By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.
Thanks to Kevin McGraw and Brian Vaccaro, two of our novices! The first Saturday of March, they helped invite Catholic youth get to know St. Alphonsus and our Congregation. As you may know the Lift Jesus Higher Rally at the Toronto Convention Centre is one of the largest gatherings of Catholics in Canada. You see also in this picture a Sister who came out to promote her Congregation, the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate; and one of the youth attending this rally. In one place, we met people from Oshawa, Barrie, London, St. Catharines, Hamilton and many other places in and around Toronto. As you try to plan vocation activities in your area, take time to consider if there are any large workshops, rallies or celebrations. For example, we have also attended One Rock in Alberta, gatherings of Catholics at the Canadian Martyrs Shrine in Ontario and the Catholic Christian Outreach Conventions that are held across the country.
Some confreres at St. Patrick monastery kindly pointed out to me, that there is a large weekly gathering of Catholics at a high school gymnasium in the west end of Toronto. Jody Harper (far left), a parishioner at St. Patrick’s parish, introduced us to the leader of Gethsemane Ministries, Suresh Dominic (second from the right), and Fr. Tomy (far right) accompanied us to this session of prayer as well. It was especially inspiring to see families with all ages of children and young adults gather for prayer on a Friday night.
When planning your vocation activities, please also remember high schools. In the past two years, I have had three enquiries from very good candidates, about religious life, from high school students. Providentially, I met David Dubowits at St. Joseph Parish in Winnipeg when he was visiting his parents. He invited me to preside at a Mass at Msgr. Pereyma High School in Oshawa this month where we will introduce myself to the students and staff. We will then host a subsequent lunch where we can speak with a small group of interested students about the Redemptorist and Redemptoristine vocations.
As you may remember Fr. Don MacLellan was chaplain for many years at this high school. I was very impressed to see that, to this day, there is still a display in his honour (put together by M.C. Havey) in a prominent place in the school. David (in the picture beside me), as some of you know was discerning religious life with the Redemptorists and knows well Frs. Jon, Tony, Santo, and Tom.
David is now married to Lisa-Ann and they have a six year old daughter named Chloe. David and Lisa-Ann are celebrating their 16th anniversary of marriage. Both worked in high school chaplaincy for many years. Lisa-Ann then graduated in 2014 from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and is now involved in a Holistic Healthcare Centre in Oshawa.
This winter was my first visit to the high school and I was impressed by the chapel that was named after Fr. Don MacLellan. Adorning the walls are some works of religious art produced by students from the school.
David passes on his greetings, and is happy to help us promote our Congregation among the students and staff at Msgr. Pereyma. Any Redemptorist who may be visiting in Oshawa is welcome to stop in to visit the school.