Archdiocese of St. John's

Monday, 30 June 2014

Closing of Churches

I recently presided at the official closing of two churches under the auspices of the Archdiocese of St. John’s – St. Anne’s in Peter’s River and Sacred Heart in Tors Cove. Both churches have not been used in recent times. Due to age of these buildings as well as the state of disrepair that they are in, in consultation with the local parish priests and the Pastoral Parish Councils and congregations of both communities, the decision was made to close both churches. Over the decades, many faithful parishioners of both churches have received Sacraments at these parish churches and celebrated weekly and daily Mass. For these community’s faithful and committed servants, I extend sincere thanks and gratitude. The local parishioners of these parishes have been attending nearby churches in recent times. I pray that they may find happiness, spiritual renewal, and lasting friendships in their new places of worship. Given the change in demographics as well as the physical condition and cost of upkeep of many of the churches in our diocese, we may have to look in the future, about entering into dialogue with parish priests and Pastoral Parish Councils and congregations, about other buildings in our diocese.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Candidate for Holy Orders


On Tuesday, June 24, 2014 I had the privilege to accept Nelson Boren as a Candidate for Holy Orders. Nelson is from Caibiran, Biliran, Philippines and started his studies with the Vincentians, as a Pre-College seminarian in 1993 at Vincentian Hills Seminary in Angono, Rizal. He finished his Degree in Philosophy at St. Vincent Seminary and Adamson University in 1998. Nelson continued his theological formation at St. Vincent School of Theology (SVST) in Tandang Sora, Quezon City and most recently at St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta. For the past year, Nelson has completed an internship at St. Peter’s Parish, Mount Pearl, NL. On Monday, June 30, 2014 at St. Peter’s Parish, Mount Pearl, Nelson will be ordained a deacon. Please keep Nelson in your prayers as he continues on his journey to ordination to the priesthood.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

​Pilgrimage to Quebec - Day 7

Today was another full day at the Shrine of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, beginning with celebration of the Mass in the Basilica. I presided and preached, and reflected with the Assembly on the theme of "home." I have been moved by images of Ste Anne creating a home in which she and Joachim guided Mary as she grew in wisdom, age and grace, forming the woman who would, with St. Joseph, guide Jesus in his human development. This shrine is truly such a home for pilgrims, in which they can learn and discover more deeply what it means for them to grow as disciples. And Christian disciples are called to create homes for others, homes in which we can all grow in faith, hope and love.

After Mass we were given a tour of the museum. We walked through the history of the shrine of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, as depicted in art, letters, sculpture, photos and vessels. After lunch the pastor of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, Fr. Charles Duval, C.Ss.R., guided us on a tour of the Basilica that was, in truth, more a meditation than tour. The beautiful building became a living Catechesis, each element lending its part and teaching some profound truth of our faith, and the whole conspiring to reveal the richness and the abundant live of God. Immediately after this, our seminarian guides, Justin and Michael, guided us through an encounter with the holy ancestors and founders of religious communities in Canada. It was truly an afternoon of learning and discovery, growth and reflection.

Anne then led us in a reflection and integration of the past two days at Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre.

Many of us shared a final supper together, and then took part in the evening Rosary, Mass and Candlelight procession around the grounds of the shrine.

It was a very full day, and a very positive one. There is much to be grateful for. Our little band of pilgrims has prayed, journeyed, laughed, sung and grown together over these past seven days. We have discovered and shared hope together. The challenge now will be to share this hope with those to whom we are sent.

Tomorrow, we travel by bus to Montreal, celebrate Mass together at Notre Dame Cathedral, and board a plane for home. So many memories to reflect on. So much for which to be grateful.

Pilgrimage to Quebec - Day 6

Today we began our pilgrimage at Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre. Fr. Charles Duval, C.Ss.R., and Justin, a seminarian and summer intern, walked us through the history of the churches built at Ste-Anne-de-Brsupre, and of devotion to Ste Anne on. The banks of the St Lawrence, dating back to the late 1670"s. we truly come from a long line of faithfulness! We walked through the grounds telling and hearing the story, and we ended up at the little commemorative church on the hillside where Fe. Charles and Assunta treated us to a lovely concert.

After lunch, we took part in a very intimate and meaningful Holy Hour and Benediction right in the sanctuary of the Basilica. Then we moved out onto the hillside to walk the Way of the Cross on the life-size Stations of the Cross built into the hill. This walk with Jesus really brought home to many of us the truth that we walk with Jesus on our pilgrimage through life.

After supper, we took part in the Rosary in the Basilica. We met Fr. Mario Boies, C.Ss.R., Provincial of the Redemptorists of the Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre Province (French speaking Canada and Haiti). Some of our number served as liturgical ministers at Mass, and then we joined in a candlelight procession that drew to a close around the huge statue of Ste Anne, where Fr. Charles brought together the experience of our day of pilgrimage in a beautiful and simple manner. Through his words, we were brought to a new and deeper understanding of the meaning of pilgrimage.

This is truly holy ground. Tomorrow, we continue our walk at Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre. We feel very welcome and at home here. Devotion to Ste Anne is part of our Newfoundland Catholic Christian spirituality. So many of our ancestors and friends have walked here. So many have looked to Ste Anne for help and guidance. She is, in a very real way, grandmother and wisdom figure for us all.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

​Pilgrimage to Quebec - Day 5

Today we travelled into Quebec City, and were met first at the Chapel of the Ursulines by Sr Mary Berthe and Msgr Denis Belanger, the rector of the Basilica-Cathedrale of Notre Dame de Quebec. We prayed at the tomb of St Marie de l'Incarnation. This woman is a model of courage and faith for us; she learned the languages of several aboriginal groups, and created dictionaries and catechetical resources for them. She evangelized by proclaiming the Good News of God's love, and introduced Jesus - The love of God made flesh.

Having prayed with St Marie, Msgr Belanger and Sr Marie-Berthe, we walked the short distance to the Basilica, into the prayer garden and prepared to enter through the Holy Door. This was a moving experience, for the bronze door features a sculpture of the Risen Christ with hands outstretched to welcome you. And the cross carved into the door behind Christ allows the light to shine through. It was profoundly moving and meaningful.

Having entered through the Holy Door, we prayed at the tomb of St Francois de Laval. We moved to the St Louis Chapel for a celebration of the Mass presided by Gerald, Cardinal LaCroix, Archbishop Martin Currie and Fr Jeff Kolonel. Our singing raised the rafters of this beautiful and historic chapel. At the end of the Mass, Cardinal LaCroix presented Archbishop Currie with a framed picture of the image of the Immaculate Conception that hangs in Notre Dame Basilica. It was here, on September 21, 1796, that James Louis O Donel was ordained bishop. In this part of our pilgrimage, Bishop O Donel was made very present to us. Cardinal LaCroix and the Archivist of the Archdiocese of Quebec then showed us the original register and documents that the Archdiocese of Quebec holds related to Bishop O Donel, and gave us copies of these documents. This evidence of the historic links between our two dioceses was another moving experience for all of us, adding to our sense that we are connected to a long line of faithfulness.

After an afternoon of wandering in Vieux Quebec, we returned to our home base of Ste Anne de Beaupre. Our hearts and minds were filled with grateful memories and new awareness. We have been blessed to have walked in the footsteps of our ancestors in faith; we continue to be blessed to walk in company with modern-day faithful companions on the journey.

Tomorrow, our pilgrimage continues at the shrine of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre.

​Pilgrimage to Quebec - Day 4

Today, Sunday, June 15, we were up early and onto the bus for a fascinating and touching rendezvous with the past. At 7:00 a.m. We left Beaupre for the hour-and-a-half drive to Berthier-sur-Mer, and an hour-long ferry ride to Grosse Ile, in the middle of the St Lawrence River. Open as an immigrant reception and processing centre from 1832-1937, it welcomed over half a million immigrants over its life-span. In 1847, 5,400 Irish victims of the Great Famine died there of cholera, scarlet fever and other communicable diseases. Today, we visited the buildings where they were assessed, processed, quarantined, and treated for their illnesses, and the mass graces which received their bodies when they died. We were guided by a sensitive and knowledgeable young man, Christophe, who accompanied us on this phase of our pilgrimage.

The Irish immigration to Newfoundland was over by 1815; we knew little about the great exodus if the Irish in the years following the potato famine. Today, that reality hit home. Thousands of the names of those who died are inscribed on a memorial wall near the mass grave, and we all touched those names in awe-- we read our own names and the names of people we know and love. So many who bore our names lie buried there--,cousins, perhaps? How many more perished on the six-week journey across the Atlantic?

Our pilgrimage united our journey with theirs. We closed the day with the celebration of Mass in St. Luke's Chapel, the old, long-empty Catholic chapel on Grosse Ile. It was a simple, moving celebration of the Eucharist, a memorial of Christ's Paschal Mystery, a suffering, death and rising shared by His people in every age-- in 1847 and 2014. We come from a long line of faithfulness.

Tomorrow, we walk with other ancestors-- our own Bishop Janes Louis O Donel, Bishop and Saint Francois de Laval and Marie de l'Incarnation in Quebec City.

We remember the ancestors of 1847. Tonight they seem very close. Eternal rest grant unto then, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Pilgrimage to Quebec - Day 3

We began our day by visiting the tomb of Blessed Frederic Jansoone in Trois Rivieres. He was a key figure in our history of faith, and helped to build Cap de la Madeleine into a destination of pilgrimage. Then we headed toward Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, stopping to walk the bridge over Montmorency Falls, which are higher than Niagara Falls, but not as wide. We arrived at Stw-Anne-de--Beaupre, and got settled in. What a beautiful place! We went to the Basilica for Rosary, Mass and the evening Candlelight Processionor flambeau. The Basilica is SO beautiful! And we will get a tour next week after we go to Grosse Ile and Quebec..
Fr. Jeff and I concelebrated with Fr. Charles Duval, rector of the Basilica, and it was a very moving experience to look out at our 40 pilgrims seated in that beautiful Basilica. Many of them mentioned to me how struck they were, even overwhelmed by this place, it's size and splendor. It was interesting that a group of Orthodox Christians joined us after Mass for the procession and devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. 
How many Newfoundlanders have walked here before us? Too many to tell.
And tomorrow we travel to Grosse Ile to discover a history of Irish immigration very different from our own!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

​Pilgrimage to Quebec - Day 2

Day 2 was rainy at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, but that didn't dampen our spirits. After breakfast, the Rector of the Shrine, Fr. Ouellette, gave us a wonderful and inspiring talk about the history of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, and then we prayed the Rosary together and visited the Basilica for the first time. Many of us went for walks around the beautiful grounds, dodging the raindrops! Some visited the Gift Shop. After lunch, we took part in a Holy Hour and celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We were led in the Stations of the Cross, held indoors because it was still raining. Supper, Mass and the beautiful candlelight procession in the Basilica rounded out the day. When we walked out of the Basilica, the rain had stopped. It was beautiful to see all those candles spreading out in the darkness as people walked away from the prayer evening.

Tomorrow, we head to Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre. We will remember this place and all who made it so memorable for us.

Pilgrimage to Quebec, Thursday, June 12 DAY ONE

Our group of 42 pilgrims left St John's early this morning and headed off by plane to Halifax and Montreal. In Montreal, we spent some time at St. Joseph's Oratory. We learned more about the life and work of one of Canada's saints-- Brother Andre, or St. Andre of Montreal, as he is now known. We visited the tomb and the heart of this simple lay brother, the porter (door-keeper) who, through his devotion to St. Joseph, brought comfort and healing to so many.

After our time on Mount Royal, we travelled by bus to Trois Rivieres, and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape. On the bus, we shared stories of the things that happened to us, and the things that happened to us at the Oratory. some visited the small chapel, some went to the basilica, some visited the year-round exhibit of Nativities. Anne invited us to reflect on the life of Brother Andre, and how one simple person can change lives. She asked us to give thanks for those who have been door-openers in our lives, and I thought of my parents, grandparents, teachers, priests and bishops who have mentored me, and the religious women's kingside whom I labored in Peru. Mostly, I thought of the thousands of door-openers who make life possible in so many parishes and institutions. We are blessed in them! Fr. Jeff Kolonel led us in the Rosary.

At the Cape, our guide, Juanita, met our bus when we arrived, and introduced us to this place of pilgrimage, dating back to 1714. After supper, we celebrated Mass is the Old Shrine. I think our singing surprised and delighted the music minister! A cup of tea and then bed. Tomorrow will be a full day of activities at Cap-de-la-Madeleine.

Friday, 13 June 2014

​Day One of our Pilgrimage to Quebec

We have arrived in Montreal and are on our way to St Joseph's Oratory. We had a great flight and lots of good conversation on the way. We will make our way to Cap de La Madeleine for supper, Mass and a candlelight procession.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Pilgrimage to Quebec City

On Thursday, June 12 I will be joined by Fr. Jeff Kolonel and forty-two pilgrims on a pilgrimage to Quebec to honour the 350th.anniversary of the Archdiocese of Quebec City. On September 21, 1796, James Louis O’Donel, the Vicar Apostolic for Newfoundland and St. Pierre & Miquelon, was ordained a bishop by Bishop Francoise Hubert in the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Quebec in Quebec City. In 1689, a young Recollet brother, Didace Pelletier, left his home in Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre and journeyed to far-off Placentia, Newfoundland, as a missionary. There, he labored as a carpenter, and is credited with establishing the first Youth Ministry in the New World. He lived at Placentia for three years. On this pilgrimage, we will walk in the footsteps of Didace Pelletier and Bishop O’Donel. We will also walk in the footsteps of other ancestors in faith – St. Marie de L’Incarnation, St. Francois de Laval, St. Andre of Montreal, Jeanne Mance, St. Frederic Jansoone, OFM, Marguerite Bourgeoys and others. We will walk on holy ground to places where pilgrims have walked for generations: Notre Dame Basilica at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, The Ursuline Convent and Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Quebec in Quebec City, the Shrine of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre and the nearby school and parish of St. Joachim, and the Irish Immigrant centre at Grosse Ile in the St. Lawrence River. Our Celtic Christian ancestors believed that life is a pilgrimage, a journey home. 

They taught that Christ walks with us on pilgrimage journeys, and is present in those whom we encounter along the way. They also believed in ‘thin places’, where there is a thin veil between heaven and earth. These include islands, headlands, churches and cemeteries. On a pilgrimage, we become spiritually aware of the ebb and flow of life, of its fragility and strength, sadness and joy. And with this awareness, the pilgrim learns when to stay put and when to move on. In so doing, we discover our places of death and resurrection. Indeed the purpose of a pilgrimage is to discover “the place of our resurrection.”

CWL Convention

On June 7 I had the privilege to be the keynote speaker at the 34th annual NL Provincial CWL Convention held in Heart’s Desire. I spoke on the topic “Why the Catholic Church in Newfoundland and Labrador Needs the Catholic Women’s League?” The Church needs, and must grow to a deeper respect for women – their gifts, their perspectives, their experiences, their way of looking at the world, their insights, education and skills. Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel” avows that, “The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition, and other distinctive sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood. I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families, and groups while offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more inclusive female presence in the Church” (103). The Church needs the Catholic Women’s League because the CWL is an important vehicle for providing women with opportunities for involvement and meaningful action that extend far beyond the traditional roles allotted to women in the past. In and through the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, women are leaders not only in our parishes and province, but in our Canadian Church and beyond.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Retreat for Priests of the Diocese

I will be joining my parish priests from June 1 – 6 for our annual retreat. Our week together will include time for prayer, presentations by a retreat director and opportunity for personal reflection. This annual retreat allows us to step back from our daily routines and activities in our parish communities and take some quiet time to be with the Lord, to re-energize, and to recommit ourselves to proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel.

Please keep our priests and myself in your prayers as we take this time of rest, renewal and reflection.