Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Late May Miscellaney of People, Places, Events, Et cetera

Holy Redeemer Church—Kanata, Ontario
Saturday before Pentecost
May 18, 2013

[Texts: Acts 28.16–20, 30–31 (Psalm 11); John 21.20–25]

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Priestly vocations, whether to the diocesan priesthood or within a religious congregation or a community of apostolic life are, at their core, remarkably similar. Still, each call is also unique. As they grow in their call to the priesthood, our brothers strive to fathom the mystery that God has had them in mind from all eternity for the special ministry of the presbyterate.

As they live out their call, priests come face-to-face with health issues, spiritual battles, and struggles of the sort to which anyone in our modern world can fall prey. They need the support and prayers of parishioners, of family, of friends and, as we are focusing on today, of intercessors in a maternal role. These special women undertake to support a priest’s needs by offering daily sacrifices and prayers. They obtain for priests the graces they need personally and in their ministry.

As each believer follows his or her own special path of discipleship, we all face one common, profound struggle. Paul experienced it in the first reading. Peter and the Beloved Disciple confronted it in the gospel. It is allowing God to take the lead from the start of our vocational journey until its last stages.

For Paul, this meant being taken as a prisoner in chains to Rome. There, he would give his life for Christ. But Christians believe there is no chaining of the Word of God. The Book of Acts makes this point by concluding with two adverbs to indicate that God’s Good News of salvation was proclaimed at the heart of the Roman Empire “openly and unhindered.” What an encouraging stimulus for us, we who are committed to the new evangelization of our time!

Peter’s way of glorifying God would also mean being bound and led to crucifixion in Rome. It is alluded to in the opening words of today’s gospel. Peter then asked Jesus about the beloved disciple’s future. Jesus asked him to lay aside such preoccupations. He invited Peter to take the only path necessary, “Follow me!”

When we hear these ideals, we are moved by them. But we are also awed when we consider our limitations. How comforting, then, is today, the last of the Great Fifty Days of Easter. We know as Pentecost approaches, of St. Paul’s conviction that the Holy Spirit aids us in our fellowship with one another in the church. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” The same Holy Spirit guides the spiritual mothers of priests in their intercession.

Christian service of others, and especially priestly care of the Lord’s flock, is not to be carried out with our own agendas or motives. We must put on the mind of Christ. And so the priests, who are our brothers and the particular focus of our thoughts and prayers, are challenged to yearn to serve only by the dispositions of the Heart of our Saviour. Daily, they are to draw strength and courage from union with their Lord in prayer, particularly in the Eucharist, so that they can serve as Jesus did.

Earlier this week, our Holy Father Pope Francis spoke about the challenges facing priests in every age, including our own. “We [bishops and priests] need your prayers,” he said, “for, even the bishop and the priest may be tempted.” Bishops and priests should pray much, proclaim Jesus Christ Risen, and “boldly preach the message of salvation.” However, he said, “We are men and we are sinners,” and, “we are tempted.”

So , the Pope observes, “when a priest, a bishop goes after money, the people do not love him–and that’s a sign. But he ends badly.” St. Paul reminds us that he worked with his hands. “He did not have a bank account, he worked, and when a bishop, a priest goes on the road to vanity, he enters into the spirit of careerism–and this hurts the Church very much–[and] ends up being ridiculous: he boasts, he is pleased to be seen, all powerful–and the people do not like that!”

“Pray for us,” the Pope repeated, “that we might be poor, that we might be humble, meek, in the service of the people… pray, pray for us bishops and priests. We have such need in order to stay faithful, to be men who watch over the flock and also over ourselves, who make the vigil their own, that their heart be always turned to [the Lord’s] flock. [Pray] also that the Lord might defend us from temptation, because if we go on the road to riches, if we go on the road to vanity, we become wolves and not shepherds.”

Dear spiritual mothers of priests, of all people, your tender hearts feel the pain caused by errant priests. The reparation you offer to console the Heart of Jesus is of inestimable value in the restoration of a priest who has fallen into a pattern of indifference, offences, and betrayals. When you commend his soul and his ministry to Christ’s mercy and seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he cannot hide from the divine love you have released! The Church is also grateful for your prayers for the healing of souls scandalized, alienated, or wounded by the sins of priests.

As he has been doing since his election, Pope Francis reminds us to be faithful to the paschal mystery. We do so by becoming part of a church that is made up of the poor, that is for the poor. We gather into the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church the broken and the healthy, the poor and the wealthy, the sinners and the saints, around the same altar of sacrifice, the table of the Lord. God calls our priests to help them all—us all—to become a Eucharistic people. God created us to be nourished by His Word and His Sacrament. And your prayers, dear spiritual mothers of priests, share in this spiritual dynamic.

With the whole church, you are praying that the priests to whom you are committed, not turn away from the hope that the gospel offers. You prepare their destiny to flourish as humble servants in the Vineyard of the Lord. In keeping with the tenth promise of the Sacred Heart, God will give them the graces they need to touch the most hardened hearts. May this reality be so in the Church Universal, but in a particular way here in the Archdiocese of Ottawa!
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Again this year, I was privileged to speak to Native Leaders from across Canada at a week-long program held at St. Paul's University.  My challenge was to help them see the Bible as a whole and as a basis for nurturing their spiritual lives and service to God's people.  Above is a photo taken with the participants and some of the resource people.

The May long-weekend has been for 15 years the occasion for Kateri Native Ministry, guided by Director John Corston,  to hold a healing weekend.  I attended the Saturday afternoon and evening sessions at the Marguerite Centre in Pembroke.

Besides the music ministry and other testimonies and teachings, special guests included the parents and sisters of Jake Finkbonner, the 13 year-old whose sudden recovery from the flesh-eating disease that doctors assessed as terminal.  His recovery has been attributed to the prayers to God through the intercession of Kateri Tekakwitha; the Holy See's examiners determined that the recovery was medically inexplicable and co-incided with placing of a relic of the Native saint next to his body. The whole family has been involved in testifying to God's goodness in granting Jake's recovery through St. Kateri's intercession and their witness moved the participants to grow in hope for personal recovery. 

La famille Finkbonner partage les grâces reçues à travers le miracle pour Jake par l’intercession de Sainte Kateri Tekakwitha:

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Yesterday, the nominations of pastoral appointments were released and they indicate the arrival of priests to serve in the Archdiocese of Ottawa.

A community new to us this summer is the Society of the Divine Saviour (Salvatorians, the abbreviation is SDS), who will take charge of Divine Infant Parish in Orleans.  They will also share with us in the Archdiocese their understanding of the Divine Mercy spirituality.  Shown above on a recent visit are (left to right): Fathers Waldemar Podlasz, pastor, Maciej Wos, Canadian Regional Superior and Krystian Golisz, associate pastor. 

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Pictured above is Father Gilles Njobam, a Claretian (abbreviation CMF), who became associate pastor at Holy Cross Parish at the beginning of May.
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Last week, Mgr Daniel Berniquez (who besides being the francophone Episcopal Vicar also is responsible for relations with those living the Consecrated Life) and I visited with the Missionaries of Africa residence on Argyle Street next to Holy Korean Martyrs Church.  After a lovely dinner and conversation we posed for a photo on the front stairs (the magazine describes the community's missionary activity).
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This week's blog is being posted from Toronto where this morning at 9:30 I will preside at the Jesuit diaconal and priestly ordinations at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. I am enjoying the hospitality of Pedro Arrupe House where I had lived from 1983-87.

Prior to my departure for Toronto, I had been hosted for dinner by long-time Toronto friends Gail and Bruce Young (above).

On arrival, I was treated to an evening at the Opera, being thoroughly moved by Poulenc's Dialogue des Carmelites in the presence of Jacques Monet, s.j. and Anne Delicaet (below).

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Yesterday, I dropped in for Mass and lunch at the Newman Club, which is this year celebrating the Centennial of its foundation.  There will be a special Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, June 9 at 11am, presided by Toronto Auxiliary Bishop William T. McGrattan, followed by a reception, and another Mass of Thanksgiving that evening at 7pm.

For several years (1995-1998) I was the unofficial bishop-chaplain to the Newman Centre and always enjoyed chatting with the resident campus ministry leaders, who witness to like ministering to like: students and academics serving fellow students and other academics.

 Pictured below (left to right) are Patrick Douglas, Director of JR and Operations, Josh Canning, Director of Chaplaincy and Father Chris Cauchi, Pastor and Executive Director.

The Newman Centre's St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel

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A la Pentecôte, chaque année je préside à la basilique-cathédrale Notre Dame les Confirmations d’adultes et d’adolescents qui non pas pu, pour une raison ou l’autre être confirmés. C’est toujours un événement de grande joie!

The Confirmation of Adults and Older Teens is always a joyous celebration each Solemnity of Pentecost at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. There were some fifty confirmands at noon and another forty-plus at 5PM.  This coming Sunday at noon, youngsters in Grades 6-8 who missed earlier opportunity for their Confirmation will receive the sacrament at the cathedral's noon Mass.


The Blessed Mother and the Apostles at Pentecost (Notre Dame Sanctuary)

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