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From the Desk of the Pastor: April 15, 2022

April 15, 2022

Good morning everyone.

I am beginning this letter in the church as we begin two hours of vigil at the cross on Good Friday evening.  The church is quiet and some parishioners sit in the pew’s as the day begins its journey to night.  The reading from the Fathers of the Church in the breviary for tomorrow reminds me that we have entered a time when “….the King is asleep….” and for the next twenty four hours, we walk gently on the earth pondering what “His rising from the dead” means.  Last night, the children’s choir sang the beautiful Taize chant “Ubi Caritas” after the gospel was proclaimed reminding us that every celebration of the Eucharist is about “service” and the great “commission” to “go and do as I have done to you.”  It was wonderful to see so many parishioners, old and new, gathering for the celebrations throughout the day and into this evening.  The sound of the cello and organ at noon playing a traditional “kaddish” melody was especially meaningful and the Word of God, proclaimed so well at each service gave the day a special solemnity.  The music too set the tone and as parishioners were leaving the church many had nice words for what they had heard and experienced.  This morning the florist was here to transform the starkness of the last two days with color and fragrance to add to our joy this evening at the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday morning that “indeed he has risen from the dead.”  Lent and Holy Week for 2020 is almost over and we are on our way to sixty days of Easter looking outward and not inward.  Lent gave us an opportunity to reflect and now we put into practice what we have learned and seen.

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(Photograph taken on Wednesday afternoon from the steps of the rectory looking towards the church and lake by a friend who was visiting.)

Two weeks ago, our Parish Finance Committee and Pastoral Advisory Committee met for two hours with Msgr. Murray Kroetsch, Chancellor and Vicar General of the Diocese of Hamilton, to hear a presentation on what a parish need to do to make sure that it prays well on Sunday and provides for the pastoral needs of its parishioners.  As we move beyond the disruption and uncertainty caused by the Covid pandemic, our work for the next number of months has to be about re-building our community and welcoming our parishioners back to worship on Sunday and engagement with the parish.  It was good to be reminded again about the fundamental principles guiding good worship practices and how they apply beyond what we do on Sunday.  On Tuesday evening (this week) the Pastoral Advisory Committee met to follow up on the previous weeks presentation and have come up with some items to be addressed immediately.  One of those is an immediate evaluation of each of the ministries in the parish and an assessment of who remains active and how we replace those who will not be returning.  Questions that have become very important are: what do we need to do to make sure that we are meeting the “real” and current needs of the parish and are the ministries that serve those needs still relevant?  Following from that, what are the new “needs” that we have not yet identified?  The next few weeks and months are going to be very interesting.

I have also had a very productive meeting initiated by Terry Murphy from the CWL and Louela Manankil-Rankin exploring the pastoral needs of parishioners who are moving into the second half of life including seniors, those who are sick and those who care for them.  The conversation also dealt with ongoing education on the aging process and health care especially as we move into the often-difficult questions around end of life care.  We will be meeting with Dawn Inns from the Friendly Visitors soon to expand the conversation and hope that over the next few months, we will have developed both an education and pastoral program for the early fall.

In the parish we are regularly asked for recommendations for counselling, pastoral counselling and spiritual direction.  I have mentioned Chichi Amangbo previously.  She is a parishioner and is Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying), Spiritual Director and Pastoral Counselor.  After several conversations over the last year, we have agreed to test the possibility of her being in a space in the church on Wednesdays from 9.30 to 12 noon.  Parishioners can drop by for a consultation or to book an appointment during this time.  You can also contact her directly at Chichi.wellness@gmail.com or by telephone at 226 444 0708.  Next week the bulletin will have more specific information.  As we move forward from the experiences of the last two years, I believe that opportunities such as this, in a safe and spiritual context are very important and I am grateful that Chichi is willing to explore this opportunity with us.

Envelopes with the materials for children and young adults in non-parish schools preparing for First Communion and Confirmation are now available in the parish office.  As these are time sensitive materials, please pick them up as soon as possible.  For the children and young adults in our parish schools their materials will be available beginning April 26th.  Please note that registration for the sacraments for 2022 is now closed.  Sharon will be happy to place parents and children on the list for 2023 if you forward your information to her at office@standrewoakville.com

Tomorrow, we expect that for the first time since February 2020, the church will probably be full with worshipers for Easter Sunday.  Last weekend and yesterday (Good Friday) it was so encouraging to see so many people in church.  While masks are not mandatory, we encourage people to wear them and will ensure that air is flowing freely throughout the church.  For those who join us from home, the link is here: https://www.standrewoakville.com/live-stream/

  We apologise for the poor sound quality on Thursday evening during the Mass.  While the new audio and camera system is simpler to use, we have discovered that there are a few quirks to the system that we need to work through.  Everything worked well yesterday, and we expect the same for tomorrow.  I am away for a few days next week and Felix is pumped to take charge.

Finally, keeping in mind that today “we keep silence because the King is asleep”,  listen to this beautiful hymn based on the words of Teresa of Avila (circa 1571) and set to music by David Ogden.  It is sung by Josh Garrels.  https://youtu.be/w7ymxW3rndk   On behalf of all of us here at St. Andrew’s, have a Happy and safe Easter, and may the Risen Lord bring you peace and joy.

Fr. Con