CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS FROM THE CATHEDRAL BASILICA will be broadcast again this year. The Mass will be preceded by a Carol Service beginning at 11:30 p.m. Both the Mass and the Carol Service will be broadcast by Salt + Light Media and shared with CHCH TV. Due to COVID restrictions, all seating for Midnight Mass has already been reserved. Join us for the broadcast and share in the joy of this Christmas feast!
Heart to Heart 2020
Bishop Crosby's weekly letter to clergy and parishioners in the Diocese.
WISE MEN WEAR MASKS! So do good shepherds! This year's Christmas Crib at the Chancery has a COVID-19 pandemic addition. The Magi and the shepherds, who are not part of the Holy Family "bubble" are wearing masks! Since they cannot follow the social distancing protocol, the masks are mandatory! Thanks to the Christmas decorators for reminding us of our responsibility to care for one another especially during these dangerous times!
ST. BENEDICT CHURCH IN MILTON is nearing completion. The Mass of Dedication was originally scheduled for this coming Sunday. Because the church is still in the final stages of completion it was decided to continue completing the work, to begin celebrating Mass in the church prior to Christmas, and to reschedule the Mass of Dedication to early July, 2021. Congratulations to Father Jim Petrie and his team for a remarkably beautiful church which will serve parishioners in Milton for years to come!
THE ILLUMINATION OF THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE in The Saint John's Bible displayed in the Bishop Farrell Library and Archives, gives some insight into our attitude in face of modern day threats: tanks, oil rigs, symbols of nuclear disaster, and microscopic images of viruses and diseases! Amidst the chaos, however, are thin slivers of holographic foil – the light of Christ still with us. The artist, Donald Jackson intended it as “a portrait of environmental, human, and cosmic destruction”. As the pandemic impacts us all not just as a health crisis but in connection to our environmental, social and economic priorities, we can also see the value of the pastoral care provided in our ministry to others.
THE SACARAMENT OF CONFIRMATION, postponed in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is being celebrated in our Parishes under strict pandemic protocols. Parish Priests have been delegated to administer the Sacrament. The celebration at St. Gregory the Great Slovenian Parish, Hamilton took place last Saturday. Everyone followed the protocols carefully – and the confirmandi will always have happy memories about the important celebration. Thanks to all who are assuring the safe and joyful celebration of Confirmation this autumn!
NEW PRIESTS AND NEW PASTORS serving in the Diocese of Hamilton will participate in orientation and formation sessions over the coming weeks. The sessions include presentations on the diocesan governance structure, screening protocols, misconduct policies and procedures, communications and privacy policies. It also provides information about the history of Catholic schools in Ontario, and ministry expectations in elementary and secondary schools and universities. The Growing In Faith, Growing in Christ catechetical program is featured. Youth ministry, sacramental preparation, diocesan policies, RCIA, and liturgical celebrations including an overview of the liturgical books available are also covered. They also learn about financial and administration policies, including working with Finance Councils and Parish Pastoral Councils, professional conduct and collaborative ministry. Marriage Preparation, marriage forms, dispensations, and the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal are part of the process. Finally, speech and language expectations are also addressed. Thanks to Monsignor Murray Kroetsch, Jim Long and other Diocesan personnel for the care and attention you give to the new Priests and Pastors who are beginning their ministry in the Diocese!
THIS IS NATIONAL CATHOLIC HEALTH CARE WEEK 2020, and it is sponsored by the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC)! The theme of the week is AWAKEN: Revealing the Courageous Gift of Catholic Health Care. A few facts about Catholic Health Care in Canada: There are 129 Catholic health care organizations in Canada, offering 19,575 beds. Staff numbering 88,000+ serve more than 5 million people annually, with a 6 billion dollar operating budget! Catholic Health Care in Canada is inspired by the example of the Founding Sisters – visionary women who for generations advocated and cared for the most destitute people in their communities. Their ministry has become the mission of a multitude of leaders and this mission makes the Canadian health care system and Canadian society stronger! What a blessing you are for us!
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE CATHOLIC WOMEN'S LEAGUE OF CANADA announced a national initiative to plant 100 trees across Canada for the celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the League. The major celebration of the anniversary, scheduled to take place at their National Convention in Montreal this summer, was cancelled because of COVID pandemic concerns. The tree planting project became their major effort. The League Council at St. Michael Parish in Waterloo, with the encouragement of enthusiastic President Shani Pregejl, committed to planting one of the 100 trees! Last Saturday, in the presence of several Past Presidents from the Parish, most of the current Parish CWL Executive, and our own Shari Guinta from the National CWL Council, a flowering pear tree was planted and blessed. Photos were taken to mark the occasion. Congratulations to the Catholic Women's League nationally on such a significant milestone. The Diocesan Council of the League also marked their 100th anniversary this year – the planned celebration was also cancelled! A note of interest: Frances Lovering, from the Hamilton Diocesan CWL, became the second National President of the League. She is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Burlington. For 100 years members of the Catholic Women's League – the largest grass-roots organization of women in Canada – have been carrying out good works For God and Canada! We wish you many more happy years!
THE 106TH WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES will be celebrated this Sunday, September 27th. This year’s theme is Forced Like Jesus Christ To Flee! Pope Francis encourages us to reflect on the community of internally displaced peoples across the globe – those who have been forcibly displaced within the borders of their country of citizenship. At the end of 2019, the UN Refugee Agency reported that an astonishing 45.7 million people were internally displaced due to armed conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations. It is noteworthy that this number is larger than the world’s refugee population – those who have been forced to cross an international border in search of protection. While COVID-19 has undermined the ability of the Diocese of Hamilton to host our Annual Multicultural Mass this year, we encourage everyone to call to mind this important day in your prayers!
THE DIOCESE WELCOMED FOUR NEW PRIESTS to its ranks on August 15th! Congratulations to Father Paul Edmondstone (St. Matthew Parish, Oakville), Father Francisco Sordo, (St. Michael Parish, Oakville), Father Pawel Stankiewicz (Blessed Sacrament Parish, Kitchener) and Father Hayden Starczala (Holy Cross Parish, Georgetown), who were ordained Priests at the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the number of clergy and lay people who gathered for the celebration was restricted. Still, a spirit of joyful thanksgiving marked the event! We wish them well in their new ministry!
THE CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS will hold its September 2020 Plenary Assembly by video conference. The decision was made the CCCB Permanent Council at its recent meeting and was communicated to the Bishops by the General Secretary, Monsignor Frank Leo. The decision was taken because of the fluid state of the pandemic crisis, and concern for the safety and well-being of staff and members. The structure of the video conference is being developed in the coming weeks and will include reflections and decisions on matters that affect the Church in Canada into the future. We pray for the good work of the Conference, and thank the CCCB personnel for their effective service!
THE CHANCERY OFFICE IS RE-OPENING next Thursday, July 2, following a three-and-a-half month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The re-opening will take place under careful constraints mandated by the Government of Ontario, including the use of hand sanitizers, face coverings, physical distancing guidelines and certain office protocols to protect office personnel and visitors. Plexiglas shields have been placed at desks situated in public areas. Visitors to the Chancery will be welcomed by appointment only. The Chancery will be operating at summer hours until Labour Day in September!
WE ARE READY TO WELCOME YOU! Most Parishes in the Diocese are prepared to celebrate Masses with some parishioners this weekend with certain restrictions. We are permitted to welcome up to 30% of the capacity of the Church at each Mass. We must also practice social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be used on entry into the Church. Please bring a protective cloth mask which is strongly recommended in the enclosed environment. You will remove your mask just before you receive Holy Communion. Pews and floors have been marked to assist with appropriate physical distancing. This first gathering for us might seem a bit daunting, but we will soon be used to the restrictions which are meant to keep us safe! Remember that CHARITY is the primary law of the Gospel. We count on everybody to do their part so that we can worship together safely and joyfully!
THE REOPENING OF PLACES OF WORSHIP “ACROSS THE PROVINCE” was announced by Premier Doug Ford on Monday afternoon, June 8th. While surprised that it happened so soon, we are relieved and happy to begin the process. Strict guidelines accompanied the announcement in order to promote as safe an environment as possible to welcome returning parishioners. These guidelines include a limit of 30% of building capacity, recommended use of face masks and hand sanitizers, and social distancing. The Parish Priests in the Diocese participated in a teleconference on Wednesday to review the liturgical norms and to begin the necessary preparation to clean the churches and place helpful signage. Protective equipment, sanitizer and cleaning solution were delivered to locations in each Deanery for pickup if needed, and are available at the Chancery. Churches in the Diocese can open on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 for daily Mass and prayer, and for Sunday Masses on Saturday, June 20th, and Sunday, June 21st. Please follow instructions carefully to promote safe and prayerful gatherings!
GOOD NEWS! The venerable Father Michael J. McGivney will be beatified! The good news was decreed this week by Pope Francis following recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father McGivney. The Beatification Mass will take place in Father McGivney’s home state of Connecticut. He died of pneumonia at the age of 38 on August 14, 1890, in the midst of a global pandemic that claimed over 1 million lives worldwide. Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in St. Mary’s Church basement, New Haven, Connecticut, as a way to support families who had lost husbands and fathers and faced destitution. The fledgling membership grew to a remarkable 2 million members internationally. The Knights are a major force in the areas of evangelization, charitable works, racial integration, pro-life initiatives and the defense of religious freedom.
THE 2020 PENTECOST MESSAGE FROM THE CCCB – Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations was released this week by the Conference. The message of encouragement and hope is addressed to Catholics who are “alive in the Spirit” and engaged in the world! “As was the case for the two disciples (on the road to Emmaus), the compass of a heart that is burning for God guides our hopeful gaze. Many initiatives and examples of willingness to help have revealed the greatness of caregivers and health-care workers”! The letter is available here.
GOOD NEWS FROM FATHER JIM PETRIE THIS WEEK! The construction of St. Benedict Church is underway once again. The work had been stopped as part of the COVID-19 government shutdown, and was one of the projects that got the green light on Monday-past. The completion of the building is now foreseen to be late Autumn. Good news indeed!
OUR SINCEREST SYMPATHY to the Jesuit Community in Pickering and to the Jesuits who serve among us here in the Diocese of Hamilton! The COVID-19 virus has taken a huge toll in Rene Goupil House, the community’s infirmary community. Sixteen residents and some staff have tested positive. Five Jesuits have died, others are in critical condition. The remaining residents are being monitored. Father Erik Oland, S.J., Provincial Superior of the Jesuits of Canada, has said, “Now, the most important support you can give is by way of prayer; prayer for these men, prayer for those who care for them and prayer that these next weeks and months will see fewer and fewer illness and loss of life due to the virus.” And so we pray – for the Jesuits and for all who have been touched by this virus!
“IGNITING HOPE” is the theme for Catholic Education Week in Ontario, May 4 – May 8, 2020. This year’s video message for Catholic Education week is available online. Thanks to Anne Jamieson and Larica Perera for its preparation. This year, I am told that School Boards are preparing to send the message to every home in their system – a first! A Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick Church in Hamilton at 11 a.m. next Friday morning. It will be live-streamed and accessible for all. We pray for all our teachers and students, trustees and administrators, during these challenging days, that the values imbued in our Catholic schools provide the insights necessary to weather the strain of the shutdown with creativity, gratitude and generosity!
THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited the Canadian Bishops to Consecrate their individual Dioceses to Mary, Mother of the Church, on Friday, May 1, 2020. In solidarity with a number of Episcopal Conferences around the world, the Consecration seeks the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the Coronavirus pandemic. Pastors, too, are invited to Consecrate the Parishes and Missions entrusted to their care on the same occasion. Families, groups and other faith communities are also invited to pray the prayer of Consecration. The Diocesan Liturgy Office will provide the necessary prayer resources early next week. Our Lady, Mother of the Church, pray for us!
THE ANGELUS BELLS of the Cathedral Basilica ring at 9 a.m., 12 o’clock noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. every day in support of the health care providers who put themselves at risk in service of those who have tested positive for the corona virus. The bells remind all who hear them to pray in gratitude for their courage, generosity and safety during this pandemic. Even if you do not hear the bells, remember to pray in thanksgiving for those who are caring for the sick and elderly these days!
DR. TOM STEWART, ST. JOSEPH HEALTH SYSTEM PRESIDENT AND CEO has been seconded to the Ontario Ministry of Health as the Clinical Lead on the Provincial COVID-19 Command Table. The Table supports the planning and response to the pandemic that is sweeping the country. It is consoling to know that he enjoys such professional respect at the Provincial level – and that the Province is in good hands indeed! Brian Guest, SJHS Senior Vice-President, will provide support to Dr. Stewart at SJHS on non-COVID-19 matters!
THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER (formerly The Women’s World Day of Prayer) is a global ecumenical movement which brings Christians of many traditions together to pray for relevant issues affecting women and children. The movement has been active for nearly 100 years. Each year, a different participating country writes the service. This year’s country is Zimbabwe. The World Day of Prayer is traditionally celebrated on the first Friday of March. The motto of the World Day of Prayer movement is Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action. Both prayer and action are inseparable and both have immeasurable influence on the world!
THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE for the Canadian Catholic Youth Ministers Network, which was held at the Convention Centre in Hamilton last weekend was an unqualified success! Congratulations to Christina Mines and Nicole McCowell for their good work in assuring that everything was ready to welcome the 170 participants and various keynote speakers. There were many challenges to face due to train cancellations and health issues, but with the professional help of our Chancery personnel, the bases were covered. The CCYMN Executive met for several days afterwards at Mount Mary Immaculate Retreat Centre. It was a stellar event!
THE CANADIAN CATHOLIC YOUTH MINISTRY NETWORK CONFERENCE – HOPE COMES HOME – begins today. Yesterday, five participants from the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay, arrived in Hamilton. Three Inuit women, a Priest, and a lay minister, all from Whale Cover and Naujaat, Nunavut, were hosted at a dinner sponsored by our Youth Ministry Office last evening. It was a fine start to the Conference that will welcome 170 participants from across the country! Exciting times!
YOUNG ROBERT TAYE from Mrs. Vitulli’s Grade 7 French Immersion class at St. Eugene Catholic Elementary School in Hamilton received First Place for the Diocese of Hamilton in the 2020 Creative Kids contest sponsored by The Hamilton Spectator! This year’s theme was: Hope Within Us, Hope for the World. Congratulations to Robert, and to all the students in the class for their creative designs!
THE COUNCIL OF PRIESTS OF THE DIOCESE OF HAMILTON meets next Tuesday, February 11th, in the Bishops’ Board Room at the Chancery. This was to have been the first meeting under the leadership of Father Tim Hingston. His unexpected death makes it necessary for the Council to elect a new Chair! The Council of Priests meets four times during the Pastoral Year to discuss matters of interest and concern to the Priests of the Diocese, and to provide counsel to the Bishop. We pray for the blessing of the Holy Spirit at this meeting – and all meetings!
HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR to parishioners in our Vietnamese and Korean parishes – and to Asians in other Parishes throughout the Diocese. Celebrations were held last weekend to mark the Year of the Rat! May the year be marked by good health, much happiness, and prosperity!