Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Canadian Bishops Meeting in Cornwall contd.

Following reports to the plenary assembly by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal council and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace the bishops were given a presentation by Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz on The Impact of Vatican Council II on the Priesthood and its Reality Today.

Professor Gaillardetz is on staff at the University of Toledo, Ohio where he holds a Chair in Catholic Studies. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America, he holds a mandatum from Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza to teach at the University of St. Thomas School of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary, Houston, Texas according to the requirements of Ex Corde Ecclesia assuring faithfulness to the teaching of the Church. He and his wife Diana are the parents of four boys.

One of the fruits of the Second Vatican council in regards to the spirituality of the life of a priest is that it brought this understanding of the priest beyond a spirituality which was separated from pastoral care and ministry into a spirituality which put the understanding of the priesthood in the context of the daily life of the Church. The priest acts in the "person of Christ, the Head of the Church" in the role of teaching, sanctifying and leading the People of God, the Church. All of this is at the service of the baptized people so that they may develop their gifts and fulfill their mission, given in their baptism, to be witnesses in their world to the Good News of Jesus.

The focus of understanding the priesthood is "relationship." It flows from our understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit: three persons who are in the relationship of communion. Our baptism is the beginning of a new relationship with God. The priesthood is the consecration to a new relationship with Christ which is carried out in the Church.

These are a couple of the ideas that Dr. Gaillardetz shared with us in his first talk. He was back with us the next morning to continue with the topic "Reflections on the Relationship between the Ministerial Priesthood and the Priesthood of the Baptized." In the workshop that was held for smaller groups, there was agreement that even though we are 40 years or so into the implementation of the teachings of Vatican II, there are large numbers of the Catholic Faithful who have little understanding of what it means that by their baptism they share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. This is seen by diminished attendance at Sunday Mass, the influence of individualism in our society, the emphasis on consumerism which makes all things commodities, even religious faith and teaching. The baptized exercise their priesthood in the world in which they live, being witnesses of God's love and God's salvation. Jesus has offered his life out of love for us, we now offer ourselves and our world to God in response to that love. The priesthood of the Baptized and the Ordained or Ministerial Priesthood are both something which pertains not only to Sunday worship but also beyond that to the way we live our life. Knowing the sacrificial love which Jesus has for us, our only response is to live lives of sacrificial love ourselves.

Needless to say, Dr. Gaillardetz's talks were well received and appreciated by the bishops and were a very helpful occasion to deepen our understanding of the beauty of our Catholic Faith.

The Plenary meetings were also an occasion to renew some long standing friendships. This is Fr. Doug MacNeil of Saint John, NB. Fr. Doug was attending the Plenary as an observer representing the National Federation of Prebyteral Councils. Fr. Doug and I go back a long way with connections to St. Thomas University and the Miramichi in New Brusnwick.

Lunch time offered the opportunities to have some smaller meetings. One of these was a meeting of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews and Interfaith Dialogue, of which I am a member. We took this occasion to get together with the Observers from the different Christian Church communities who were present. Seated from left to right: Mgr Jean-Pierre Blais, Bishop of Baie-Comeau, Mgr Martin Veillette, Bishop of Trois-Rivières, Chairman, Rev. Paul Johnson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Bishop John Boissoneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto and Jonas Abromaitis, secretary of the commission. Standing: Rev. Karen Hamilton, Canadian Council of Churches, Rev. Bruce Clemeger, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada; The Ven. Dr. Michael Pollesel, General Secretary, The Anglican Church of Canada; and Rev. Stephen Kendall, The Presbyterian Church in Canada. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Anglican primate of Canada was having lunch with Archbishop Weisgerber, President of the CCCB.

Archbishop Hiltz spoke to the Bishops later, speaking of the things which our two Churches can celebrate which have happened over the years, particularly the number of barriers that have been lowered, the richness of theological statements which have been made in common, all of which is sufficient to look to further and continual advancement. He also emphasized the important document "Growing Together in Unity and Mission, an agreed Statement tby the International Anglican – Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission: Building on 40 years of Anglican – Roman Catholic Dialogue, which was issued in 2006. Archbishop Hiltz in speaking of the importance of personal involvement in this dialogue recalled the statement of Pope John Paul II that affective communion will lead to effective communion. Archbishop Hiltz was warmly welcomed by the assembled Bishops.

In these meetings there is the usual business matters which take place: elections of the President who for the next term will be Mgr Pierre Morissette, Bishop of Baie-Comeau and Vice President, Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton. Financial statements are presented. Then there are reports from the Marriage Tribunal which deals with annulment applications, in particular the Appeal Tribunal which deals with cases from across the country. Cardinal Marc Ouellet spoke on the Synod of Bishops held last year on The Word of God.

Following these reports the Commission on Doctrone spoke about Catholic Identity in the Public Sphere. This is an important topic for the Church for there are many voices in our society that cry out that there is no place for religion in the public sphere. Yet Christians are called to be witnesses to the Good News of Jesus to the world, indeed it is the mission conferred upon each of us by our Baptism. So we broke up into small groups to discuss how we can bring this about in our dioceses and our parishes.
In the evening, Fr. Tom Rosica of the Catholic Television Network "Salt and Light" gave some pastoral reflections on blogs and websites, their pros and cons. This also was a timely topic and well presented.

At lunch on Wednesday the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews and Interfaith Dialogue got together again for a business meeting and also to welcome some special guests to the Plenary who would speak later on in the afternoon on the subject of Roman Catholic & Anglican dialogue. On the left is Mgr Francois Lapierre, P.M.E., Bishop of St. Hyacynthe and Co-Chair of the Anglican – Catholic theological dialogue (ARC) in Canada and also a member of the Canadian Anglican – Catholic Bishops’ dialogue; Jonas Abromaitis, Secretary of the Commission; Fr. Gilles Routhier, from Laval UniversityRev. Gilles Routhier, from Laval University, a member of the ARC dialogue; Bishop Martin Veillette, Bishop of Trois-Rivières and Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity; Msgr Don Bolen of the Archdiocese of Regina, also a member of the ARC dialogue; Mgr Jean-Pierre Blais, Bishop of Baie-Comeau, Bishop John Boissoneau and, this time, also myself, all three, members of the Commission.

The panel discussed different aspects of the dialogue which is going on between the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church. In their discussions, the Bishops reaffirmed their commitment to Anglican- Catholic dialogue. Together, Anglicans and Roman Catholics comprised about 50% of the population of Canada.

The Bishops then end their working day by coming together and celebrating the Eucharist, for them as for all of us, the source and summit of our life as disciples of Jesus.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Canadian Bishops Meetings in Cornwall

On Monday morning the Bishops of Canada gathered in Cornwall for their annual Plenary Meeting and, of course, I am here with them. These meetings are held at the NAV Canada Training and Conference Centre. This centre was originally the training place for air traffic controllers and may still do this. But it is also a great conference centre.

The trees here in Ontario still have a lot of green leaves on them with a little bit of fall colour as you can see here at the entrance to the Centre.

As soon as you enter the property there is an old fighter jet from the Canadian Air Force on display to remind you of the military history of the place and the air navagation training which has been taught here.
The facilities are extensive and provide ample accomodation for the 80 or so bishops who come from all over Canada to spend this week together in study and discussion of contemporary matters which affect the Church in Canada.

The Centre is situated right on the St. Laurence Seaway. As I was taking this picture a large tanker was making its way towards Montreal with a couple of recreational boaters not far away from it.

It is a lovely and attractive spot particularly on a beautiful fall day such as this.

Its interior courtyard is still producing flowers, which were a very pretty sight after the devastating frost and cold that had hit Regina a week ago and killed off everything in my garden!
Some western Canadian bishops here: Bishop Ken Nowakowski of the Ukranian Eparchy in British Columbia, Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukranian Eparchy in Saskatoon and Bishop David Munroe of Kamloops, BC.

I had this nice picture taken with Archbishop V. J. Weisgerber who is the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and is coming to the end of his term at the close of these meetings. Archbishop Jim is well known in Regina, having been a priest of the Archdiocese for many years before being apointed first as Bishop of Saskatoon and then Archbishop of Winnipeg. I find that he has done an excellent job of leading the Conference over the last three years.

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary is on the left and next to him is Bishop Robert Harris of Saint John. Bishop Harris and I together attended the Conference for new Bishops in Rome in 2003. And next to him is Bishop Peter Hundt. Bishop Hundt replaced me as Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto when the Holy Father named me to Regina.

Here you can see the bishops getting settled in for the beginning of the meetings.

There were also visitors who attended the meetings on Monday and until noon on Tuesday. These visitors included ecumenical representatives from the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Canadian Council of Churches. Also there were representatives of different Church groups and organizations such as Development and Peace, Catholic Organization for life and Family, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women's League of Canada and so on.

One of the first presentations given to us was by Dr. Martin Mark, Office for Refugees - Archdiocese of Toronto, on the left. And Carl Hétu of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. They spoke to the Bishops about the severe plight of Christians in Iraq and the Middle East. They reported a refugee situation for these Christians parallelling the Boat People of the early '80's. The Catholic people and other Christians are being forced to leave their homes because of their Christian Faith. They cannot return home because of reported incidents of violence against Christian families who have made their way back to their home and were forced to flee again.
They asked the dioceses to undertake sponsorship programs in order to bring these refugees to Canada so that they can rebuild their lives and practice their faith in peace and security. It was both a disturbing and moving presentation. You can check out their web site at

After some of the talks, the Bishops break up into smaller groups with some of the observers to discuss topics presented during the day.
This group was chaired by Bishop Murray Chatlain of the NWT who is on the right with Fr. Bill Burke acting as secretary, on the left. You may remember Fr. Burke who came to Regina to speak on the Liturgy at the Archdiocesan Family Gathering a couple of years ago. Fr. Burke is the director of the CCCB Office of Liturgy.

Here are a couple of our visitors/observers. On the left is Joanne Chafe of the CCCB Episcopal Commission for Christian Education, English Sector and to her left is Rev. Paul N. Johnson representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

On Monday afternoon the Papal Nuchio to Canada, Archbishop Luigi Ventura paid his customary visit to the Plenary Assembly, but this time it was to bid farewell to the Canadian Bishops, a great number of whom had been appointed to the episcopacy during his tenure. Archbishop Ventura has been appointed by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI as Papal Nuncio to France. This is a prestigious and demanding appointment and Archbishop Ventura was warmly congratulated by the Bishops.

He also spoke to the assembled Bishops recalling his time here among us and the place Canada has come to hold in his life. We all wished him well and God's blessings in his new ministry in the Church.
The day finished with a reception and dinner in honour of the Apostolic Nuncio.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

My mother was very concerned that I would be getting Thanksgiving Dinner somewhere - with turkey of course. I must say that the priests of the Yorkton - Melville Deanery had taken me out for dinner to a wonderful restaurant and roast beef meal in Yorkton after the Centennial celebration on Sunday, so that really was a splendid Thanksgiving dinner itself. None the less I made my way on Monday over to Martha House to my home away from home for some pleasant company with the priests and, as it turned out, a turkey dinner.

There is a new resident at Martha House, Fr. Norm Marcotte, who retired from Holy Cross Parish this summer and is seen here on the left between Fr. Van and Fr. Gene Sheaffer.
I also managed to get a picture of some of the lay residents at Martha house. It is always a pleasure to see them.

The sisters do such a great job of decorating the dining room for these special occasions as you can see here.

And here are the three Sisters of St. Mary of Leuca who run Martha house and provide a warm and pleasant home for the retired priests and lay people who live there. To say nothing of some very good meals!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Centennial Celebrations in Yorkton - Melville Deanery

Last Sunday, October 11th, the Yorkton - Melville Deanery held its celebration of the Centenary of the Archdiocese of Regina. Settlers began to arrive in this part of the Archdiocese in the early 1880's

Once again parish banners were prominent in the celebration. I have been very impressed by the imagination and work that has gone into these banners made for the Centennial of our Archdiocese.

St. Henry's Parish was founded in 1906 and in a way Melville was a microcosm of what was happening in the province with Polish settlers, Hungarians, Germans, Czechs, and Irish settlers all in one parish. You can imagine that there were many a rough spot in this parish as these diverse peoples came to grips with the challenge of accepting each other and working with each other to build the one community of the Church.

St. Stanislaus was founded in 1907. Since St. Stanisław is the patron saint of Poland and Krakow, there was obviously a stronlgy Polish community here, but also in this region were people from the Ukraine who also worked together and helped each other in these early days in our province.

St. Philip's however was the first parish in the region, founded in 1895. The presence of First Nations people from St. Philip's was a welcome addition to the celebration.

Rama is also a parish with strong Polish history and heritage. During the Pilgrimage this year I participated in a Polish Mass and so first hand how the traditions of this people have endured along with the language.

What a wonderful turn out of Altar Servers there was from the different parishes of the Deanery. I was very proud to have my picture taken with them.

The presence of the priests of the deanery was a very special part of the Eucharistic Celebration. On the left is Fr. Marcin Mironiuk O.M.I., then Fr. Vitalis Azike and on the other side of the servers Fr. Basil Chomos, Fr. Antoni Degutis O.M.I and Fr. Pat Murphy.

Once again the Centennial Icon of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was prominent during the celebrations.

Afterwards all in attendance gathered in the parish hall at St Gerard's for a terrific and tempting array of muffins and other good things.

All in all, another very encouraging deanery celebration of this special year for our Archdiocese.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In Consideration of Preaching the Word of God

This past week, the clergy of the Archdiocese gathered together in Moose Jaw from Monday to Thursday to reflect on their ministry of preaching. The leader of this reflection was Fr. Gregory Heille, a Dominican Priest who is Professor of Homiletics and Academic Dean at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, Missouri.
This week was put together by Fr. Lorne Crozon, the Arcdiocesan Director of Organization and Development with the collaboration of the Ministry to Priests Team. Fr. Lorne is on the left and Fr. Greg on the right.

Here is Fr. Jose Periyilkatte of St. Joseph Parish in Oxbow and Fr. Sathiadas Antony of Christ the Redeemer Parish in Swift Current. The priests of the Archdiocese came together with Fr. Heille to deepen their skills in preaching the homily at Mass. The homily is part of the Liturgy itself and by it "the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text, during the course of the liturgical year." as we are told in the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II.

Fr. Heille emphasized that the homily needs to be approached through prayerful contemplation of the Word of God, of which Lection Divina is one approach. Then "study" of the text follows to seek its meaning and how it relates to the experience of our people and then finally the homily itself is prepared.
Around the table is Fr. Firmo, Fr. Cereno, Fr. Bruno, Fr. Seville and Fr. Jiminez.

As the Sacred Liturgy is the summit and source of our Christian life, so also is the Word of God in the Liturgy of the Word. The Word of God reaches down and out so that it may take root in all aspects of what is happening in the parish community. When this happens, wherever you go in the parish community you will see reflected the whole life of the Church. To describe this reality, Fr. Heille spoke of a "fractal", which was a new scientific word for most of us. But when a fractal is divided, each piece is a small copy of the whole thing. I am going to escape quickly from this scientific topic but I will use a church example: in the RCIA process we see the whole church at work, priest and community evangelizing, bringing to birth in faith through the sacraments, all done in reflection and response to the living Word of God among us. In this and other examples, the Word of God becomes the source and summit of our Catholic Christian way of life. Something to think about.

Fr. Heille also spoke of the challenge to preach to our people across the generations. For example we have in our churches people from four different generations, e.g. the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Millennial Generation and the present unnamed generation. Each of these generations have different characteristics as anyone with children and grand-children knows.
We have at least a couple of these generations in the priests around the table above. Fr. Francis Hengen, Fr. Denis Remot, Fr. Gerry Bauche and Fr. JR Prince.

In all our gatherings the celebration of the Eucharist is an important part of our day. Concelebrating with me are Msgr. Don Bolen, VG and Fr. Carlos Jiminez of Church of Our Lady, Moose Jaw. Assisting with the Sacramentary is Fr. James Owolagba of Gull Lake.

And the priests themselves provided for the Music Ministry for the Eucharist. Fr. Steven Bill is at the keyboard and behind him Fr. Rick Krofche, Fr. Neil Osiowy, Fr Tonny Dizy, Fr. Thomas Nguyen, Fr. John Weckend, Fr. JR Prince and Fr. Gerry Bauche.

All the priests of the Archdiocese came together on Wednesday for a celebration of the Eucharist at St. Joseph's and a picture for the Centennial History Book.