This morning and in the early afternoon, the Board of Directors of NET Canada (National Evangelization Teams) or, in French (Les Equipes NET, Nouvelle Evangelisation sur le Terrain) met at their offices on St. Joseph boulevard in Orleans.
We began with Mass for the Board and office staff, recalling the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, St. Eugene de Mazenod. Our diocese feels a bond with St. Eugene as it was he who missioned to our midst in Bytown the man who would become our first bishop, Mgr J. E. Bruno Guigues, one of de Mazenod's first recruits to the fledgling congregation.
Besides reading reports on the teams, the Massive Worship subsidiary and other items of business (financial reports and a preliminary budget for 2009-2010), we reflected on the contribution of NET to the new evangelization in Canada and Ireland (where we have been missioning parish and travelling teams for the last several years, preparing for the independence some year soon of NET Ireland): a return to the Irish for their role in serving the Catholics of Canada in earlier generations.
We see three primary fields of evangelization:
1) evangelizing the young missionaries who give a year or two of their lives and grow tremendously in their faith;
2) the youth whom they evangelize in retreats, school encounters, on travelling teams and in parish-based units;
3) the host families, who receive the youth for an evening or two while they are on the road or for a week or two when they are assigned to parishes.
The NETters presence in homes frequently leads to discussions on faith, religious practice and even to renewing or establishing rituals of prayer in households.
Of course, even the board members are challenged to commit to their faith in giving time and risking new ventures for NET: inspired by the Holy Spirit, pointing to Jesus as Saviour and Risen Lord, and all for God's (greater) glory!
This evening in the Archbishop's Chapel and in the Parish Hall (both below Notre Dame Cathedral), there was celebration of the completion of the lay formation training program or some units leading in this direction.
Some 45-50 lay faithful came to honour their colleagues or family member in a Liturgy of the Word.
It was a reverent and joyful three quarters of an hour, rich in song and praise, looking back on accomplishments and forward to service of God's peoples as the outcome of such reflection, prayer and learning.
A similar service is planned for the English section of Adult Faith Formation next month.
The theme is that of the wine harvest and the new vintage of wines. While it's somewhat out of season, in the Eastertide readings at the Sunday Eucharist we hear the teaching by Jesus that He is the Vine and we the Branches. Our task as disciples is to go out to bear fruit that will last.
As the French episcopal vicar, Abbe Daniel Berniquez was celebrating his 15th anniversary of priestly ordination today, there was a special cake in his honour, something to be washed down with good French wines.
Ad multos annos!