Mission at Corpus Christi parish

I recently preached a parish mission at Corpus Christi parish in the West Island.

As promised, here are some downloads related to the event:

Vocation and mission

I was recently invited to give a talk at the national conference for Singles for Christ Canada. It was entitled Vocation and Mission, and, as I promised the attendees, here are my slides and my audio.

Building a Culture of Vocations!

Building a Culture of Vocations is not about recruitment to ordained ministry or religious life but about exploring and responding to the call that God has placed in ones heart. This can only lead to fullness of life.

Along with being named pastor of St. Willibrord’s parish last September, I have also been named co-vocations director of Montreal. One of the projects that I’m working on is to allow my large rectory to become a house of discernment for Men who are willing to commit a year to explore God’s call. During this year these men will either work full time or study at the university, while living full time in the rectory where they can volunteer in the various ministries of our parish. They will participate in regular communal prayer, such as the divine office, as well as weekday masses whenever possible. They can also participate in our various catechetical programs that teach the faith to children and adults.
The idea is that the more they experience ministry and prayer, the more they seek holiness in service and communion, the more they will discover weather or not they are called to the priesthood.

Recently I was at a vocations meeting down town and we were looking at the issues that came to light at the Montreal vocations congress in 2002.
We recognized that everyone has a vocation, we are all called by God to be his children, disciples of His Son Jesus. Russel Shaw co-author of the book Personal Vocation shares that their are three understanding of the word: Vocation.

1) The universal christian vocation given at baptism and confirmation. The priesthood of the laity, that gives life and love and calls everyone to holiness and service of our Lord.

2) The state of life recognized by the Church, that gives structure and a place where the universal christian vocation can be lived out, such as Marriage, Celibacy, Ordained Ministry and Consecrated Life.

3)Personal vocation: the unique and personal combination of commitments, interactions, obligations, opportunities, of strengths and weaknesses, in which our Christian vocation and state of life concretely expresses itself. Each person is called to discern, and commit, and live out the unique will of God for their lives.

Russel Shaw reminds us that Every person is called by God by name. The real challenge then is not about knowing if you have a vocation, but of identifying the unique vocation that God has truly given you.

The issue then becomes that of discernment. How does one discern ones vocation? As I stated at the beginning, building a culture of vocations is not about recruitment of potential candidates for priestly life or consecrated life, it is about discerning the personal will of God for ones life, within which the state of life and the the universal call to holiness is answered.

As summarized by Fr Ray Lafontaine, pastor of St Monica’s parish in Montreal, the Montreal Vocations Congress offered five paths for discernment.
1) to pray: we are not only called to ‘pray for vocation’. We as Christians are called to become a prayerful people, to invite the youth to share in our spirituality and prayer life, to build homes, communities, and parishes that are schools of prayer and holiness.

2) to evangelize: to build our communities and parishes on Gospel values, to nurture our faith through holy scripture and the rich theological and spiritual foundation of the church. Vocation discernment then would be an integral part of our catechisis programs for youth, where the young can ask the question what does God will for my life?

3) to experience: the young state clearly, “how can we choose something we have not seen and do not know?” Parents like wise state, “how can we support or promote something we that we do not understand?” According to age, understanding, and personal and spiritual maturity level, we need to allow youth to experience concretely what it means to actively participate in the Church’s mission. This is done on four levels: a) liturgy/worship b) community/belonging c)Service/charity and d)witness and proclamation of faith.

4) to guide and counsel: everyone needs a mentor, someone who has taken the road and can guide others in the right path, someone who is happy and true to their own vocation, who gives witness themselves of personal integrity in following their personal vocation. It is said that most youth have not received spiritual direction or spiritual mentoring, nor have they had significant contact with a priest or consecrated person. How can they discern then a life that they have not seen or known. The best and most effective way to promote different states of life like the priesthood and consecrated life as viable option for happiness and fulfillment is to allow young adults to meet happy and fulfilled people who witness to this reality.

5) to invite: the Christian vocation is a journey of discernment, of choice, and commitment, that should lead to holiness and fulfillment.

These five paths of discernment are not only the job of priests but of all the faithful. We are all called to foster a vocations culture, to help each other find the personal calling to follow God’s will.
This project to build a house of discernment for the priesthood will encompass all five of these paths, and hopefully help men discover the state of life God wills for them, and as well help them on their personal call to holiness.
God has not stopped calling, we all need to start listening and responding. Have you heard God’s call?

Fr Stephen Otvos
Pastor. Co-Vocations director

Pope John Paul II and Pius XII move closer to sainthood

Pope John-Paul II

Pope Benedict has moved two of his predecessors, Pius XII, and John Paul II, closer to Roman Catholic sainthood. (source)

People Love Jacques Philippe’s Work

One of the signs of a truly great book is when it is able to package perennial truths that we all need to hear in such a way that they seem new and vibrant.  This is one of the qualities of a French writer that I came across a few years ago, namely Fr. Jacques Philippe, a priest of the Community of the Beatitudes.  His most popular work is “Interior Freedom”.   Recently I suggested it to someone who looked at it with certain hesitation and said she’d try it out.  She ended up reading it three times and ordered six copies for her friends.  I heard of the prior of a monastery who read it and immediately ordered 100 copies for his community.  Scepter Publishers has translated it along with his other works, the most recent being “Called to Life”, about the ways in which God calls us through events, the people, and through his Word.  I came across a nifty new website dedicated to Jacques Philippe’s books in English translation.  The website has a new age kind of look to it, with clouds and an aura of serenity to it, but if you were to doubt its Catholic content, just read some of the quotes that have been provided by the webmaster.

Euthanasia — Pro and Con

Bloc MP Francine Lalonde has introduced her third private member’s bill, C-384, to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. This fall, federal deputies will talk about these medical acts to accept or refuse it. It is important for us to know more about Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Human Lifes are in danger.

- Bill C-384 (pdf)

There are people pro and people con.

Most Quebec MDs in favour of legalized euthanasia: survey

In survey of its members released Tuesday, the Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists found that 84 per cent of responders are ready for a public debate on the issue and 74 per cent “would certainly favour or probably be favourable” to euthanasia within a legal framework.

Euthanasia is already being practised, doctor says (in Quebec)

-Dr. Death comes to town this fall


- Doctor decries euthanasia bill

“We must not abandon these vulnerable people through assisted suicide and euthanasia, but instead embark on a quest to find better ways to maintain their dignity and quality of life”

Quebec doctors urge colleagues to battle euthanasia

- Say “No” to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pdf)

- Innocent would die

- DOSSIER EUTHANASIA — ASSISTED SUICIDE (Declarations and documents to help us in our reflection from the Catholic Church of Montreal)

- Canada’s Catholic Bishops Ask Parliament to Oppose Legalizing Assisted Suicide

- Letter asking Members of Parliament and all the people of Canada to reflect on the possible consequences of Bill C-384

“It is also legitimate for someone to refuse medical procedures that are found to be especially burdensome. But what is never acceptable is the direct and intentional killing of the depressed, handicapped, sick, elderly or dying,” Archbishop Weisgerber says.

And you ?

As Canadians, we have to think about this law and act to defeat it! We should protect the lives of others, the most vulnerable in our society.

Priests for Life of Canada is calling on “all parishes across Canada involved in this effort to defeat this legislation.” How ? Write a personal letter to your federal deputy or to the prime minister of Canada against this law! Post a personal letter as soon as possible !

Why not priest ?

40 new ordained priests tell us why they have chosen to become priests ? Take a look here to know why !

A Miracle for the Apostle of the Lepers

Father Damien de Veuster

“No one has survived this cancer. This illness will take you,” said Doctor Walter Chang to Audrey Toguchi in 1997 since, scientifically, there was nothing that could be done for her. (…)

Terminal cancer

In 1996, Audrey Toguchi, native of the Island of Oahu in Hawaii, was 69. “I had no idea I had cancer,” she told ZENIT.

“My husband noticed I had a lump after a fall — I had slipped some days earlier while cleaning the floor of my house. The family doctor said it was a bruise.”

The following year, the bruise had not disappeared, but had grown. After additional exams, a tumor was found in her left thigh. It was malignant cancer.

She underwent surgery a year later, but the cancer had already spread. “It was the surgeon who discovered on removing it that it was a very rare and aggressive terminal cancer,” she explained.

“Other oncologists who studied the case said that nowhere in the world was it recorded that a person survived this type of sickness,” Toguchi continued.

After another examination in September of 1998, the X-rays showed that the cancer had metastasized in her lungs. The doctors gave her three months to live.

Toguchi relates that she felt weak. She did not want any more chemotherapy or medical interventions. But she took up a devotion she had practiced from her childhood, as a good Hawaiian: “I have always loved Father Damien,” Toguchi explained.

“I have prayed to him all my life. That is why I visited Kalawao (where his tomb is located), Molokai and our churches over many years,” she said.

No doubt

In November of 1998, Toguchi began to feel much improved. Medical examinations revealed that the cancer was receding. Six months later, X-rays showed a complete regression of the metastasis, though she had had no therapy. The cancer disappeared entirely.

While for her doctors, there is no explanation — her own doctor, who is not a Catholic, affirms this — for Toguchi there is no doubt that it was the hand of Damien from heaven, interceding before God. Many prayers were said for years, both by her and her relatives, to this blessed apostle.

“When I was completely cured by the Lord’s love and Father Damien’s intercession, I felt very honored and grateful,” she said.

On Oct. 18, 2007, medical experts from the Congregation for Saints’ Causes examined the clinical documents. As is always the case for a canonization, believers and non-believers concluded with moral certitude that the cure was not only exceptional but “extra-natural.”

Then, the Commission of Theologians determined that it was a miracle, obtained by Father Damien’s intercession — an indispensable requisite to receive the title of saint. (source : Zenit)

A movie to see :
“Molokai: The Story of Father Damien”

Synopsis :

Exile to Molokai was the means with which leprosy was dealt with in the Hawaiian Islands during the late 1800s. Molokai was an untamed isle located between the islands of Oahu and Maui. Abandoned for all extents and purposes, the lepers attempted to scrape out a living in their squalor without outside aid or care. Enter the courageous Father Damien. He was the first priest to go to Molokai. And even though his bishop strictly warned him that “he must not touch anyone,” Father Damien risked his life and health to reach out to the suffering.

Gradually, Father Damien was able to gain the trust of the lepers. Additionally, and more importantly, his cries for additional help were heard and heeded by others. The success of his appeals was unbelievably dismaying to superiors who were more interested respect and riches than reaching out to the suffering.

Eventually, as expected Father Damien was also afflicted. This, however, only seemed to provide him with an even greater drive to ameliorate the conditions of his now “fellow” lepers. After collapsing during Mass, he was carried to the very hospital that he himself had established where he died. There is a touching seen when all gather to pray for him at the hospital’s entrance.

Holy father Damien, pray for us!

The Church in Africa in service to reconciliation, justice and peace

Pope Benedict XVI in Africa few months ago

“You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world” (Mt 5: 13, 14)

In keeping with the desires of the episcopate of Africa, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, officially convoked the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which is to take place in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October 2009. After due consultation, the Bishop of Rome, the Head of the Episcopal College and President of the Synod of Bishops, chose as the topic for this synodal gathering: The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace: “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Mt 5: 13, 14).

(…) 146. The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops is an important moment for the Church-Family of God in Africa. It is a kairos (cf. Mk 1:15). St. Paul the Apostle writes in his Letter to the Corinthians: “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). This is the acceptable time for reconciling each person to God and one another. This reconciliation will bring about justice and peace. Just as Jesus accomplished his mission through bearing his cross, all Christ’s disciples in Africa, who have received “the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess 1:6), must likewise in their flesh break down “the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). In effect, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, … because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom 5:3-5). Christ is the one who guides “our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk 1:79) and entrusts to the Church the “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18).

147. The need for reconciliation on the continent is today more urgent than ever. The reconciliation which will regenerate the human family, sought so much by Africa, is obtained in a justice which is more than human and a peace which is more profound than the absence of war or the silence of arms. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has invited the faithful to implore the Holy Spirit, who is the source of reconciliation in the Son and who works in people’s hearts. “The Spirit is also the energy which transforms the heart of the ecclesial community, so that it becomes a witness before the world to the love of the Father, who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son.” Convinced that “in the midst of conflict and division, we know it is (God) who turns our minds to thoughts of peace,” people make an offering of their suffering and activity so that “those who were estranged join hands in friendship, and nations seek the way of peace together” (cf. 2 Cor 5:18). Building the civilization of love is everyone’s responsibility.

148. The Church-Family of God in Africa, faithful to her vocation to announce the Good News of the Gospel, desires to open herself more and more to the mission ad intra on the continent itself and ad extra towards the Churches of other continents in contact with her. So that this openness can be a “witness … to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8), Christians and Christian communities on the continent wish equally to open their hearts to immigrants from other countries and continents. In their work, the force of the Gospel will provide energy for the Church-Family of God in service to reconciliation, justice and peace.

149. With Mary, the Church in Africa is open to the action of the Holy Spirit so that, in and through her members on the continent, the face of the earth might be renewed:

Holy Mary,?Mother of God, Protectress of Africa,?You have given to the world the true Light, Jesus Christ.

Through your obedience to the Father and the grace of the Holy Spirit?You have given us the source of our reconciliation and our justice,?Jesus Christ, our peace and our joy.

Mother of Tenderness and Wisdom,?Show us Jesus, your Son and the Son of God?Guide our path of conversion?So that Jesus might shine his glory on us?In every aspect of our personal, familial and social lives.

Mother, full of Mercy and Justice,?Through your docility to the Spirit, the Counselor,?Obtain for us the grace to be witnesses of the Risen Lord,?So that we will increasingly become?The salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Mother of Perpetual Help,?We entrust to your maternal intercession?the preparation and fruits of the Second Special Assembly for Africa.

Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Our Lady of Africa, pray for us!
(conclusion of the “Instrumentum Laboris” – African Synod)

- Pope says African church must oppose ‘toxic waste’ of materialism
- Pope: “Church in Africa, the leaven of reconciliation”
- Pope Benedict XVI: Africa, an Enormous Spiritual “Lung” for Humanity
- A video presentation of the second synod of Bishops (Africa)

The eucharist in the mission of marriage and the family

His Eminence, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec, Canada

On September 11th and 12th 2009, a Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) two-day Eucharistic Congress took place from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The Eucharistic Congress included talks by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Episcopal Liaison for the CMSWR and Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Chair of the USCCB Committee for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, and Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan, Chairperson of Board of Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious and many other featured speakers and homilists.

His Eminence, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec spoke about the sanctity of marriage and family in relation with the eucharist : “The eucharist in the mission of marriage and the family”

A must to see and to hear! (CMSWR Eucharistic Congress: Marc Cardinal Ouellet, on catholic tv)