Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jesuit Infirmary in Pickering - Feast of St. Leo the Great - St. Leon le Grand Parish, Treadwell


Some months ago, the Jesuit Infirmary in Pickering, St. Rene Goupil House, inaugurated a new chapel with bright airy, stain-glassed windows and lots of room to line up the wheelchairs used by the residents (Jesuit priests and brothers).

As I had not had a chance to visit to visit and to celebrate Mass for St. Ignatius Day this year (my practice in previous years when the earlier very small chapel was no longer adequate and Mass was celebrated in the foyer), my visit to Toronto for session two of the Archdiocesan Priests Seminar allowed me the chance to celebrate Mass yesterday at 11:30 and to join old friends and associates for dinner in the dining room.

Father Xavier de Pinto of St. Norbert's Parish and a long-time friend gave me hospitality Sunday evening and used his day off to chauffer me around (we found some interesting theological and historical works at the discount Crux Books store at Wycliffe College, Toronto School of Theology) and deliver me to the Nottawasaga Inn (near Cookstown) for the next couple of days.

The volunteers who assist with chores and activities to keep the men active as well as some of the nursing staff also attend the daily Eucharist. It is a warm and welcoming community, a well-merited retirement centre that radiates joy.

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With apparent strong conviction of the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, and of the Church as the ongoing sign of Christ’s presence in the world, Leo the Great displayed endless dedication as pope.

Elected in 440, Pope Leo I worked tirelessly as "Peter’s successor," guiding his fellow bishops as "equals in the episcopacy and infirmities."

Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the pope’s total responsibility for the flock of Christ.

He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism, Manichaeism and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs.

A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ.

With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.

In these three areas, Leo’s work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work.

Leo is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. One of his sermons is used in the Office of Readings on Christmas.

It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the Church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his Body, the Church.

Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the Church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and St. Peter, in whose place Leo acted.

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On Sunday, at the close of the four-parish unit (the other parishes are St. Luc, Curran, St. Paul, Plantagenet and St. Benoit Labre, Wendover), I visited the parish named after today's saint in the village of Treadwell.

Here are some photos of the Mass, exchange over brunch with parish representatives and, finally, a visit to a large dairy farm directed by one of the parish families, named Pilon.

Later this week, in the weekly round-up, photos from the other three parishes will be posted.

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