O ANTIPHON - O Rex gentium...
O King of all nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.
* * *
Advent Weekday Prayer - December 22
O God, who seeing the human race fallen into death, willed to redeem it by the coming of your Only Begotten Son, grant, we pray, that those who confess his Incarnation with humble fervour may merit his company as their Redeemer. Who lives and reigns with you.
* * * * * *
A VISIT TO THE SHEPHERDS OF GOOD HOPE/
LES BERGERS DE L'ESPOIR
One our permanent deacons, Paul Soucie is, along with founder Sheila Burnett, executive director of Shepherds of Good Hope/Bergers de l'Espoir.
Begun in 1983 as a response to the need to feed the poor in the area around St. Brigid's Church (since closed), the Shepherds of Good Hope/Bergers de l'Espoir offers those in need of food, shelter, a change to regain their human dignity, a wide range of creative programs of assistance.
On Monday, I joined staff and volunteers (some 400 of the latter) for a tour of the facilities, beginning with the 233 Murray Street structure that serves some 700, 000 meals per year.
We began with a very simple prayer service in the spirit of Advent. Then, I helped serve soup to the men and women clients (they also were offered spagetti, salad, rolls and dessert), later eating a bowl of soup with a few of them.
Then, I was taken across the street to the Men's Emergency Shelter, the Hope Outreach for Women, the residential program (Hope Living) on the third floor, then individual apartments at 208 St. Andrew's where people pay for their lodging and learn to be independent.
On Nelson Street we discussed a women's program (Brigid's House) that helps residents escape the problems of panhandling, prostitution, drugs.
On Merivale, The Oaks is a refurbished hotel that offers residential facilities for individuals attempting to escape alcoholism.
Finally at the Bronson Centre, we dropped in on the Good Day Workshop, assisting those with disabilities to contribute through manual labour such as sanding, painting, staining wood furniture.
A few photos of my visit to this extraordinary resource offering compassion not only at the Christmas season but all year long: