Monday, November 16, 2009

20th Anniversary of El Salvador Martyrs --- Ottawa Expressions of the Spirit

On November 16, 1989, six Jesuits, their cook, and her daughter were martyred in El Salvador on the campus of Universidad de Centro America (UCA).

They were Ignacio Ellacuria, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Segundo Montes, Arnando Lopez, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno, Elba Ramos and Cecilia Ramos

They were taken out of their beds at night, tortured, and shot and their bodies strewn across the rose garden that now sits at the heart of the pastoral center of the university where they lived and taught.

Today, twenty years later, we remember their sacrifice and those of so many others who gave their lives in the service of our faith and the promotion of the justice intimately bound up with our beliefs.

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In the past few days, I have been much aware of the life we lives that is "in the Spirit"--the Holy Spirit of Jesus.

Women of the Spirit

Thursday morning last week, I had a chance to breakfast with two "women of the Spirit", Judy Savoy and Deborah Gyapong.

Judy led a retreat for the Women of Bethany of the two archdiocese of our National Capital Region and did a one-woman comedy show at the new Shenckman Centre for the Arts in Orleans to benefit NET Canada Ministries. We got caught up on mutual friends in Halifax, where she is closely associated with St. Thomas Aquinas-Canadian Martyrs Parish. She said that if NET had existed in her day, she might never have left the Catholic Church for a sojourn with evangelical expressions of the faith until the Eucharistic Lord led her back to the faith.

Deborah covers Ottawa and the national scene for Canadian Catholic News and, as a member of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, has been an indefatigable exponent of her great desire to experience union with the Holy Father and the great Church Catholic.

We breakfasted at the Alta Vista Cora's so Judy could quickly get to the airport and Deborah and I to our respective offices.

The Charismatic Renewal in the French Sector of the Archdiocese

On Saturday, I spent the day with representative expressions of the charismatic renewal movement and was delighted to discover how varied and dynamic they are: numerous parish prayer groups that meet each week; Le Chemin de Joseph (a body of parishioners of Paroisse St-Joseph in Orleans where some thirty persons renew their commitment for a year at a time to a personal prayer discipline that rivals religious life), Foi et Television chretienne that assures weekly religious programming on CBOFT, raising the money to make it possible and arranging the retreat conferences that are at the core of the programming; Esprit Jeunesse, a youth-based spiritual movement based in Paroisse Ste-Marie in Orleans and Paroisse Ste-Euphemie, Casselman; Le Centre d'Amour, near Plantagenet, a lay-directed retreat and conference centre; etc.

After learning of their activities, we celebrated Mass in the Diocesan Centre Chapel, partook of a delicious lunch, held a Q&A session with me and resolved that we must do this on a regular (perhaps annual) basis. I was much edified by what I learned and the persons I met.

Ottawa Youth Challenge Program

Twice a year, young men and women who have participated in an adaptation of the Cursillo Movement ("short courses" in Christian Faith) offer this gift to their peers. This fall's session was held over the weekend at Immaculata High School. I was only able to participate in the Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Saturday evening, but was much taken by the zeal and fervour of these young people who have been touched by the Lord's Spirit and celebrate the Lord's forgiveness with a Good Confession (highly recommended to all!)

As archbishop, I want to thank the adults who support our young people in putting on this program for the renewal of the faith of its young adult members.

On the Ottawa Challenge Movement from the Website:

About Us: Challenge is a Catholic retreat movement for youth, coordinated by youth. The first Ottawa Challenge was held in 1967; since then, there have been 151 Weekends. Although there are two Challenge Weekends per year, the focus of Challenge is in the post-Weekend support. Challenge has its roots in the Cursillo Movement.

Mission: The mission of Challenge is to bring youth into communion with Christ and His Church initially through Challenge Weekend retreats and to give them ongoing support and encouragement to live out their Christian lives.

Celebrations of the Gift of the Spirit in Confirmation

This weekend I celebrated the first of several Confirmations at Paroisse St-Joseph, Orleans as well as at Paroisse St-Albert le Grand in St-Albert and at Paroisse Ste-Euphemie, Casselman.

Mr. Joe Healy, a retired RCMP officer, with experience in policing across Canada and around he world (Namibia, Bosnia, etc) has committed to help with driving me to some of the long-distance or night-time Confirmations, which can be tiring.

He was being initiated by Luc Louisseize into the arcane matters of how to lay out the bishop's vestments and paraphernalia for such services. Here he is in the sacristy at St. Albert after his first go at it.

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