The Parish Spiritual & Temporal

This coming week a number of our parishioners will be attending the Archdiocesan Ordinandi Dinner. This is a dinner hosted by the Serra Clubs of the Archdiocese of Toronto to honour the ordination class of St. Augustine’s Seminary and religious who are taking vows. It also recognizes priests who are jubilarians. When I was ordained almost 21 years ago, the dinner was only an idea. It started out small and has become one of the major diocesan social occasions of the year. Attendance will rival that of the Cardinal’s Dinner, somewhere around 1,600. At the end of dinner we listen to a short description by each of the priests-elect of their vocation story. It is very inspiring.

A reminder that ShareLife Sunday is coming up. Your generosity for Haiti has been excellent. The parish has raised something close $25,000 now. The ongoing services that ShareLife funds are also important. ShareLife supports many agencies across the Archdiocese including Catholic Family Services, Catholic Cross Cultural Services and Vita Manor here in Peel Region. Birthright and the DeVeber Institute have received grants in the last year. St. Augustine’s Seminary, the Office of Catholic Youth and Covenant House are also major recipients. Missionary work is supported through ShareLife allocations made by the Pastoral Mission Fund. Parish Social Ministry which has helped to train our Lay Pastoral Visitors also benefits. So this is a major effort to support ongoing work that expresses the Catholic diocesan family’s solidarity with those in need and supports much essential pastoral work in building up the faith here and abroad.

ShareLife Sunday is March 21st. April 25th & May 30th are the second and third collections. The campaign officially closes at the end of July. So you can spread your donations out. While we have many needs at the parish, we also continually need to be outward looking.

I have appointed two individuals to the parish Building Committee. Gabriella Adorjan and Gabriel Ogundele have been appointed to this committee. I expect appointments to this and other committees soon. The Building Committee is a sub-committee of the Finance Council. As you may have seen from our financial report in the fall, the cost of running the parish is substantial. The Building Committee will be looking first in a couple of areas. It will address maintenance and equipment issues that can be handled more effectively and less expensively. The second will be to develop a prioritized plan for significant maintenance. The roofs, the heating and air conditioning units, and the parking lot will all require significant maintenance in the next five years. As well, to make best use of our facilities, we will want make some improvements to our hall and other facilities. You will be updated as these things proceed.

As I reported in my address to the parish in November plans are being prepared to bring greater balance to the sacred space of our church. I have met with a firm that has done work at our cathedral and at St. Paul’s Basilica downtown. I have also met with Fr. Vito Marziliano, the chair of the Archdiocesan Sacred Architecture Committee. I will be writing Bishop Boissonneau soon to describe the process I will undertake. I am hoping to be able to present to all of you a range of conceptual drawings that will help us to envision a sacred space that provides for the practical needs of Liturgy, encourages proper devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and makes the whole space of the church more prayerful and integrated.

In Christ, Fr. Bob

Archbishop Collins visits UTM - Tuesday March 9th

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

The Easter Vigil is called the “Mother of all Liturgies”, and that’s not just because it is long! It is because it is the Mass from which all other Masses flow. It is the celebration of Baptism that springs directly from the resurrection of Our Lord and brings the totality of the new life in Christ, including the Eucharist, to the Church and the whole world. That is why we recount all of salvation history in the readings. That is why we begin the Mass in darkness and illuminate it with the New Fire and then the light of the Easter Candle. That is why we proclaim the resurrection in solemnity and celebration with the Exsultet. And that is why those preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist as adults receive these sacraments at the Easter Vigil Mass.

The catechumens (those who will be baptized) and the candidates (those who will be received into full communion with the Catholic Church), are really very important for us as a parish community. Their preparations are joined to our prayers in a special way in Lent. The catechumens will experience the Scrutinies and be strengthened in their resolve to receive the Sacrament of Baptism fruitfully. Candidates and catechumens remind us very personally of the great gifts we have received in the sacraments.

Today the Rite of Election is being celebrated. Catechumens are now on their way to baptism.

In Christ, Fr. Bob

Lord, Who Throughout these 40 Days for Us has Fasted and Prayed

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. Please note the Mass times below. We say that Lent is a season of penitence. What does that mean? We are preparing to truly walk with Jesus when we meet his Passion and Death once again during Holy Week, so that we may also be with Him when He rises from the dead at Easter. So Lent is a time when we put aside our distractions, when we learn with a little clarity and focus about the spiritual life, the real meaning of living in Christ.

There is an element of “giving something up” in a way. We have only so much energy. We have only so much room. Lent asks us to fill ourselves up with God with greater purpose. It is also, however, a time to draw near to Christ, to get to know Him and His love for us. This is more meditative and contemplative. He speaks to us in the depths of our hearts. Lent, then, is also a time of renewal that should give us joy. It is our hope that Easter will arrive with renewed illumination, that we will shine with the love of the resurrected Lord.

Please pray in particular for our candidates in the RCIA program who are preparing to be received into the Church and who will be baptized. This Sunday those to be received will be publicly accepted and next week those to be baptized will officially be entered in the Book of the Elect.

In Christ, Fr. Bob

A Word from the Pastor . . .

This is one of those weeks with odds and ends. First, I’d look to draw your attention to the coming Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, on February 11th. In recent years the Holy Father has called this day also the World Day of the Sick. Like Christ Himself, the Church does not abandon those who are sick. Instead we walk with the sick. Illness is a big a enough burden. We should not feel alone. We are blessed in Peel Region that St. Elizabeth Healthcare provides the nursing at home in our area. The agency is a long-standing Catholic institution. Years ago I was involved with securing a chaplaincy position within the organization. A fine man, Jan Podaluk, works every day visiting patients and also working with staff who need spiritual support in working with the sick.

The parish now has Ministers of Communion and visitors ready to visit the sick and bring them Holy Communion in hospitals, nursing homes and at home. Sometimes, as well, I have helped family members to be able to bring Holy Communion home to their loved ones on a regular basis. It is great to be surrounded with the prayer of the Church.

In this coming week, as well, we will finish our celebrations of First Reconciliation with the schools. It is a wonderful time. Sometimes we forget that this is a sacrament of healing as well as forgiveness. Young people also carry with them all the ups and downs of family and school life. It is great to hear out loud how much Jesus loves us, how joyful God is over all our efforts even when we don’t fully succeed, and how He draws us closer to Him when we might feel that we are drifting a little away. This is a sacrament that grows with us. That’s one reason we introduce it at a relatively young age and then let it grow along with us. As the prayer says, God has sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins and to bring us pardon and peace. May Jesus, who loves you very much speak to you in quiet whispers in your heart over and over and over again about the depth and joy of His love. I am so very proud of you all. This is a wonderful and an important step.

In Christ, Fr. Bob