This was a morning at home doing some writing and welcoming a few visitors:
Alex Shadenburg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition to discuss the implications for all who affirm life of MP Francine Lalonde's re-formulation of her earlier bills on assisted suicide, nothing less than a thinly-disguised introduction of euthanasia to Canada.
Two friends from Halifax in town for the 15th Year Reunion of NET Canada Alumni that will happen this weekend at Ottawa's west end Travelodge:
Tanya Rodgerson, now pastoral associate at the Northwest Arm Pastoral Unit's St. Michael's Church, Spryfield.
And Craig Cameron, seminarian for the Archdiocese of Halifax on the cusp of beginning his pastoral internship at St. Peter's Church, Dartmouth and now in residence at St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica Glebe for the summer.
With the arrival--finally!!--of some warm and sunny weather, we sat out on my patio eating the chocolate croissants Tanya brought over and washed them down with gobs of coffee.
Two Hungarian priests named Tomas and Father Don Tuori of St. Elizabeth Parish, where the Hungarian community customarily celebrates Mass on Sunday at 12:30.
We discussed the need for a priest to serve the Hungarian Catholics in Ottawa as Father Tomas Loczi is completing a Licentiate in Canon Law and is returning to his country this July after serving the Hungarian faithful during his years of study.
Father Tomas Androvich is pastor of Our Lady of Hungary Parish in Montreal; he is willing to come to serve the Ottawa Hungarian faithful at least once a month when Father Loczi returns home. There are still hopes a student priest will come to assist in the future, but it is unlikely it will be this year.
The Museum of Science and Technology has facilities to host gatherings in an auditorium and several meeting rooms. Earlier this year, the Archdiocese booked the facility for a special day of reflection on the priesthood for mutual support.
For several years now, on or near the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (June 19 this year), the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy has encouraged that a day be set aside for the sanctification of priests, a reminder of our basic goal, to become holy priests.
Because our Archdiocesan Feast falls on June 25 (the day of the Diocese of Bytown's foundation was June 25, 1847) and there are many other activities in June (ordinations, graduation exercises, school year closing Masses, etc), we anticipate this day.
We decided this year to withdraw from our routine meeting places to do so. There were many school children visiting the museum, but both sets of visitors easily went about their activities without interference from either side.
Some of the close to 100 priests arrived early to take in the museum's exhibits. We began at two o'clock with my brief exposition on the sequence of the Year of the Priesthood (June 19, 2009-June 19, 2010) which overlaps the Year of St. Paul (closing on June 29, 2009) by ten days, both of these in the context of the recent Synod of the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.
Vicar General Msgr. Kevin Beach gave a prayerful reflection on Jesus' encounter with Simon Peter on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias (John 21) and his three-fold question, "Do you love me?" as the prelude to the charge He gave Peter to "Feed My lambs; feed My sheep".
After discussion in groups on three areas--the joys of the priesthood, the disappointments and sorrows, and recommendations for how our fraternity can be strengthened--we prayed Vespers and enjoyed a catered dinner, with a few closing remarks by the Archbishop at the end.
The cover of the booklet for Vespers was graced with a representation of St. Jean Marie Vianney, who died 150 years ago this year (on August 4, 1859) and whom Pope Benedict XVI has indicated he will declare the patron of all priests, not only parish priests. Evening Prayer also closed with our new Ottawa Archdiocese's Prayer for Priestly Vocations:
PRAYER FOR PRIESTLY VOCATIONS
Lord God, in every generation you have provided shepherds after your own heart and spiritual fathers for the family of the Church. Hear us in our day as we beg you: “Do not leave us orphans! Send us the Holy Spirit!”
Stir up in the hearts of those whom you have chosen to be priests an awareness of your call and the courage to say, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”
By your Spirit, mould them in the heart of Mary to be the image of your Son, faithful stewards of your grace. Shape them into zealous apostles, who will preach the Gospel with boldness, celebrate the Eucharist with reverence and be living signs of your love for all people.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Catholics are invited to keep the sanctification of their priests as an intention in their prayers, especially as the Year of the Priesthood will keep the priest before the attention of the whole Catholic world.
Let us also heed Our Lord's injunction, since the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few, to pray the Lord of the harvest to send workers (an abundance of priests) into the vineyard to labour for the Kingdom (Luke 10:2), especially in the Archdiocese of Ottawa.