Friday, May 15, 2009

Frassati House, Sisters of Life, Visitandines, Marists +++ "Mi casa, su casa": Welcoming Priest-friends

This morning, en route to the office I popped in at the Hampton Inn where the Pro-Life Youth conference was being held. Had a chance to listen to MPs Pierre Lemieux (Prescott Russell) and Paul Szabo (Mississauga South) talk about the ideals of political life and the challenge to be guided therein by one's faith.

Was happy to chat briefly with the Sisters of Life, a new religious institute committed to a Pro-Life way of life as a permanent commitment.

Heading for the parking grage, I met Matt Marchand from Halifax who has just begun working in the NET Canada office in Orleans. He had had a great year at the Halifax Frassti House and is hoping that there will be such a residence in Ottawa again next year.

The Frassati experience is an instance of the idealism of Catholic young men trying to be guided by the ideals of Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati: men of prayer and gospel values, zealous to be living witnesses to the joy of their relationship with Jesus.

The World Assistant for Visitation monasteries, Father Valentin Viguera, S.D.B. came by for a visit with local Superior Soeur Suzanne-Christine Proulx, v.s.m. He was in the midst of giving a retreat to our Ottawa Visitandine Monastery. These sisters will be celebrating the Centennial of their monastery in 2010 and we tentatively agreed on August 15, 2010 for the Mass of Thanksgiving.

Mid-morning I dropped in for coffee with the Marist Provincial Council meeting at the rectory of Paroisse St. Thomas Aquin, across the street from the Diocesan Centre.

We discussed the project the Marists have in Ottawa of reaching out to the poor, especially immigrants and their desire to break the solitude of the newcomers--not with meeting their material needs, which is often done by government or other outreach program--but their spiritual and social needs for a place of quiet, prayer, reflection and sharing. I was very encouraged by the sensitivity of these former missionaries to Latin America and Brazil for this creativity.

Some time ago, I had agreed with Fathers John Lemire (Timmins Diocese) and Matthew Kucharski (London Diocese)--both vocation directors--to meet for supper and with a chance to discuss the Canadian Vocation Directors Conference here in Ottawa (at St. Theresa's Church) in June 2010.

When I called Jerry our chef to let him know of these two supper guests, he told me two other priests would be visiting. Father Eugene Roy, vicar for francophones in the London Diocese and celebrating his Silver Jubilee of priesthood last week, had asked about hospitality for himself and his travel companion Father Victor Diaz of the Diocese of Chiclayo, Peru.

The three of us had met in Peru in 2003 when I had gone there with Archbishop Martin Currie and I learned of the hospitality of Peruvians expressed by the phrase, "mi casa, su casa" ("my house [is] your house"). So I repeated it to Father Victor, eliciting a big grin.

In no time at all, we five priests were sitting on the balcony on my floor chattering away in French, English, some Italian and a bit of Spanish. Of course the grappa helped just a bit to loosen our tongues. So, too, did our joy in Christ's priesthood.

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