A quick trip was made this morning to Paroisse St-Mathieu, Hammond (35 minutes east of Ottawa), to confirm 25 francophone youngsters. There Abbe Louis from Cameroon is priest-in-charge.
On the Confirmation circuit, one gets to notice youth styles: in this area, sixth-grade boys favour the hair-gel spiking of their hair--there were at least a half-dozen "Mohawk" styles, as some call it, this morning. As all were wearing white gowns (in honour of Domenica in albis[?]), the day the neophytes put aside their white garments after one last time wearing them), I could not detect a fashion statement from the young ladies.
This afternoon, I welcomed more that a thousand of the faithful to Notre-Dame cathedral basilica for the Confirmation and First Holy Communion of 88 second-graders from Good Shepherd Parish, Blackburn Hamlet (rule of thumb at least a dozen family members and friends per confirmand). It was a delightful celebration though the youngsters were a bit restless by the time I reached the confirming of candidate #60 or so.
Our diocese has a division over the appropriate age and sequence for the sacraments of initiation: the French-speaking parishes celebrating the Confirmation in Grade 6, the English-speaking and ethnic communities, by contrast, have accepted the "restoration" of the early church praxis with Confirmation preceding the first Holy Communion, which them becomes the completion of initiation. This creates some tensions in the Archdiocese and the matter has been discussed by the Council of Priests and a solution sought.
The administrator of Good Shepherd is a Jesuit colleague, Fr. Vernon Boyd, who stayed for supper, much to the delight of the residents of the Archeveche (Archbishop's Residence, sometimes called the Palace!) We recall Fr. Vernon's enthusiasm for all things ecclesial from the six weeks he spent here in late 2007. He is also a strong devotee of the Divine Mercy, which played in a role in the scheduling of this afternoon's Mass. God's mercy has been the source of many graces in his family's trials and in his ministry. Deo gratias.