THIS WEEK'S WELCOME ANNOUNCEMENT from the Premier of Ontario permits us to open our churches for Masses and other services at 15% of capacity starting today – Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus! This is good news – which comes after a very long and debilitating shutdown! This is Step 1. Step 2, which is foreseen to take place in three weeks, if all the signs are good, should allow us to open to an even higher percent of capacity. One step at a time! Pastors are reminded to observe all the usual protocols in place to assure the safest possible environment in our parishes. Priests and parishioners are also encouraged to get any one of the vaccines, for their own well-being and for the safety of those who worship with us!
Heart to Heart
Bishop Crosby's weekly letter to clergy and parishioners in the Diocese.
THE SHOCKING DISCOVERY OF 215 UNMARKED CHILDREN’S GRAVES at the former Kamloops Residential School has shaken and upset the country. Wounds are reopened and we suffer with our Indigenous brothers and sisters who experienced this dark chapter in our history. Silent memorials have sprung up across the country, including at some of our churches. They remind us to pray for rest for those who were lost, and for healing for those who remain. Statements from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are included on the Diocesan website. Statements from Cardinal Thomas Collins (Toronto) and Archbishop Michael Miller (Vancouver) are included here.
THE OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE CIRCLE is a gathering of Indigenous, Religious, Lay, and Bishops, who advise the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on matters relative to relations with Indigenous Catholics. The Circle published a Pentecost 2021 Message (here), one of their first publications. It is an interesting reflection and a good read.
A NOVENA to The Sacred Heart of Jesus has been published by the Institute for Catholic Education for use by families, in classrooms, or privately. The nine-days of prayer leading up to the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 11th, gives us an opportunity to “find our sure comfort and rest in the Sacred Heart of Christ’s love for each and every one of us.” The Solemnity is also the World Day of Prayer for Priests. Wednesday, June 2nd, is a day of preparation for the Novena which begins in earnest on June 3rd. The brief daily prayer provides opportunity to bring personal intentions before the Lord. The Novena can be found on our Diocesan website.
ST. JOSEPH’S COVID CARE @ HOME PROGRAM was featured in The Hamilton Spectator this week as a “good news” story coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID CARE program is designed and delivered by St. Joseph’s Home Care. It provides nursing guidance to people infected with the virus so they can self-treat, and if necessary dispatches paramedics or respiratory therapists to patient’s homes. More than 430 people have participated in the program which started last November. Of 119 patients currently in the program, only 4 have been referred to hospital! Congratulations to Carolyn Gosse, President of St. Joseph’s Home Care, and to the entire team!
POPE FRANCIS has launched a Marathon of Prayer for the month of May. “Guided by Shrines around the world during this month of May, we recite the Rosary to invoke an end to the pandemic and the resumption of social and work-related activities.” (Pope Francis, General Audience, 5 May 2021) Father Ian Duffy, Rector of our own Diocesan Shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady in Guelph, is joining the Pope’s prayer marathon by praying the Rosary at noon each day. You can participate in the daily prayer with the Pope by checking the Vatican website for a listing of Shrines, or pray the Rosary in union with Father Duffy at the Basilica in Guelph.
THE FEAST OF ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER is tomorrow, May 1, 2021! The feast takes on added significance this year because Pope Francis has dedicated the year to St. Joseph. In the Apostolic Exhortation, Patris Corde (With the Heart of a Father), published on December 8, 2020, the Holy Father announced the special dedication. COVID-19 protocols permitting, on Canada Day, July 1, 2021, a special Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King during which an Act of Consecration of the country to St. Joseph, Patron of Canada, will be prayed.
BISHOP WAYNE LOBSINGER was ordained Bishop last Sunday, April 18th. When we learned about the impending restrictions on church services to be imposed on Monday, April 19 at 12:01 a.m., we thought it best to proceed with the ordination rather than risk a similar restriction in June. Several phone calls and email messages later and it was all arranged. Even Monsignor Matjaž Roter, Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ottawa was able to attend, bring the Papal Bulla (Apostolic Letter signed by Pope Francis announcing the appointment), and offer greetings and good wishes on the Pope’s behalf. We pray that the Bishop’s ministry will be richly blessed!
THE UNIVERSITY CHAPLAINCIES in the Diocese of Hamilton met "virtually" last week to review the activities of the past year and to discuss opportunities for shared ministry! The Chaplains and Chaplaincy Leaders at St. Jerome University, Waterloo; St. John Paul II Student Centre, Waterloo; Canadian Martyrs’/McMaster Students Association, Hamilton; and Newman Centre, Guelph, meet together with the Diocese a few times each year to share experiences and resources. The challenges of the pandemic have intensified the outreach of the chaplaincies - much of it online. Keep up the good spirit!
THE RENOVATED ST. ELIZABETH CHAPEL at St. Elizabeth Village in Hamilton will have its first Mass NEXT Friday, (the Friday before Palm Sunday)! Father Mark Gatto, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, the parish in which the Chapel is located, will be the presider for the Mass. Father Wallace Metcalf will celebrate on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The renovated space is brighter and provides space for wheelchairs and walkers!