food, cooking supplies, hygiene kits, etc. but to also provide for the emotional needs of those affected, for instance with psycho-social and post-trauma counselling services 

to deal with the trauma of conflict or natural disasters.


Support to women is a constant concern for Development and Peace in promoting human dignity. Providing opportunities such as micro-financing and technical training for women, in places where their rights are not recognized, allows women to become more autonomous, to have their skills recognized and to participate fully in Society. One such program is provided through the Afghan Women’s Resource Center, which helps women become literate, provides skills training and helps them launch small businesses.


This weekend’s collection is an opportunity to do our part in realizing the Pope’s hope that “every person lives with dignity.” Thank you for your generosity!

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Development and Peace – Share Love, Share Lent Campaign

posted February 27, 2021

The past year has been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has shaken social, economic and political structures globally. In his catechesis on the pandemic, Pope Francis implores us to work together as one human family to overcome the global challenges we are facing. Already, we have witnessed many beautiful acts of kindness and love. The Share Lent Campaign invites you to take part in this beauty by following our merciful and just Lord Jesus.


Share Lent has been a tradition in Canadian parishes since 1968. It was established to embody the two pillars of social action: charity and justice – that Pope Benedict XVI described as “not only social, but also spiritual actions, accomplished in the light of the Holy Spirit”.


This year, the campaign theme is Share Love, Share Lent. It is inspired by the message of social fraternity conveyed by our Pope in his latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. It is an opportunity to honour the Holy Father’s message as a global community and to find inspiration from the parable of the Good Samaritan which is at the centre of his encyclical. It is a way of doing our part so that, as the Pope hopes, “every person lives with dignity and has sufficient opportunities for his or her integral development”.


This moment is a reminder that the status quo can and must be disrupted. We are standing on the threshold between the old world and the next and we must choose to build the future we want. There will be a special collection in our parish on the fifth weekend of Lent, March 20 & 21. Special collection envelopes will be provided. You can also make a donation online at devp.org/give.


Your support helps Development and Peace’s 200 partners work for social justice through more than 100 projects in over 30 countries.


Pope Franics Planning to Visit Iraq

posted February 20, 2021


Christians across Iraq are eagerly anticipating Pope Francis’ planned March 5-8 visit to their country. Although Christians represent a small minority of the Iraqi population, perhaps numbering 1 million out of a total population of 39 million, they trace their lineage to the earliest decades of our faith. Many of them feel they are being treated as second-class citizens in their own land.


Interviews with Iraqi Christians reveal their hopes for the papal visit. Many face discrimination because of their faith and they hope that the Pope will get a better understanding of their situation. He is already familiar with their courage and their practice of the faith. The hope is that he will hear from the people and get a better sense about their personal suffering and what they wish for the future.


There are concerns about his safety and security during the visit. Less than a month ago there were serious attacks in Baghdad. Nevertheless, although the people feel wounded by the troubles, they also feel that “someone is coming to tell us, “I am with you and I love you”. And love is important, as it will allow us to have a brighter future,” said one Dominican priest.


There is a general hope that there will be good results from the visit not only to Christians, but for other minorities as well. As one journalist said, “The Pope is indeed representing Christians, but he wants to spread the message of peace not only the Christians but to all religions of the world.”


World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly

posted February, 2021

During his January 31st Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis announced the establishment of a World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly as a reminder of the important role they play as a link between generations. It is to be celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of July to coincide with the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.


In an article appearing in Catholic News Service, the Pope says: “It is important for grandparents to meet their grandchildren and for grandchildren to meet their grandparents because – as the prophet Joel says – grandparents, before their grandchildren, will dream and have desires, and young people – taking strength from their grandparents – will go forward and prophesy.”


“Their (grandparents) voice is precious because it sings the praises of God and safeguards the roots of peoples. They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, passing on the experience of life and faith to the young.  


Grandparents are often forgotten, and we forget this wealth of preserving roots and passing it on.”


In the encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” Pope Francis reminds us that no one is saved alone. With this in mind, we must treasure the spiritual and human wealth that has been handed down from generation to generation. Today, more than ever, we are committed to making every effort to dismantle the throwaway culture and to enhance the charisms of grandparents and the elderly

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Poet Amanda Gorman: The Hill We Climb

posted January 30, 2021

Amanda Gorman is the name of the young lady who recited her poem “The Hill We Climb”, during the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The Catholic News Service reports that she was well known as a poet in her home parish of St. Brigid Catholic Church in Los Angeles because she had once written a poem about her parish. She and her twin sister, Gabrielle along with their mother are active parish members. Parishioners of the historically Black church have enjoyed her gift of poetry.


Their parish priest, Josephite Fr. Kenneth Keke, who is from Nigeria, said that they proudly felt she represented the entire parish. The parish is predominantly African American, but there is a growing number of Latinos, Filipinos and white parishioners. “We are a community; everyone here is important. Whatever belongs to the parish belongs to everyone; in our parish, the success of anyone is the success of all.”


Amanda and her sister, as adolescents, went through a two-year training program at the parish and they received the sacraments of baptism, first Communion and confirmation on the same day. Amanda had a speech impairment that caused difficulty in saying certain letters which she has overcome. She introduced herself to the country as the “skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and overcome and raised by a single mother ‘who can’ dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.” 


Father Keke said her poem for the inauguration reflected “what we preach here at St. Brigid’s about liberation and redemption. These themes are emphasized in the parish’s music and art. He said that her words on unity had a strong spiritual connection he said. 

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Current COVID-19 Situation

posted January 23, 2021

In light of the current COVID-19 Pandemic and Zone 3 returning to Red Level, directive from Bishop Riesbeck is to cancel all in person Masses effective January 23rd until further notice.  Funerals, weddings and baptism are not permitted during the “Red Level” as per Regulations by the Province of NB. Please visit the Diocesan website for updates as they become available at www.dioceseofsaintjohn.org


Amelia’s Letters

posted January 16, 2021

14 year old Amelia Penney-Crocker who resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia made it her mission to write a weekly letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. You are encouraged to log onto http://ameliapenneycrocker.com/first-letter-hopes-and-dreams and read Amelia’s letters.   

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Bearers of Gratitude

posted January 2, 2021

During his weekly general audience last week, Pope Francis said: “The world is in need of hope, and with gratitude we can transmit a bit of hope.” The gratitude that comes from encountering Christ’s love and mercy is enough to bring joy and hope to a trouble world.


“If we are bearers of gratitude, the world itself will become better, even if only a little bit, but that is enough to transmit a bit of hope.” The Pope was reflecting on the prayers of thanksgiving and praise one finds in the gospel accounts of healing.


The gospel narratives, such as the healing of 10 lepers, are instructive. “The narrative divides the world in two. There are those who do not give thanks and those who do; those who take everything as if it were owed them and those who welcome everything as a gift, as grace.”


Prayers of thanksgiving begin with the recognition that ‘grace precedes us’ and the knowledge that ‘we were loved before we learned how to love … If we view life like this, then ‘thank you’ becomes the driving force of our day. And many times we forget to say ‘thank you.”


Christians also experience gratitude when participating in the Eucharist and blessing God “for the gift of life… To live is above all to have received. All of us are born because someone wanted us to have life. And this is only the first series of debts that we incur by living: debts of gratitude.”


“The Path to happiness,” said Pope Francis, taking a quotation from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.”


Christmas Message

posted December 24, 2020

Thank you to all the volunteers who work so hard to make our uplifting services possible.


May the spirit of the Christmas Season bring you joy and peace in these troubling days of COVID-19.


Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to each and every one

A note on COVID-19 vaccine development

posted December 20, 2020

When a vaccine is available to treat or prevent COVID-19, it is okay to take it.


That’s the message from the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in the pastoral letter to the faithful as they navigate for Catholics a path through a moral dilemma presented by COVID-19 vaccine development.


While many of the possible vaccines are synthetic and have no relationship to abortion in their production, several contenders were developed using cell lines descended from cells originally derived from aborted fetuses or embryonic stem cells. 


The bishops reiterate Church support and encouragement of scientific research into COVID-19, and have decided openly to address the question of possible moral complicity of Catholics in the previous act of abortion. Even if a vaccine is sourced from cell lines distantly derived from aborted fetuses, which is an evil act according to Catholic teaching, the bishops say taking that vaccine is morally permissible given the remoteness of the recipient from the original act of abortion, the scarcity of ethical alternatives, and the grave threat that COVID-19 poses to public health.


While physicians and families should seek out ethical vaccines, the bishops say that use of previous cell lines is so prevalent in research that there may not be an ethical alternative accessible during the current COVID-19 pandemic.


Making use of abortion to create cell lines for research and development is an affront to human dignity and cannot be morally justified, “the bishops write: Sadly, such cell lines are so widely used in the biopharmaceutical industry that a vaccine that has not been ethically compromised in its production and/or testing by their use may very well not be available for employment against COVID-19.”


“With respect to someone receiving the vaccine, the degree of connection with the original evil act is so remote that, when there also exists a proportionately grave reason for vaccination, such as the current, urgent need to halt the COVID-19 pandemic, then the Church assures us that it is morally permissible for Catholics to receive it for the good of personal and public health.”


Part III: Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts

posted December 12, 2020

They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves, not preserving ourselves by losing ourselves in service.


With some exceptions, governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives. The exceptions have been some governments that shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences. But most governments acted responsibly, imposing strict measures to contain the outbreak.


Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions – as it measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals, it means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate.


It is all too easy for some to take an idea – in this case, for example, personal freedom – and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.


The coronavirus crisis may seem special because it affects most of humankind. But it is special only in how visible it is. There are a thousand other crisis that are just as dire, but are just far enough from some of us that we can act as if they don’t exist. Think, for example, of the wars scattered across different parts of the world; of the production and trade in weapons; of the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing poverty, hunger and lack of opportunity; of climate change. These tragedies may seem distant from us, as part of the daily news that, sadly, fails to move us to change our agendas and priorities. But like the Covid-19 crisis, they affect the whole of humanity.


Look at us now: We put on face masks to protect ourselves and others form a virus we can’t see. But what about all those other unseen viruses we need to protect ourselves from? How will we deal with the hidden pandemics of this world, the pandemics of hunger and violence and climate change?


If we are to come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in, we have to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain. There’s a line in Friedrich Hölderlin’s “Hyperion” that speaks to me, about how the danger that threatens in a crisis is never total; there’s always a way out: “Where the danger is, also grows the saving power.” That’s the genius in the human story: There’s always a way to escape destruction. Where humankind has to act is precisely there, in the threat itself; that’s where the door opens.


This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities – what we value, what we want, what we seek – and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.


God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis. We need economies that give to all access to the fruits of creation, to the basic needs of life: to land, lodging and labor. We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decision that affect their lives. We need to slow down, take stock and design better ways of living together on this earth.


Part II: Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts

posted December 5, 2020

.I remember especially two nurses from this time. One was the senior ward matron, a Dominican sister who had been a teacher in Athens before being sent to Buenos Aires. I learned later that following the first examination by the doctor, after he left she told the nurses to double the dose of medication he had prescribed – basically penicillin and streptomycin – because she knew from experience I was dying. Sister Cornelia Caraglio saved my life. Because of her regular contact with sick people, she understood better than the doctor what they needed, and she had the courage to act on her knowledge.


Another nurse, Micaela, did the same when I was in intense pain, secretly prescribing me extra doses of painkillers outside my due times. Cornelia and Micaela are in heaven now, but I`ll always owe them so much. They fought for me to the end, until my eventual recovery. They taught me what it is to use science but also to know when to go beyond it to meet particular needs. And the serious illness I lived through taught me to depend on the goodness and wisdom of others.


This theme of helping others has stayed with me these past months. In lockdown I`ve often gone in prayer to those who sought all means to save the lives of others. So many of the nurses, doctors and caregivers paid that price of love, together with priests, and religious and ordinary people whose vocations were service. We return their love by grieving for them and honoring them.


Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call. That`s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching.


Part III - next week…

Part 1: Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts

posted November 29, 2020

In this past year of change, my mind and heart have overflowed with people. People I think of and pray for, and sometimes cry with, people with names and faces, people who died without saying goodbye to those they loved, families in difficulty, even going hungry, because there’s no work.


Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nations, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.

These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion. Each of us has had our own “stoppage”, or if we haven’t yet, we will someday: illness, the failure of a marriage or a business, some great disappointment or betrayal. As in the Covid-19 lockdown, those moments generate a tension, a crisis that reveals what is in our hearts.


In every personal “Covid” so to speak, in every “stoppage” what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected.


When I got really sick at the age of 21, I had my first experience of limit, of pain and loneliness. It changed the way I saw life. For months, I didn’t know who I was or whether I would live or die. The doctors had no idea whether I’d make it either. I remember hugging my mother and saying, “Just tell me if I’m going to die.” I was in the second year of training for the priesthood in the diocesan seminary of Buenos Aires.


I remember the date: Aug 13, 1957. I got taken to a hospital by a prefect who realized mine was not the kind of flu you treat with aspirin. Straightaway they took a liter and a half of water out of my lungs, and I remained there fighting for my life. The following November they operated to take out the upper right lobe of one of the lungs. I have some sense of how people with Covid-19 feel as they struggle to breath on a ventilator.


Part II – next week

An Everlasting Dwelling Place in Heaven

posted November 23, 2020

This past Thursday night, we offered a Service of Remembrance held in Holy Family Church. It was intended to be an opportunity for relatives and friends of members who have died since last November to be remembered. Praying for the deceased is an on-going practice of our faith whether it be in community or in private.


As Catholics we believe that the dead are still alive, still living a conscious and loving relationship with us and each other. After death we live on in communication with others who have died before us, in communion with those left behind on earth, and in communion with God. We affirm this belief whenever we recite the credal formula “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”


November is the month dedicated to the memory of all those who have died. We pray for the dead because we believe that we are still in vital communion with them. Love, presence, communication reach even through death. We and they can still feel each other, know each other, love each other, console each other and influence each other. Our lives are still joined. We pray for the dead in order to remain in contact with them.


How do we communicate with them? We communicate with them through God in prayer. In our liturgy our words of prayer are addressed to God. Normally our prayers are phrased in words addressed to God as in “Lord, have mercy on his/her soul.” Why? Because it is in and through God, within the heart of God, that our communication with our deceased loved ones takes place.


But our belief in the communion of saints also allows us to talk through prayer to individuals who have died. We are part of them and they are part of us. The bond of our loving relationship remains, in death their life has been transformed.


We are reminded of this in the language of the funeral liturgy. Therein we listen to the words of the Preface: “In Jesus, who rose from the dead, our hope of resurrection dawned. The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality. Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”

Service of Remembrance

posted November 15, 2020

This coming week, on Thursday night, a Service of Remembrance will be held in Holy Family Church. It is intended to be an opportunity for relatives and friends of members who have died since last November to be remembered. Unfortunately, due to the restraints placed upon us by COVID-19 regulations, it is by invitation only. But praying for the deceased is an on-going practice of our faith whether it be in community or in private.


As Catholics we believe that the dead are still alive, still living a conscious and loving relationship with us and each other. After death we live on in communication with others who have died before us, in communion with those left behind on earth, and in communion with God. We affirm this belief whenever we recite the credal formula “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”


November is the month dedicated to the memory of all those who have died. We pray for the dead because we believe that we are still in vital communion with them. Love, presence, communication reach even through death. We and they can still feel each other, know each other, love each other, console each other and influence each other. Our lives are still joined. We pray for the dead in order to remain in contact with them.


How do we communicate with them? We communicate with them through God in prayer. In our liturgy our words of prayer are addressed to God. Normally our prayers are phrased in words addressed to God as in “Lord, have mercy on his/her soul.” Why? Because it is in and through God, within the heart of God, that our communication with our deceased loved ones takes place.


But our belief in the communion of saints also allows us to talk through prayer to individuals who have died. We are part of them and they are part of us. The bond of our loving relationship remains, in death their life has been transformed.


We are reminded of this in the language of the funeral liturgy. Therein we listen to the words of the Preface: “In Jesus, who rose from the dead, our hope of resurrection dawned. The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality. Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”

Development and Peace – Recovering Together Campaign

posted November 7, 2020

Development and Peace Canada has joined over 200 organizations from across Canada to launch “Six Principles for a Just Recovery.” The goal is to push the Canadian Government to ensure that the recovery from the pandemic is a catalyst for change. The pandemic has revealed the deep inequalities that exist here in Canada and in the Global South and that have been created by an economic model which places profit before human dignity and care of our common home.


The six principles are a commitment to a just future that puts the health and wellbeing of ALL peoples and ecosystems first, and builds a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable society.


This moment is a reminder that the status quo can and must be disrupted. We are standing on the threshold between the old world and the next and we must choose to build the future we want.


Six Principles for a Just Recovery:

Put people’s health and well-being first. No Exceptions: 
Health is a human right and is interdependent with the health and well-being of ecological systems. 
Strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people: 
Focus relief efforts on people – particularly those who are structurally oppressed by existing systems. 
Prioritize the needs of workers and communities:
Government support to any sector should be accompanied by conditions that ensure support flows to workers, including migrant workers and students, and communities – not to shareholders and corporate executives. 
Build resilience to prevent future crises: 
We cannot recover from the current crisis by entrenching systems that will cause the next crisis. 
Build solidarity and equity across communities, generations, and borders: 
In a globalized world, what happens to one of us matters to all of us. 
Uphold Indigenous Rights and work in partnership with Indigenous peoples: 
A Just Recovery must uphold Indigenous Rights and include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, in line with the standard of free, prior, and informed consent.

Attached to the Bulletin is a message from Bishop Riesbeck regarding a Special Collection for Development and Peace for the weekend of November 14th & 15th. You can also make a donation online at devp.org/give.

Children of God

posted October 25, 2020

Pope Francis supports ‘civil unions’ for same-sex couples.


In a feature-length documentary, titled “Francesco”, which tells the story of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis reveals his support for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples. “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law: that way they are legally covered.


The opinion is not new to the pope. While service as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. He isn’t trying to change church doctrine, but he is expressing his belief that gay people should enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals. Evgeny Afineevsky, the director of the documentary, said “The world needs positivity right now” and the film deals with issues the pope cares about most, including climate change, poverty, care about refugees and migration, border and walls, family separation and people most affected by discrimination.


Pope Francis’ outreach dates to his first foreign trip in 2013 when he uttered the now-famous words “Who am I to judge” when asked during an airborne new conference returning from Rio de Janiero about a purportedly gay priest. “If someone is gay and he searched for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”


In the documentary there is a segment when a gay Italian man who was attending one of the Pope’s daily masses, gave Pope Francis a letter that explained conversations he and his partner were having over whether to take their children to church, fearing they might be subject to unfair judgement as children of a gay couple. Later, the pope called him and encouraged him to take their children to church and to be honest with the pastor about their living situation.


In essence Pope Francis has not promoted change in the moral or sacramental teaching of the Church. He has simply called for all people to be treated with the dignity and love which is their due by being created in God’s image and likeness and being children of our Heavenly Father. The message of Jesus is He came to save us all. It is with the grace of God that we focus on the beauty of the person and that we are called to treat each other with fairness and dignity.

The Leadership Role of Women in the Church

posted October 18, 2020

In a recent video talk, Pope Francis commented on the important leadership role of women in the Church. By virtue of baptism, all members are called to be missionary disciples of the Lord. No one has been baptised to be a priest or a bishop. We have all been baptised as lay people.


Many women, answering this call, keep the church on its feet throughout the world with their admirable self-giving and ardent faith. The Holy Father recognizes this fact when he proposes that women should have “a real and effective impact on the organization, the most important decisions, and the direction of communities, which continuing to do so in a way that reflects their womanhood… We must emphasize the feminine lay presence because in the Church women tend to be left aside.”


This video talk is not the first time Pope Francis has insisted that women should hold positions of responsibility in the Church and participate in its decision-making bodies. Recently he called upon six women with extensive resumes to join the financial advising team of the Vatican.

Welcoming Season of Creation

Blessed are You, God alive in Earth and Cosmos!

Welcoming this Season of Creation, we celebrate your
generosity, as late summer ripens to early autumn. 
All your creatures reveal your beauty, truth and wisdom.
We give thanks for flourishing fields, bringing forth rich
harvest … colourful gardens, attracting precious pollinators.
In every season, You give us what we need. Eagerly your
Spirit nourishes us to receive and share loving kindness and compassion. 
Forgive our carelessness, causing Earth’s distress, with
loss of many species. In a time of pandemic, guide us to
participate in your call to transformation.
Awaken us to walk lightly on the land, seeding integrity
… cultivating justice … creating a climate of equality and peace.  
Gratefully, we pray in the name of Jesus, who calls us to
grow, making all thing e new. 
Amen 

~ Roma De Robertis, SCIC
(Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception)

Fratelli Tutti

posted October 9, 2020

Pope Francis issued a new encyclical on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Fratelli Tutti is a letter teaching us that everyone in this world is connected. It follows in the wake of Laudato Si, a letter that teaches us that everything in this world is connected.


The Pope sees the current world situation as comparable to the Cuban missile crisis, World War II or 9/11. In other words, he sees the world as being on the brink and leaning toward division.


Cardinal Michael Czerny, the newly ordained Canadian who heads the Vatican’s migrants and refugees office, commented that “depending on your age, what was it like to hear Pius XII deliver his Christmas messages during World War II; or how did it feel when Pope John XXIII published Pacem in Terris; or how did you feel after 9/11?” He said, “I think you need to recover that feeling in your stomach, in your whole being to appreciate Fratelli Tutti.”


Cardinal Czerny goes on to say, “If we take responsibility for our common home and for our brothers and sisters, then I think we have a good chance, and my hope is rekindled and inspired to keep on going and do more.”


Pope Francis is pushing back on a theory that most subscribe to without realizing we are doing so. “We believe ourselves,” he says, “to be self-made, without recognizing God as our creator; we’re prosperous, we believe we deserve everything that we have and consume; and we’re orphans, disconnected, totally free, and alone.”


The truth is the opposite to being self-made prosperous orphans and the encyclical offers an alternate way of looking at what is going on in our lives. The encyclical is an invitation to see one another as a neighbour, as a friend, to build relationships particularly at this time when the world feels so politically divided, and cries out for healing ways.

Sharing the Wisdom of Time

posted October 2, 2020

In the preface of a new book published by Loyola Press which highlights the wisdom of the elderly, their experiences and their insights as fundamental contributions to society, Pope Francis calls for an alliance between the young and the old to undertake an intergenerational conversation

.

During the launch of “Sharing the Wisdom of Time”, the Pope invited young people to listen and bond with their elders in an effort to counter a culture of waste, a growing indifference to the plight of migrants and refugees, and a dangerous resurgence of populism that spurs hatred and intolerance.


The book contains stories gathered from elderly persons all over the world, from 30 countries and from all walks of life. In the preface the Pope repeatedly expresses his belief that the young can only sink roots into the soil of tradition through their relationships with the elderly.

Pope Francis explains that this alliance entails sharing the experience of older people, heeding their advice and creating a strong bond with the new generations who are hungry for guidance and support as they prepare for their future.


The stories are organized in five thematic chapters – work, struggle, love, death and hope. Each chapter begins with the Pope reflecting on each theme.


Speaking off-the-cuff during the book launch, Pope Francis touched on current themes and issues such as migration and the tragedy of so many force migrants and refugees who die on their journeys of hope and of the responsibility of policy-makers and world leaders to find solutions that safeguard the lives and dignity of all; the importance of cultivating memory so that evils – such as wars – witnessed in history are not repeated; the danger of populism that gives rise to hatred and intolerance.

Healing the World

posted September 27, 2020

At his recent audience Pope Francis explained that creation must be protected and not exploited. Human beings must change their relationship with nature and view it not as an “object for unscrupulous use and abuse” but as a gift they are charged by God to care for.


People are called to contemplate creation as a reflection of “God’s infinite wisdom and goodness” and not act as it people are the “center of everything” and the “absolute rulers of all other creatures”.


“Exploiting creation – this is sin. We believe that we are the center, claiming to occupy God’s place and thus we ruin the harmony of creation, the harmony of God’s design. We become predators, forgetting our vocation as guardians of life.”


With this remark, Pope Francis is continuing his talks on “healing the world” with the theme of “caring for the common home and contemplative attitude.” Contemplation is pushback to “an unbalance and arrogant anthropocentrism” in which humans place themselves and their needs “at the center of everything.”


“It is important to recover the completative dimension, that is, to look at the earth, at creation as a gift, not as something to be explicated for profit.” The pope said. “When we contemplate, we discover in others and in nature something much greater than their usefulness.”


Citing a recent report that glaciers in Antarctica are collapsing due to global warming, Pope Francis said that the consequential rising sea levels “will be terrible,” and he called on people to “guard the inheritance God has entrusted to us so that future generations can enjoy it.”


“Each one of us can and must become a guardian of the common home, capable of praising God for his creatures [by] contemplating them and protecting them.”

For the Love of Creation

posted September 17, 2020

“For the Love of Creation” is a faith-based initiative for climate justice. It originates with the Joint Ecological Ministry (JEM), a collective that has the support of a growing list of national churches, Christian international development agencies, and faith-based organizations. It sees itself as a gathering together as people of faith in the hopes of making a meaningful contribution in the next decade towards a sustainable future for all life in our Common Home. 


Many people have hope of influencing our Canadian government as parliamentarians dig into the work of planning an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“For the Love of Creation” has launched a Parliamentary Petition calling on the Government of Canada to:

    • Commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 60% below 2005 levels by 2030, and invest in a just transition. 

    • Honor the rights of indigenous Peoples;

    • Commit equal support for climate change adaption and mitigation measures in the Global south; and

    • Respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Global South.


Readers are encouraged to consider signing this petition and sending it to:

Joint Ecological Ministry 

101 Thorncliffe Park Drive

Toronto, Ontario M4H 1M2