Yesterday's gala for Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy went off beautifully. Bishop Mulhall gave a powerful homily on the appearance of Jesus to the disciples who went back to fishing on the Sea of Tiberias, suggesting that their return to ordinary life was a failure of nerve. Sometimes, he said, this disposition finds echoes in our own lives when we let our enthusiasm for the Risen Lord and His resurrection fade. About 200 attended the fundraising dinner which was truly a joyfilled event. I was glad Luc Louisseize had come along as my driver; we made it back to Ottawa just a few minutes after midnight.
Today was mainly lived in French. This morning I met with the francophone diaconal family, reviewing their experience of the admission process, their formation, ordination and ministry. Many blessings were acknowledged and gratefully received; but there were also suggestions for strengthening the role of the deacon in the overall mission of our Ottawa church.
This meeting took place at Paroisse St-Joseph in Orleans (getting ready to celebrate their sesquicentennial in 2010), where upstairs in the Church I presided at the 2PM celebration of Confirmation for eighty young people mainly from Ecole Etoile de l'Est (a reference to the Star of Bethlehem) and a few others from the French public schools in the area.
After my weekly meeting back home with my Vicar General Kevin Beach and an early supper, it was off to Paroisse Sacre-Coeur in Bourget, 40-minutes east of Ottawa, for the confirmation of 21 youngsters (in grade 6). The pastor is Abbe Etienne from Congo; he has clearly become much-appreciated by the parishioners in his first year among the faithful of this small town from which my secretary Julie Marcil hails; I met her mother, some uncles, aunts and siblings, all of whom are proud of her and her uncle Gilles, a priest serving in a six-point charge out of Vankleek Hill (near the Quebec border).
Receptions are always a joy because of the people with whom I can connect on a variety of levels. One such encounter this evening was with a couple and their nine children that they have been homeschooling (a practice unusual among the francophones) until the youngsters enter the Catholic public schools in grade nine. One of the five boys was among the confirmands and two others served at the altar with great devotion. It is clear that the faith is important for the whole family (a couple of the girls attended the Montee Pascale held by Famille Marie-Jeunesse in Sherbrooke, Quebec: they even pray for the bishop every day! A revelation such as this always gives me great encouragement and explains why I often feel carried by such intercessory prayers and the graces they bring.