I know, I know… how could I possibly have put up a more snooze-inducing title that this one? “Ad hoc sub-committee”? YAWN! And yet, this is part of being a bishop — there are a lot of meetings to go to for various committees and sub-committees. But don’t let the titles fool you: sometimes those committees, while having bureaucratic sounding names, actually reveal really interesting things. For instance…
Well, it is official: the English-speaking Catholic world has shifted to the use of the new (and might I add, more accurate) translation of the Roman Missal. I had the chance to “break in” the new text as part of a visit I made to Holy Name of Jesus parish this weekend. This is the very first parish I was assigned to when I was first ordained a priest, almost 10 years ago. It was nice to be “back home”, seeing familiar faces.
I had the chance to go and visit some of the Jesuits who serve here in Montreal, particularly those at Loyola High School. The Jesuits have had a long and important presence in Canada, of course, first arriving 400 years ago.
I gave a talk at Concordia University this evening, entitled What the Heck is the Trinity (go to this blog entry to see the poster). There were about 60-70 students, professors, and other guests in attendance, which I consider pretty good. The talk was audio recorded, and turned out fairly well — the sound is a bit scratchy in a few places, unfortunately, so I guess it is time to buy a portable microphone! The audio with the slides can now be found on YouTube:
This week I had the chance to visit my spiritual alma mater, the Grand Seminary of Montreal. Monday I was there to preside the patronal feast day mass, and Tuesday was the annual alumni banquet. It was good to be able to visit with the seminarians, as well as see so many old friends.
Today I had the pleasure of visiting Holy Family parish here in Montreal (not to be confused with Holy Family in Deux-Montagnes). The pastor, Father John Baxter, has been here almost continuously since his ordination to the priesthood in the 1950’s. Father Baxter’s ministry is well-known for his creative use of audio-visual elements in the liturgy, particularly the homily. He also attracts the participation of teenagers, not exactly a group that is over-represented in parish life.
We had an interesting presentation this morning on various elements of canon law, and in particular what it means for a priest (or auxiliary bishop) to be named as an episcpal vicar. There are several episcopal vicars in the diocese of Montreal, each with a particular area of action he is responsible for. Yours truly is “Episcopal Vicar to the English-speaking faithful”. But what does that title mean?
I received a gentleman in my office today who is interested in possibly beginning a doctorate in practical theology (that is to say, the theological study and analysis of some practical element of the life of the Christian community). He came looking for input and suggestions, to see if his areas of interest might have practical sources in the life of the Church of Montreal, particularly among the English-speaking faithful. When I asked him about his master’s work, however, I discovered it was in a rather different area.
I had an interesting lunch today with a local businessman who is also a man of faith. He has only been in Montreal for a few years now, and he wanted some insight into why the faith of the people here in Quebec often seems less dynamic. As one can imagine, this is a question I’ve wrestled with myself. The more I think about it, though, the more I come to the conclusion that the crisis of faith that currently seems to be facing Western civilization is not, in fact, a crisis of faith. It is a crisis of hope.
“So what is hope?” asked my interlocutor.
40 years ago, the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches founded one of the first ecumenical dialogues in Canada involving Catholics. This dialogue takes place in two main groups: the theological dialogue, composed of theological experts from both churches, and the bishop’s dialogue, with bishops from both parties. Normally those dialogues meet separately, but this year, as part of the anniversary, they met together.
This Friday and Saturday was the 2011 Faith Enrichment Conference, put on by the Archdiocese of Montreal. Yours truly was one of the presenters, and my topic was the Catholic approach to funerals (hence the title, How We Say Goodbye). Unfortunately neither the lighting nor the audio is the greatest, but I'm pleased to share this video. For such a seemingly grim topic, we enjoyed ourselves, and kept it light and informative. Enjoy!
I had the chance this evening to have supper with Mgr Henri Teissier, the retired archbishop of Algiers (Algeria). He was first made a bishop in 1973 for the diocese of Oran (at the age, I might add, of 43 — not much older than I am today). In 1980 he was appointed coajutor bishop of Algiers, and finally succeeded to the job of diocesan archbishop in 1988. He served in that role for 20 years, finally retiring in 2008.
Today I had the pleasure to preside a double celebration. It was the patronal feast day of Saint Willibrord parish in Verdun, during which the parish also had its confirmation celebrations. Not too many people have heard of this saint, but he does have his own Wikipedia page.
Note to the reader: this blog post was originally published on June 15, 2004. I am dusting it off from an old archive in response to a request from a well-known Catholic speaker, who apparently heard the story the last time he was passing through Montreal. Happy to be of service!
Today was a special first for my role as episcopal vicar: I had the chance to preside the annual mass for the deceased priests. This is a special custom in the English sector of the archdiocese of Montreal, and one that I have always found very moving. The simple fact is that priests need prayer. We are sinners, too, needing God’s mercy and forgiveness. Of course, priests are blessed to have the chance to be on close contact with the Word of God, and to eat the Bread of Life, on a regular basis, so one would hope those graces do sink in!
I had the chance to chat today with a priest from the diocese of Poitiers in France. He is here in Canada working on a degree and teaching at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. His particular area of study is in the way the Church communicates her moral doctrines in the world today. Given my interest in blogging and social media, he wanted to get my take on the subject.