July 10th 2021
Good morning everyone.
Summer has certainly arrived and teases us with all of its wonder (and its dangers). From glorious sunshine to heat, humidity and close to monsoon rain, there is something for everyone. You can feel the return of optimism in the air as we begin finding our way back to normal routines and the possibility of conversations with family and friends. We had a lovely experience on the deck on Tuesday when we welcomed parishioners to our first open house. Despite the high temperature, any inch of shade was taken up for conversation and the joy of cool lemonade and cookies. It was very moving to hear the stories of how people are doing and how they coped during the long exile. It was also encouraging to know that so many found creative ways to be in touch. At one point, a conversation about technology sounded familiar to similar conversations I have had with children and young adults. It sounds as if the pandemic has made all of us shift into learning new skills to help us engage with the world around us. The Tuesday Open House will continue for the rest of July so please drop by at 1.00 pm, or pop over after the usual Tuesday Mass at 12.05. I am very grateful to the CWL for their kindness and generosity to make this happen.
The One Heart, One Soul campaign is on slow speed in the diocese at the moment and in the parish. The total to date that St. Andrew’s has raised is $1,335,000. Loraine Fedurco, Ken Coulter and I are still working however on moving us into the developing and implementation of some of the goals of the campaign and our post covid experience. After some more discussion and in light of the retirement of Lynette from her position as coordinator of the sacraments and liaison with the schools, we have engaged the services of a facilitator to work with us and with a representative group from the parish to move this forward. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would be taking an online course through the University of Notre Dame until the end of this month. It has engaged close to three hundred participants from around the world in a study of the church pre-covid and is looking at the impacts and adjustments we may need to be aware of as we emerge from the covid “exile” over the next few months and years. The general consensus is that what we used to call normal has changed and the post pandemic church has to adjust to a much slower re-engagement with parish life than we originally thought. I have been surprised at the similar experiences in church life that are brought forward from countries like South Africa, England, Japan and Australia, and at the troubling divisions most apparent in countries like the United States, Holland and Ireland. Among Canadian participants, there is a serious concern about the short and long-term impacts of the current outrage over the unmarked graves of aboriginal children especially among young people age fifteen to thirty. We have a lot of work to do over the next few months.
The seating plan for the church is being adjusted slightly today after our first experience last weekend. We are very concerned that the movement into a higher capacity at the end of next week will present us with difficulties as we are already at capacity using the current distancing rules. It would help us a lot if parishioners who come alone or as a couple are seated in the assigned spots to the front of the church and larger family groups take the seats towards the centre and to the back. This weekend the ushers will be a little more directive so that we can get used to it. Please be patient with us for a few weeks as we make the necessary adjustments. This morning we are finally beginning to catch up on over six months of baptism’s that were delayed until now. For the next few weeks we will do a baptism, two or three times Saturday morning and afternoon and on Sunday afternoon. Brides and grooms are very happy that they can have a larger number of family and friends at their weddings and we are happy for them as so many are on their second or third attempt to be married in church.
Tomorrow afternoon and evening Bishop Crosby, will be here with the members of the Episcopal Board for the diocese for dinner and the opening session of the annual Episcopal Board meeting to review the past year and plan for the year to come. Because of the covid restrictions we are meeting here and will move to Mount Mary Retreat Center in Ancaster for the following three days. Please pray for us as this is important work and there are many urgent and difficult topics to be attended to. A fully vaccinated and freshly coifed Fr. Felix is in charge at St. Andrew’s. The office is closed this week as Sharon is taking some time away. Her patience was severely tried this week with telephones that worked and didn’t work and confusion about a system that had way too many fingers on pieces of its operation and now it seems that it has passed its best-before date. It is working again (fingers crossed) as we look for a solution. I am going to be away for a few days the following week to catch up on some personal work and reading.
Finally, I am including the link again to Bishop Crosby’s letter regarding the discovery of children’s bodies buried on the property of Residential Schools in Canada. The link to the letter also includes a link to a chronology of letters from religious orders and the church in Canada that date back to the early 1990’s. It is very troubling that day after day, Canadian media ignore these important documents and give an impression that up until now the church has done very little or nothing. Pope Francis will finally meet with elders and leaders from the Indigenous community in Rome later this year (this meeting was scheduled to take place earlier and before the current crisis but was delayed because of the covid situation). At that meeting we may hear about his plans to come to Canada. Please take time to look at it as it gives a context that is often missing in media reports. https://hamiltondiocese.com/residential-schools/
The abuse of Indigenous peoples is a dark chapter in the history of Canada and of the Catholic Church. While the Church has cared for and served Indigenous people in many ways, it is undeniable that some members of the Church undermined the dignity of First Nations people. Approximately 16 out of 70 Catholic dioceses in Canada were associated with the former Indian Residential Schools, in …
Cardinal Collins and the Archdiocese of Toronto have also published an excellent letter and links to resources that are very helpful.
Be well, find time to enjoy these beautiful days, even in the rain.