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From the Desk of the Pastor: March 19

March 19, 2022

Good morning everyone.

On Thursday evening I was in attendance at the Interfaith Council of Halton evening of prayer for the Ukraine at St. Joseph’s Church on Trafalgar Rd.  Those in attendance were united in prayer for the suffering of the people and the mounting refugee crisis now spreading across Europe.  The evening began with a sung requiem chant in the eastern tradition that would make even the stones weep as the enormity of the suffering and destruction was brough directly to us, even if it was for a few moments, to our quiet peaceful community in Oakville.  It was a powerful demonstration that in times of crisis and need, as a community, we can come together even in our diversity, to pray together and offer one another words of comfort, support, peace.  Listening to prayers from seven world faith traditions, one could not help but be struck by our common language and the desire to be of one voice for peace and reconciliation.  St. Andrew’s has made a commitment to the community of St. Joseph’s to support the present and future needs both here in Canada and in the Ukraine.  When the government of Canada clarifies how it will deal with the refugee crisis, we will be ready to respond immediately and will reach out to you for help.

March the 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Patronal Feast of the Diocese of Hamilton. From the outset, founding Bishop John Farrell dedicated the Diocese to the patronage of Mary under her title Our Lady of the Annunciation. To celebrate the Solemnity, all are invited to join Bishop Crosby and Bishop Lobsinger to pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother in bringing peace to the world and most especially in the Ukraine. In union with Pope Francis, they will pray the Rosary at 11:00 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King, followed by a prayer of Consecration of Russia and the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Mass will be celebrated following the prayer of Consecration.  Parishioners are invited to the celebration in person or participate by joining the livestreamed event through the Cathedral’s YouTube channel. At St. Andrew’s, Mass will be celebrated in the parish church at 9.00 am. and everyone is invited to celebrate with us.  We will unite our prayers with the universal church by praying the rosary following the Mass.

In just over a week, an important and historic time for the church in Canada will present itself with  the visit of the delegation of Indigenous leaders and Bishops journey to Rome to meet with Pope Francis and other Vatican officials.  The visit begins on March 28th and continue through to April 1st. In preparation for the visit, Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle, a Catholic coalition of Indigenous members, Bishops and clergy, Institutes of Consecrated Life, and representatives of Catholic organizations, has developed two resources: a prayer card and a document entitled Sacred Fire and Prayer Wave for Healing and Reconciliation. The resources can be found on the Circle’s website Join the prayer wave and accompany the delegation on this historic walk toward healing and reconciliation!

In the parish this coming week, we have some major work happening with the installation of new cameras for livestreaming, the brand-new sound system and new lights for the front of the sanctuary to add more light to the sanctuary.  It is necessary for the work to run smoothly and without interruption that we cancel Mass on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Mass will resume on Thursday morning for the rest of the week.  This work can be completed because of the generous response to our parish One Heart, One Soul Campaign.  In April, a new security system will be installed that will upgrade the existing fire alarm and install alarms and camera surveillance in all three buildings.  This work is long overdue and corrects some serious blind spots that we became aware of last summer and fall.

The Parish Pastoral Advisory Committee has settled into its meeting schedule and developing an agenda for its short- and long-term work.  At our meeting on March 5th, a robust discussion took place around the question of how the parish begins to move beyond two years of stop and start, open and closed periods of time and pastoral adjustment to the pandemic.    In our conversation and in the conversations at the many tables I find myself at, there seems to be agreement that “returning back to normal” is going to take time and we may need to be prepared to redefine what “normal” means.  It would be wonderful to hear from you what your thoughts on this are.  Take a few moments with these two questions.

  1. As we emerge from the pandemic, where do you think God is calling us?

  1. As we move forward, what would help us to be a stronger parish community?

Engage other family members if possible.  Please email you response directly to me at:  con@standrewoakville.com or to the parish office at: office@standrewoakville.com

The last opportunity at St. Andrew’s to engage in the “synodal process” took place on Wednesday evening.  I have fifteen and a half pages of notes and several individual contributions to submit to the diocese next week.   The conversations that I was a part of were very engaging, honest and deeply concerned for the future of the church and its role in the world.  The insights from parents and grandparents as well as their concern for the generations to follow them were profound and as a pastor, brother and uncle, thoughtful, full of insight and encouraging that the flame of faith is still burning brightly.  I heard many of those who participated say that the fact that they were asked to contribute was a positive and hopeful experience and that the listening process was as important as the talking one.  All of the contributions from across the diocese will be compiled into a report and forwarded with the accompanying original reports to the Canadian bishop’s office in Ottawa and then on to Rome for the preparatory work for the Synod in Rome in the fall of 2023.   We will keep you posted on how it all develops.

The Catholic Women’s League kicked off their invitation for us all to get into growing our own vegetables and herbs last weekend.  The brochure to order from Plantables.ca was distributed and hopefully orders are making their way to head office. Plantables is an Organic nursery in Forest, Ontario and will start your seeds and ship (for free) the rooted plants to your home.  They have a selection of over 30 organic vegetables, herbs and fruits to choose from and include planting tips. The enthusiastic ladies of the CWL assure me that it is an easy process beginning with ordering what you need electronically.  By using a Promo Code, StAndrew’s CWL will receive a 10% commission for their one hundredth anniversary fundraiser.

 

As the weather improves you might want to consider an exciting opportunity in Toronto where the city is playing host to a very interesting outdoor artistic Way of the Cross from March 2 to April 14.  Crossings is an international showcase and spiritual opportunity to bring art and culture together in dialogue with each other.  In Toronto during Lent this year, each station on the way of the cross is an opportunity in the midst of a busy secular city to pause for a while with some thoughts and ideas on the way to Easter.  Please check their website  https://www.crossingstoronto.com/  and request the free guide to the walk. This would be a great activity for a family or a small group to do over the next few weeks.

In anticipation of families returning to church, we have been updating the selection of books for children in the Family Room in the church.  Please drop by for a preview.  The books are housed in special book cradles at the height of a child.  Monday sees another step back to “normal” with the lifting of the provincial and local mask mandate.  Parishioners are free to wear a mask in church and in the parish centre.  For the time being, ministers of communion and the presider will wear a mask for the distribution of communion.  We will continue to offer the sign of peace with a bow or in a manner that does not involve contact.

Finally, have a good week and as the weather moves us into a taste of spring, enjoy the fresh air and the first signs of new life around us.  We hope that the season of Lent is giving you some time for reflection and quiet.

Be well,

Fr. Con