Saturday, May 23, 2009

The "Rapping" Friar; the Running Bishop; Dinner for Deacons

St. Mary's Parish is directed by the Companions of the Cross and has an active youth ministry programme. So their activity day today featured the presence and ministry of Father Stan Fortuna, CFR (Franciscan Friars of the Renewal), known to many as the "Rapping Friar".

I was only able to take in his morning presentation on prayer (based on Romans 8:26: we don't know how to pray as we ought and the Holy Spirit comes to our aid). Of course, there is singing and guitar music to start, followed by a mixture of powerful preaching and teaching, relieved by humour and amusing music in rap style.

An excellent troubador for the Lord in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi and inspired by the witness and teaching of Pope John Paul II, whom he cites from time to time.

There were some 250 or so young people, from junior high school through the early years of college and university, not only from the Archdiocese of Ottawa but from as far away as Rochester, NY and Pickering, ON; with delegations from Barry's Bay, Maxville, Spencerville, Merrickville and from the Pembroke, Kingston and Cornwall dioceses.

I told Fr. Stan that a young priest from Halifax, Father Paul Morris (now Rector of St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica) had introduced me to some of his repertoire on his iPod. So the good friar was patient enough to autograph a couple of CDs for Fr. Paul and me.

Coming home for lunch, I met dear friend and neighbouring bishop, Most Reverend Paul-Andre Durocher (Alexandria-Cornwall) who was in town for the 10K run this afternoon in anticipation of tomorrow's Ottawa Marathon. He says he's working his way up to participating in a longer run in a future year without further obligation.

Bishop Paul-Andre is also a singer of some renown and his episcopal motto (drawn from St. Augustine) is "Canta et ambula" ("sing and walk"). Maybe it will need to be adjusted if he takes the running really seriously :)

Annual Dinner for the Diaconal Family
My garden patio got a good breaking-in for the year this evening with close to eighty deacons and their wives who came for the annual Archbishop's reception in their honour. Light on ceremony and formality, we had cocktails then repaired to the Parish Hall for a served dinner (garden salad and rolls, medallions of pork with spring beans and potatoes, red and white wine, Black Forest cake, coffee or tea). The caterers (Lolacher's) did a great job, as did the team of servers.

After dessert, I thanked the deacons for their service, encouraged those affected to collaborate with their new pastors (the priestly nominations were announced to the diocese on Friday; there will be a press release on Monday after the priests have a chance to inform their parishioners themselves), discussed briefly liturgical issues, marriage preparation programs and the coming Youth Summit/Montee Jeunesse 2010.

Above all, I invited them to help lead the faithful in praying for vocations to the priesthood, the most critical need of our Church of Ottawa at this time. Finally, I reassured the wives of the deacons of our gratitude for their support of the diaconal ministry and the sacrifices that this implies for them and their families.

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