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From the Desk of the Pastor: May 1

May 1, 2021

Good morning everyone.

I was no more than ten or eleven years of age when we made, what in Ireland in the mid 1960’s was a rare occurrence for a family, a move from the countryside where my mum grew up and where my dad and his dad earlier, managed a small company, to the outskirts of a mid size town.   Moving day for us children was an up and down rollercoaster between adventure and sadness.  We were moving away from the place where we had daily contact with grandparents and cousins who were of similar age and our friends.  The old section of the new house dated back well over a century and the grounds included an old orchard with apples and pears still on the trees because it was early October.   My sister, brothers and I were startled in the late afternoon as our parents were finishing the unpacking, when a black Volkswagen beetle arrived in the driveway by the orchard gate and the shortest priest we had ever seen emerged from it.  Fr. Butler became a good family friend, but on this afternoon, he was a strange creature in the driveway and seemed to be on a serious mission because he ignored our gaping stares.  Mum came from the front door, it looked as if she curtsied, and invited Fr. Butler in.  We followed behind them in silence and mum picked up a big brown package that was leaning against the wall of the dining room and began to unwrap it.  Dad joined us and Fr. Butler sent him off to the kitchen to fetch a bowl of water and salt.  The package revealed a beautiful new picture of the Sacred Heart surrounded by a bright gold frame.  Water and salt arrived, and Fr. Butler began a long series of prayers that, if my memory is correct, were in Latin.  He stopped once and asked each of us our name and continued the prayers.  Copious amounts holy water were sprinkled all over the house and when he was finished, the much friendlier and engaging Fr. Butler carefully wrote our names and the date in the box at the base of the picture.  It hung in the kitchen on one side of the stove for the next forty years until mum sold the house after my dad died and hung in her new home on the same side of the stove in her new kitchen.   Our new home we discovered in the next few weeks, had some history and was supposed to be haunted.  The red light in front of the picture of the Sacred Heart was always a great comfort and taught us children to never be afraid.  No matter what was happening, Jesus was there to protect us.  After Fr. Butler had left and dad hung the picture in its new spot on the wall, mum said to all of us that we would sleep well that night “because Jesus is in the house”.

So why do these memories come flooding back now?  On Thursday, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto published a beautiful Pastoral Letter on the Sacred Heart, Heart Speaks to Heart.  Building on our experiences of the last fourteen months, Cardinal Collins traces the history of devotion to the Sacred Heart and proposes a renewed devotion for our times.  It is filled with wonderful references to the writings of holy men and women down through the ages and the best scriptural scholarship to be found anywhere.  This is among the best new spiritual writing to be savoured and read in sections again and again.   The last pages have suggestions for a personal devotion to the Sacred Heart, prayers and a traditional litany.  I have marked some of the resources for my next book order.  The whole document (25 pages) can be downloaded here: https://www.archtoronto.org/siteassets/media/archdiocese-of-toronto-main-site/files/sacred-heart-of-jesus/sacred-heart-pastoral-letter.pdf     If you don’t have a printer and would like a copy, send an email to Sharon at office@standrewoakville.com and we will get one for you.

Even though students and staff are still studying and working from home next week, it is that time of year again for Catholic Education Week in the province of Ontario.  The week will be filled with activities and in Halton, the annual Walk with Jesus will take place this year around local neighbourhoods.  I recorded a message for the walk earlier this week and encouraged students, staff and parents to use the time to allow Jesus to walk along side of us and open our eyes and ears to the wonder of who walks with us and what we hear and see on the journey.  Bishop Crosby recorded a special message for the week for the schools and Catholic University in the diocese which is here: https://hamiltondiocese.com/catholic-education-week/  He will also pray virtually with students, staff, parents, administrators and parents later in the week.

Lynette and I will meet with parents and students preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation on Tuesday (St. Luke), Wednesday (St. Vincent) and Thursday (Parish Program) by Zoom call at 7.00 pm. each evening.  The Zoom invitation went out on Thursday and parents who have not received it should contact Lynette as soon as possible.  The following week, we will meet with children and parents preparing for First Eucharist.  The Zoom invite will go out for those meetings next Thursday.  We are still praying fervently to St. Aloysius and all the saints who will listen that we will be able to go ahead with both sacraments as planned in June.  We also have some backup plans “just in case.”

The One Heart, One Soul Campaign reached $1,218,412 this week, now homing in on our target goal of $1,550,000. As we bring closure to the campaign over the next few weeks, the campaign phase of this diocesan initiative at St. Andrew’s leads us to begin the work of implementing the first stage of our goals. I whole-heartedly believe that our projects and goals to help our parish thrive – even during the pandemic and particularly because of the pandemic – will make us a more faithful and faith-filled parish. If you do not have the campaign materials, they can be reviewed online at www.oneheartonesoul.ca Find our parish to read the necessary information. If you are still reviewing the campaign materials sent, please pray over and reflect on what you can offer in the next couple of days. No gift is too small, and every gift is a blessing.  Whatever gift or pledge you can contribute will be greatly valued and reaching our target goal is to the benefit of our St. Andrew Parish community . Together, with the Lord, everything is possible.

I am back on call for the hospitals and emergencies in nursing homes and the hospice beginning on Wednesday for a week.  Wednesday is also the day when we livestream Mass at 5.30 pm. and join the universal church in prayer for those who are sick, those in hospital, health care workers and frontline workers during these pandemic times.  In his weekly letter yesterday, Bishop Crosby included the following paragraph:  ST. JOSEPH’S HOSPITAL in Hamilton has had over 530 patients admitted with COVID-19 since March 2020. There have been over 100 COVID-related deaths. Stark and shocking statistics! On the positive side, over 40,000 vaccines have been administered since March 1, 2021, at the West 5th clinic. Through it all the healthcare professionals at the hospital have been generous in “going the extra mile” to fight the pandemic. We can do our part by getting vaccinated as soon as possible!

Finally, today is the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker.  During this year dedicated to him we are encouraged to keep him before us in prayer and on this day especially, to pray to him as the patron saint of workers.  The following prayer is from the compendium of suggested prayers from the Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal.

Joseph, Model of Labourers

Good Saint Joseph,

when God wanted a family for his Son,

He looked among the labourers,

and chose you along with Mary,
demonstrating His esteem for human work.

You put your heart into your work,

and shared your workshop with Jesus.

Your work, like that of other humans,

found new meaning in the presence of God.

Sustain us in the hope of finding work when we are
confronted with the desolation of unemployment.
Counsel business leaders to create an equitable
division of labour that is respectful of individuals,
and promotes our growth and happiness.

Help us to perform our work joyfully, conscientiously,
fairly and honestly.

Prepare our hearts to recognize
your Son in our colleagues at work.

Amen.

Please join us for Mass online this weekend at: https://www.standrewoakville.com/sunday-masses-online/

Be well and may Saint Joseph guide and protect all of us during the coming week.

Fr. Con