Vocations in Toronto and Newfoundland

posted on 08/05/17 02:15 pm by Kathy McMerty  

By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” Psalm 34.8
God is indeed so good. One of the many joys I have is to share in people’s experience of the goodness that God works in our lives! Quite often this experience includes literally tasting good food together in a way that helps us to build Gospel friendships. While in Toronto, at a gathering of the University of Toronto Chinese Catholic Community (UTCCC), we reflected on what we can do in Lent to improve our prayer lives, and our almsgiving, and our work for justice and peace. Then we went out to the Noodle Bowl!!!

One of the many gifts of UTCCC is that we bridge with other groups of Catholic young adults. This second picture shows a retreat day with some who came from the Chinese Catholic Community at Western University in London. We also shared an evening with the Korean Catholic group, that meets at the University of Toronto! The editor of the UTCCC page wrote about the evening with the Korean Catholic group …. “we came up with some drama skit prompts. These prompts clearly illustrated some similarities and differences of our practices between Koreans and Chinese. Namely, both Chinese and Koreans seem to rush off after church for refreshments, except Chinese go for 點心 (dim sum,) while Koreans go for 소주 (soju) and 맥주 (beer), a.k.a. drinking.” I find it beautiful that there are so many friends from different cultures on our journey to our faith, that many of us of a similar age group shares the same love for One God, One Father.

As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.”

If you are in the Toronto area, and looking for a taste of Gospel friendship, no matter your cultural origins, then you are more than welcome to join UTCCC on Friday nights during the university year. During the summer watch out for their summer events!

… speaking of Chinese Catholic Communities, … this is a picture of some of the parishioners who joined in a New Year’s celebration at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Of course it also fits the theme of “Where’s Waldo” that I used in the last article but did not have the picture when we went to press. In this picture, the challenge is to find Fr. Peter Chin, C.Ss.R. and myself. Fr. Peter appears here in full smile, and in a traditional red and gold shirt, that is worn for the New Year’s celebration.

As some of you may know, Megan McKenna has been preaching parish missions and leading sessions of reflection in many of our parishes across the country. In the middle of March, Megan came to St. Teresa’s parish in St. John’s. Our Partners in Mission ….(pictured here, left to right: Joe Janson; Clyde Hodder, Megan McKenna; Zita Holden; Jim Healey; Tom Hickey; Margie Janson; Pauline Brophy; Fr. Michael Kelleher, C.Ss.R.; Daphne Byrne; Anne Walsh; Bon Fagan; Dave Bishop; Fr. Tomy Joseph, C.Ss.R.) rolled out a great taste of Newfoundland, including….Fish Chowder, Pea Soup, Newfoundland Spinach Salad with Newfoundland Berries, Curried Salt Fish Salad, Moose Casserole, Fish and Brews, Cod Tongues, Cod Fish Cakes, Flipper Pie, Cod au Gratin, Newfoundland Roasted Vegetables, Grandma’s Newfoundland Blueberry Cake, and much more!

And of course as many know by now, Megan responded by feeding us on the Word Who is Life! Margie Janson reflected on our experience:

“For me, I will remember the story she told about the Son of Man, forever. It was a profound image of the Son of Man from the Book of Daniel in shimmering white that a priest told in California. It was a startling and quite touching story of how we are really all connected to one another and of forgiveness and humility. It definitely was not a party starter but it was a moment for deep reflection.  Besides this, when I asked if she had all the scriptures committed to memory, I liked that instead of boasting she was quite encouraging and suggested that anyone could commit scripture to memory. The secret is to start with a few verses and add to it. Finally, you would not have to be in her presence very long to know that she lives and breathes scriptures and stories. I can only imagine how much work she has had to do in the past to be filled with the knowledge she currently holds. She is a very impressive lady who delivers the scripture with a punch.”

And more about great tasting food! As you may have heard, on the weekend of the 11th of March, a great wind storm knocked out power to St. Teresa’s church and the rectory for about five hours. Some people in other areas, were without power for two days! Fr. Tomy Kizhakkethundathil, C.Ss.R. cooked up a curry dinner for us on the propane stove as we hauled out all the candles, flashlights, and oil lanterns that we could find. Did I mention that Fr. Tomy is a great, great cook! Well we had another occasion later in the week to experience his culinary expertise – an experience where India meets Newfoundland. In this picture you will see in front of Frs. Tony and Tomy … (have you ever heard of a movie about the three amigos? Well in Newfoundland we have our very own community of the three T’s: Tom, Tomy and Tony!?) … a dish in the foreground, of delicious curried moose! The other dish was a spicy chicken recipe. Both of these were cooked up for our community supper one night, by Fr. Tomy.

At Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, you will be interested to know that the Catholic Community is growing. Fr. Joe Mroz, with the Society of Jesus, is the priest Chaplain. He presides at a daily Mass and there is of course, a regular Sunday Mass held at St. John’s Chapel. Fr. Joe serves the spiritual needs of students in many other ways. The Catholic Christian Outreach team started a new outreach on this campus during September 2016. Weekly faith study groups, J.A.M. (Jesus and music) gatherings, retreats and many other activities appeal to Catholic students. I was able to share in a pot-luck supper one evening and then preside on Friday, at Mass followed by adoration – a devotion that is held in the chapel every Friday. This was a great chance for me to introduce the leaders of CCO and MUN Catholics to St. Alphonsus, and his style of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In the picture with me are the CCO team and two students. Of course you notice the green shirt; – you guessed it, Friday was the 17th and a special day for those of us with Irish heritage.

Then on Saturday, the St. Patrick’s Day celebration was held at St. Teresa parish. All the volunteers of the parish were celebrated and thanked at this dinner. I found out that Fr. Tony Bidgood, C.Ss.R. has a special talent for stand-up comedy! He had people laughing continuously, as he handed out gifts to the volunteers.

In the prophet Isaiah, chapter 25 we are told:
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear. 
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
he will swallow up death for ever.”

I know that these experiences of sharing meals and Gospel friendship have given me glimpses of what the prophet Isaiah saw on that mountain. I pray for all of you, that as you share in the festivities of Easter, you will taste of the goodness of the Lord and have a foretaste of the power of the resurrection, through which, one day, all death will be swallowed up forever!

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