Monday, August 24, 2009

The Assumption of Mary - Rama Pilgrimage

On August 15, the Church celebrates the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church. The Feast of the Assumption, celebrated every year on August 15, is a very old feast of the Church, celebrated universally by the sixth century. It commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven, before her body could begin to decay--a foretaste of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time.

To celebrate this most special feast of Mary, Seminarian Andrew Young and I travelled to Rama and to the beautiful shrine there to take part in the annual pilgrimage and to celebrate the liturgies of the Feast Day in this very beautiful setting.

The Parish of St. Anthony in Rama, which was first settled by people from the province of Galicia in Poland between 1910 - 1914, was confided to the Oblate Fathers in 1933 when Fr. Anthony Sylla O.M.I. was appointed resident pastor. His desire to build a shrine that would be a replica of the world famous grotto at Lourdes, France began to bear fruit in 1939 when work was begun on the shrine. The shrine was blessed in 1941.

Although the weather was threatening, Mass was celebrated at the shrine altar for the Vigil Mass on August 14.

Following Mass the Living Rosary was prayed and a candle light procession followed leaving the extensive grounds of the Grotto glowing with candles which had been placed throughout.

In the morning the Eucharist was celebrated in Polish and this was followed by the celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick. This beautiful and powerful sacrament brings healing in many ways to the lives of those who suffer from different illnesses both physical and emotional.
Since by now the rain was pouring down, the Mass for the Feast of the Assumption took place in the parish church adjacent to the Shrine. The faithful servers Zach and Colby were present and carried out their ministry with great effectiveness. We sometimes forget how important the ministry of Acolyte is in the Liturgy of the Church. These faithful Acolytes contribute to the dignity and sacredness of the Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy of our Church.

The church was filled with people who had come through very nasty weather to celebrate Our Lady's Feast Day at the Shrine.

"All powerful and ever-living God, you raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory." (Opening Prayer)

At the morning Mass, Fr. Marcin Mironiuk, O.M.I., Pastor and Fr. Wojciech Wojtkowiak, O.M.I. of Lestock concelebrated with me.

The music raised in praise of God during the Liturgy was beautiful with fine participation of all the Assembly.

Following the Mass, I blessed any religious articles. Andrew Young, who is going into his second year of Theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in Edmonton is seen here holding my Bishop's Staff.

Following Mass a heart lunch was shared by the people present.

As you can see, it was a great crowd and with some very nice young people who had a good time demolishing the hamburgers that were barbecued for us.

I get to meet such a good number of our Diocesan Church on these trips, and they are so pleasant and welcoming it's a great pleasure for me to be able to celebrate with them.

As you can see I even got milk for my tea which made me a happy ex-Maritimer indeed.

And special thanks to the indespensible group in the kitchen. I find these remarkable angels of service in every parish and they make everything run so smoothly and the meals that we share so pleasant.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Off to The Rock and the CWL National Convention in St. John's, NFL

This year's Annual Convention of the Catholic Women's League of Canada was held in St. John's Newfoundland. I was pleased to be able to attend for two reasons. First to lend support to this important and effective Catholic lay organization of women and secondly to visit the city where I lived and went to school in grades 9 and 10.

So I went a couple of days early and visited with friends, Paul and Carol Duggan. Paul and I were classmates during those two years and have kept up a connection over the fifty or so intervening years. It was very pleasant to spend time with them and to visit some of the old places. Some are long gone and others are still there.

Paul and Carol were warm and welcoming hosts. Carol is an accomplished singer who was one of the stars on a national TV show from St. Johns in the 60's & 70's, "All Around the Circle." All Around The Circle was a weekly half-hour program of good music, song, variety and travel from St. John's, Newfoundland. It originally aired only locally but made its debut on the CBC-TV network in the summer of 1969.Regulars appearing in the first nationally televised summer series included singers John White and Carol Brothers, musician Ray Walsh and Don Randell and The Band. Each program featured a special guest or guests and on numerous occasions there were film visits to places of interest. (TV

I managed to find an old photo of the group which some may remember. The show was on CBC from 1969 to 1975.
There is also a connection here with Regina as Carol is good friends with well known Regina Soprano, Lynn Channing who is Professor of Voice at the University of Regina.

I was also VERY warmly welcomed by Annie, their golden lab. She put her retriever instincts to work immediately, bringing me stuffed toy ducks by the mouthful every time I sat near her. She would have loved to sit on my lap! Energetic affection by the ton.

I also had the opportunity to visit Brother John Batterton, shown here between myself and Paul. Brother Batterton taught me during my time in Holy Cross School on Patrick St. in St. John's. He was an accomplised and dedicated teacher. Indeed I have very fond memories of the Christian Brothers who taught me there. They were devoted to their vocation and to the teaching of a school full of boys, giving them a sound and very high quality education. Brother Batterton, is still very active and exercising a sharp and insightful mind. It was a great pleasure for me to spend some time again with him both to renew memories and to hear his insights into comtemporary matters.

One of the famous landmarks of St. John's is Cabot Tower on Signal Hill at the mouth of the St. John's harbour. It was from here that Gugliemo Marconi received the first trans-atlantic telegraph signal in 1901. Fr. John Weckend, who also attended the Convention as Diocesan Spiritual Advisor was out walking the path around the hill and came across a man who was standing on the hill sending pictures of the tower to his daughter in Australia on his phone. Marconi would have been fascinated.

One get's a good view of the city of St. John's from the hill.

And very prominent on the sky line is the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of the city. Itself a building with a facinating history. (

A drive around the harbour gives some very picturesque views, here a few fishing boats with the Battery in the background across the harbour.

The convention opened with the celebration of the Eucharist in the Basilica. It's is a very beautiful building with a huge seating capacity and built between 1841 and 1850 when the population of St. John's was 19,000 people.

There were over 700 delegates in attendance who went right to work on the business of the Convention. The first business day began with two keynote addresses. Building on the theme, Women of Peace and Hope, the morning’s keynote speakers were Myrtle Power Ph.D and Fr. Mark Miller, C.Ss.R. Ph.D. Dr. Power encouraged members to be “pillars of change” bringing hope to this world by witness and testament to the gospel. Fr. Miller provided insight into end-of-life palliative care, sharing his personal experiences in palliative care ministry, and empowered members to be frontrunners in caring and support for the dying, their caregivers, and their families. I particularly appreciated Fr. Miller's description of palliative care as helping people to live as they are dying and showed the great value of giving love and support to people in this stage of their lives.

The National President, Danielle McNeil-Hessian of Bedford, NS did a superb job of chairing the various discussions and exchanges.

Our Saskatchewan Provincial President, Gerri Holmes, represented the province with great competence and effectiveness.
The CWL does excellent work in many fields. Its interaction with the Federal Government on important matters concerning women and the faith is effective and respected. The three resolutions passed are as follows:
Resolution - 2009.01Exit Strategies for Prostituted Persons

Submitted by: B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council
Whereas, Persons wanting to exit a life of prostitution require safe and reliable access to the services crucial to begin their rehabilitation; and
Whereas, Problems that lead into a life of prostitution also act as obstacles to exiting; and
Whereas, A higher success rate is shown when exit strategies meet economic, social and educational needs; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 89th annual national convention assembled, urge the federal government to provide sustained core funding to the provinces and territories for services that meet the needs of persons wanting to exit a life of prostitution and to regain control of their lives; and, be it further
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 89th annual national convention assembled, encourage provincial councils to urge the provincial, territorial and municipal governments to identify and support institutions and organizations offering rehabilitation services for persons wanting to exit a life of prostitution.
Resolution - 2009.02Protection and Support Services for Foreign Victims of Human Trafficking
Submitted by: B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council
Whereas, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s policy for temporary residence permits offers limited protection and support to foreign victims of human trafficking; and
Whereas, This policy may be discretionary and/or temporary; therefore legislation would provide national standards; and
Whereas, Canada ratified the United Nations Trafficking Protocol in 2002, of which articles six and seven address implementing measures to provide support services and immigration permits for victims of trafficking; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 89th annual national convention assembled, urge the federal government to enact legislation for protection and support services for foreign victims of human trafficking; and, be it further
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 89th annual national convention assembled, encourage provincial councils to urge the provincial and territorial governments to provide necessary support services for foreign victims of human trafficking.

Resolution - 2009.03Hate Messages
Submitted by: B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council
Whereas, The proceedings under Section 13 Hate Messages of the Canadian Human Rights Act permit a low burden of proof which can damage persons or organizations against whom an unjustifiable complaint has been filed; and
Whereas, Hate provisions are addressed in the Criminal Code which allows for a burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt, application of the rules of evidence and the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven; and
Whereas, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states in section 11 (d) a person charged with an offence has the right “to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal”; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 89th annual national convention assembled, urge the federal government to:1) restrict proceedings on matters of hate solely under the Criminal Code; and2) repeal section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act entitled Hate Messages.
The briefs that accompanied these resolutions can be found on the CWL website at

The Saskatchewan delegation went out to dinner together one evening and were well looked after at "The Hungry Fisherman" on Water Street in St. John's. Here in the middle is Velma Harasen of Regina who is National President Elect.
Velma joined The Catholic Women's League of Canada as charter president of St. Gerard Parish Council in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Upon moving to Regina, she joined St. Martin Parish Council where she continues to be active. Velma held executive positions on both diocesan and provincial levels and served as Saskatchewan provincial president from 1999 to 2001. She assisted in the amalgamation process when the province went from five to three dioceses. She coordinated Project Grow in her province and was a facilitator. The completion of Leading the League and chairing the ad hoc committee was a fulfilling experience. In 2002, she was awarded a life membership in national council.
Seated on Velma's right is Jean Mahoney.

And the Provincial President, Gerri Holmes.

Fr. Francis Hengen, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Redvers, SK is the Provincial Spiritual Advisor sitting here with Louise Dennehy.

Here is the whole happy Saskatchewan delegation to the Convention.

The closing Mass was held Mary Queen of Peace church in St. John's. The Presider was Bishop Douglas Crosby,O.M.I, Bishop of Cornerbrook and Labrador.

Archbishop Martin Currie, who was in Holy Heart Seminary, Halifax with me is seen here in the centre with Bishop Crosby on the left and myself on the right.

I had this great view from my hotel window of the harbour with the Narrows opening out onto the Atlantic Ocean with Signal Hill and the Battery on the left and South Side Hill and Fort Amherst on the right. A lovely sight to end a great week with some wonderful, competent and very effective Catholic lay people.

Some More Vacation

I will not bore you with a pile of vacation pictures, but I will share with you a few. A very important event was my mother's celebration of her 90th birthday. She started off with a beautiful boquet of roses from a very nice lady, Brenda, who comes in twice a week to help with the housekeeping.

There was, of course, a birthday party with most of our immediate family able to attend. My sister Bernardine and her husband Tim were very gracious in holding the gathering at there home in Chester, NS.

And a birthday cake which my sister in law, Margie Clow Bohan, made. Margie is very good at this.

Happy Birthday Mom!

My brother in law, Tim Moore, is hard to catch with the camera, since he is very much a man of action. But here he is with with the remaining two sisters in law, Janice and Judy, holding the latest member of the family, the first great-granddaughter.

Some more family with my mother's brother in the middle.

And my mother with her sister on her right and sister in law on the left.

Bernardine and Tim have a lovely home in Chester with that splendid Atlantic water all around.

I'll indulge myself and show you a few more pictures of my mother,

here also with my sister Bernardine.

And holding here little Dianne Meunier, her first great-granddaughter, her third great -grandchild.

Here she is again with her mother Steph. My nephew Justin and his family live in Minnesota, so it was very special to have them home as a part of this celebration. Little Dianne got a great deal of attention.

Mom along with her sister Kay and brother Harold seen here with Harold's wife, Anne.

And for those of you who are interested, here's the six of us with our mother.

As I may have mentioned before, my sister and my mother like to bake. We all like them to bake too.
Some of us like the baking perhaps a little too much.

Thanks to the generosity of some good friends, I spent a little time at my old cottage at Cape Spear, NB, not far from the new bridge to Prince Edward Island.

Here my brother Mark along with my nephew Justin and his son, my grand-nephew, Danny (which I thought was just a terrific name to give him) are inspecting some of the marine life at low tide. Danny is growing up in Minnesota so this is a wonderful bit of fun for him to experience the ocean.

On the left is one of my 15 nieces and nephew's, Peter Bohan at their home in Sackville, NB.

And of course, no trip to the Maritimes can be complete without a taste of lobster.

And this time also, some absolutely splendid oysters from Prince Edward Island, fresh out of the water. I know that to some of you prairie people this looks absolutely revolting, especially since I think that the best way of eating them is just as they are out of the water. However, please be assured, it is sublime. And so a great end to a great vacation, with many, many blessings to thank God for.