When you are a priest, you never know when you'll be called upon. There are things you can plan, such as a meeting I had in Toronto on June 13-14. But then there are things that are just surprises from God. On my way back from Toronto I wound up sitting next to a lovely couple from Arizona who were on their way to Wabush in Labrador (quite a trip!). After some typical chit chat they asked me to pray with them for a member of their family who is sick. So the three of us, sharing row 16, leaned in and prayed. It was a lovely (and surprising) moment of ministry.
I had the opportunity today to celebrate mass at Saint Michael and Saint Anthony parish on the occasion of the feast of San Marziale Martire. He's the patron saint of Isca sullo Ionio in Calabria. This was the 50th anniversary of the feast in Montreal, and my chance to discover it. Several blocks of Saint Viateur were closed off for a street festival, and after the mass there was a traditional Italian procession with the image of the saint through the neighbourhood.
I know that there is a great deal of discussion going on right now regarding whether or not people living in certain marital situations should receive Eucharistic communion. Part of my job as a bishop is to provide a measure of clarity through answers to such questions. This isn't always easy, especially when certain particular situations are especially messy. Still, sometimes the answers are easier, and I am happy to oblige.
For example, one common misconception is that people who are civilly divorced are not allowed to receive communion in a Catholic church.
So I was walking down the street today (June 27) to get to a lunch appointment when a guy came up to me while I was waiting at a red light. He handed me the above two cards, and then began to berate the Catholic Church for (in his view) not doing enough to protect the animals, despite Jesus having eliminated animal sacrifice.
Such is life when you walk around downtown Montreal in a Roman collar -- similar to a box of chocolates, you just never know what you're gonna get.
One of the biggest takeaways for me from the ad limina visit to Rome was a challenge Pope Francis put out to all of us bishops: "How many hours a day do you spend praying?" I didn't exactly start doing a count, but I have to admit, the "hours" reference got me thinking!
I was in Ottawa today (June 23) for the funeral of my aunt Louise (celebrated this morning). While a sad occasion it was good to connect with family. My cousins Paul and Patrick were there, as well as their extended family, such as little Ava, a most recent addition (she is my first cousin twice removed).