This weekend I has the pleasure of visiting Saint Thomas à Becket parish in Pierrefonds. This visit is part of the on-going thank you tour I have been on since my ordination as bishop. Basically, I have been making it a point to visit the parishes that have been significant to my spiritual and vocational journey, to offer thanks to God for the role they played in His providential plan of love for me. Saint Thomas à Becket was an important part of that journey, as it was at that parish that I spent my first three full years as a priest.
Some time back I had a chance to chat with Rhonda Chervin regarding an ancient form of religious life called the order of consecrated widows. A consecrated widow is a woman who, after losing her husband, decides not to marry again but instead devote her life to the Lord through a special consecration.
Shortly after having been called to be a bishop I received a copy of the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops. One of the recommendations made in that document (see paragraph 46) was that the bishop take time each month for prayer and recollection. I’ve been trying to apply that suggestion, despite all the work on my desk, because I think it is important in order to keep connected with the Lord.
I had the chance today to visit the parish of Saint Raphael in Outremont. This parish does not have a resident pastor, such that I will likely soon be appointed parochial administrator for the community. That being said, apart from visiting the grounds (which I had never seen before) my main purpose for being there was to establish contact the Board of Directors of the Saint Raphael Palliative Care and Day Centre, which is to founded in the same location.
This Sunday afternoon I had the honour of assisting at the special mass and celebration for the 25th anniversary of Father Paul Pomkoski of Saint Brendan and Saint Aloysius parishes. I use the word “assisting” because I did not concelebrate. You see, when a bishop is present at mass among a group of priests, he “outranks” the priests and therefore is normally the one to preside.
This weekend (Saturday evening and Sunday morning) I had the opportunity to do a pastoral visit at Corpus Christi parish in the westernmost end of the diocese. This parish has not had a resident pastor for a few weeks now, such that different priests have been coming in to do replacement ministry to cover the various sacramental services. I felt it was important to also go myself, to be part of this ministry and to reassure the parishioners that they had not been “forgotten”.
This Saturday I had two celebrations of confirmation at Saint Edmund of Canterbury parish in Beaconsfield. I must say, I am quite enjoying this part of my ministry, as it gives me a chance to get around and see the life and vitality of our local parish communities.
For my homily, I used an adapted version of a homily I preached in 2006 on the feast of Pentecost:
This past Sunday (October 16) I had the chance to preside a special anniversary celebration: the 50th anniversary of the founding of Transfiguration of our Lord parish in Saint-Laurent. Many brother priests who had served there at one point were present, the church was full, and the choir sang like angels. A small reception followed the mass, and there was lots of joy present.
I had the pleasure today of receiving a special guest for lunch today: Dr. Glenn Smith, the Executive Director of Christian Direction, a local Christian missionary alliance from the Evangelical tradition. Then, after our meal, I became his guest: we walked over to the offices of Christian Direction where I met the staff, got the grand tour, and shared visions (and prayer) with Glenn.
I had the pleasure this weekend of visiting Saint Monica parish. This was another stop on my “thank you” tour to all the parish communities that have had a significant role to play in my spiritual or vocational journey. Saint Monica’s was one of the parishes where I did my pastoral internship prior to being ordained as a deacon and priest. I lived in the rectory for over a year, and got to know many of the people quite well.
This evening I had the honour and pleasure of presiding my very first diaconal ordination. A few weeks ago I got a call from the local Franciscan superior, asking me if I’d accept to preside the ordination of Brother Pierre Charland as a deacon. At the time I wasn’t even yet a bishop, just a bishop-elect, so I was quite surprised and honoured! Of course, I had to speak to Cardinal Turcotte first about it, and I remember his reaction: “they are getting you to start early!”. Well, why not!
This evening I was out for supper in Chinatown with a brother priest, sharing on his vision of his future ministry. Our conversation led us to discuss an important Catholic ministry in Montreal, the Maison du Père, a centre for homeless men. As the Maison du Père is no more that 10 minutes away on foot, we decided to walk over so I could show him at least where it could be found.
Let me begin this blog post with the conclusion: I am more and more convinced that *the* key theological issue the Church will need to face in the 21st century is the question of salvation. I explained as much in a video interview I did shortly after my election as a bishop was announced:
As those who know me are already aware, I have been involved in the ecumenical movement for many years. When my election to the episcopate was announced, I received many messages of congratulations from non-Catholics as well, which touched me deeply. During the time of preparation for the ordination the Montreal Commandery of the Order of Saint Lazarus offered to host a celebratory evening, which then evolved into the idea of organizing and hosting an ecumenical vespers service.
This past weekend I had the joy of visiting Saint Luke parish in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. Back when I was preparing for my ordination to the episcopate I felt a strong call to visit the communities that have been part of my faith/vocational journey, to offer my thanks for their support. Saint Luke’s was certainly an important part of this, as it was one of the places where I did my weekend placements as a seminarian, and where I did a stint as a curate a few years ago. Again, I am grateful for the kindness and generosity of the parishioners towards me.