April 2004

If we don’t act, we are going to lose the chapel at the Lakeshore General Hospital

For those of you who live around here and don’t know, the Lakeshore General Hospital is undergoing a time of interior renovations and expansion of space, as the new wing comes into full operation. But the plans for the new layout do not include adequate space for a chapel. The old chapel was just off the main corridor, but the new one is proposed to be somewhere in the back of the building on the 5th floor. During the renovations the chapel has been relegated to — I kid you not — an old storage closet. There is even talk of not having a chapel in the new building.

Islam and me

Well, a brief comment in a blog post two days ago has generated quite a bit of discussion! I wrote “Some day I’ll have to post a blog entry on how I wound up flirting with becoming a Muslim, and why I didn’t.” I guess today is the day.

Taking a trip abroad

Today I visited another country: the Vatican! And I didn’t even have to get on a plane.

I’d love to announce that I’ve discovered the secret to bi-location, but sadly that isn’t true. All I did was hop in my car and drive to the Vatican’s Apostolic Nunciature (i.e. embassy) in Ottawa, to visit a priest friend of mine, Msgr. Serge Poitras, c.s.s. But heck, the Apostolic Nunciature *is* part of the Vatican, so technically I *did* visit another country.

Coptic coincidences

In the past few months I’ve been having a bunch of strange coincidences regarding the Coptic Orthodox Church.

It started with my class this semester, in which a bunch of my students were Coptic, even attending the Coptic church nearby.

Then, at the funeral I presided during Holy Week, I met the 3 Coptic priests at that Church.

I then visited someone in the hospital, and wound up chatting — again — with a Coptic priest.

What it’s all about

There are times when I am so grateful for the Liturgy of the Hours, and today was one of those days.

First, a bit of background. Today is the final exam for my students, and the school year is winding down in general. I’ve worked very hard these past few months, writing over 138,000 words in less than a year on top of my regular priestly duties (and not counting my homilies or my blogging!). I had some of those course notes spiral bound in a set of fancy covers, and seeing it all come together in such a concrete way was very satisfying.


Today I had a chance to visit one of my parishioners in the hospital. She is suffering from breast cancer that has gone to the bone. This causes intense pain depending on her body posture, so she checked into the hospital to see how this can be addressed.

Meeting the brothers

Every month we have a get together here in Montreal of the recently ordained priests along with the seminarians who are currently doing their internship in a parish. It can be a bit isolating, going from living together in a seminary to living miles apart throughout the diocese, so we try and bridge that gap through these gatherings. I got to host the boys this time at my parish, St. Thomas à Becket.

Taking a stand

The department of theology at Concordia University (where I teach) has recently published a statement on the firebombing of the Jewish elementary school. In order to help get the word out, I am reproducing the statement here.

Public Statement from Faculty Members of the Department of Theological Studies at Concordia University on the Firebombing of the United Talmud Torah School in Saint Laurent, QC on Monday, April 5, 2004.


I went out for breakfast this morning with a young woman who has just been through the culminations of two unique processes. The first process was pregnancy, and the culmination of it was birth: on Easter Sunday, this young woman (for whom I have the highest respect) gave birth to a baby girl. The second process was the search for a family to whom she could give the baby up for adoption, which had its own culmination yesterday morning: she gave over her baby to the new adoptive parents. I got a call from her yesterday evening, asking if we could go out this morning and talk.


Not with a car. With a golf club.

Today is a beautiful, sunny day….and also a day off for me (I am currently in Ottawa visiting my family for a few days of rest after the craziness of Holy Week). So I headed out to a local driving range, and swung my clubs for the first time in 6 months.

Good Friday

Of all the days of the Triduum, Good Friday is the busiest.

First, there was the kid’s Passion Play at 10:30 am, called “The Goody-Good”. It was really more of a story of Dismas than of Jesus, but it was incredibly cute and well done. I was thoroughly impressed.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

…even if the smoke is incense, and the fire potentially that of the church burning down.

So it’s Holy Thursday mass tonight, a very solemn occasion. We decided to use incense, something we hardly do in this parish. But because we hardly do it, people are not experienced in the use of incense, nor in its preparation. As well our altar servers are quite young, and they have a hard enough time flicking a lighter, much less handling incense charcoal.

Abouna Thomas

I had a funeral for a man named Saleh Mansour, a Palestinian Latin-rite Catholic originally from Nazareth. Many members of the family are here in Canada now, and others flew in from Nazareth for the funeral, including one of his sons.

The funeral itself was quite an ecumenical experience. 3 Coptic Orthodox priests from the nearby Coptic Church of St. George and St. Jospeh came (one of whom kissed my hand, twice!), as well many Muslim members of the Palestinian community who were friends of the family.

Barren wombs and dry wood

I had a strange experience today. During the Eucharistic Prayer, in fact during the consecration itself just prior to elevating the host, I had a sudden rush of insight into part of today’s gospel. Then, during the second half of the consecration, I realised how certain moment of reflection and snippets of conversation I’ve been having over the last week came together in this moment of insight. It’s like it was all prepared for that moment. I got so convicted I had to repress the urge to stop the mass and tell people about this “eureka” experience.


Today I responded to a letter I received some time ago from an individual living in the States, but who was originally baptised in a parish here in Montreal. Through my web site he knew that I had been assigned to that parish, so he wrote to me asking for my help.

Libertarianism, or “How to commit cultural suicide through a zillion selfish choices”

A group of friends of mine run a private email list called “The Gang”. We’ve been having an interesting discussion on it regarding tax breaks for families based on family size (i.e. how many kids you have). My friend Marie-Joseé has been defending the libertarian position, stating that since having kids is a choice people need to take responsibility for that choice. If you can’t afford them, don’t have them — why should the government be involved in your personal choice?