Saturday, November 28, 2009

Compassionate Healers Mass

Earlier this month I presided at the celebration of the annual Compassionate Healers Mass. This celebration was formerly known as the White Mass, so named because of the colour of the nurses uniforms and of those in health care. As clothing in hospitals and medical practices have changed so has the name of this Mass which prays for all those involved in Catholic Health Care and for the strength of this part of the ministry and mission of the Church. The new name reminds us of Christ who heals with compassion for the sufferings of his brothers and sisters (Mark 1, 40-45) and in whose mission of healing every baptized person is called to participate.

This Mass is sponsored by the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan and present at the Mass were Bert Yakichuk of the Board of Directors and Sandra Kary, CEO.

As the Mass was about to begin two symbols of Catholic Health Care were brought forward: the container of the Oil of the Sick, used in the celebration of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and a book which contains charts. And here you can see the present nurse's uniform.

The readings from Scripture spoke of two incidents of healing: that by Peter after Jesus' Resurrection and that by Jesus of a leper. In a commentary on this Gospel episode, Fr. George Montague wrote: "Where others will not go lest they be stained, Jesus goes with the power to heal.” Jesus does not heal from afar. Jesus could simply will that the man be cleansed and he would be. He could just say: “be cleansed” and he would be. But Jesus chooses to immerse himself in that man’s human situation. As he reaches out and grabs hold of that leprous man, he grabs hold of his life and becomes a part of it and he heals him.

And I believe that it is here that we see what is unique in faith-based health care; what it is that faith-based health care brings to people who suffer from illness. When we visit or care for or treat someone who is ill, we see before us the sick man in the Gospel. We see someone who is loved by Christ who reaches out to them in us and through our hands touches them and brings them comfort, assurance and healing. And because Jesus immerses himself in their life, we see in them the presence of Jesus who seeks our love and our care and our comfort. And by our loving acts of healing we show our love for Jesus, who loves us to the end.
And so we prayed in the Responsorial Psalm: "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name...He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills...As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him." It is good to remember that to "fear God" is not to be afraid of God, but to give to God the reverence and awe that is God's due.

Deacon Bob Williston proclaimed the Gospel of the healing of the Leper.

The Prayers of the Faithful were offered to God for all those in Health Care, for the sick and those who care for them.

The Gifts of Bread and Wine are brought forward for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Sr. Anastasia, the Director of Pastoral Services of the Archdiocese, with the help of her team organized this very special Eucharistic Celebration. She is seen here with the symbols of Catholic care of the sick that were brought forward as Mass began.

During the celebration of the Mass I was helped by Altar Servers from the Cathedral under the direction of Louisa Lacheur. Louisa is one of the Archbishop's Team of Servers who assist me at different Liturgies throughout the Archdiocese. These young people are a blessing to me and a great help in contributing to dignified celebrations.

After Mass people gathered for a reception. Msgr. Miller is seen here speaking with Marion Grady who is on the Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission and Fr. Marcotte is on the right.

On the left is Jean Mahoney, Chair of the Board of Directors of Santa Maria Nursing Home, speaking with Beverly Smith the CEO of Santa Maria. A new Board has been formed there and is actively working to assure the continuation of excellent care that has been given at Santa Maria.

Fr. Tonny Dizy, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese is speaking with Jim Schneider who is part of CHAS and who has long been active in promoting Catholic Health Care in Saskatchewan.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Old Friends and Ministries

Recently the Canadian Association of Ministry Programs met at St. Michael's Retreat in Lumsden. The Canadian Association of Ministry Programs brings together those involved in delivering diocesan ministry programs such as the Lay Ministry and RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation of Adults) programs. The Association was formed in 1980 in Montreal and has met every year since alternating meetings among locations in Eastern, Western and Central Canada.

I was able to join them for a dinner in Regina to give support to this important work in our Church. This was the first time that CAMP met in Regina.

Bonnie Thiele and Judy Zolc of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Staff did the hard work necessary to arrange to have this meeting here.

I was also pleased to see some familiar faces there. Among whom was Fr. Bedford Doucet who is in charge of lay ministry formation for the Diocese of Antigonish.

And it was a great pleasure to see, on the left, Ellen Bennett who was Director of Catechetics in the parish when I was Pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Riverview, NB and who now works in catechetics on the diocesan level in Moncton. And on the right is Phil Foreman from the Diocese of Saint John. Phil and I were classmates in university at St. Thomas in Chatham, NB. Phil is married to Mary Lou whom I have know now since we were children together in Moncton.

That's one of the wonderful things about the Church: you see good people doing good things. And that is a blessing for us all.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Welcome to a new Priest in our Archdiocese

I had the pleasure recently of welcoming a new priest to carry out ministry in the Archdiocese. This if Msgr. Reymundo Asis, a Filipino priest from the Diocese of Daet. He will be stationed with Fr. Neil Osiowy at St. Joseph's Parish in Moose Jaw who, I am sure, will be pleased to have this help since St. Joseph's also looks after the parishes of St. Mary in Central Butte and St. John the Evangelist in Marquis.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle celebrates it 125th Anniversary

On October 31, the Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle held celebrations in honour of the 125th Anniversary of the Diocese. The celebrations began with a dinner held at St. Martin's Parish Hall. I was very honoured to have been invited to take part in these special celebrations.

I was greeted by Bishop Gregory Kerr Wilson, the Bishop of Qu'Appelle, seen here with his wife Vicki.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Archbishop David Ashdown the Archbishop of Keetwatin and Metropolitan of Rupertsland.

With me here at the table is Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Bishop Cynthia G. Halmarson. I should mention here that twice yearly the four Roman Catholic Bishops in Saskatchewan and the three Anglican Bishops and the Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop meet for a day to discuss their own ministries and other works that we are able to do in common. One such common work, that bore good fruit, was a statement by the Bishops of Saskatchewan regarding uranium mining and nuclear power asking that all Saskatchewanians educate themselves as fully as possible regarding all aspects of this pertinent topic.

During the dinner we were joyously entertained by the Best Buddies Blues Band. This group is from Leboldus High School in Regina.

In the middle is one of the instructors, Chris Hamilton.

Bishop Kerr Wilson got himself into the act with some enthusiastic xylophone playing.

And then we were shown how to really strike up the band.

Then Bishop Greg and myself tried our hands at the drums. I must admit to great pressure on this percussion debut on my part. But it was all a great time.

Then the real professionals showed us how to really do it.

It was great fun to be allowed to be a part of this terrific group for a bit that evening.

Bishops often "sing the blues" but not with so much fun as we had that evening.

Sunday Morning 125th Anniversary Service

A liturgical service, Solemn Eucharist of All Saints, was held in Luther College High School on Sunday morning to which I had the honour of being invited. I was accompanied by Msgr. Don Bolen, the Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Regina and recently working at the Pontifical Commission for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican. Msgr Bolen's field of speciality was relationships with the Anglican Church, so it was a great pleasure for me to have him with me for this special event.

The liturgy began with the Rite of Sprinkling reminding us of our baptism and God's cleansing us from sin so we may more fittingly enter into this time of prayer and concluded with a Renewal of the Baptismal Covenant.

There was a very good number of people in attendance.

The Rite concluded with the singing of one of my favourite hymns: "For All the Saints" with the hymn tune "Sine Nomine." From left to right in the front row: Bishop Rodney Andrews, Anglican Bishop of Saskatoon, Msgr. Don Bolen, V.G., myself, Archbishop Ashdown and Bishop Cynthia Halmarson.

The preacher was The Very Reverend Kevin Martin, Dean of St. Matthew's Cathedral in Dallas, Texas.

Here, I am exchanging the Sign of Peace with Bishop Kerr Wilson. Although I was not able to participate fully in the liturgy by receiving Holy Communion since our two Churches have not achieved communion between ourselves, it was still a very positive experience to join in prayer with our Anglican brothers and sisters and praise and give thanks to God for the many blessings we have both received.

The Anglican Church in Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have achieved full communion and so Bishop Halmarson joined Bishop Kerr Wilson and Archbishop Ashdown at the Altar for the Eucharistic Prayer.

Bishop Greg spoke his appreciation to all present at the end of the Service.

And here are the bishops in attendance at the 125th Celebration.

And also Msgr. Bolen whose work for the Roman Catholic Church at the international level has enabled him to feel much at home in the company of our Anglican friends and fellow Christians.

Our congratulations go out to the Diocese of Qu'Appelle from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina on one hundred and twenty-five years of living as a diocesan church here in Saskatchewan. It was a particular pleasure for me to have been able to take part in these celebrations during the year in which our own Archdiocese is celebrating its Centennial Year. On our part we will continue to promote the unity of all Christian Churches and seek the Communion for which our Lord prayed. May God bless our efforts.

Maritime Fall

Following the Bishops Plenary Meetings in Cornwall, I slipped home to New Brunswick to visit my mother for a couple of days. We took a drive through the countryside on a lovely sunny day. The bright red and orange colours had disappeared from the trees, but there was still some gold and yellow leaves which were lovely.
A little imaginative Maritime humour here, making full use of plentiful pumpkins. The funny thing is that it does remind me of a plumber who did some work for me a number of years ago.

As I said, a little bit of colour left in the New Brunswick trees.

While I was home, I met my newest grand-nephew, Cullen. He is number four in that generation of my mothers's great grandchildren.

This is his cousin Noah. Life is a great joy. Here is another generation beginning everything all over again. God bless them.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Notre Dame awards Sisters of Charity of St. Louis

Before I left for the Canadian Bishops' Plenary meeting, I had the great pleasure to be a part of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame's Humanitarian Award Dinner. The 2009 Honorees were the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis.
The Sisters of Charity of St. Louis were founded in Vannes, France in 1803 during the aftermath of the French Revolution. In the beginning of the 20th century, the anticlerical laws of France forced many of the sisters to leave their homeland. In 1902 some sisters set sail for Canada and settled on the shores of the St Lawrence3 river where they established Catholic schools. Sisters came to the newly founded diocese of Regina. In 1913 Moose Jaw and Radville welcomed the Sisters and Wilcox in 1920. When Père Athol Murray asked the Sisters to accept "his boys" into their school, Notre Dame College of Canada was born.

There were a great number of alumni (ae) present and members of the faculty. Rob Kreuger is seen here third from the left.

There were also lots of students present too, which was very nice to see.

Here's some of the Sisters (wearing corsages). Sister Clem Liboiron who is at Wilcox is seen here, second from the right.

I got a very good seat between Sr. Yvette Plessis and Sister Patricia Derbyshire of the community's leadership in Calgary.

And on the far right is Sisber Vicki Hagel, also at Wilcox and greatly involved in the music ministry of the parish among other things.

Mr. Terry Cooney, member of the Board of Regents brought a letter of Congratulations from the Prime Minister of Canada.

And Mr. Mo Bunden, Chairman of the Board of Regents presented the Award to the Sisters. The award contains all the names of the Sisters who served over the years at Wilcox and who took Père Athol Murray's boys and later the girls under their wings to guide, cousel, direct and support over many years.

Sr Plessis and Sr Derbyshire spoke to the group and extended their thanks for this special recognition which everyone present thought was more than well deserved.

Sr Vicki then spoke on behalf of all the sisters present.

And then, in a very moving moment, the Sisters sang the Ave Maria. Their lovely clear voices and gentle harmony was a wonderful way to bring the evening to a close.

As you can see, there was a fine turn out to support the Sisters in the receiving of their award. During the evening it became very clear what dedication the sisters gave to the young people who came to Notre Dame for an academic education and to be schooled in life. They have clearly touched the lives of hundreds of young people over the years. I often wonder these days, with so much good that can be done for young people by these women who in dedicating their life to God have dedicated their life to young people such as those at Notre Dame, why it is that no one is willing to take up this work which has changed lives for the better.

So here they are, Sisters Vicki and Clem and their family of students of Our Lady's College of Notre Dame.