By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R
I tell people that I am based in my suitcase and they have a quizzical look on their face. My hope, as you know, is to spend about two weeks in each of our communities across the country. With some side trips to places in which we have no communities, it means that I am not really found in one place for very long. I was delighted once again to spend the New Year with the Catholic Christian Outreach Community. This year they held their convention in Vancouver. And yes, if you look closely you can find me in this picture.
I was also blessed to spend time visiting and praying with Fr. Brendan Boland a short few weeks before he died. I found out that Fr. Joseph Horo is a professional grade badminton player. Fr. Babu Matthew has a wonderful charism for working with youth and it was great to share in that with him. Fr. Bill Comerford recognized that I needed a leisure day. We were able to spend some relaxing time together riding up a mountain, on a cable car near Squamish, B.C.. Wow, the view was stunning!
I met many young Catholics who are interested in serving the Church with their lives and growing in their spiritual lives. Please pray for the Vancouver community. They will begin hosting one young man in particular, who would like to get to know the Redemptorists better, and will begin attending regular prayer and supper times with the confreres.
Our Vancouver community is at the beginning stages of forming a group of Partners in Mission. We met together to reflect on our vocation ministry across Canada with this group of people after the morning Mass. I am little easier to find in this picture (at right)!!
Some of you may know Annette Donovan-Panchaud (far right in the picture below), a chaplain at Kings University, Western University, in London. Annette invited me to represent the Redemptorists at a display of Catholic organizations in the foyer of the Student Life Centre during Catholic Students Week. I was also able to address a prayer group in Pain Court (see if you can find that on your map) about the spirituality and mission of the Redemptorists. I met the local high school chaplain and will return in the fall to make a presentation to high school students about the Redemptorists.
I kept heading west of Toronto in February, but this time, all the way to Grande Prairie. Fr. Leo and I attended a vocation luncheon at the high school. Three seminarians including Travis Chabot; the local diocesan vocation director, Fr. Michael; two School Sisters of Notre Dame, Srs. Louise and Mary-Jeanne; were on hand to share their experiences with twenty students.
On one Sunday, I was able to thank all the parishioners for their support in our vocation ministry. I gave many examples to them of how they have fostered vocations to the priesthood and religious life from Grande Prairie and area. And I asked them for their continued support. We held a vocation supper at the rectory and had a very inspiring discussion about how to make good choices in searching out one’s vocation. (No, you won’t find Purcelldo in this pic – he was behind the camera. J)
I am very grateful and encouraged by the affection, warmth, and respect that is accorded to priests and religious among Catholics across the country. Last Easter I recounted to you the great pride a young boy displayed, as he told me the story of an Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest, who had worked with his people for many years in Paulatuk, N.W.T.. Most remarkable, as this boy had never met the priest personally. I was astounded as Fr. Shijo and I were invited forward at a Christmas party hosted by Gethsemane Ministries, Toronto. There, special guests, including the clergy, were given gifts and recognition at their banquet. Can you find Fr. Saju Oreethaparambil C.Ss.R.? Fr. Saju is serving as a parish priest in downtown Hamilton. We were delighted to see him at the banquet, and to find out that he is enjoying his ministry there very much. This celebration was an amazing pageant for Christmas and very inspiring to see the way that youth of all ages were involved in skits, music, and hosting this big banquet.
Then in February, at the Chinese New Year celebration at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Toronto, I was profoundly moved by the great warmth, and special honour given me, even though I was not always present in their community, but had come that day as a visiting priest.
Luis (Live-In inquirer at St. Patrick Monastery) and I attended a gathering of the University of Toronto Chinese Catholic Community.
Even though the students change over the years, the group has been around for over forty years. Here in this gathering they were remaining faithful to nurturing their faith together, before they headed out to their family homes where it is very important to show respect to your parents and your family on New Year’s Eve. Some had come from an hour away for this short meeting. I am very inspired by the dedication I meet in Catholic groups like these.