SAD NEWS FOR CATHOLICS IN NOVA SCOTIA
The past couple of days have been very difficult for the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia, where I spent fifteen wonderful years as a teacher (1975-81) and as Archbishop of Halifax (1998-2007). Knowing many of the Catholics on Mainland Nova Scotia from numerous happy and sad encounters over the years, I can imagine how devastating the news has been for them and their faith.
I learned the news of the charges against Raymond Lahey, former Bishop of Antigonish, while engaged in the Pastoral Visitation of six parishes on the eastern edge of the Archdiocese (near the Quebec border).
I was shaken by the news, realizing the impact it would have on Catholics across the country; heartbroken, too, for a man whom I respected; and my heart goes out to all those caught up in the web of pornography of every kind, but particularly child pornography.
Hearing the news which precipitated his resignation as I left Ecole St. Gregoire in Vankleek Hill for a visit with seniors, my reactions were like those felt on hearing of someone's death: disbelief, anger, fear and concern for the victims of abuse.
On returning to the rectory, my vicar Abbe Daniel Berniquez and I went into the church to pray in silence before the Lord of the Church and of our lives, begging for healing in this matter.
In his comments in recent days, Archbishop Anthony Mancini, who is acting as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Antigonish invited Catholics to bring this burden to the parish celebration of the Eucharist, where we bring all our troubles. This is how we can continue to be the community of faith for and with one another in these trying times.
He observed: “We are going through a very painful contemporary experience of the mystery of our Faith, which is all about Passion and Death yes, but it is also about the promise of Resurrection, without which we have no future.”
May the celebration of the Year for Priests, and the prayers for holiness that the Pope has called for, obtain for us, by virtue of God's redeeming mercy, healing and wholeness in "spirit, soul and body" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
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Today's feast of the Holy Guardian Angels reminds of God's special care for each person made in the divine image and likeness, a special messenger from God to guide and help us.
The quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church below on the ministry of angels and the prayer to one's Guardian Angel are a great consolation in times of spiritual disorientation and weariness with the way leaders, even our religious ones, can let us down.
Let us continue to be united in prayer.
"From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united to God."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church #336.
Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God's love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.
Last Sunday morning, I visited the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation, one of the archdiocese's earliest parishes (founded 1845) and a jewel that has been well-preserved by the devoted parishioners over the years.
Father Brian Hennessey is in his seventh year as pastor and, assisted by Msgr. Everett McNeill, is overseeing the construction on a new hall with facilities for receptions that, it is hoped, will facilitate long-term financing of the project.
Between the 9 and 11 o'clock Masses, there was a ceremony to celebrate the progress made on the parish hall.
The Knights of Columbus were out in great number and Ottawa Ward 20 Councillor Doug Thompson (former mayor of Osgoode) was in attendance to present to the parish a cheque from the City of Ottawa drawn from funds available for projects such as the preservation of trees on the property, a contribution much appreciated, as were his friendly remarks on the role Our Lady of the Visitation Parish plays in the South Gloucester-Osgoode region.