Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Happy Shrove Tuesday! Finally, some nice weather! I know that it has been a common discussion topic this winter, but man oh man has it been cold! I am glad to hear the stories of those who escape the winter for a week or two and head someplace warm!
Tomorrow we officially enter the liturgical season of Lent. There is debate in the theology world as to whether or not Advent has a penitential character, but thankfully, that is not something that is disputed for Lent! The internet is full of wonderful posters/infographics to help you navigate the periods of abstinence and fasting. My plea to you all however, is not to focus on “checking off the boxes”. Remember what Jesus thought about those who went around wailing about how hard it was to fast? The external actions of penance should be the physical manifestation of an internal conversion! If you feel that you need an audience to do penance, then there is an ingredient missing!
This term has been a real struggle for me, so I appreciate all of your prayers! Last year when I did two graduate classes and my diaconate formation Jan-April, I was only working a few hours per week for Camp St. Louis. It was difficult, but manageable. Fast forward to this year, and my job at the diocese has expanded. For example, last week I spent 8 of 11 days at St. Paul working on a major email modernization for the diocese (although it wasn’t all work…as I snuck away on one night to attend Theology on Tap and one morning to go to a baptism!). This was a big project, but saw immediate benefits for our diocesan staff. The down side of this however, is that its much more difficult to juggle my school and home responsibilities. Thanks be to God I have a wonderful daughter and wife who support me in my ministry, and remind me when I need to just set things aside and focus on family time! An example of this was that I had a million things scheduled on January 20th for the Church, but cancelled them all to attend a Daddy-Daughter hair styling session offered at the Library! God comes first, but my family is next in line!
Since returning back to a semi-regular schedule, I’ve been able to attend some of my usual parish activities: faith enrichment, Marian hour, deacon choir, facilitating Safe Parish workshops, and Knights of Columbus. I was also able to shift my schedule around and attend the January meeting of the local Ministerial Association. We had our liturgy committee meeting where we planned for Lenten and Easter liturgies. Because I am working a fair bit more out of St. Paul, I also had opportunities to assist Bishop Paul, and so I attended confirmations in both Thorhild and Plamondon. It was my first time attending either of those churches, and I must say, our diocese has so many things to celebrate! Speaking of celebrating, we had our Camp St. Louis committee meeting, where we worked on plans for our annual fundraiser as well as an event to be held during the summer. I’m always impressed by the dedication of our committee members, who work in the background to make sure the camp is successful.
At the end of January, I was able to travel with Bishop Paul to Leduc, where we both presented to the Religious Education Network. It was an excellent opportunity to promote Camp St. Louis, as well as give Bishop Paul a small break from driving so much! He makes a lot of miles, especially during confirmation season. I also had opportunity to present on the Holy Spirit and the latter third of the Apostles Creed to the teachers of the St. Paul school division. This was my first “full day” of presenting, and I must say, I have a greater respect for teachers now! I was absolutely exhausted! But, I rushed back from St. Paul and assisted in the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This was the first opportunity some of our parishioners had to hear me preach, even though to save time I borrowed some of the material from the prepared text of the liturgy. On Feb 2 I had the honour of attending the Feast of the Presentation/World Day of Consecrated Life Mass and dinner at St Edouard with the local religious men and women. We are so blessed to have religious priests and religious women in our diocese. For those who are not familiar with them, please ask me and I’ll fill you in on what they are doing in our diocese!
We also unfortunately celebrated the funeral of Mgr. Poulin this past month. It was always an honour to assist Mgr. Poulin at diocesan liturgies, and whenever I would ask him how he was doing, he would always whisper “I’ve got one foot in the grave” and then when you would look at him, you would see the twinkle in his eye! He didn’t often remember me, but after I would tell him who I was, he would tell me stories about my family from 30-40 years ago. I know he will be keenly missed in the diocese.
So, what is in store over the next month? I am 1/3 of the way through my two grad classes. I have one weekend this month and 2 in March where I travel into the city for my Canon Law course. We just wrapped up our diaconate Canon Law course, and start Canon Law-Marriage next week. We have a diaconate formation weekend and our Camp St. Louis Perogy Fundraiser. Other than that, it’s school work and more school work!
Please continue to pray for me, just as I always pray for you!
God bless you and keep you safe!