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From the Desk of the Pastor: February 13th

Saturday, February 13th 2021

Good morning everyone,

Despite the cold, it is lovely walking out in the evening or during the day, especially downtown when it is not busy, to finally take a closer look at the results of the construction work of the last two years. Construction has been a constant downtown every year since I came to the parish beginning with the bridge.  You can get a glimpse of the possibilities for the spring and summer season and cheer for the businesses that have hung in through construction and pandemic and at the new ones that seem very eager to open.  It is good for our community, but one is left wondering if we really are as addicted to coffee as the number of shops fronts would suggest.  The streets around the church have been quieter than usual since Christmas.  Now and then some visitors stop by the historic plaques and the sign explaining why the bells ring so many times during the day.  I have been working for the last few weeks from a table in front of the sitting room window overlooking Reynolds Street and was amused (and distracted) over the last few days at students, alone or in pairs, photographing the church and the street from a variety of angles and using, often perilous positions to get the best shot.  The most hilarious were a pair who appeared from our parking-lot with a large stepladder and decided to make the photographing of the photographer on the ladder their subject.  They had great fun and the ladder escaped unharmed in the escapade.

Lent begins next Wednesday.  We got word yesterday that we can resume Mass in church again on Ash Wednesday.  So, come and join us at 9.00 am., 12 Noon and 7.00 pm.  (all the details about re-opening are further down).  Mass is livestreamed at 9.00 am. and this Mass will be available all day for our parishioners who wish to celebrate from home.  Lynette and I will be joining the schools for their virtual services during the day.  The diocese sent along a wonderful resource for families to use at home which you will find here: https://hamiltondiocese.com/lent2021/    As well as a simple liturgy to use in the home for Ash Wednesday, it has a video of Bishop Crosby reading the Gospel for the day and preaching a short homily.  The last page is a fine collection of other resource that you can use throughout the season of Lent.  I like the emphasis on tracing the sign of the cross on the forehead when families pray together.  While it is not with ashes, this sign of the cross is a reminder that Lent is an invitation to remember what happened to us in baptism and how we live out in our lives every day, our own sharing in the Paschal Mystery.  Attached you will find a one page invitation to think about Lent as a time for spring-cleaning and allowing God to do what God does best.  To help us to enter into the spirit of the season, each Saturday we will send out a short essay from Fr. Ron Rolheiser that will guide us gently to the events of Holy Week.  Don’t let the word “short” lull you into thinking that this will be an easy task.  Anyone familiar with Rolheiser’s work knows that each article is filled with nuggets of wisdom and reflection that need to be slowly taken in and put down to return to again and again.  For those who would like to talk to others about what we have read or, to listen to others experiences while reading him, we will set up an opportunity using Zoom on March 24 to connect.  More on that later.

The Word on Fire program with Bishop Barron will begin a new series on February 20th that will look at the Seven deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues.  This is perfect material for Lent and a timely follow-up to the invitation in the attached handout to begin that inward spiritual journey that Lent is meant to be.  We recorded two versions of the Stations of the Cross this week thanks to the volunteers who came to the church (following all the necessary protocols) and the patience and generosity of Marie Tan who has become very skilled with a camera and editing program.  The first will be up on the website after Ash Wednesday, the second will be available the following week and both will enter a repeat cycle until Good Friday.  You can find them here: https://www.standrewoakville.com/live-stream/

For Palm Sunday weekend and Holy Week our ninety minute mini-retreat will be online.  It is built around a conversation that will seek to answer a question that Pilate’s asks in the gospel for Good Friday when Jesus appears before him, ….and what is truth?   Joining me on the green chair is Fr. Joseph de Viveiros, a priest of the Congregation of the Resurrection from Kitchener.  Together we will take a deeper look at this question in its biblical context and in the contemporary experience, where the truth is often held hostage to other agendas.

For those who would like to engage in some scripture study during Lent I highly recommend the Video Series for Lent 2021 from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops office in Ottawa.  Bishop Gerard Bergie, Bishop of St. Catharines, and Archbishop Marcel Damphousse, Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall, will offer reflections on the Sunday readings for Lent.  It is available each Monday in good time for each of the Sundays of Lent. The links for the series in English and in French are available on CCCB website: https://www.cccb.ca/evangelization-catechesis-catholic-education/video-resources/journey-through-lent/

Next week you will receive in the mail a card from the Diocese of Hamilton alerting you to the news that St. Andrew’s Parish officially joins the One Heart, One Soul Campaign February 21.  The card invites you to visit a website dedicated to our parish campaign that has a video with the overall aims of the campaign in the diocese, an advance look at our parish’s goals for the campaign and a (drum-roll please) video that the committee overseeing this campaign in the parish asked Marie Tan to do for us.  In it, I am joined by co-chairs Loraine Fedurco and Ken Coulter and several parishioners who speak about what this campaign if it is successful can do for the parish now and for its future.  The following week you will receive your own One Heart, One Soul Campaign information packet and an invitation to participate in it.  Forty parishes in the diocese will begin the campaign with us.  Seventy parishes have completed it to date very successfully including several who completed it before Christmas.

I am so grateful to the CWL in the parish who have taken a lead on providing information to their membership and parishioners on the Canadian Senate where they are currently reviewing Bill C-7, the law to expand medical assistance in dying (MAiD). In her most recent note, Terry Murphy has reminded everyone that the COVID crisis has starkly revealed the need for better care for the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the homeless, and reminded us of the lack of nation-wide accessibility to palliative and hospice care. She brought to our attention the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) in Ladner, British Columbia, who is one of the many groups who have brought their concerns to the Senate and has asked for protection and support for the practice of palliative care in Canada which is now threatened by MAiD and the demand that euthanasia be practised in every Canadian hospice and palliative care facility. Palliative care associations around the world, including the World Health Organization, state that palliative care does not include euthanasia. Because DHS has refused to provide MAiD in its privately funded 10-bed Hospice in Ladner, the provincial government is trying to close it and expropriate the $15 million facility and Supportive Care Centre, without compensation, so that euthanasia can be provided under government control. The good people at the Delta Hospice Society is asking those concerned across the country to email the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.  Names and email links are in the jpg below. Click the image for a larger copy of the file.

Protect Hospice Flyer

And now to the reopening of the church for Ash Wednesday.  This will be such a relief to many parishioners.  Felix and I are happy to have a congregation and music for Mass again.  There are however a few new steps that we must take in order to make this happen.  We have retained the seating plan that we used for Christmas.  On the weekend, the ushers will ask for your name and telephone number and assign you to a numbered seat in the church.  The seat in front and behind is left empty.  Parishioners who are at Mass on their own will be asked to sit at the end of a designated pew which will have the required two-meter distance between the person at the other end.  You may be asked questions similar to what is now you may be experiencing before you enter some stores.  You may also be asked to have your temperature taken.  It is strongly suggested that if we are in a space with a number of people, that we double up on masks unless you are wearing a proper surgical mask with a minimum of three layers of protection.  Again, please, if you are not well and your health is in any way compromised, join us from the safety of your home.  Most parishioners took the adjustments to attending Mass early last summer in their stride and we had very few concern or difficulties.  If we pull together again we will be able to do the same.  Regular weekday Mass will resume next Friday.  For Lent and Easter, we will continue to have Mass on Saturday at 9.00 in the morning.

 Finally, a gentle reminder that Mass is found here each weekend: https://www.standrewoakville.com/sunday-masses-online/  Mass is also live streamed  on Wednesday at 5.00.  The intentions each Wednesday are for the sick and all those who work in health care and in essential services during this pandemic.

Be well and may Saint Joseph guide us through these days as we prepare for Lent.

Fr. Con