By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.
This first Sunday in February, we celebrate a World Day of Consecrated Life. In our last edition of Community Connections, I told you how truly grateful I am for all you are doing to promote our Redemptorist Missionary Charism. I am still filled up with thanks to God as expressed by the writer of Psalm 118…. ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good, for God’s steadfast love endures forever.’ I am still filled with gratitude for all the ways you are promoting our Missionary Charism and inviting people to join our Redemptorist Congregation.
A special thanks to the novitiate community who have been hosting people who want to ‘Come and See’ the Redemptorists. We have had five people come to the novitiate since September for everything from a short stay of evening prayer, supper, and visit; to a full two days of prayer devoted to learning the skills of discernment. Here you can see that the novices were able to cook a candlelight dinner, and offer some « warm » hospitality in the midst of the power black-out in Toronto in December.
Fortunately, the young man who came for this visit was not scared away. In fact as Fr. Mark mentioned in a recent letter, Chris has come to live at Redeemer House during the winter term as he continues to study his Bachelor of Arts degree at St. Michael’s college. Chris had been living with his family in Vaughan which is just north/west of the Toronto airport.
I am deeply grateful for Chris’ willingness to make a big sacrifice as we could only offer him a very tiny room at Redeemer House. He has to go out into the hallway to change his mind?! I appreciate Chris’ love for St. Alphonsus and the time he has taken to read many of Alphonsus’ writings.
I am encouraged and thankful for many other young people across the country who are considering religious life and priesthood as valuable and possible vocations to which they can commit themselves. For example, at the end of December, I represented the Redemptorists at a conference of 700 young adults in Ottawa. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast invited young men to meet with himself and diocesan vocation directors during a free afternoon. Sixty men showed up to consider life as a diocesan priest! At this conference and other gatherings like it, 1500 young adults have now seen our video productions which invite people to come and join our Congregation.
In the picture at left we see from left to right, a vocation director from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, an assistant vocation director from the Jesuits, a surprise visit by THE vocation director for the Jesuits!, another vocation director from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and myself. We are standing beside many display booths of various religious communities and apostolic institutes which were displayed at this conference in Ottawa.
In January 2014, the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, an Oblate priest and myself hosted a Discernment Weekend in Saskatoon. This was remarkable for the fact that more men than women participated in the retreat. This is another sign that young adult men and women are considering religious life as a real possibility for their life.
A conference for Catholic Youth Ministers was also held in Saskatoon in January. I represented the Redemptorists at this conference. The conference reflected the various cultures in the Saskatoon area. We participated in a vespers service led by Bishop Brian Bayda who was also a keynote speaker at the conference. We also experienced a prayer reflection on the First Nations and some of their history here in Canada. Again, I received invitations to different youth groups across the country to speak about religious life and our Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Picture was supplied by © 2014 Highlands of Scotland Productions.
I am so encouraged that across the country religious and priests are working together to teach discernment skills. For example, there is an initiative through St. Joseph College, University of Alberta in Edmonton. A lay chaplain who teaches at the Youth Ministry Certificate Program which we administer, a priest chaplain who is a Basilian, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, and myself have spearheaded this group which will include the participation of many young people, religious, religious priests, and diocesan priests.
Spiritus is scheduled to take place on the following dates: Thursday, February 13th ; Thursday, April 24th; and Thursday, June 26th . Please encourage anyone interested in discerning his or her vocation to attend.
The overarching goal of Spiritus is to create an on-going formation program that supplements the pre-existing programs at the Basilica and in the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Your prayers for this new initiative would also be greatly appreciated.
In addition, I have been invited to preach about and promote the Redemptorists at a diocesan parish, during all their Sunday Masses, in Winnipeg, for the World Day for Consecrated Life. I will be working with the Knights of Columbus and the Diocesan Vocation Director to host a vocation supper in St. John’s in the spring.