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From the Desk of the Pastor: December 31, 2022

December 31, 2022

Good morning everyone.

Here we are, standing on the threshold of a new year and shaking off the dust, both good and bad of the old year behind us.  Today is a day for remembering and making room for what is to come.  In the south of Ireland where I grew up, there is a tradition that we leave the main door to the house open before midnight to drive the detritus of the past out and to welcome what is new.  The Indigenous people who gathered around the Jesuit mission at Saint Marie among the Hurons would emerge from their long-house early in the new year and trash about in the snow, hurtling at the family and friends that they shared the long-house with, all of the pent up anger and resentment at the inconveniences and slights caused by living so close together during the early part of the winter.  When they exhausted themselves and could think of nothing else, they went back in, remembering that what was said in the frenzy in the snow could never be brought up or spoken again.   Crossing over from the old to the new was a time to begin again with renewed and fresh enthusiasm and an openness to what would come during the days ahead.

There is much to be grateful for during the last twelve months.  We have survived another year of the pandemic and embraced the science and dedication of so many who have and continue to work tirelessly to get us to where we are now.  Much remains to be done as scientists, the medical community and politician at many levels review what has happened and how in the future, we can do better.

In Canada, the visit of Pope Francis was  an astounding success.  His simple approach and sincere empathy and listening ear to the stories of suffering and neglect caused by the residential schools was inspiring, deeply moving and with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, present Canadians at all levels in society, a way forward on the path to truth and reconciliation.  His time with us was also a pastoral visit to all Canadians who are Roman Catholic and his homily at the vespers service in Quebec Cathedral is a well constructed blueprint for the church in Canada for years to come.

St. Andrew’s Parish joined parishes and Catholic institutions throughout the diocese of Hamilton early this year in a world-wide conversation on the state of the church in the modern world and our hopes and dreams for the future.  When the first report from Rome on these conversations was published a few months ago, it was fascinating to see the conversations and concerns here in St. Andrew’s echoed in the conversations around the world.  North and south, east and west, Catholics raised the same topics, issues, concerns and ways to move forward.  The hard work of the Synods to move all of this work forward begins in September of this year at the Vatican.

This opportunity to take a deep dive to look at the way we are church received another important nudge in Canada when the Census Canada data from the 2021 census on religion and faith was published in late October.  Much was made of the fact that the largest faith or spiritual segment of the Canadian population no longer  identifies with or belongs to any church or religious group.  This group still believe in God and/or have a spiritual relationship with a “higher power.”   in some spiritual At 33% Roman Catholics remain the largest denomination in Canada but the numbers highlight a pattern of decline over the last twenty years.  Our parish Pastoral Advisory Committee have been looking at the data and commentary on it and take seriously the need to be proactive in developing pastoral programming to respond to a changing religious landscape in the community.

In the parish, it was a year of celebration for the Catholic Women’s League who marked their one hundredth anniversary with a series of events spread throughout the year.  The beautiful bench at the side of the church has become a place of calm and remembering not just of the past but of the need to carry the torch forward by the next generations of pioneers and visionaries.  Great thanks is due to the CWL Executive who put countless hours into making everything work smoothly especially the Mass In September with Bishop Crosby.

The new year brings a wave of new staff to the parish and with them, fresh eyes and new ideas.  Frances Mantle will become the new Office Administrator at the end of January.  Her experience in business and  office management in the past will allow us to redesign some of our practices and bring the office in line with diocesan guidelines and regulations.

The search for a new Director of Music and Choir Director was completed just in time for Christmas.  The small committee that we established to guide this work at the outset made the decision at the outset that we would be looking for two people, an Organist/Pianist and a Choir Director/Director of Music.  Angela Kim comes to us from a similar position as organist and pianist at St. Matthew Parish in Oakville.  She has many years of experience in music for Catholic services and has an extensive background in music education and training.  Stephen Hegedus has a long association with music in Catholic worship and is a graduate of St. Michael’s Choir School.  He has performed in Opera and as a concert soloist in Canada and the US for many years and returns to St. Michaels as an instructor and conductor regularly.  We welcome both to their responsibilities over the next few weeks.  A very sincere thank you to Sarah Zbogar who filled in for two months as director of the choir and manager of organists and cantors.  She did all of this on top of her responsibilities with the Children’s Choir and sat on the search committee.  She was always gracious and I am personally indebted to her for finding the time to coordinate music for Christmas and at very short notice, to join me for an afternoon interview.  For all of this Sarah, we are so grateful and appreciate your wisdom and generosity.

Early this morning we received word that Pope Emeritus Benedict had passed away after several days of illness.  Much will be written about this extraordinary man who remains one of the most important theologians of the modern era.  He took on the role of leading the church at a traumatic time with great insights and humility and was modest and gracious in his decision to step aside when the burden of office demanded that someone else should lead.  His funeral Mass will be begin early in the morning (Canadian time) on Thursday.  The Vatican released the following prayer to honor him this morning:

Father, eternal shepherd,

hear the prayers of your people for your servant Benedict,

who governed your Church with love.

In your mercy, bring him with the flock once entrusted to his care

to the reward you have promised your faithful servants.

May he who faithfully administered

the mysteries of your forgiveness and love on earth,

rejoice with you for ever in heaven.

In your wise and loving care,

you made your servant teacher of all your Church.

He did the work of Christ on earth.

May your Son welcome him into eternal glory.

May your servant whom you appointed high priest of your flock

be counted now among the priests in the life of your kindgom.

Give your servant the reward of eternal happiness

and let your mercy win for us the gift of your life and love.

We entrust your servant to your mercy with faith and confidence.

In the human family he was an instrument of your peace and love.

May he rejoice in those gifts for ever with your saints.



A sincere thank you to everyone who helped us to pull together to welcome so many to our church for Christmas.   It takes many hands and creative minds, days and hours of volunteer time and energy to take care of the large and small details.  To everyone who pitched in, we couldn’t have done it without you. 

Finally, as we bring the old year to a close, may the Lord of light and life bring you peace and joy.

Fr. Con