Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pentecost: The Outpouring of the Spirit and the Birth of the Church

Pentecost evokes images of wind, fire, ineffable speech and a marvellous auditory gift to peoples from around the Mediterranean basin at the beginning and now in the hundreds of nations and tribes worldwide, that of hearing and grasping interiorly (in their hearts) God's message of love in their own idiom!

Wow! It's the birth of the Church and the fulfilment of Jesus' desire that the fire he was sent to cast upon the earth should burst forth into flame (Luke 12:49) burning in the hearts of his disciples, fearlessly telling the Good News everywhere it is needed and witnessing to God's saving activity everywhere they can.

Ottawa's French and Hispanic congregation of Sainte-Famille/Sagrada Familia were kind enough to reschedule today's regular noon Eucharist at 9 o'clock so that I could preside on Pentecost at the Confirmation of some thirty young and not so young members of their community.

We also took note of the fact that relatives of Abbe Gratien Girot, their pastor, and of a member from Burkina Faso were also being confirmed today in their homelands.

We remembered them in our prayers along with the many others receiving the Seven-fold Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation around the globe (including at the two other Masses I presided at Notre Dame Cathedral, where 35 were confirmed at the English noon Mass and 24 at the French 5:15 Mass).

At Sainte-Famille, the congregation was advised beforehand that the woman from Burkina Faso had asked permission to ululate at the Consecration of the Mass, a sign of ecstatic joy and reverent adoration. It added a solemn tone to the energizing music at the Mass.

Following Mass, the confirmands presented me with two baskets, one filled with foodstuffs of various kinds (a treat the residents of my community will appreciate), and the other filled with symbols of their homelands (coffee from Cuba, an atisan's hand-made oven mitt from El Salvador, a typical piece of ornamental house-front art from Colombia, a copper jar and a bottle of wine from Chile), which I shall treasure.

The Liturgy of the Word for the solemnities of Easter, Pentecost and Corpus Christi concludes with a special "Sequence Hymn" before the Gospel. Each congregation I attended today sang a different version, but always with a note of awe.

Here is an English version of the Pentecost Sequence "Veni, Sancte Spiritus":

Come, Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from Thy celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come Father of the poor!
Come source of all our store!
Come within our bosoms shine!

Thou, of comforters the best;
Thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine
Shine within these hearts of Thine.
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, man has naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sev'nfold gift descend;

Give them virtue's sure reward;
Give them Thy salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.

Amen. Alleluia

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Three New Priests! CWL Diocesan Convention

Fathers Carlos Martins, Jamie Utronkie and Simon Lobo were ordained priests as members of the Companions of the Cross this morning in a packed Notre Dame Cathedral.

Many of the Companions--priests, seminarians and aspirants--were present to pray up a storm and join in joyful and prayerful song. Congratulations to the newly ordained, their families and the CC Family!

Present in the minds of many was Companions' Founder Father Robert (Bob) Bedard in hospital since February with a series of health complications. There is hope he will be released in the near future to a nursing facility. Prayers are asked for his peace and healing.

This afternoon, seminarian Matthew Keshwah drove me to St. Philip's Church, Richmond (founded in 1819--then part of the Kingston Diocese--the oldest English-speaking parish in the Archdiocese of Ottawa) for the 86th Annual Convention of the Ottawa Archdiocesan Council of the Catholic Women's League of Canada.

The anticipated Sunday Eucharist of Pentecost was standing-room only at the tiny church. At the close of Mass, Diocesan Spiritual Director, Father Jessimar Tapia, blessed the newly installed executive (among them: Colleen Randall is the new President, succeeding May Lubin).

At the banquet that followed in the parish hall, the parish assembly of the Knights of Columbus provided and served the wine; a few short speeches were made and service was acknowledged with several presentations.

Among the prayers said--in addition to the grace before meals, was the Prayer for the Holy Father which I always find moving:

O God, ruler and shelter of the faithful, look with favour upon your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, whom you have willed to designate shepherd of your church. Grant him, we beseech you, that by word and example he may so benefit those in his charge that, together with the flock committed to his care, he may attain life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Draws were made for the centre-piece plants, photos galore taken and entertainment provided by the St. Philip's Folk Group. Well done, St. Philip's!

Friday, May 29, 2009

15th NET-Canada Closing Activities & Mass of Thanksgiving

Early this afternoon at Ottawa's west end TraveLodge, parents, friends, host families and benefactors came together with returning NET Canada and NET Ireland evangelists in a feast of joyful sharing of the fruits of the year on the road or in parishes.

Three Canadian Parishes in Victoria, Toronto and at Annunciation of Our Lord Church in Gloucester as well as one in Sligo, Ireland hosted stationary teams; there were also two travelling teams in Canada and one in Ireland (the Republic and in Ulster, N. Ireland).

Each NET team member received a group photograph and a certificate of participation in the evangelizing enterprise. Each team's mission statement was read: in some cases, quite daring declarations and spiritually challenging principles.

Then each team put on a skit, did a musical presentation, showed a video of their activities (the Sligo Team, whose members participated in a pilgrimage to Lourdes), etc.

This evening, we had a closing Mass of Thanksgiving at Notre Dame cathedral; with several priests joining me in concelebrating the liturgy. I based my homily "Perform the Work of An Evangelist" on the text which NET had chosen to mark the Year of St. Paul--2 Timothy 4:1-5:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

I encouraged them to see with the eyes of faith and to share with others their experience of the Risen Lord in scripture, the Eucharist, their growth in prayer, as our age cherishes witnesses over teachers. I urged them not to let their limitations get in the way of doing this, recalling Paul's experience and spiritual growth:

"Paul wanted everyone to know Christ Jesus and the power of his resurrection, and he enlisted the timid Timothy to trust that God’s power working in him would overcome any apparent limitations. Paul tells the story in Second Corinthians of the “thorn in his flesh” that he asked Jesus three times to take away from him so that he could fulfill the work of an apostle and evangelist more effectively.

"However, the Risen Lord Jesus who regular comforted Paul in Acts, confided to him that the thorn, the sign of Paul’s limitation and weakness (which can stand for any impediment), would not be taken away, because “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness”. From then on, Paul said, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor 12:9)."

The music was upbeat and reverent; the graduating NETTERS (from Canada, the US, Australia and Ireland) sang a lovely meditative piece before the final blessing.

Next week, the NET Alumni return to Ottawa for a Fifteen-Year Reunion: if this week's celebrations are any indication of the tone, it should prove spirit-filled and lots of fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Canadian National Prayer Breakfast; Presbyteral Council; Companions of the Cross Ordinands

This morning, the 44th National Prayer Breakfast for Our Nation's Leaders was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Lyon and Albert Streets.

Evangelical in origin and tone, the devotional gathering attracted close to 900 attendees. I always find these uplifting in content and friendly and respectful in approach: clearly this is a Christian event--strongly focussed on a relationship with Our Lord Jesus--but open to those of other religions and perspectives who are willing to come.

Two of the national leaders and two MPs read from the scriptures: Jack Layton Psalm 40; Michael Ignatieff Galatians 5:13-14; Robert Bouchard a text from Deuteronomy that I have not yet tracked down and Cabinet Minister Stockwell Day Luke 10:25-37 (the parable of the Good Samaritan).

Paul Bryant, a country-western singer from Calgary was featured several times; he engaged his audience with good humour.

The keynote address was given by Ravi Zacharias, an inspiring evangelical motivational speaker (born in India, converted at 17 and an immigrant to Canada at age 20, his family assisted by Roland Michener), who is now based in Toronto, though he travels the world.

Mr. Zacharias put the case for the existence of God from the order and complexity of the universe, anchoring his presentation under four headings: eternity, morality, accountability and beneficience.

The closing was an unabashed call for acceptance of Jesus Christ, his Cross and Resurrection, as the only way to peace and reconciliation in the world: a bracing and bold proclamation!

Several times a year, the presbyters who serve as the bishop's council of advisors (some two dozen from the various regions and those representing religious priests and the retired priests) come together to discuss pressing matters.

This morning we addressed the matter of how to form anew a single Diocesan Pastoral Council whose members would act as a sounding board to the bishop and allow him to receive from the laity their concerns and issues (a steering committee will make proposals in light of the discussion).

As well we examined a draft pastoral statement on Christian Rites of Funeral and Burial Customs in the light of evolving practices (increasing numbers of Catholics choosing cremation prior to the Funeral Mass; decisions made by children who do not practice the faith for parents or relatives who did; pressures to celebrate in funeral parlours rather than in church; the pressure to have words of remembrance or eulogies and/or secular music at the funeral liturgy, etc.)

Both issues will return.

In the afternoon, the College of Consultors (a more limited number of the Presbyteral Council) discussed matters largely of financial concern: building repairs and contracts for paving; lighting, new heating systems, roofing concerns; proposals for stained glass windows: all the nitty-gritty material concerns of a dynamic and lively set of parish communities that makes up the Archdiocese.

This evening, I hosted for supper at my residence the three members of the Companions of the Cross whom I will ordain to the priesthood at 10am on Saturday morning, the Vigil of Pentecost, at Notre Dame Cathedral.

This year's crop of ordinands are all from Ontario: Simon Lobo from Ottawa, Jamie Utronkie from Round Lake and Carlos Martens from Kitchener.

I gave them a tour of the house, introducing them to a bit of the Archdiocese's history and learning from them some of their interests and concerns. The cook had prepared a delicious supper and so the conversation was easy, free-flowing and off the record.

We concluded our time together with a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the residence chapel, praying for God's blessing on their ministry of evangelization and of service to God's people, invoking our Blessed Mother Mary's intercession for the fruitfulness of their labours.

It's only a few hours now to the laying on of hands and the ontological transformation of these gentle men into "other Christs". And so most appropriate is the tradition wish: Ad multos et faustissimos annos! (May you have many years, many happy years!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Visit to Maryvale Academy

On my return from Toronto this morning, I went straight from the Ottawa Airport to a non-descript school at 1000 Brookfield Street (not far from Bank and Heron). The building, formerly a French-language public school (Gabrielle Roy) now houses three entities: a Christian Horizons school for handicapped youth, a French-language Islamic school and, on the second floor at the back, Maryvale Academy.

There are some sixty students in grades 1-8 (all classes are split: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8) with an average of 16 pupils per home room. Parents pay for what they believe is a sounder Catholic education than is available in the Catholic public system. The tuition ranges from $5500-6500 per child, with discounted rates for more than one child per family and an overall cost that is socially adjusted to family income.

Maestro Uwe Lieflander leads a sound music programme and a year- end musical evening for friends of the school is scheduled for June 3rd. There will be a comedic program on Pinnochio by the younger children and a variation of A Midsummer Night's Dream by the older ones.

My visit coincided with the hiring of a new principal, Mr. Michael Dopp, who formally begins his duties on June 1. Newly married and fresh from a Master's Degree in Evangelization from Detroit's Sacred Heart School of Theology as well as with a background in business, he seems ready to take the school to a new level.

Catholics believe that parents are charged by God with being the first educators of their children in the faith. This led, when I was in Halifax, to the establishment there of Our Lady of Schools, a fledgling educational venture that began its first year with eight students and gradually inched towards forty students after five years of existence.

Such schools are strong on the element of faith: these children are charged with becoming saints by everyone on the staff, and there is a wholesomeness about the atmosphere, even as the surroundings are a bit threadbare. One stays with the educational program for one's children out of conviction.

Celebrating Mass was a real joy as the choir sang with zest and competence, the altar servers comported themselves with aplomb, and reverence was the keynote of the liturgical gathering.

In my homily after a bit of Show and Tell concerning the crozier, miter and pallium, I spoke briefly about the saying St. Paul attributes to Jesus in today's first reading from Acts, that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

I sensed everyone was happy to give today: to the bishop and to each other (a delicious meal was served to the older students, the faculty, staff and board of direction/parents group). During a brief visit with the first- and second-graders, I was given a stack of hand-printed cards. Visiting with the third- and fourth-graders, we had a Q & A on the life of a bishop.

During lunch, all the junior school students performed a feat of showing their knowledge of the key catechism questions they had committed to memory. It ended with all of them exclaiming: "TA-DAH!!!"

The whole body of the Academy also gets along with their neighbours, sharing the gym with the Muslim school, etc.

The school received permission from Archbishop Gervais for the Blessed Sacrament to be kept in an Adoration Chapel and all have the opportunity to drop in for prayer as the opportunity allows.

May Our Lady, in whose honour the school is dedicated, continue to watch over this courageous and challenging experiment in private Catholic schooling!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mass for Parliamentarians; Remembering Fr. Brian Massie, S.J.

Sean O'Sullivan was one of the youngest MPs ever elected to the House of Commons and a great supporter of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Later, after several terms in Parliament, he sensed God calling him to the priesthood and studied at the Beda College in Rome.

Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter ordained him a priest and named him Director of Vocations, encouraging him in the establishment of Serra House, Toronto's discernment house for men contemplating serving in the priesthood.

Father Sean was also responsible for a widely-noticed promotion of the priesthood, with large billboards showing the Crucified Lord Jesus whose cross towered over Toronto and Christ's invitation, "Dare to Be a Priest Like Me!"

Father O'Sullivan wrote his biography (Both My Houses) about serving in the House of Commons and the Lord's House In it he wrote how a major demand of his accepting a call to the pristhood was that of going to his former opponents and asking their pardon for any ways in which his total devotion to his party and principles had hurt them.

When he died a young man, his former colleagues determined to set aside a room for prayer and recollection for MPs and their staffs in the East Block, to allow for prayer for peace and reconciliation as part of the challenge of striving to serve the common good.

Today for the second time, I celebrated Mass for parliamentarians and staff members in the O'Sullivan Room. The altar bears the beaver on its front, testimony to his role in having the beaver designated an Canadian offical signal.

It is my hope that such opportunities to pray with our representatives will help foster the values of the faith embodied by Sean O'Sullivan in his service to his country and his God.

Later in the day I flew to the Toronto City Centre Airport to attend the Memorial Mass this evening at Our Lady of Lourdes Church for the repose of the soul of Father Brian R.H. ("Buzz") Massie, my Jesuit ordination classmate.

The church was filled with family members and associates from Brebeuf College School, Camp Ekon, Our Lady of Lourdes, fellow Jesuits and former Jesuit members, whose lives were touched by Fr. Brian.

The presider was Jesuit Provincial Father James (Jim) Webb who had worked with him at Brebeuf and in Jamaica, and the homilist was Father Peter McIsaac, Superior of Jamaica's Jesuits and Pastor of St. Anne's Church in Kingston. He spoke movingly and with humour of Buzz's ability to allow the power of Christ to work through him and his weaknesses to heal, strengthen and encourage others.

At the close of the Mass, I was invited to share a few remembrances of Buzz from the time we were in high school together in Montreal (1957-60) and teaching there (67-68), our years in the novitiate and juniorate (61-64) and in theology (1969-73) when we shared so much in the classroom, at the bridgetable, in the chapel, in ministry to youth. Finally, I recalled our final meeting in Winnipeg in February of this year.

May he rest in peace, and may his family and friends be comforted in their loss.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pilgrims on "La marche des sanctuaires"; Canadian Catholic Historical Association

Every morning from May 25 to June 18, a small group of walking pilgrims will gather in front of Notre Dame Cathedral for the start of the 12-day trek to St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, which may be extended by an additional 18 days of pilgrim life en route to the shrine of Ste. Anne-de-Beaupre, just beyond Quebec City.

The Chemin des Outaouais crosses the Ottawa several times, so that journey towards Montreal can take in shrines on either side of the river.

The stopping points before reaching Montreal are: Oreleans, ON; Gatineau-Masson, Thurso, Plaisance, Montebello, QC; L'Orignal, Chute-a-Blondeau, ON; Rigaud, Oka, Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac and Laval, QC. The shortest daily trek is 15 km, the longest, 26, and the average 19.

The hikers stay in makeshift accommodations and pay a nominal $10 per night for their lodging and, if available, $10 for supper and $5 for breakfast.

Abbe Daniel Berniquez and I greeted the first relay on this rather cool morning just before 8 am and offered prayers and a blessing.

May they all be kept safe, find the Lord and his peace in their activity and grow in friendship with their fellow travellers.

Catholic Historians

This evening I was privileged to preside at the concelebrated Mass for the Canadian Catholic Historical Association, holding its annual convention at Carleton University during the Learned Societies Meeting (May 25-26).

In Halifax, I had the joy of welcoming the Society to Saint Mary's University in 2004 and celebrated Mass in Canadian Martyrs Church that year.

As there is no chapel on campus, Mass was offered in a classroom and was followed by a reception and dinner.

Each year, the CCHA focuses on a matter of local interest and Frank McEvoy offered a tour of St. Patrick's Basilica yesterday in the afternoon. The papers given today began with a unit devoted to Ottawa Catholic life:

Session # 1. Focus on Ottawa

Elizabeth Smyth (OISE/UT), From the Ottawa Valley to the Four Corners of the World: Reconceptualizing the Identity of the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception

Mark McGowan (St. Michael's College, University of Toronto), J.J. O Gorman, Ottawa and the Imperial Irish, 1914-1919

Fred McEvoy (Ottawa), Fr. Aeneas M. Dawson and Canadian Expansionism

The next two sessions took place in the late morning and early afternoon:

Session # 2. Women in the 20th Century Church

Christine Lei (Nipissing University), Setting up Shop - The Arrival of Sisters of Social Service in Hamilton, Ontario

Marilla McCarger (University of Western Ontario), 'For League Members and Their Friends': Gender, Ethnicity and Class in the St. Louis Catholic Women's League, (Waterloo, Ontario) 1924 - 1945

Jacqueline Gresko (Corpus Christi College, University of British Columbia), The Sisters of the Assumption Teaching Japanese Canadians During World War II - Nation, Homeland, Territory

Session # 3. The Impact of the Laity

Gabriela Kasprzak (University of St. Michael's College)
Nationalism in a Catholic Weekly? The Case Study of Gazeta Katolicka in Interwar Canada

Joshua Blank (Carleton University), Pitching, Pies and Piety: Early 20th Century Saint Hedwig Parish Picnics (Renfrew County, Ontario)

Ryan Topping (St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan), Catholic Studies and the Study of Catholicism in Canadian Universities and Colleges: History and Prospects

Tomorrow's papers are as follows:

Session # 4. Developments in the Canadian Church Before and After the Second Vatican Council

Peter Baltutis, (University of St. Michael's College), Rooted in the Vision of Vatican II: Youth Corps and Its Efforts to Empower Young Catholics in Catholic Social Justice, 1966-1984

Robert Dennis, (Queens University), Going back to the Land in the 1930s: Lived Religion and Living Otherwise in Toronto

Heidi MacDonald (University of Lethbridge) and Elizabeth Smyth (OISE/UT), Public History? Motherhouse Museums in Canada, 1962-2008

Session # 5. Saints and the Faithful
Emma Anderson (University of Ottawa)
Nationalist Saint: Jean de Brebeuf and the Politics of Canadian Identity

Donald Boisvert (Laval University), Gerard Raymond: The Making of a French Canadian Adolescent Saint

Laura Smith, (University of Toronto), Nearly all the back township have neglected their Lenten duty: Lay Initiative and Obstacles to Clerical Control in Nineteenth Century Rural Ontario

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Confirmations in Latin; Seminarian Driver; Thanksgiving for Ascension Parish

At St. Clement's Parish, directed by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, today was the Sunday after Ascension Thursday, a day on which I had been invited to celebrate Confirmations in the "usus antiquior", that is the ritual in force in 1962 (and the one by which I was confirmed in 1952).

So this morning, I confirmed some thirty plus youth and adults in a Confirmation ceremony that began at 10:30 and was immediately followed by a Solemn Pontifical Mass (my second time celebrating in the Extraordinary Form [EF]--the first was on the occasion of my earlier visit to St. Clement's in January 2008).

The altar boys knew their way around the sanctuary quite well and I was ably assisted by the Superior and Pastor Father Philip Creuer, FSSP and his curates, Fathers Joseph Lee and Denis Cruchet.

The Mass was truly reverent, particularly at the time of Holy Communion, and I know this was one of the reasons that Pope Benedict XVI in his Motu Proprio enlarged the possibilities for priests to celebrate in the EF. It will be interesting to see how the two forms will mutually enrich each other.

A wonderful luncheon for all followed in the parish hall with lots of opportunity for renewal of acquaintances, conversation and photos.

The return of the Ottawa seminarians from St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto for the summer allows me the chance to interact with them as they assist by driving me to celebrations, setting up my vestments and paraphernalia for Mass, etc. It helps us--bishop and future priest--to get to know one another better.

Matthew Chojna, who has finished Second Theology drove me to Hawkesbury for a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Church of l'Ascension de Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ, which (with Eglise St-Dominique) will close after the last Sunday Eucharist on June 21.

I noted to him en route the irony that, because of different calendars, I would be celebrating the Mass of the Sunday of the Lord's Ascension after I had celebrated the Mass for the Sunday after the Ascension!

Matt has just received a nomination to do his pastoral internship at St. Patrick's Parish in Fallowfield, where Father Stephen Amesse has recently been named pastor.

All kinds of wonderful adventures in mentoring await them both.

The Mass of Thanksgiving was a wonderful celebration, even as it mixed gratitude to God for graces received over the 52 years of the parish's life and the 50 years of the church itself (opened in June 1959) with the sorrows of its imminent closure.

Some additions to the offertory procession symbolized the beauty of the liturgy and the graces received. At the end of Mass, two representative objects were entrusted to a couple to take to the new single parish church at the end of June: a framed photograph of the Church with a chalice and paten. The final blessing was given on the steps of the Church, after we had all processed out to "go and proclaim the Good News" in a new location.

Some years ago, declining levels of Sunday worship, the drop in the number of active priests available and the escalating costs of maintaining three good-sized churches in a town of 10,800 led to the formation of a single parish, called St. Pierre Apotre with three worship centres (the largest of which is the Church of St. Alphonse de Ligouri, which will remain open).

The last step in the restructuring is to move to a single church building that will incorporate the separate councils and bodies into one. This creates tensions as there are, for example, three councils of the Knights of Columbus, several choirs and other entities.

The two priests Abbe Jean-Pierre Fredette and Abbe Albert Kasadi (a Congolese on loan to our diocese) have challenging demands, but they have come a long way with their people and the diverse points of view. They will try to move ever more closely to the ideal of unity in the church spoken about by St. Paul in today's second reading from Ephesians:

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3, NRSV)

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.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Of Things Material and Spiritual...

This morning the auditors and investment portfolio managers came to meet with the Archdiocesan Finance Committee, which meets several times a year to act as good stewards of the financial resources put at the Church of Ottawa's disposal.

It's not the world that I am completely at ease with. Denis Desautels, parishioner at Paroisse St-Gabriel and devoted member of the AFC asked a couple of questions to "decode" what the investment experts were saying (it has been a difficult year in the markets with the financial meltdown). I was encouraged that a former Auditor-General of Canada was asking for such clarifications; it helped me feel that I was not totally out of it as I tried to fathom the intricacies of the market dynamics being presented to us.

The audit revealed that the Archdiocese showed a slight surplus, thanks in part to a generous bequest that came in late in the financial year. The generosity of so many in difficult times, to foster and further the Lord's work, is a great encouragement. St. Joseph who is the patron of the church, watching over its needs as he did for the Holy Family, is a strong intercessor for our Diocese.

Once a week in the chapel in my residence we offer a Mass in Thanksgiving for our benefactors--those who assist us spiritually with their prayers and materially with their sacrificial giving--living and deceased.

To God be the glory!

This evening St. Paul University's Ministry Centre and the Archdiocese's Adult Faith Formation Committee combined to host Father Ronald Rohlheiser, OMI, well-known spiritual writer. Often reprinted in recent years, his books and the date of first publication are:

Secularity and the Gospel: Being Missionary to our Children (2006); The Holy Longing (1999); Against an Infinite Horizon (1996); The Shattered Lantern (1994); Forgotten Among the Lilies (1990); Spirituality for a Restless Culture (1991); The Restless Heart(1988); The Loneliness Factor (1979).

Now President of Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, the Saskatchewan native has a charming style as he grapples with and presents to adults interested in developing their discipleship, just as he does in his weekly columns in the Catholic Register and other regional Catholic publications.

In setting the tone for his weekend of presentations to be continued tomorrow, the Oblate missionary scouting out the new frontiers of the 21st century, described the complexity of our culture using the the image of the "soils" found in Jesus' parable of the sower (rocky, thorn-choked, good, shallow). For these qualities also describe the various dimensions of our inner life, which can be superficial when the call from Christ is to grow deeper.

Tomorrow's theme "The Deeper Invitation to Move towards a More Mature, Adult Discipleship" will turn toward the nature of the seed and its significance for persons who want to see our Lord more clearly, love Him more dearly, follow Him more nearly (St. Richard of Chichester).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

NET Canada; Vendages, Cuvee 2009

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!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some thread, Pope2You, New Areopagoi

Folks around the Diocesan Centre and the Archdiocese in general have noted some of us wearing bits of YARN around our wrists or, in my case, on my lapel. It hearkens back to the Montée Jeunesse/Youth Summit wrap-up ceremony before the Closing Mass in Quebec on Monday.

Noting that the missionary St. Paul was a weaver (tent-maker), the idea presented was that he saw all Christians as bound together in the Body of Christ. The Glorified Cross (symbol of the Risen Lord) had laid at its base large balls of coloured yarn that were thrown out into the assembly, each member of which was asked to link to the woolen thread by laying their hands on it: it was a powerful symbol of the relationships that had developed over days, weeks, months and years among those participating.

Next, we were urged to break a piece of yarn that would remind us of the ties that bind and remind us of our connections in times good and bad. And of our commitment to gather together again at the Youth Summit 2010 Montée Jeunesse.

The theme of this year’s 43rd World Communications Day is “New Technologies, New Relationships”.

Pope Benedict’s Message—which he referred to in English at today’s Wednesday Audience—also grounds the Vatican’s decision to launch a new Web Platform called Pope2You that has both Facebook and iPhone applications:

"This coming Sunday, the Church celebrates World Communications Day. In my message this year, I am inviting all those who make use of the new technologies of communication, especially the young, to utilize them in a positive way and to realize the great potential of these means to build up bonds of friendship and solidarity that can contribute to a better world.

The new technologies have brought about fundamental shifts in the ways in which news and information are disseminated and in how people communicate and relate to each other. I wish to encourage all those who access cyberspace to be careful to maintain and promote a culture of respect, dialogue and authentic friendship where the values of truth, harmony and understanding can flourish.

Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world! Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God’s infinite love for all people will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!"

Is this an attempt to get the message to youth and those open to the new means of communication directly and unfiltered?

This morning’s first reading from Acts 17 was about Paul’s speech in Athens at the Areopagus: a place of public discourse and interaction. Paul’s powerful and challenging sermon did not seem to be very effective: only Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris turned to faith in Christ. Yet, even this kind of limited success (one-on-one; two-by-two) can issue in great fruitfulness like the leaven in the dough, the mustard seed that becomes a tree.

Pope John Paul II referred to the new areopagoi of our day and of the Church's challenge to spread the good news of the Risen Jesus as Paul had by his proclamation.

One of the new methods of going to the areopagoi of today (university campuses, new media, new communities to serve the Church) is that of peer-to-peer evangelization such as Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) a dynamic body of young lay evangelists--single and married--evangelizing the future leaders of Canadian society and the Church in Canada.

Founded twenty years ago at the University of Saskatchewan in Diocese of Saskatoon, CCO has been carrying on an intensive summer mission "Impact Canada 2009" in its cradle city this summer.

Among those who gave up their roots in the Prairie Heartland to move the head office of CCO to Ottawa three years ago are Jeff and Renee Lockert and their four children: Issac, 11, Claire, 9, Abigail Jane, 7, and Bridget, 3. I joined them for supper this evening at their home in Orleans.

Jeff is the President of CCO and he and his family will join founders Angele and Andre Regnier and family in Saskatchewan in late June. Over a barbecue with shishkabob, rice and salad, we shared our concerns for the future of CCO (a new French-language mission will begin at Laval University this fall), family life education and other joys and sorrows of Catholic life. I went home uplifted by the zeal of these disciples of Jesus who have dedicated themselves to the mission of Christ for today.

The areopagoi may change from age to age, but the challenge to proclaim Christ in a wide variety of ways continues.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shepherds of Good Hope +++ 5th Annual Hunger Banquet

At noon today, Msgr. Kevin Beach, VG, Father Joseph Muldoon, E.V. and I joined some 350+ members of the greater Ottawa community at the Hellenic [Banquet] Centre for this year's Fifth Annual Hunger Banquet to support the work of the Shepherds of Good Hope in caring for the inner city poor in need of food, shelter and clothing.

Those attending had purchased a table or seat at a table in exchange for a simple meal of hearty chef's stew, assorted rolls, fruit tray, coffee or tea in aid of a good cause: identifying with the poor in whom Christ is present (Fritz Eichenberg's painting "Christ of the Breadline" graced the menu, along with the Shepherds' motto, "Dedicated to Compassion/Devoues a la compassion").

That compassion was very evident in the presentations by Jamie McCracken, head of the Ottawa Catholic School Board and Ottawa Police Services Chief Vern White, as well as in the testimonies given by award winners about the blessings they receive in doing good for others.

Mr. McCracken spoke of the involvement of staff (he is on the Board of Directors), principals, teachers and students with the ministry of the Shepherds of Good Hope and how that has given them a personal experience of striving for justice, an outlet for their faith and love.

Mr. White provocatively challenged the assembly to see that the existence of more beds in more shelters is really a sign of our failure to effect true justice in a city such as Ottawa.

He suggested we need to look at other options and spoke of a recent journey to see how New York City is coping and even moving towards eliminating the problem of homelessness, the true shame of our society. He says he was surprised to learn that NYC with ten times the population of Ottawa actually has fewer homeless(in actual numbers) than Canada's Capital. Quite a challenge before us to give the homeless the dignity of their own home, their own employment, their personal sense of honour!

In the meantime, we strive to relieve the suffering of the marginal and needy with this charter of promoting gospel values:

"Shepherds of Good Hope is a God-centered healing community which welcomes and values people of all faiths and beliefs. In fulfilling our Mission, we support and accept one another with joy, dignity, and respect. Our belief in the power of love and prayer guide all our actions. In providing support, our intent is to ease suffering with gentleness and compassion, to restore dignity, and to connect individuals with a feeling of home inside themselves where they can experience safety, inner peace, and self love." (Mission Statement)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quebec City Interlude: The Ark of the New Covenant Handed Over to the Ottawa Archdiocese

Last night around 10 o'clock, Jerome Frenette who is a factotum for the Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec and an acquaintance from the time I held the dossier of Pontifical Commissioner for the Fils de Marie, met me at Quenec's newly-renovated Jean Lesage International Airport and whisked me as the "best chauffeur in town" (his description) to the Christian Rock Concert held in front of Eglise Saint-Roch in one of the inner city neighbourhoods. The Famille Marie-Jeunesse were on stage and people in the crowd were struggling to keep warm (with tuques and other winter gear). It was easy to notice that something exciting was happening in the Quebec Church!

This morning, Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall (and one of the speakers in this year's Montee Jeunesse/Youth Summit drove out to the Sainte-Foy district next to Laval University, where the closing events were to take place in the Church St. Thomas d'Aquin (where Emmanuel Community priest Federic Verscheure has been pastor for this past year).

There's no way to adequately describe the energy present among the youth and others who had gathered. Our Ottawa Team was proudly sporting their loud yellow t-shirts with Montee Jeunesse 2010 Ottawa logo and the invitation: Soyez-la! Be There! Abbe Daniel Berniquez and our two youth directors Manon Chevalier and Ted Hurley and some twenty or so others who had come for the weekend were pumped and ready to receive the Ark of the New Covenant. They would have to wait until the closing moments however to lay their hands on the treasured symbol of Eucharistic devotion and Marian piety (proposed and invented by the youth themselves).

About 9:15, we had morning prayer (with a three minute homily by Abbe Federic: he warned of the risk of a Descente Jeunesse--a Youth Letdown when folks got home and had to put into practice what they had imbibed over the weekend with their peers); then a retrospective video of what took place over the weekend (that's when I began to panic about the challenges that would face us in Ottawa in living up to the well-planned and executed program); a testimony and presentation to Cardinal Ouellet for his trust in youth and testimonies by those who over a period of several years' involvement in MJ/YS were challenged in their faith); and the closing Mass (in which His Eminence made a powerful link between the Life the Risen Jesus offers us and the call from the March for Life last week on Parliament Hill to stand up and be Pro-Life from the moment of human conception until one's last breath).

Just before the Final Blessing, Cardinal Ouellet announced what everyone already knew that Ottawa would host the MJ/YS in 2010 and invited the Quebec Team to transfer the Ark to the Ottawa delegation. The place erupted in applause at the continuance of the dream that youth have a central place at the heart of the Church and this great Quebec adventure can continue to transform the Church in Canada.

I thanked everyone and picked up on the Cardinal's reminder that this was the birthday of the late Pope John Paul II (born May 18, 1920) whose first words were "Don't be afraid!" Christ is there beside us to guide us in all that lies ahead of us, including in Montee Jeunesse 2010 Youth Summit! Whatever fears and challenges we face He is with us at our side. In that case, we can't expect anything but a shower of blessings and graces!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Semper et diligenter attentus"--Le Petit Séminaire diocésain de Québec + + + Off to Québec City

On this Victoria Day Weekend there are quite a few tourists and visitors in the Capital (catching the tail-end of the Tulip Festival, which has been lenghthened by the cool weather of late).

Among these, we hosted the student body from the Minor Seminary of Québec, re-established during the current school year with twenty students. They were accompanied by their rector Abbé André Gagné and his assistant, Abbé Jimmy Rodrigue, a chaperone, their bus driver and ten aspirants for admission to the Petit Séminaire diocésain de Québec next fall.

Their motto is Semper et diligenter attentus--"toujours a l'écoute pour discerner" (= always attentively listening to discern) and the expectation is that each student will be open to hearing and answering a call from God. One of the seniors, Jonathan, expressed an interest in the Dominican Order.

I met them at 8am at the Cathedral entrance for a guided tour; they had lots of questions and were full of enthusiasm for this weekend adventure in Ottawa, visiting the various museums, the Parliament Buildings, exploring the Rideau Canal. They have accomplished more on this weekend than I have in two years!

Following the tour they had breakfast and left all the platters utterly clean: that's what teenage boys are like! Then they asked me questions about my own vocation and faith journey. What a wholesome group of boys!

Reestablishing the junior seminary was a response by believing Catholics to the secularization of the schools in Quebec and the conviction of Cardinal Ouellet and his advisors that there is a place for a faith-based schooling in that Province. The little information card that they left with me described the kind of student who is welcome:

You are a boy between 11 and 17, have faith and want to deepen it as you complete your high school education (secondary years 1-5 or grades 7-11), with a desire to answer the Lord's call to you, in group living that is dynamic and supportive; if this is the case, the Petit Séminaire is for you. Say to Him, "Here I am!" Come, join us.

Interestingly in my study of the randomness of names, of the 33 young men, five bore the name Raphael, two Gabriel and one Michel. There must be a renewal of interest in archangels in Quebec City.

Then, at 10 o'clock we bid our adieux and they headed towards Rockcliffe Park for Mass at the Nunciature with Archbishop Luigi Ventura as their host.

Following this, I went to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish on St-Laurent Blvd., next to Beechwood Cemetery, recently designated a National Historic Site(Pastor Fr. Stephen Liang, with Deacon Norm Levesque) for the Confirmation and First Holy Communion of 44 second-graders from OLMC and St. Bridget's schools.

Returning to the Cathedral, at two o'clock I found myself before a packed Notre Dame and 94 candidates for Confirmation and First Holy Communion from St. Leonard's Parish, Manotick (Pastor Fr. Geoffrey Kerslake).

After supper I will fly to Québec City for the Montée Jeunesse - Youth Summit, which concludes tomorrow with the transfer of the Ark of the New Covenant (L'Arche de la Nouvelle Alliance) to the Ottawa delegation as we will be hosting this youthfest next Victoria Day weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Funeral of a Priest's Mother + + + + + An Oblate Priest Visits from the East

Notre Dame Cathedral this morning was the site of the funeral of Mrs. Anne Kennedy, mother of Father Darryl Kennedy of St. Margaret Mary, Cumberland and St. Edith Stein, Rockland. A good delegation of priests surrounded their brother priest as Msgr. Robert Latour presided and gave the homily (Fr. Kennedy blessed the coffin with holy water and incense at the rite of commendation).

The Mass evoked memories of my mother's death and the comfort given me and my family by the presence of family, fellow Jesuits, friends and associates at that time. I am sure the Kennedy family were touched by the many people who came to give thanks for their mother's life and to comfort them in their bereavement. R.I.P.

My guest for dinner tonight was Father Joseph Hattie, O.M.I., still serving in the Archdiocese of Halifax as he did when I was there in the Office of Family Life and Marriage Preparation (I could also count on Fr. Joe's zeal to handle a given parish at a time of transition between pastors or when illness or other cause meant the priest needed to be absent for some time).

With the help of the John Paul II Media Institute in Halifax, Father Hattie has developed the first of what he hopes will be a seven-part set of DVD's that can be used to foster dialogue in marriage preparation programs [all he lacks to get things going is the capital to manage this--what a blessing the program would be!]

For it communicates well, with the help of married couples, who witness to the teachings on the marvellous and rich theology of marriage that the Church possesses but our people scarcely know.

In a well-grounded and kind way, the instructor and assisting couples help people delve into the divine plan for human love, marriage and family life, building on the solid foundation of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

The series does not skirt the difficult topics that couples need to address, but presents them kindly and firmly (looking at the perils of cohabitation before marriage; the way in which contraception and in vitro fertilization thwart the divine plan; and the rewards spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and physically of Natural Family Planning).

It's the kind of teaching program that calls for support from all quarters in the Church!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Frassati House, Sisters of Life, Visitandines, Marists +++ "Mi casa, su casa": Welcoming Priest-friends

This morning, en route to the office I popped in at the Hampton Inn where the Pro-Life Youth conference was being held. Had a chance to listen to MPs Pierre Lemieux (Prescott Russell) and Paul Szabo (Mississauga South) talk about the ideals of political life and the challenge to be guided therein by one's faith.

Was happy to chat briefly with the Sisters of Life, a new religious institute committed to a Pro-Life way of life as a permanent commitment.

Heading for the parking grage, I met Matt Marchand from Halifax who has just begun working in the NET Canada office in Orleans. He had had a great year at the Halifax Frassti House and is hoping that there will be such a residence in Ottawa again next year.

The Frassati experience is an instance of the idealism of Catholic young men trying to be guided by the ideals of Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati: men of prayer and gospel values, zealous to be living witnesses to the joy of their relationship with Jesus.

The World Assistant for Visitation monasteries, Father Valentin Viguera, S.D.B. came by for a visit with local Superior Soeur Suzanne-Christine Proulx, v.s.m. He was in the midst of giving a retreat to our Ottawa Visitandine Monastery. These sisters will be celebrating the Centennial of their monastery in 2010 and we tentatively agreed on August 15, 2010 for the Mass of Thanksgiving.

Mid-morning I dropped in for coffee with the Marist Provincial Council meeting at the rectory of Paroisse St. Thomas Aquin, across the street from the Diocesan Centre.

We discussed the project the Marists have in Ottawa of reaching out to the poor, especially immigrants and their desire to break the solitude of the newcomers--not with meeting their material needs, which is often done by government or other outreach program--but their spiritual and social needs for a place of quiet, prayer, reflection and sharing. I was very encouraged by the sensitivity of these former missionaries to Latin America and Brazil for this creativity.

Some time ago, I had agreed with Fathers John Lemire (Timmins Diocese) and Matthew Kucharski (London Diocese)--both vocation directors--to meet for supper and with a chance to discuss the Canadian Vocation Directors Conference here in Ottawa (at St. Theresa's Church) in June 2010.

When I called Jerry our chef to let him know of these two supper guests, he told me two other priests would be visiting. Father Eugene Roy, vicar for francophones in the London Diocese and celebrating his Silver Jubilee of priesthood last week, had asked about hospitality for himself and his travel companion Father Victor Diaz of the Diocese of Chiclayo, Peru.

The three of us had met in Peru in 2003 when I had gone there with Archbishop Martin Currie and I learned of the hospitality of Peruvians expressed by the phrase, "mi casa, su casa" ("my house [is] your house"). So I repeated it to Father Victor, eliciting a big grin.

In no time at all, we five priests were sitting on the balcony on my floor chattering away in French, English, some Italian and a bit of Spanish. Of course the grappa helped just a bit to loosen our tongues. So, too, did our joy in Christ's priesthood.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Full Day Engagement: the "March for Life"

Last night I picked up Cardinal Marc Ouellet when the last flight from Quebec/Montreal arrived at 11:30. He was weary from a full day visiting the retired priests' residence in his diocese.

But His Eminence had bounced back by morning as we headed over to the Centre Block on Parliament Hill for an off-the-record conversation with MPs and members of the Knights of Columbus on Pro-Life issues.

Our meeting over, we headed back to Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica for the Feast of St. Mattias and the Pro-Life Mass: the church was "blocked" as Newfoundlanders would put it--filled to overflowing (1100 capacity) and with an additional 200-300 seated in the parish hall where a giant screen allowed these faithful to view the Liturgy (the same was true at St. Patrick's Basilica).

Before the Final Blessing, Cardinal Ouellet and Toronto Archbishop Collins gave us brief encouragement to marshall the faithful to the cause of overcoming the ills of abortion and the justice of this cause.

The speeches from 12:30-1:30 on Parliament Hill were done in dripping, sometimes heavy rain--but this did not deter the 12,000 demonstrators who marched the parade route in good cheer: not troubled in the least by the pro-abortion counter-demonstrators on Elgin Street (the high school students behind me clearly outdid them in energy and joy).

The Rose Dinner at the Hampton Inn found close to 1000 banqueters (900 in the main hall and the others in the overflow room) delighting in each others' company, the testimony by ex-MP Tom Wappel on the importance of "sticking to one's pinciples"; the song composed by David MacDonald in honour of the late Frank Mountain, a militant pro-lifer in the Capital who always had a twinkle in his eye when we greeted each other and sparred; salutes to various individuals and groups by Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition and by Deputy Supreme Knight Dennis Savoie recognizing the leaders from across Canada of the Knights of Columbus out in strength today and tonight; a testimony by Cecile Miller of the CWL (whom I know from my time in Nova Scotia); and a rousing presentation by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson who invited us all to put our shoulders to the task of building a civilization of love, a culture of life.

Now to bed....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pastoral Day; Mgr Drainville chez nous; A Jesuit Scholastic Visits

The English Pastoral Day took place from 10am-2pm under the direction of the Episcopal Vicar, Father Joseph Muldoon. Our guests speakers included in the first instance Father Bill Burke (Antigonish Diocese), Director of the National Liturgy Office of the CCCB.

His topic was the Third Revision of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM3). He noted that there is continuity with the earlier versions but also added emphases on the importance of transcendence in liturgy, the sacral character of our liturgical language, the important role of the priest, etc. A most irenic and positive presentation.

Ms. Jan Bentham and Mr. Brad Moleski in charge of faith education in the Ottawa Catholic School Board gave an overview of the theme of being Good Stewards of God's creation this year and next; the new chaplaincy leaders' guidelines from the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO); the importance of the virtues in Catholic character education; the need to stress Catholic symbols and traditions in our schools; the significance of Adult Faith Education for teachers, staff in the schools.

Finally before lunch, Jules Dagenais and Ted Prowse who work in Planned Giving gave a brief expose of the opportunity we have to let people know they can make a significant gift to the diocese or their parish in their wills and in other ways that have advantages to benefit the donors.

After lunch (the dreaded time) the Neo-catechumenal Way Team offered their presentation in English and Father Tim McCauley spoke on Vocations.


Bishop Gerard Drainville, retired bishop of Amos, arrived yesterday to participate in the March for Life. He once wrote a Pastoral Letter on Gardening and its contribution to society and the family. He also shared with me his Pastoral Letter on Abortion.


Matthew Livingstone
, a Jesuit scholastic who is doing his regency (pastoral internship) as a teacher at Campion College, Regina) dropped by for supper and to bring me up to date on his year teaching at the college where I served as a visiting prof twenty years ago now (as Daniel Hannin Jesuit Visiting Professor, 1988-89).

He is getting ready to go to Damascus, Syria for ten weeks of work on Arabic and Muslim-Christian relations, especially in philosophy, the subject dear to his heart. We took the one-hour walk across the Alexandra (Interprovincial) and Portage Bridges and along Wellington Street (past the Supreme Court, Peace Tower and other monuments). It was a lovely day with a gorgeous sunset: the opposite of the rain, etc foretold for tomorrow's March for Life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Sister's Birthday; St. Michael's Choir School at Notre Dame Cathedral; Use of Churches for Concerts

In our family many of the women have birthdays in May: my maternal grandmother, my Mom, my sister, three of my nieces. Taken with Mother's Day, it's a busy season for birthday cards (including now the email variety), cake and flowers.

Marion's birthday is today and I finally got through to her not in Barrie where she and her husband John Bayfield reside, but at the cottage in Lake of Bays (near Huntsville) to exchange good wishes. It was ladies' day at the golf course, she went out with friends for lunch, the weather was great and supper was in the oven (and John had produced a cake with the help of Safeway).

Happy Birthday, sis!


This evening, the Senior Choir of Toronto's St. Michael's Choir School presented their Cantate Domino spring tour programme of sacred choral music. Tomorrow they leave for Quebec City (with a performance at Eglise Saint-Dominique on Thursday at 7:30) and Montreal (where a concert is scheduled for May 16 at 5PM at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul).

Latin was a significant part of the concert (14 of 21 pieces): selections from Mass through the ages (composed between the 13th and 20th centuries). The Paschal mystery was represented by three Passion texts [O vos omnes; Sicut ovis; Christus factus est] and two Easter hymns [Surrexit pastor bonus and Angelus Domini].

The Director Father John-Mark Missio invited people to make a contribution to the School using credit card options and the possibility of a tax receipt, purchasing CDs and cash in the envelope. In a conversation after the performance, I was pleased to hear he has been asked by Archbishop Thomas Collins to begin doctoral studies in liturgy and chant.


Guidelines for Concerts in Churches

Because churches are increasingly seen as appropriate venues for concerts and with so many demands coming in, our Presbyteral Council recently approved guidelines for determining how such decisions should be reached (dated March 19, 2009).

1. Churches are sacred places that are, at all times, set apart for divine worship by virtue of their dedication or blessing. They are not public places which can accommodate any type of meeting.

2. As a sign of the Christian mystery, their role is put at risk when they are used for ends other than those for which they were built. Cultural and musical events which are totally secular in nature are out of place in our worship spaces.

3. Concerts of sacred or liturgical music do not offend the sacredness of the space. Freewill offerings are acceptable, even suggested offerings can be made, but no one should be refused entrance to a Church event because they cannot afford it.

4. Generally speaking, musicians and performers should not be placed in the sanctuary. They must be dressed in a manner which is fitting to the Church's sacred character. The greatest respect must be shown to the altar, the ambo and the presidential chair.

5. It is essential that for all these events, the Blessed Sacrament should be removed from the worship space and reserved in a side chapel or in another suitable adorned and respectable place.

6. Pastors and administrators should exercise prudential judgment in making such decisions. In taking into account these principles, we will thus achieve consistency in dealing with these situations. If an event does not meet these criteria, kindly consult with the Ordinary prior to making any arrangements (see canon 1210).

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Day Off; Mgr Joseph Thomas Duhamel (1841-1909)

Today was my day off, so I slept in a little, tidied my room a bit, and prepared for some forthcoming talks (such as a homily for the Mass on the day of the March for Life) and events (the centennial of the death of the First Archbishop of Ottawa, Mgr Joseph Thomas Duhamel--see below).


The mother of Fr. Darryl Kennedy, parish priest of St. Margaret Mary Parish, Cumberland and St. Edith Stein Parish, Rockland, who usually celebrates the 12:15 Mass on Mondays at the cathedral, passed away this morning, so I offered the Rector, Msgr. Pat Powers to preside in his stead. A quiet low-key celebration for about 50 of the faithful.

An extraordinary faith leader

This year marks the centennial of the death of the first Archbishop of Ottawa, Joseph Thomas Duhamel who was born in Contrecoeur, QC (near Sorel) on November 6, 1841. With his family he moved to Bytown (later Ottawa) as a child.

Beginning in 1847, the year St. Joseph's College opened under the Oblate Fathers, young Thomas began his studies there (elementary, classical and theological), completing his preparation for priesthood in 1863 and being ordained on December 19th of that year.

Father Duhamel served for a year as curate in Buckingham before becoming pastor of St. Eugene de Prescott on the eastern edge of the diocese for ten years. After the death of Bishop Joseph-Eugene-Bruno Guigues, O.M.I. (1805-1874) in February 1874, Duhamel, though only 33 years old, was named to succeed him. In some ways he had been prepared for the office. For in 1869, he had accompanied Bishop Guigues to the First Vatican Council and served as one of his theological advisor at the Provincial Council of Quebec in 1873.

Duhamel's ministry as bishop and, from June 6, 1886 when Ottawa became an Archdiocese, as archbishop would last close to thirty-five years. He died suddenly of a heart attack on June 5, 1909 during a pastoral visitation of the parish at Casselman (Paroisse Sainte-Euphemie).

When Duhamel began as bishop, Ottawa had 60 parishes, 80 priests and about 100,000 faithful. Though the diocese was twice reduced in size by creation of the Vicariate of Pontiac (now the Pembroke Diocese) in 1882 and of the Vicariate of Haileybury (now the Diocese of Timmins) in 1908, at his death parishes numbered 136, priests 250 and the faithful more than 100,000.

Archbishop Duhamel presided over an extraordinary growth of the church, defended the rights of Catholics to education in their language, and, fluently bilingual, was well-regarded by both Irish and French communities.

Guided by supernatural principles and faithful to Rome, he was a man of humility and affable, taking advice readily. He maintained good relations with governmental and church leaders and was esteemed by his people.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Life at 143; Closing CFCPG Sessions; Family Time

If you enter 143 St. Patrick Street in the Canada Post search for a postal code (as I did when I first arrived), the listing along with the code is: Archbishop's Palace! I think of it more as home with a set of rooms for entertaining when needed. We have a regular community of a half-dozen members with several who could be designated as "occasionals".

Until a further assignment, newly-ordained Fr. Jonathan Blake has the Archeveche (to give it its French handle) as his pied-a-terre until the end of July. It was good to see him back this morning--if
only briefly until the end of May-- and hear of the joys he experienced in laying hands on his classmates at the Toronto Archdiocesan ordinations yesterday, celebrating Mass at a rectory chapel in Maple before a round of golf; and presiding at the Eucharist in the St. Augustine's Seminary chapel.

Today he presided at the main Masses at Notre Dame (10:30 in French and at noon in English). This was to acknowledge the role the Cathedral community played in affirming his vocational discernment for the priesthood. He is off now to Sept-Iles, where he was born and to Moncton where he grew up for Masses of Thanksgiving with these parish families so integral to his faith formation.

En route to Sept-Iles he will celebrate at the Shrine of St. Anne-de-Beaupre where he did a summer internship and with Famille Miryam Bethleem in Baie-Comeau, whose members encouraged him on the path to ordination. What a range of supporters God places in our way in this journey through life (whatever our call)!

This evening as I came home from a walk after supper, there was an ambulance outside the main entrance to take Father Gerald Gahagan to the Ottawa General Hospital as a precautionary measure for observation. He had taken a tumble while setting his walker in motion and there was some bleeding from the back of his skull.

Father Gerry, having retired a couple of years ago from St. Theresa's Parish where he had been pastor for eighteen years, has spent much of his retirement caring for a number of physical infirmities, especially kidney dialysis which takes four hours three times weekly. Please keep him in your prayers.


The CFCPG medical conference wrapped up this morning with a business session at which it was decided that there would be another assembly next year in Montreal; a passionate talk by Dr. Maria Kraw, an endocrinologist from St. Michael's Hospital and a prof at U. Toronto, who gave an overview of the struggle with the church's teaching reiterated in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae and of the benefits this prophetic document offers for good medicine, good morals, good marriages and family life; and the joyous Mass in the Lower (Archbishop's) Chapel of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Kudos to all who had a hand in this wonderful meeting which holds out much promise for Catholic who see their faith as a strength and stimulus for their healing profession.


The Prendergasts and Peebles who met yesterday went out after Mass for brunch at B-side, a new age food establishment, in the Somerset Village. The Moms (Mar and Renee) were presented with flowers from their children and a toast with Mimosas. The whole session concluded with a box of Obama Cookies (you know those oddly-named short breads in the shape of a Maple Leaf with Canada writ large in red and bought by the US President from Le Moulin de Province bakery in the Byward Market last February 19?)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Family Visit; Medical Conference (Part 2)

At lunchtime today, I welcomed family members from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto for a visit to the archbishop's quarters and a meal in the dining-room: sister-in-law Renee Prendergast and three of her four children: Tim, Gillian and Caitlin, her sister Mar, brother-in-law Doug Peebles and niece Andrea and Gill's boyfriend George. Lots of laughter, exchange of news and taking of photos with every one's camera. Will see some tomorrow at the Closing Mass for the Medical Conference ("Conscience and the Physician").

I was able to attend most of the major presentations at the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies (CFCPG) General Meeting:

9:30 Douglas Farrow (McGill U.), "Doctors without Borders: Excising the Conscience, Emasculating Medicine"

1:30 Francois Pouliot, O.P. (U. Laval), "Conscience et Cooperation"

4:00 Jose Pereira (U. Ottawa), "Working Under the Shadow of Legalized Assisted Suicide: Experience and Lessons from Switzerland"

As well, at 11am and 3pm, there were concurrent workshops on Family Practice, Geriatrics, Medical Education and Pediatrics.

The festive dinner was at 6 o'clock, after which I spoke briefly a word of encouragement--on the role of doctors and medical personnel in building today's needed civilization of love.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Radio Teopoli Interview; Renewing Acquaintances with "Focolare"; "Conscience and the Physician"

This morning began with an interview for the program "Building a Civilization of Love" (produced by Laura Cirami and hosted by Frank Ruffolo on Toronto's AM 530 radio). The conversation topics were on the coming March for Life, celebrating Mass with politicians, the Year of St. Paul and next weekend's Youth Summit in Quebec.

Afterwards, I met with the English-sector's Regional Vicars, who act as a Personnel Board, to finalize upcoming priestly nominations; there are still a few finishing touches to be added, but it seems the list of clergy transfers will be complete in the next two weeks (taking effect generally on August 1).


Supper guests were Marc St-Hilaire and Hortensia Lopez, consecrated members of the Focolare Movement founded by the late Chiara Lubich and her associates in Trent, Italy just after World War II.

This was my first meeting with Hortensia who oversees the women's branch in Canada (after a number of years in the USA), but my first encounter with the male branch head Marc goes back to the mid-1980's when he and I were both much younger. Both are based in Toronto and inform me there is a very small number here in Ottawa (with a few others across the Ottawa River in Gatineau) who follow the Spirituality of Unity tied to the monthly "Word of Life" Chiara wrote. I hope that a spark of life will encourage this powerful Christian vision to revive in the Capital.

They brought me a gift: a small book, No Thorn without a Rose: 99 Sayings by Chiara Lubich. A saying from 1948 opens the work, one that summarizes her spiritual gift to the Church--a different way of expressing the Paschal Mystery:

The book of light that God is writing in my soul has two aspects: A luminous page of mysterious love: Unity. A luminous page of mysterious suffering: Jesus forsaken. They are two faces of the same coin.


This evening saw the opening of the inaugural session of what is hoped will be the First Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies (CFCPS) at the Bruyere Health Centre a few blocks away from the Cathedral. Dr. John Haas, Director of the (US) National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia gave the opening address.

Despite the fact that one of his eight daughters will be married tomorrow, Dr. Haas travelled here and spoke passionately about the challenges to Christian medical personnel in the 'States and Canada ("Conscience: What It Is and How It Works") Dr. John and Mrs. Barbara Gay and Dr. Tim Lau are owed a great round of thanks for this daring step of bringing the challenges facing conscience to the fore.

This is Part 4 (of 4)

The Ontario Context

We must never take the sacred gift of our Catholic schools for granted. Many parents have chosen Catholic education for the reasons that I have highlighted above. Public schools provided quality education but have no mandate to integrate religion or spirituality into the process. For Catholic schools, addressing the spiritual development of the child is a requirement, one that is taken on with joy and commitment.

Furthermore, Catholic schools provide a faith-based moral framework to deal with a wide spectrum of life issues including relationships, sexuality, poverty, peace and justice. This framework is integrated into all areas of study.
The future of Catholic schools depends on our appreciation of the distinctiveness of Catholic education, and on our willingness to stand and defend Catholic education should that time come.

Words of Thanks and Blessing

I wish to express my deepest thanks to parents who entrust their children to Catholic schools. Be assured that they are being provided with a quality education that responds to all their needs, including an education in faith, morality and justice.

My deepest thanks also go to the teachers, administrators and staff of our schools: May God continue to bless all your work. You help to bring love, hope and faith into the world, honouring the sacred dignity of all persons, building our Church community and a more just world.

To our students: we call you to a richer and deeper life that you will live through your encounter with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your families, schools and parishes. Through a Catholic education, we trust that you will become a responsible citizen, a reflective and creative thinker, a caring family member, a discerning believer formed in the Catholic faith community.

A Catholic education will help you to make decisions with an informed moral conscience in the light of gospel values. We hope that you will become the best persons that you can possibly be, living life to the fullest, blessed by our loving God.

May God continue to bless all of our parents, all of our children, all the teachers and school staff, the administrators and trustees of our Catholic schools. May God bless them with faith, hope and love as we journey together in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Decouvrir ta Cathedrale"; Bishop Carl's Photos

As part of Catholic Education Week, the Centre-Est Francophone Catholic School Board arranged for six hundred students, teachers, administrators to visit Notre Dame Cathedral this morning. Several hundred arrived just before 9am and an equal number came at 10am.

The early arrivals took part in an exercise of following a foldout of the Cathedral and some of its striking works of art, seeking out what was peculiar about each (one of the windows with Bishop Guigues' coat of arms is short three stars on the left side; the prophet decorating the pulpit is missing a finger on his hand). The folder contains a great number of interactive features that express the worth of "Discovering Your Cathedral".

Betweeen 10 and 11 we had a session that was partly prayerful (I lead the assembly in prayer and spoke of the role of the shepherd--the bishop--in the church), partly informative (the history of the struggle by Catholic parents to have their children educated in the French language), partly testimony (a video of youngsters speaking of how their faith and learning come together in Catholic schools) and several songs expressing the spirituality of Catholic schools by a high school choir from Franco-Ouest secondary school.

Those students who had not been able to do the "spiritual treasure quest" before the assembly were able to do so afterwards. Everyone was on their way by noon. It was a happy and energizing morning.


This is Part 3

Excellence of Catholic Education

Catholic teachers are dedicated to providing the best possible instruction in all subject areas. Catholic schools are their own unique manifestations of Christian community, whose primary purpose is to educate children in faith and in all other subject areas.

Since each and every child is created and loved by God, each with a unique giftedness and purpose, Catholic teachers are deeply committed to providing the best quality education.

The full human potential of each and every child can only be fully realized through an education that incorporates the spiritual into all aspects of school life.


This evening I took the Ottawa River Parkway to the Island Park exit and headed for Westboro where Bishop Carl Reed (Ontario suffragan bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, with whom I have become acquainted through the Pro-Life cause) was holding the vernissage of his exhibition of photographs taken in his garden, on his pastoral journeys, recent vacations and overseas travel.

The exhibition at the Ottawa Bagel Shop (1321 Wellington Street) will run for a few more weeks. Sales will assist with the costs of his cathedral and be used in his charitable works. I purchased a few cards to send to folks for special occasions: my only concern--will the label on the back, "Photographs by the Bishop" give recipients the wrong impression?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Journee pastorale; Jour du Seigneur; Catholic Education Week

Today was lived almost entirely in French with the Francophone Sector's Pastoral Day, some interviews with French-speaking priests and Confirmations this evening of some 25 members of Paroisse Saint-Claude in Blackburn Hamlet.

The Pastoral Day began with a presentation on the positive fruits of the introduction of Stewardship (intendance chretienne) in Paroisse Saint-Remi in Ottawa's West End; information by Manon Chevalier, the francophone youth office director on her ministry in Catholic secondary schools and the upcoming Montee Jeunesse/Youth Summit in Quebec City, May 15-18.

Following lunch, three members of the Neo-catechumenal Way (Fr. Isidoro, Donatella and Martino) spoke on the way this instrument of renewal had touched their lives and Catholics in the nearby Archdiocese of Gatineau. Finally, there were brief reports on missionary outreach and the Charismatic Renewal.

Finally, Episcopal Vicar Abbe Daniel Berniquez spoke about some options being considered by Radio-Canada's Jour du Seigneur, a weekly broadcast of Sunday Mass from francophone parishes across Canada. Recent budget cuts initially threatened the program with cancellation, but viewers' negative responses to this proposal has led to consideration of alternatives: such as having most of the broadcasts coming from the Ottawa region, perhaps by having a series of Masses from several parishes (for example with all Lenten or Advent Masses coming from a particular parish. While parishes have been known to pull out all the stops for a single broadcast, the implications of a particular parish being on view for an extended time remain to be explored.

This is Part 2

Gospel Values Part of School Life

Catholic education goes far beyond instruction since gospel values are embedded in every aspect of life and culture in a Catholic school. Many people say that they sense something different when they enter a Catholic school. The Gospel of life and love is an everyday reality. We see it in the way that staff and students treat each other with genuine respect. When things do not go well, there are opportunities for forgiveness, healing and redemption.

Catholic education is a profound expression of hope and love. Hope inspires a commitment to the growth of all students whatever their unique needs. Love is lived in respect, compassion and kindness. Love is most vividly expressed when we see our Catholic schools honouring the presence of special needs children, welcoming the children who are new to our country, respecting every person, no matter their faith tradition.

Catholic schools provide a rich and meaningful experience of Christian community, an education of the heart and soul.

Faith in Action

If you were to visit a Catholic school, you would see that:
• Prayer is an integral part of every school day.
• Grade 2 students are provided with instruction that will prepare them for the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation.
• Special needs children are welcomed, involved and befriended.
• High school students undertake a variety of social justice projects that lead them to a special appreciation of the poor and marginalized in society.
• Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are celebrated in meaningful ways.
• Visits from parish priests give students a personal connection to their parishes.
• Teachers gather to engage in prayer and discussion that build their adult faith.
• High school chaplaincy leaders provide ongoing support for a wide variety of faith initiatives.