Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today is Canada's 142nd Anniversary [born by the union of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on July 1, 1867, sub-sequently enlarged by the Provinces of Manitoba (1870), British Columbia (1871), Prince Edward Island (1873), Alberta and Saskatchewan (1905) and Newfoundland (1949)], along with the following territories and the dates they were recognized as such: Northwest (1870), Yukon (1898) and Nunavut (1999)].

Happy Birthday, Canada!


O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux.
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix.
Ton histoire est une épopée,
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

Family Visit
Today my youngest brother John, with Sonia Struthers and their two children Clara and Paul are visiting for the Canada festivities. Tomorrow, they will go to Wakefield Steam Train for a journey that my nephew and niece are excited about; I will have to wait for another occasion as I am leaving for Quebec City and the Emmanuel Community's Recontre des Familles.

Mass for Canada Day
This morning some 100 of the faithful gathered for a special Canada Day Mass for Canada. Here is the closing prayer of the faithful that expresses our hopes for out country today: God of mercy, Lord of peace, hear the prayers we make to you on this day when we celebrate our nation's birth. Make us truly a nation united. May our land be a harbour of peace and unity for all peoples, races, faiths and cultures until the coming of Your Kingdom, where You live and reign, forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Martyrs of Rome; Forty Years of Holy See-Canada Diplomatic Relations

L to R: Rev. T. Cassidy, OMI, Dr. Robert Ryan, Mgr Serge Poitras, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, Msgr. Luca Lorusso

Today, June 30, the Church continues the celebration of the martyrdom of those Roman saints whose blood, like that of the Apostles Peter and Paul, became the "seed of Christians".

Yesterday, Archbishop Luigi Ventura (named to Canada on June 22, 2001 and took up office on September 10 that year) hosted a reception for members of the Diplomatic Corps as well as representatives of Catholic, religious and other entities to mark the Fourth Anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's election to the Chair of Peter and, incidentally, to note the Fortieth Anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Canada and the Vatican (Holy See).

The Vatican is both an administrative body and the heart of the church. However, the Vatican did not become a sovereign state until it elaborated with Italy the Lateran Pact, ratified on February 11, 1929.

After the Vatican became sovereign, it set up a more formal "Apostolic Delegation" in Canada and elsewhere. In 1969, Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau met with Pope Paul VI and the Canadian government then opened diplomatic relations with the Vatican on October 16, becoming the 72nd country to do so at which point the Apostolic Delegation became an Apostolic Nunciature or embassy.

Anticipating the 40th anniversary in October, the musicians from Famille Marie-Jeunesse paused in their musical offerings for the Nunciature's guest [just before the rain started] and played the Canadian national and Vatican anthems.The chamber orchestra continued their playing as people huddled under the tents, noshed on finger food and chatted up their neighbours.

Whether a sign of divine beneficence or not, soon thereafter a rainbow was spotted over the Nuncio's rooftop.

Closure of the Year of St. Paul the Priest: Transition to the Year of the Priest

Dear Brothers and Sisters!
With the celebration of First Vespers for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, over which I will preside this evening at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Pauline Year -- proclaimed for the bimillennium of the Apostle of the Gentiles' birth -- comes to a close. It has truly been a time of grace in which, through many pilgrimages, catecheses, numerous publications and other initiatives, the figure of St. Paul was put forward again in the whole Church, and his vibrant message has revived everywhere, in Christian communities, a passion for Christ and the Gospel. For this we give thanks to God for the Pauline Year and for all the spiritual gifts that it has brought to us.

Divine Providence has arranged that a few days ago another special year -- the Year for Priests -- was inaugurated on June 19, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, marking the 150th anniversary of the death -- "dies natalis" [heavenly day of birth] -- of John Mary Vianney, the holy Curé d'Ars. It is a further spiritual and pastoral impulse that -- I am certain -- will not fail to bring many benefits to the Christian people, and especially to the clergy.

What is the purpose of The Year of Priests? As I wrote in the related letter that I sent to priests, it is meant to contribute to the promotion of an interior commitment on the part of all priests to a more powerful and incisive evangelical witness in the world today. In this regard, the Apostle Paul constitutes a splendid model to imitate, not so much in the specifics of his life -- his life was, in fact, truly unique -- but in his love of Christ, in his zeal for the proclamation of the Gospel, in his dedication to the communities, in his elaboration of an effective synthesis of pastoral theology.

St. Paul is an example of a priest who was completely identified with his ministry -- just as the holy Curé d'Ars would also be -- conscious of possessing a priceless treasure, that is, the message of salvation, but in an "earthen vessel" (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7); thus he is at the same time strong and humble, intimately persuaded that everything is God’s doing, everything is grace.

"The love of Christ possesses us," the Apostle writes. This could well be the motto of every priest -- that the Spirit compels (cf. Acts 20:22) him to be a faithful steward of the mysteries of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2). The priest must belong totally to Christ and totally to the Church; to the latter he is called to dedicate himself with an undivided love, like a faithful husband to his bride.

Dear friends, together with that of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, we call upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that she obtain from the Lord abundant blessings for priests during this Year for Priests, which has just begun.

May the Madonna, whom St. John Mary Vianney loved and made his parishioners love, help every priest to revive the gift of God that is in him by virtue of his holy Ordination, so that he grow in sanctity and be ready to bear witness, even to the point of martyrdom, to the beauty of his total and definitive consecration to Christ and the Church.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Left to right: Archbishops Thomas Collins (Toronto), Terrence Prendergast, S.J. (Ottawa), Brendan O'Brien (Kingston), Richard Smith (Edmonton), Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R. (Grouard-McLennan)

Two years ago, Canada had a record five metropolitan archbishops who received the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI. Tomorrow, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul and the closing day of the Special Year devoted to the Apostle to the Gentiles, two Canadian archbishops will receive their pallium: Pierre-Andre Fournier (Rimouski) and J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. (Vancouver).

The Pallium is rich in symbolism and the Holy Father's homily again this year will challenge the archbishops named in the past year to be willing to do all, even lay down their lives, for the faithful entrusted to their care. Here are the remarks he made at his own reception of the pallium which symbolizes his universal jurisdiction at the beginning of his pastoral ministry as the Successor of St. Peter on April 24, 2005:

“The first symbol is the Pallium, woven in pure wool, which will be placed on my shoulders. This ancient sign, which the Bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which the Bishop of this City, the Servant of the Servants of God, takes upon his shoulders.

“God’s yoke is God’s will, which we accept. And this will does not weigh down on us, oppressing us and taking away our freedom.

“To know what God wants, to know where the path of life is found – this was Israel’s joy, this was her great privilege. It is also our joy: God’s will does not alienate us, it purifies us – even if this can be painful – and so it leads us to ourselves. In this way, we serve not only him, but the salvation of the whole world, of all history.
“The symbolism of the Pallium is even more concrete: the lamb’s wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life.

“For the Fathers of the Church, the parable of the lost sheep, which the shepherd seeks in the desert, was an image of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The human race – every one of us – is the sheep lost in the desert which no longer knows the way. The Son of God will not let this happen; he cannot abandon humanity in so wretched a condition. He leaps to his feet and abandons the glory of heaven, in order to go in search of the sheep and pursue it, all the way to the Cross. He takes it upon his shoulders and carries our humanity; he carries us all – he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.

"What the Pallium indicates first and foremost is that we are all carried by Christ. But at the same time it invites us to carry one another.

“Hence the Pallium becomes a symbol of the shepherd’s mission.... The pastor must be inspired by Christ’s holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert.

"There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.

“Therefore the earth’s treasures no longer serve to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.

“The symbol of the lamb also has a deeper meaning. In the Ancient Near East, it was customary for kings to style themselves shepherds of their people. This was an image of their power, a cynical image: to them their subjects were like sheep, which the shepherd could dispose of as he wished.

“When the shepherd of all humanity, the living God, himself became a lamb, he stood on the side of the lambs, with those who are downtrodden and killed. This is how he reveals himself to be the true shepherd: “I am the Good Shepherd . . . I lay down my life for the sheep”, Jesus says of himself (Jn 10:14f). It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God’s sign: he himself is love.

“How often we wish that God would make show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity.

“We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.

“One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. “Feed my sheep”, says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, he says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer.

“Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament.

“My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.”

List of 34 Metropolitan Archbishops receiving the Pallium June 29, 2009:

Ten hail from North America:

-- Pierre-André Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec
-- John Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia

-- Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Michigan
-- Timothy Dolan of New York
-- Robert Carlson of St. Louis, Missouri
-- George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska
-- Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, Louisiana

-- Domingo Díaz Martínez of Tulancingo, Mexico
-- Víctor Sánchez Espinosa of Puebla de Los Angeles, Mexico
-- Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico.

Seven are from South America:

-- Ismael Rueda Sierra of Bucaramanga, Colombia
-- Manuel Felipe Díaz Sánchez of Calabozo, Venezuela
-- José Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, El Salvador

-- Sérgio da Rocha of Teresina, Brazil
-- Maurício Grotto de Camargo of Botucatu, Brazil
-- Gil Antônio Moreira of Juiz de Fora, Brazil
-- Orani João Tempesta of San Sebastián do Río de Janeiro, Brazil.

Eight are from Europe:

-- Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England
-- Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien, Poland
-- Carlos Osoro Sierra of Valencia, Spain
-- Braulio Rodríguez Plaza of Toledo, Spain

-- Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Italy
-- Salvatore Pappalardo of Syracuse, Italy
-- Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio of Lecce, Italy.
-- Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of the Latin Archdiocese of Lviv, Ukraine.

Six are from Africa:

-- Philippe Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
-- Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers, Algeria
-- Joseph Yapo Aké of Gagnoa, Ivory Coast

-- Paul Mandla Khumalo of Pretoria, South Africa
-- Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani, Congo
-- Philip Naameh of Tamale, Ghana.

Finally, three are from Asia:

-- Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, Thailand
-- Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, Sri Lanka
-- Anicetus Bongsu Antonius Sinaga of Medan, Indonesia.

Please pray for the above and all who share the Holy Father's jurisdiction in their ecclesiastical province (for Ottawa, for example, this includes the three suffragan sees of Hearst, Pembroke and Timmins).

Views of Diocesan Feast, Ark of the New Covenant; Coming Events

Members of Famille Marie-Jeunesse, after driving the Ark of the New Covenant from Sherbrooke, unload the travelling box in which it is packed. The trunk is covered with souvenirs from all across Canada where the Ark journey as a preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress of June 2008. Left to right: Pere Patrick, Soeurs Karinne, Jennifer.

A traditional part of the entrance procession for the Archdiocesan Feast Day is the carrying of Parish Banners, some of which are visible here.

Finally, just before the final blessing six representative young adults carried in the Ark, while the organ and brass instruments echoed through the expectant congregation assembled in the cathedral basilica.

The Ark will be on display in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica at the Sunday Eucharist this weekend. The schedule for the transfer and display of the Ark will be elaborated in the coming weeks as the Archdiocese moves toward next May's Montee Jeunesse/Youth Summit 2010.

Heavy Travel Schedule, Uneven Blogging in Coming Days
The coming days feature many comings and goings and uncertainty about access to the internet, so the blogging may be lighter than usual in the next week. Here are some of my activities in coming days:

Saturday, June 27
4PM Exemplification Mass for Knignts of Columbus members and candidates for the Fourth Degree at Ottawa's Algonquin College.

Sunday, June 28
8:30AM Breakfast with Soeurs de Sainte Marie de Namur at their recently sold Retreat Centre at Vankleek Hill. Because the community is aging and there are no longer sufficient sisters to manage and operate this long-standing work (and no other religious community was found to assume responsibility) it was put on the real estate marked and sold relatively quickly. As I will be away in August when they will move, with my Episcopal Vicar and MC Abbe Daniel Berniquez I will join them for a good-bye visit.

11AM Mass at St. Alphonse de Ligouri Church, Hawkesbury, inaugurating the Paroisse St.Pierre Apotre's use of a single church for worship.

2-5 PM Travel to Sherbrooke to join the Concile des Jeunes (Youth Assembly) directed by Famille Marie Jeunesse.

Monday, June 29
9-11 AM Preside at closing ceremonies and Mass for Concile des Jeunes

6-8 Celebration of the 4th Anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's Election and 40th anniversary of the Vatican's representation in Canada as an Apostolic Nunciature.

Wednesday, Julu 1 Canada Day
9AM Mass for Canada in Notre Dame Cathedral

Thursday, July 2-5 Congress on the Family sponsored by the Communaute d'Emmanuel (Quebec City)

Friday, June 26, 2009

2nd Installation Anniversary; Closing Pastoral Year 2008-09; Bishop Toppo Visits

Last evening's celebration of the Archdiocesan Feast Day was a joyous celebration. The entry of the Ark of the New Covenant was moving moment. As with two years ago when we began the installation service with a vigil of prayer, it was swelteringly hot and the cathedral was like a sauna.

Amid people fannning themselves with the order of service leaflets, praise was sung to God for the blessings of this Year of St. Paul and petitions were raised to the heavenly throne for abundant blessings to our youth and--through them to the whole diocese, indeed our country-- for everyone to grow in knowledge of Our Eucharistic Lord and in zeal for spreading Good News as part of the Mission of Jesus today.

Second Anniversary of My Installation
A few photos follow to bring back memories of June 25-26, 2007 to mind. Native drummers prepare for the smudging service of purification at the Vigil Service, with words of welcome from various ecumenical, religious, civic officials as well as from the youth.
Early the next morning, I prepare to knock on the door to gain admittance to the Cathedral and, in the language of Canon Law, "take possession of" the cathedral and church of Ottawa. After all the installation formalities, presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the first solemn Eucharist is celebrated in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. I am wearing the double-barred Metropolitan Archbishop of Halifax's cross in these photos. One does not often see the pectoral cross I wear (there are several beautiful ones in the Ottawa treasury), as it is generally worn inside (especially when the pallium is worn outside). After the Installation Mass and the chance to greet the priests, religious and faithful, there was a luncheon at the Ottawa Congress Centre (now being torn down--I see the progress every day on my way to the office--to be rebuilt for an April 2011 opening).

Then, it was back to Halifax for the evening and a quick packing routine to arrive in Rome late on the evening of June 28 so as to receive the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2007. With farewells in Halifax and Yarmouth, June 21 and 24, it was quite a breathless week!
At lunchtime today, we had a Prayer Service at the Diocesan Centre to give thanks to the Lord for the blessings of this Pastoral Year 2008-2009 and to ready ourselves for the Summer Break and to get planning of activities to highlight the Year of the Priest.

Visit of Bishop Felix Toppo, S.J. of Jamshedpur, India
This evening, I hosted a brother Jesuit bishop, whom I had met at the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church in Rome last October. He is visiting a priest of his ministering in the Gatineau Diocese, Fr. Gyan Topno.

He will also speak this weekend at Holy Redeemer Parish, Kanata this weekend and at St. Isidore's Parish South Marsh/Kanata next weekend. Accompanied by his financial officer, the youthful Fr. David Vincent, we had a pleasant dinner with cordial and frank conversation about the challenges of his diocese and the political and religious forces at work in Indian society.

Bishop Toppo's visit is part of the Missionary Co-op Plan of the Ottawa Archdiocese whereby missionary dioceses or religious entities may share our common faith in the homily and present their needs for the information of, and possible support by, two parishes.

There is a rotation each year and it helps all to become aware and take part in the missionary dimenions of the Church's life.

Left to right: Fr. Gyan Topno, Fr. David Vincent, myself, Bishop Felix Toppo, SJ

Thursday, June 25, 2009

THE ARCHDIOCESAN FEAST DAY (JUNE 25, 1847) --- Parish Catechetical Formation

Holy Redeemer Parish Sacramental Initiation Team
Yesterday, my Episcopal Vicar Father Joseph Muldoon and I met with members of the Christian Initiation Program at this large parish in Kanata that has been taking seriously preparing children to be initiated into the mystery of Christ (First Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Holy Communion).

Cathy Moloney, Sharon Groulx and Colleen Wiltse were full of enthusiasm for the way in which the parents and families of those being initiated were drawn into the life of faith--a process of ongoing evangelization. We also explored how this could be nurtured and strengthened as Confirmation will now be celebrated at a common age [in grade six] for all of our young people (I recently published a Pastoral Letter on this matter, which is available on the Archdiocesan website). All of us left encouraged by this fruitful exchange.

The Diocese of Bytown was established on this day in 1847, so this is the 162nd birthday of what became the Diocese of Ottawa (June 14, 1860) and subsequently the Archdiocese of Ottawa June 8, 1886).

Our Mass of Thanksgiving this evening will focus on two themes: the Close of the Year of St. Paul (at left is the Icon of St. Paul commissioned by the Archdiocese of Toronto for the Jubilee Year marking 2000 years since Paul's birth; the explanation by Sister Marie-Paul the writer of the icon follows below) and the welcoming of the Ark of the New Covenant (explained below) in anticipation of the Montee Jeunesse/Youth Summit 2010.

(Sr. Marie Paul is French-speaking; her description has been left unaltered)

“From the very day that the Archdiocese of Toronto asked me to prepare the icon of St. Paul who is standing, I have written for you a Paul who is bold and convincing. His experience of the Christian mystery and all that he learned from the Lord himself, gives him much assurance and conviction, while the Apostle to the nations remains simple and humble. His gaze is penetrating as if he wished to transmit the sense of the infinite that is within him. His gesture gives much importance to the book of Scriptures and his letters that he bears in his hand.

His robe is blue, a color that signifies wisdom, faith, experience of God and union with God. His cloak is an earth brown color that signifies the asceticism of the desert. Paul left everything to follow Christ. As you gaze upon this icon and pray to the Apostle Paul, hear once again Paul's own words and experience his vocation: “For me, to live is Christ.” (Gal 2:20)


Preparations for the International Eucharistic Congress got underway with the First Youth Summit held in May 2005. Participants at this initial mobilization of youth enjoyed a weekend of renewal and discussions; they noted how the Cross of World Youth Day had been used, and expressed the desire to produce a symbolic object that could travel the country to prepare the way for the congress.

A committee of youth from Quebec City and Montreal recommended to the Eucharistic Congress Steering Committee that it consider using an original artistic work. This artistic creation, the Ark, would expand understanding of the Eucharist and serve as the springboard for a wide variety of activities related to the objectives of the Eucharistic Congress.

The originality of the Ark as a first in the history of International Eucharistic Congresses wanted to foster creativity wherever it travelled and bring generations together – that it be come an impetus to unite many people in Christian reflection, to discover, deepen and celebrate the Eucharistic Mystery and render it in every way possible the gift of God for the life of the world.

Why an Ark? The Ark: A Chest: In this case, the Ark of the New Covenant is a seat, as well as a container. It is a “seat” for the King, that is, Christ, present under the form of the Eucharistic species exposed in a monstrance. It is also a chest containing the Scriptures, the Bible, which, proclaimed in the liturgy, becomes the presence of Christ who through his word teaches the people, his Church. The ship’s hold at the base of the Ark is a place where people can put testimony of their commitment as Christians, to make the passage of the Ark as it travels from one community to the next.

A Symbolic Boat: The base of the Ark is in the form of a boat, bringing to mind Noah’s Ark (cf. Genesis 6:18-22). However, it refers more to the boat of Peter. Ever since the institution of the New Covenant, the boat has been a symbol of the Church, the people of God who are journeying together.

The New and Eternal Covenant: Its name “Ark of the New Covenant,” of Biblical origin, refers to the spiritual experience of the people of Israel and the pact they concluded with God in the time of Moses in Sinai. Since that time, Jesus signed the New Covenant with the people of the Old Covenant. The expression “New Covenant” refers in fact to the new and eternal Covenant, which came from Jesus Christ, marked by the Pascal Mystery of his death and resurrection and celebrated in the Eucharist.

Mary, Ark of the New Covenant – A Marian Title: T he title, “Ark of the Covenant” was bestowed on the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

What do the icons at the top of the Ark represent? At the top of the Ark are four large icons, representing moments in the Paschal Mystery, or the Paschal Triduum: The Last Supper; The Passion and Death of Jesus; The Vigil of Mary, Jesus’ Mother; The Resurrection.

There are other smaller icons that also bring to mind various aspects of the Eucharist, the table of the New Covenant: The Multiplication of the Loaves; The Wedding at Cana; The Washing of the Feet; The Disciples at Emmaus

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, Precursor of Christ is a popular feast worldwide but particularly dear to French Canadians and the Knights of Malta. As our Cathedral Mass this afternoon was bilingual and had the knights and ladies specially gathered for the occasion, my homily made reference to both groups. Here is the English version; the parts in italics were to be delivered in French:

[Texts: Isaiah 49:1-6 [Psalm 139]; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80]

Today, we celebrate the birthday of the Forerunner of Christ, the only one besides our Blessed Mother and Our Lord himself whose birth is celebrated liturgically.

For centuries, the birth of John-situated just after the summer solstice-has had significance for French Canadians who brought with them from France the custom of night-time fires, something I remember from my youth in Montreal. Over time, processions and other religious events and, more recently, secular observances have developed into today's "Fête nationale des Canadiens français".

This day also taps into a long association of the Knights and Ladies of Malta who have gathered for Mass this afternoon, with John the Baptist. The Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (to give their full name) were formed long before their reign on Malta.

The Order, who motto is "Teutio fidei et obsequium pauperum": for the defence of the faith and assistance to the poor", was originally established in 1085 as a community of monks responsible for looking after the sick at the Hospital of St. John the Baptist in Jerusalem.

John's prophetic call to serve both Israel and the nations lay hidden within the designs of God. It was issued before his birth, as he was being carried in the womb of Elizabeth: "The Lord called me before I was born; while I was in my mother's womb He named me".

The majority of Israelite names, like ancient Semitic names in general, had readily understandable meanings. Parents consciously chose such names, which could be translated into sentences, to describe the identity of, or aspirations they had for, their child. The name "Zechariah" means, "The Lord remembers", while "John" means "God has been gracious".

John's name was assigned him by the angel Gabriel when Zechariah was told that his wife would conceive and bear a son in her old age. Though Zechariah had been rendered mute for his momentary unbelief, Elizabeth in a wondrous manner had arrived at the divinely appointed name. She insisted on naming her son John.

John's birth is mentioned only cursorily so that attention may be given to the drama of his naming and the end of Zechariah's speechlessness. When Zechariah wrote "His name is John", people were amazed, Zechariah's tongue was loosed and he began praising God, uttering the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), which the Church prays at Lauds every morning.

In the passage from Acts, Paul described the closing of John's preaching career as a selfless one, his humility leading him to speak thus about Jesus: "'What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on His feet'".

Just as at the time of the winter solstice—December 25—when the course of the sun begins to rise in the northern hemisphere, the Church celebrates the birth of Christ, the shining sun born from on high and the true light of the world, so, at the summer solstice—June 24—when the course of the sun begins to decline, the Christian community recalls the birth of John the Baptist, who, though not himself the light, bore witness to the light (cf. John 1:6-9).

John himself testified, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), a saying that the Church's liturgy has applied to the location of these feasts in the solar calendar.

Let us pray on this lovely solemnity of John the Baptist's birth that all Catholic Christians and French Canadians and Members of the Order of Malta who have a particular attachment to St. John the Baptist, may be strengthened in our desire to follow God's will for our lives by our dedication to Christ and our desire to embrace the motto of the Precursor, that Our Lord may increase and we may decrease, to the glory of God our Father. Amen.

Today the Holy Father continues a theme begun yesterday, the cooperation of priest and laity, as called for by the Second Vatican Council:

[Vianney’s] example naturally leads me to point out that there are sectors of cooperation which need to be opened ever more fully to the lay faithful. Priests and laity together make up the one priestly people and in virtue of their ministry priests live in the midst of the lay faithful, “that they may lead everyone to the unity of charity, ‘loving one another with mutual affection; and outdoing one another in sharing honour’” (Rom 12:10).

Here we ought to recall the Second Vatican Council’s hearty encouragement to priests “to be sincere in their appreciation and promotion of the dignity of the laity and of the special role they have to play in the Church’s mission. … They should be willing to listen to lay people, give brotherly consideration to their wishes, and acknowledge their experience and competence in the different fields of human activity. In this way they will be able together with them to discern the signs of the times”.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Welcome, Isabel Clare Hurley!

Ted Hurley is the Director of Youth Ministry for the English Sector of the Archdiocese of Ottawa and an indefatigible promotor of new media, especially the Archbishop's use thereof: last week he helped me videotape a greeting to the men attending the Quo Vadis priestly discernment gathering and meal, since I was otherwise committed that evening at the Corkery and Packenham parishes and could not attend.

Truth to tell, he made it easy for me to become a blogger by setting up this blogsite (a turn-key operation--all I had to do was log on and get going, eventually even learning how to insert illustrations and photos on line).

Today a new gal came into his life, a fourth daughter for Theresa and him. Isn't she a cutie? Born at 1:04am today at Queensway Carleton Hospital, weighing in at 8 lbs 12 oz!

Congratulations to all the Hurleys and welcome Isabel Clare!


"[Vianney] arrived in Ars, a village of 230 souls, warned by his Bishop beforehand that there he would find religious practice in a sorry state: “There is little love of God in that parish; you will be the one to put it there”.

As a result, he was deeply aware that he needed to go there to embody Christ’s presence and to bear witness to his saving mercy: “[Lord,] grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life!”: with this prayer he entered upon his mission. The Curé devoted himself completely to his parish’s conversion, setting before all else the Christian education of the people in his care.
Dear brother priests, let us ask the Lord Jesus for the grace to learn for ourselves something of the pastoral plan of Saint John Mary Vianney! The first thing we need to learn is the complete identification of the man with his ministry. In Jesus, person and mission tend to coincide: all Christ’s saving activity was, and is, an expression of his “filial consciousness” which from all eternity stands before the Father in an attitude of loving submission to his will.

In a humble yet genuine way, every priest must aim for a similar identification. Certainly this is not to forget that the efficacy of the ministry is independent of the holiness of the minister; but neither can we overlook the extraordinary fruitfulness of the encounter between the ministry’s objective holiness and the subjective holiness of the minister.

The Curé of Ars immediately set about this patient and humble task of harmonizing his life as a minister with the holiness of the ministry he had received, by deciding to “live”, physically, in his parish church: As his first biographer tells us: “Upon his arrival, he chose the church as his home. He entered the church before dawn and did not leave it until after the evening Angelus. There he was to be sought whenever needed”.

The pious excess of his devout biographer should not blind us to the fact that the Curé also knew how to “live” actively within the entire territory of his parish: he regularly visited the sick and families, organized popular missions and patronal feasts, collected and managed funds for his charitable and missionary works, embellished and furnished his parish church, cared for the orphans and teachers of the “Providence” (an institute he founded); provided for the education of children; founded confraternities and enlisted lay persons to work at his side.

Monday, June 22, 2009


This icon is found on the web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops where it is noted that the writer of the icon has given permission for its use this year for non-commercial purposes.

The following is the iconographer’s exposition of some of its significance:

This icon (egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panel, 28” x 22”) is “based on a fifteenth century Greek prototype; here Christ is shown in Latin Rite vestments with a gold pelican over His heart, the ancient symbol of self-sacrifice. The borders contain a winding grapevine and altar prepared for the celebration of the liturgy of the Mass; in the borders are smaller icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.” Incidentally, it is St. John Vianney whom Pope Benedict XVI, with the announcement of this special year, has declared the Universal Patron of Priests.

Czarnecki explains: “I wrote the icon about seven years ago [for seminarians and priests] to be able to see Christ in themselves, and themselves in Christ. We often hear that the icon is called a window; in this case, it’s also meant to be a mirror.” The Good Shepherd reminds the priest that he is to “lay down his life for his sheep” (www.seraphicrestorations.com).

MORE FROM POPE BENEDICT XVI’S LETTER ON THE YEAR OF PRIESTS The following is the second part of the Holy Father's letter to the priests of the world concerning a special year devoted to the priesthood and, in particular, to the significance of St. John Baptist Marie Vianney as a model for sacerdotal life and ministry. This excerpt speaks of the painful consequences when priests betray the trust given by Christ in ordination and harm rather than help souls. Further excerpts from this powerful letter will follow in subsequent posts.

There are also, sad to say, situations which can never be sufficiently deplored where the Church herself suffers as a consequence of infidelity on the part of some of her ministers. Then it is the world which finds grounds for scandal and rejection.

What is most helpful to the Church in such cases is not only a frank and complete acknowledgment of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realization of the greatness of God’s gift, embodied in the splendid example of generous pastors, religious afire with love for God and for souls, and insightful, patient spiritual guides. Here the teaching and example of Saint John Mary Vianney can serve as a significant point of reference for us all.

The Curé of Ars was quite humble, yet as a priest he was conscious of being an immense gift to his people: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy”.

He spoke of the priesthood as if incapable of fathoming the grandeur of the gift and task entrusted to a human creature: “O, how great is the priest! … If he realized what he is, he would die… God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host…”.

Explaining to his parishioners the importance of the sacraments, he would say: “Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest… After God, the priest is everything! … Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is”.

These words, welling up from the priestly heart of the holy pastor, might sound excessive. Yet they reveal the high esteem in which he held the sacrament of the priesthood.

He seemed overwhelmed by a boundless sense of responsibility: “Were we to fully realize what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but of love… Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth… What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods … Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and they will end by worshiping the beasts there … The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you”.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Parish Visits: St. Leopold Mandic Croatian; 50th of St. Sebastien

The last of the 2008-2009 Pastoral Year's Confirmation celebrations took place yesterday afternoon at St. Leopold Mandic Parish in the Mechanicsville section of Ottawa, the former Notre Dame des Anges church, which the Croatian community received from Archbishop Joseph-Aurele Plourde some 23 years ago. Three pastors have come to serve the Croatian faithful; the present pastor is Father Adam Tabak, who has been here nine years and recently received permission from Archbishop Marin to serve an additional two years.

After Mass, a delicious dinner was served in the parish hall.

During the Mass the music ministry was led by the Croatian folk group, with traditional instruments; they also performed at the beginning of the celebratory meal.


Paroisse St. Sebastien d'Overbrooke--Golden Jubilee

This morning, we closed the year-long activities this proud parish scheduled to mark the anniversary of its foundation on July 9, 1959.
Among those in attendance was the first child baptized n the new parish Serge Sebastien; the founding pastor Abbe Dumoulin had, with some difficulty, persuaded the parents that his middle name should be taken in honour of the patron of the parish--a name chosen to honour the then Apostolic Delegate Archbishop (later Cardinal) Sebastiano Baggio--rather than Jean-Guy, the name of the godfather, who also came to today's anniversary Mass. Several Marists who had been pastors or were in residence in the seventeen years after the founder retired returned for the occasion, along with the current pastor, Mgr Gilles Lavergne. A festive luncheon was served in the halls afterward.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Photo Review: Corkery and Pakenham, Planning for Montee Jeunesse 2010

Yesterday was a quiet afternoon visit to two rural parishes, one on the far western edge of the Archdiocese (St. Michael's, Corkery) and one just inside Lanark County, (St. Peter Celestine, Pakenham).

Fr. Michael Ruddick, ordained in June 2003 has been pastor for the last several years. He received me at his rectory in Corkery and with delight showed me his two beautiful churches, the well-kept cemetery across from St. Michael's Church.

After a short drive we stood in awe at the beautifully-appointed and maintained church in a town where one crosses on a five-span bridge, enjoys the hospitality of the parishioners and learns that there's a Fiddle and Step-dance competition going on at the arena. Take a look:


Today there was a preliminary planning meeting for next May's Youth Summit/Montee Jeunesse. There were representatives from Ottawa and Gatineau; the dioceses of Alexandria-Cornwall, Kingston and Pembroke; some national bodies (Famille Marie-Jeunesse, CCO/Catholic Christian Outreach, NET-Canada/Les Equipes NET); the Centre-Est francophone Catholic School Board, the Ottawa Catholic Challenge Movement and several parishes, priests and individuals involved in youth ministry.
Led by Soeur Marie-Pierre SNDN and Pere Olivier-Pierre OMI, both fluently bilingual, the friendly brain-storming session surfaced lots of wonderful ideas of how Ottawa's location and significance could help focus the four-day gathering from May 21-24, which is the Victoria Day Weekend civilly and the Pentecost weekend liturgically:
Could the eternal flame before the Peace Tower become an image of the fire of the Holy Spirit in our activities? What about the symbolism of a gathering on Parliament Hill, the place of debate and encounter in parliamentary democracy? What about the many bridges linking Ontario and Quebec in the National Capital Region as a symbol of linguistic, ecumenical, even interfaith dialogue?

Thanks to fellow blogger and CCN Reporter Deborah Gyapong, who attended the closing part of our exchange for these photos; she will be giving an account of the mood of our gathering in a forthcoming publication.... Belated birthday greetings to Deborah who was feted on her 60th this past week.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart Begins the Year of the Priesthood; Quo Vadis Vocation Meeting; Last Confirmations of the Pastoral Year

In inaugurating the Year of the Priest that runs from this years’s Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (June 19, 2009) until the same feast next year (June 11, 2010), Pope Benedict closely aligns the sentiments of the Heart of Jesus, pierced for our sins out love, to the heart of the priesthood. Some of these connections are bolded below in the opening paragraphs of the Holy Father’s letter to the world’s priests. Further passages will be noted in coming days.

Dear Brother Priests,
On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 – a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy –, I have decided to inaugurate a “Year for Priests” in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the “dies natalis” of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide.

This Year, meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world, will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010. "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus”, the saintly Curé of Ars would often say.

This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labours, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as “friends of Christ”, whom he has called by name, chosen and sent?

I still treasure the memory of the first parish priest at whose side I exercised my ministry as a young priest: he left me an example of unreserved devotion to his pastoral duties, even to meeting death in the act of bringing viaticum to a gravely ill person. I also recall the countless confreres whom I have met and continue to meet, not least in my pastoral visits to different countries: men generously dedicated to the daily exercise of their priestly ministry.

Yet the expression of Saint John Mary also makes us think of Christ’s pierced Heart and the crown of thorns which surrounds it. I am also led to think, therefore, of the countless situations of suffering endured by many priests, either because they themselves share in the manifold human experience of pain or because they encounter misunderstanding from the very persons to whom they minister. How can we not also think of all those priests who are offended in their dignity, obstructed in their mission and persecuted, even at times to offering the supreme testimony of their own blood?

"Quo Vadis" Meets at St. Theresa's Church
Quo Vadis is the name of the monthly Third Friday meeting of men interested in discerning a vocation to the priesthood. As I already had a commitment at the Parish of St. Michael's, Corkery and St. Peter Celestine, Pakenham, the English Pastoral Office's Director of Youth, Ted Hurley helped me prepare a short video presentation thanking those open to searching out God's will in their regard and encouraging them as they struggle with saying "yes" to such a call when they discover that God wants them to serve His People in this wonderful ministry.

I am grateful to Father Tim Mccauley, our Director of Vocations for his strong leadership in holding a festive get-together this evening. The usual format is a period of prayer in common (often the Liturgy of the Hours), a testimony by one of the priests of the Archdiocese on his discernment of Christ's call (today Msgr. Kevin Beach, Vicar General) and a simple meal.

Men interested in discerning a call to the priesthood may contact Father Tim, who is pastor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Russell by email [tmccauley@archottawa.ca] or by requesting to see him on Tuesdays at the Diocesan Centre (613-738-5025).

Completion of Confirmations for 2008-2009 Pastoral Year
Last night I celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation for 16 youth at Paroisse St-Jean Baptiste, the parish directed by the Dominican Fathers; it is adjacent to Dominican University College on Empress Avenue. This evening I will confirm a small group in Pakenham, while tomorrow I will celebrate with youth from the Croatian Parish of St. Leopold Mandic in the western section of Ottawa.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Paul VI Restores the Permanent Diaconate 42 Years Ago Today

Today is a special day for Permanent Deacons the world over. It is the 42nd anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s Motu Proprio SACRUM DIACONATUS ORDINEM, subtitled "General Norms for Restoring the Permanent Diaconate in the Latin Church."

Some excerpts from that text follow, along with photos taken at the recent ordination of three Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of Ottawa: James Kubina, William Read and Louis Seward. The icon is a representation of St. Stephen, deacon and protomartyr (Acts 6:1-6; 6:8-8:1).

Beginning already in the early days of the Apostles, the Catholic Church has held in great veneration the sacred order of the diaconate [Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem], as the Apostle of the Gentiles himself bears witness. He expressly sends his greeting to the deacons together with the bishops and instructs Timothy[1] which virtues and qualities are to be sought in them in order that they may be regarded as worthy of their ministry.

Furthermore, the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council following this very ancient tradition, made honorable mention of the diaconate in the Constitution which begins with the words "Lumen Gentium" where, after concerning itself with the bishops and the priests, it praised also the third rank of sacred orders, explaining its dignity and enumerating its functions….

Although some functions of the deacons, especially in missionary countries, are in fact accustomed to be entrusted to lay men it is nevertheless "beneficial that those . . . who perform a truly diaconal ministry be strengthened by the imposition of hands, a tradition going back to the Apostles, and be more closely joined to the altar so that they may more effectively carry out their ministry through the sacramental grace of the diaconate."

Certainly in this way the special nature of this order will be shown most clearly. It is not to be considered as a mere step towards the priesthood, but it is so adorned with its own indelible character and its own special grace so that those who are called to it "can permanently serve the mysteries of Christ and the Church." …
According to [Lumen Gentium,] the above-mentioned Constitution of the Second Vatican Council it pertains to the deacon, to the extent that he has been authorized by the local Ordinary to attend such functions:

1) To assist the bishop and the priest during liturgical actions in all things which the rituals of the different orders assign to him;

2) To administer baptism solemnly and to supply the ceremonies which may have been omitted when conferring it on children or adults;

3) To reserve the Eucharist and to distribute it to himself and to others, to bring it as a Viaticum to the dying and to impart to the people benediction with the Blessed Sacrament with the sacred ciborium;

4) In the absence of a priest, to assist at and to bless marriages in the name of the Church by delegation from the bishop or pastor observing the rest of the requirements which are in the Code of Canon Law with Canon 1098 remaining firm and where what is said in regard to the priest is also to be understood in regard to the deacon;

5) To administer sacramentals and to officiate at funeral and burial services;

6) To read the sacred books of Scripture to the faithful and to instruct and exhort the people;

7) To preside at the worship and prayers of the people when a priest is not present;

8) To direct the liturgy of the word, particularly in the absence of a priest;

9) To carry out, in the name of the hierarchy, the duties of charity and of administration as well as works of social assistance.

10) To guide legitimately, in the name of the parish priest and of the bishop, remote Christian communities; 11) To promote and sustain the apostolic activities of laymen.

All these functions must be carried out in perfect communion with the bishop and with his presbytery, that is to say, under the authority of the bishop and of the priest who are in charge of the care of souls in that place.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Annual Celebration at St. Patrick's Basilica

In 1929 Catholics in the Lebreton area petitioned Archbishop Forbes for a new parish that would serve their area, but it was only in 1938 that the Parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was established.

A key feature of the parish's life were the weekly devotions in honour of OLPH on Wednesday, sometimes up to seven times that day and with the devotions broadcast for a time on CFRA.

Demographics transformed the location close to Chinatown into an area where few Catholics resided as many of the original faithful moved to other areas of Greater Ottawa. Several attempts were made to continue the parish's ministry or give it another direction, but eventually the church was closed and later sold to the Orthodox Church in America; it has become the Archdiocese of Canada's Annunciation Cathedral.

The OLPH devotions were transferred to St. Patrick's Basilica, where the annual celebration of the Feast is held on a Wednesday near the official calendar feast day of June 27. And so, this afternoon at the regular afternoon Mass time of 4:30, I presided at a 71st annual celebration in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: a concelebrated Mass with devotional prayers before and after the Eucharist.

Some three hundred of the faithful were present, singing passionately the traditional Marian hymns and taking part in the traditional prayers of intercession. Afterwards, there was reception in the Scavi area of the basilica's basement.

Popular devotions of this kind do not draw crowds as in the past, but there is still room for such prayers which profoundly touch the lives of those who take part.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, associated with a Byzantine icon of the same name, said to be 13th or 14th century, but perhaps 15th century. The icon has been in Rome since at least the late 15th century.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church this iconography is known as the Theotokos [God-bearer] of the Passion. An image very popular among Catholics, it has been much copied and reproduced, with reproductions sometimes displayed in homes or elsewhere. A treasured image of OLPH was prominently displayed in the sanctuary at St. Patrick's.

Today, as from earliest times, Catholics continue to ask the Blessed Virgin to intercede on their behalf with Christ, her Son.