September 2009

Salesian cooperators

Given the very busy weekend I had I took it easy today (everybody needs a day off a some point). Still, there was one invitation I could not resist: this evening I spent some time with a group of Salesian Cooperators (sort of a third order for the Salesian family of religious organizations). We spent the evening discussing the latest Papal encyclical Caritatis in Veritate.

“Windows Genuine Advantage” my @#$%!

Today I visited my family in Ottawa, and brought with me my father’s birthday gift — a computer I had built for him. The system is very bare bones, but my idea was to recycle as many parts as I could from the old machine and swap them into the new. In particular, I wanted to transfer the hard drive, as that would make sure no data would be lost, although I suspected I might have a problem so I did make a backup first.

And yes, we had a problem.

Adult faith discussion group

Father Francis McKee, a brother priest here in Montreal, asked me to take over for him this morning for a study group he has been leading. This group has been going over the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a methodical way, in order to learn more about their faith. Father Francis likes for a priest to be there to help moderate the discussion, and I was honoured that he asked me to help him out.

My Chinese birthday

I visited the Chinese Catholic mission today to continue the series of Bible study lessons I began with them over a year ago (today we took a look at 2 Thessalonians). At the end we went out for our usual dinner in Chinatown, but the end of the dinner had a special treat:

My first meeting of the English Speaking Catholic Council

I was recently asked to join the English Speaking Catholic Council, a non-profit organization that styles itself as the voice of English-speaking Catholics in Quebec. (I suppose it is, given that I don’t know of any other group that is claiming the title.) While I’ve heard about the Council for years, I never really knew what they did, but tonight I learned a great deal about the work of the council to promote an English Catholic presence in the health care and education fields.

Trois-Rivières – not!

I got up early today to head to Trois-Rivières, for a meeting of a special commission of the Assembly of Quebec Bishops that was to discuss the question of the Catholic presence in the health care system. I was a bit bummed that I had to go on my day off, but I had promised a colleague I would go in her place as she would be on vacation. Besides, having been a hospital chaplain I really believe in the importance of this part of the Church’s mission, so I wanted to make sure someone would be there.

Like a hamster in a wheel

I spent most of today running between government offices. Wow, it’s amazing what hoops we must jump through to get papers and forms…

Why? A brother priest did not have the right immigration document. So first, we had to go to the Canada/US border, try to enter the USA, be refused, re-enter Canada, and get the paper. This is apparently a fairly standard procedure called the “Buffalo shuffle” — border guards on both sides were aware of the process. Hats off the the Americans, I might add: they were courteous and efficient, exactly what we needed.

The girl who dreamt of tigers

My niece’s birthday is coming up, and this being a long weekend I visited with her + the family up at my parent’s cottage. I gave her an early birthday gift: a copy of the Ars Magica game that I contributed to. I think she found it cool to know that her uncle had helped make a game, and of course she wanted to play it. So she, I, and my brother sat down and adventured through a fairy land where the sun never sets and where an evil wizard seeks to extend his nefarious influence.


I had the privilege of being a special guest at an Iftar dinner this evening. Iftar is the name of the meal held at the end of the day during the Muslim month of Ramadan. As devout Muslims don’t eat anything at all during the day, the eat “breakfast” (literally, the meal that breaks the fast) once the sun goes down. It is meant to be a time of joy and celebration, lived with family and friends.

Ecumenical centre Executive

As Chairman of the Board of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, one of my duties is to call meetings of the Executive Committee and make sure that all our various action items are being accomplished. We were supposed to have a Board meeting this evening, but I decided to postpone to be able to have a preparatory Exec meeting instead. I have to say, it was very positive. The Board of Directors passed a 5-year budget plan at its June meeting, which gives us a strategic planning structure for the mission-critical activities of the Centre.

Open-source textbooking

I began teaching at the Grand Seminary of Montreal again today — my fourth year in a row. Once again, the course is Liturgy and Sacramental Theology (albeit in French). And once again, my course is being developed as a group project for the whole class.

The concept is simple: I want to develop the best Catholic sacramental theology textbook in the entire world. Am I out of my league? You bet. I am fully aware that I could not possibly do such a thing — alone. That’s why I’m not going to even try doing it alone.