Good morning everyone.
Now that we have passed the festivities of Thanksgiving, the journey through November and December will bring us in no time at all to Christmas. Time moves quickly and some days you cannot help but cry out, “slow down please.” I am in the schools at the moment for Mass and prayer services and it is interesting to see how the rhythm of the school year has shifted so quickly from “new” to routine, as if the long summer break is a now forgotten memory. In the parish, the slower pace of the summer has given way to old routines and schedules and some new activities to spice things up.
The most anticipated announcement of the new school and pastoral year is for the dates for First Communion and Confirmation. After meeting with the school principals, the following are those dates:
The Sacrament of Confirmation for students in the Parish Schools, May 4th. 2024 at 1.00 pm. Confirmation for students in other schools in the community and enrolled in the Parish Program for Confirmation, May 4th at 10.30 am. Registration for the celebration of this sacrament will begin in late January 2024.
First Communion for St. Luke and St. Vincent Schools is celebrated on May 11th 2024 at 10:30 am. First Communion for students in other schools in the community and enrolled in the Parish Program for First Communion, is celebrated on May 11th at 1:00 pm. Registration for the celebration of this sacrament will begin in late January 2024.
The Covid experience, spread out over three academic years, has taught us a great deal about how to communicate with children and families. The parish now follows a combination of in-person and online preparation. It has also taught us to be more flexible with time and expectations and following the principle that “less is more”, we have sought out materials that are “user-friendly” for children and their parents. The dates for these sacraments have been brought forward to early May and preparation begins just before Lent. This places immediate preparation in the context of the seasons of Lent and Easter.
The Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome has certainly generated much media attention around the world and a bewilderment that we are hearing so little from the discussions taking place in the meeting hall among the (almost) 400 delegates. This is a deliberate move on the part of Pope Francis and the organisers who are following a process that involves prayer, refection, deep listening, silence and attentive conversation. Each day begins at 8.00 am. with prayer, a prepared reflection and continues with discussion in tables of eight until noon. They begin the same process again each afternoon from 4.00 pm until 7.30 pm. Sunday is the only free day. Next week the synod begins a second phase which gathers the table reports from the discussions over the last two weeks into a report that reflects what is happening among the groups. The synod has two more weeks before it brings its first phase to a conclusion and begins to set the agenda for its second meeting during October of 2024.
Attached to this email you will find seven talks delivered to the synod participants during a retreat before their work began at the beginning of October. Fr. Timothy Ratcliffe OP, from England is the former Master General of the order of Dominican Priests. He delivered six talks during the retreat and one as a reflection during one of the morning sessions. They are a masterclass in good spiritual reflection, and I encourage you to read them. They come to 26 pages in total (a small book) and are filled with rich wisdom and a brilliant look at our modern world in good times and bad. He situates each reflection within a gospel story of encounter and weaves insight from the text with stories and observations from his own life and the lives of many people he has met all over the world.
Pope Francis made headlines again just as the synod was about to begin when he allowed a response to questions in the early summer from five cardinals to be published. The link to the English translation was in the bulletin last week and is also attached here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2023-10/pope-francis-responds-to-dubia-of-five-cardinals.html Please read an analysis of the questions and Pope Francis response here: https://www.ncronline.org/opinion/ncr-voices/pope-francis-responses-dubia-cardinals-were-brilliantly-done
Because of the Synod and the wide interest in how it may have an impact in the life of the church I have decided to reframe the four sessions on Vatican II which were scheduled to begin on Wednesday, October 12. Instead we will schedule a speaker early in November to come and speak about the happenings in Rome during the month of October and move the Vatican II series to the proposed dates in 2024 using a different format. More information will be available in the bulletin and in my letter in early November.
It is always a great pleasure to visit our schools and catch up on what is happening. For the National Truth and Reconciliation Day at the end of September the whole school got involved in an art project. Next weekend you can see some of results of this exercise on the walls at the side entrance to the church. The following is a letter from the school which explains the process and how they created this work.
Dear Parishioners of St. Andrew’s Church, All of us at St. Vincent Catholic School are very honoured to share a special recent project with you. Along with the rest of Canadians, we are learning, unlearning, and working towards reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples on whose land we reside, and we are actively seeking guidance from elders, board, and community leaders to respectfully share this journey with our students. They are, after all, the future of this great country. In the month of September, we honoured the National Day For Truth and Reconciliation through various activities, prayers, a liturgy and raising of the Survivors’ Flag, as well as a school-wide art initiative. Every class from JK to Grade 8 participated in a Paint Night with Ojibway artist Moses Lunham. Moses is from the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation near Sarnia and we are very lucky that he regularly shares his talent with the Halton Catholic District School Board. This year, to honour the National Day For Truth and Reconciliation, he offered two painting workshops, both of which celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original Orange Shirt Day. Working with Moses offered our students a wonderful opportunity to not only create meaningful art, but also take direct inspiration from the artist himself. One painting depicts four children in the four colours of the medicine wheel amidst the symbolic orange shirts, while the second denotes the 10th anniversary in a birch numeral, reflecting the significance of birchwood and nature. We are grateful to Father Con for his consistent support of our work at school, and for letting us share this project with you. Reconciliation is a journey we are on together, and we hope our artwork honours both it and our strong school-parish connection.
Sincerely, The teaching staff of St. Vincent Catholic School
We celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls on November 1 and 2 with Mass each day in the parish at 9.00 am and 7.00 (All Saints) and 12.05 and 7.00 (All Souls). During the month of November, the parish Book of the Names of the Dead will be available to add family and friends who have died during the past year. I am always on the look-out for stories and poetry that can be helpful during the tough time when a loved one dies and found this lovely piece by a young Irish poet, James Mooney. Tuck it away as a gentle message to family and friends who need a word of comfort when a loved one has died.
I hope when death comes,
it embraces us gently,
like being carried to your bedroom as a child
after falling asleep on the couch during a lively family party.
And in that transition,
I hope we can still sense the echoes of laughter,
resonating from the next room.
Reminding us of the love and joy that filled our journey.
and as the voices of the ones that are, fade…..
the voices of those who once were,
now echo in your ears.
And in that moment
the hand of the soul you miss most
will reach for you…..
and whisper …..
You are home.
Parishioners who would like to have a Missal with the texts for Mass and the readings for Sunday will be happy to know that we have ordered a number of copies of the Sunday Missal for use in Canada. Published by Novalis. The Sunday Missal follows the scripture texts and liturgical calendar approved for use in Canada by the Canadian Bishops. The cost is $7.00 and is available from the office.
The House tour Committee is busy putting the final details of the house tour together for December 1st and 2nd. More information and tickets can be found on the website: www.standrewshousetour.ca
As we gather this weekend, we are mindful of the tragic events unfolding in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During Mass in the parish, we pray for peace and comfort for those whose lives have forever been changed by these events and ask Mary, the mother of Jesus to spread her cloak of protection over everyone.
Have a good weekend and I hope you have an opportunity to experience the beauty of fall in Canada.