I was in the Eastern Townships today for the installation mass of Luc Cyr, formerly of the diocese of Valleyfield and now Archbishop of Sherbrooke. I was a passenger in Bishop Christian Lepine’s car, along with Bishop Jude Saint-Antoine (a retired auxiliary bishop of Montreal and one of the residents here at the Cathedral). With good company like that the trip in was very pleasant despite the rain — we took the opportunity to pray the rosary together, led by Bishop Saint-Antoine, something which I find is always a great way to stay focused on the Lord.
Today Bishop Lepine and I had a chance to offer our thanks to those at the office who helped organize the ordination — invitations, ceremony, reception, and so on. It was team effort, including someone from liturgy services, someone from the chancery, our communications people, the Cardinal’s MC, and so on, all coordinated by the Vicar General. The event was simple, just a bit of coffee and cake after lunch, but I do feel it is important to highlight how generous people were in giving of their time and talent to make everything such a success.
A friend sent me the following photo for my blog: a picture from my very first celebration of confirmation at a local parish!
Several years ago, back when I was a curate at Saint Thomas à Becket parish, I preached a homily series on the theme of “waiting in joyful hope”. A parishioner, who was a member of the music ministry Aeternal, felt inspired by the theme and wrote a song called As We Wait in Joyful Hope.
I was at a meeting last Tuesday that got me thinking about the question of religious freedom. It seems to many that the concept of “freedom of religion” is slowing being transformed into “freedom FROM religion”, at least when it is applied to the public sphere.
My first full day back at the office brought with it the chance to live a special initiative within the diocesan curia: a day-long meeting with Bishop Albert Rouet, the recently retired bishop of Poitiers in France. Bishop Rouet is best known for the special program he instituted back in his diocese to restructure the pastoral care of the people by maximizing the contribution of the lay faithful in the life of their local communities (i.e. in the parishes).
One of the aspects of my ministry that has brought me a lot of joy has been my married couples reunion. A couple of years after my ordination as a priest I decided to organize a BBQ for all the couples I had married up until then. You see, we would spend quite a bit of time together preparing for their big day, getting to know one another and (of course) sharing in the delight of the wedding itself. The idea of then drifting apart seemed to me to be a shame — hence the reunion.
Shortly after my episcopal ordination was announced, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast invited me to come to Ottawa and preside a mass in his cathedral. I have many links to Ottawa, primarily through my family, and had been planning to go there the weekend after my ordination to say mass in Saint Albertus parish, where I was baptised. The offer to celebrate mass the Saturday evening before therefore worked out well, although I must confess I was a bit nervous — this turned out to be the very first mass I presided since the ordination, and I’m still getting used to the whole bishop thing!
Julie Lafontaine was a parishioner of mine back when I was in Saint Luke parish in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. She has a gorgeous singing voice and is quite a talented artist in that regard. Back when my appointment as bishop was first announced she wrote me the following:
I just thought I should let you know that I felt compelled to write a song in honour of your recent election as Auxiliary Bishop. I would love to share it with you some time soon.
Well, “soon” turned out to be today! With her permission, feel free to have a listen for yourselves:
I got up this morning feeling very refreshed, and headed over to a local restaurant for a day-after-the-ordination brunch with my family and some close friends. This brunch had an added twist, in that today is actually my birthday (as well as that of my niece). I had to head off shortly thereafter for the installation mass of Bishop André Gazaille in the diocese of Nicolet, which was then followed by a banquet dinner. It was fun, all of it, but by the time I got home, it was already well past 10 pm. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just check my email quickly before heading to bed.”
I have had the privilege of living and working with Bishop André Gazaille for the past 5 years. Yesterday, he was an auxiliary bishop here in Montreal, and one of the principal concelebrating bishops at my episopal ordination. Today, I had the privilege of being one of the concelebrating bishops at the mass in which he was installed as diocesan bishop of Nicolet, about 150 km north-east of Montreal. The cermony was full of joy and celebration.