June 2008

Mass at the Chinese mission

I didn’t have any particular ministry assignment this weekend, so I decided to head over to Chinatown nearby and visit with Fr. John, the young pastor of the Chinese Catholic mission. He and I have become good friends, and we go for coffee often enough. This Sunday was a special commissioning service for the youth of his parish who were headed off to Sydney for the World Youth Day, and I was glad to be there.

Human origins: Evolution

Just what does the Catholic Church think of the theory of evolution? To be honest, it depends on which theory of evolution we mean. More than that, it depends on what we believe about the explanatory power of the theory. There are some who seem to treat the "theory of evolution" more like an ideology than like a scientific theory. So we need to be clear on what we mean by "evolution".

End of year team meeting

Normally I dress in my best clerics when I go to work, but today I wore jeans, a t-shirt and sandals: it was our end of year team meeting at the Val-Marie diocesan centre north of Montreal. While I am not a fan of meetings, and certainly not all-day meetings, this one at least gave us a chance to evaluate what we accomplished during the year and where we now stand.

Welcoming foreign priests (update)

As regular readers of this blog might know, I set up a committee some time ago to develop a program to welcome foreign priests in this diocese, as well as help them to understand our local culture and way of doing things. We had our third meeting this morning, and I am really pleased. We get more things done in this committee in an hour than other committees accomplish in a month. My hat’s off to my members.

Drugs are bad

I am often asked by young people if taking drugs (usually a reference to smoking marijuana) is a sin. Because it is “natural”, they say, why not use it? After all, didn’t God put it there?

Living conditions of priests

I visited a parish today, one that I hadn’t seen for almost a year. When I first saw it, I knew I could never live there, as there was absolutely no separation between the living quarters of the rectory and the office portion — people were wandering in and out and all about at all hours, literally. And this type of situation is of great concern for me, actually, because I really feel that our priests deserve decent living conditions (and you should see some of the hellish rectory situations some have been in).

Incardination dossiers

One of my responsibilities is to prepare dossiers regarding the incardination of priests. “Incardination” refers to the fact that there are no “freelance” priests in the Catholic Church — every priest (and deacon) is “incardinated” in a diocese or other religious structure of some kind, thereby making them accountable to some sort of superior. Priests who do not respect their incardination are known as “vagus” priests, a term that within ecclesiastical circles is a real slap in the face.

Fly in the ointment

The title, by the way, refers to myself in this particular case.

Today was my day off, but the Vicar General asked me to come in for a group meeting with a lawyer to discuss the legal implications of some of our diocesan structures.

Annual jubilarian BBQ

We had a special BBQ today especially for the English priests of the diocese, in order to honour those brother celebrating special jubilee anniversaries. Congrats to Fr. Jim MacDonald (50 years), Fr. Joe Sullivan (known as “junior”, 25 years) and Fr. Gilles Surprenant (my previous pastor, 25 years).

I was particularly delighted that our Vicar General, Msgr. Jean Fortier, was able to be present, along with his assistant, Fr. Alain Faubert. I live and work with both men, and I can confidently say they are fine chaps.

Visiting Vietnam

Well, ok, it wasn’t Vietnam. It was the Vietnamese mission here in Montreal. I was there this morning to meet a foreign priest who has just recently arrived for language lessons (he is here to learn French, in preparation for future graduate studies in French, and my job is to welcome him into the diocese). I was very warmly welcomed at the parish by the pastor, and given my first taste of Vietnamese-style coffee. WHOA, was it strong! But very tasty, I must admit.

Coffee talk

As many of the readers of this blog know, I was once a chaplain at the Lakeshore General Hospital. While I was there I got to know an Orthodox Jew named Sam, and his lovely wife Milly. Yes, I am a Catholic priest, but I was chaplain not just for the Catholics but for anyone in the hospital, and I always had a great time visiting Sam. He eventually did pass away from his illness, and then I was transferred from the hospital, and I thought things would simply end there (as they usually did).

Back for a week now

Hola amigos!

I got back from Mexico late last Friday (May 31) and it has been fairly non-stop since then.

Saturday was the diocesan feast day, so I got to see a lot of people at once. Congrats to André Tiphane, BTW, for his appointment as episcopal vicar of the Eastern region of the diocese.