Life as a friar is many things, but certainly never boring. Today was one of those days that makes me feel great about being a friar and also about parish ministry.
This morning many of our parishioners joined together for our usual 9:00 am liturgy. However, today’s mass was going to be different. It was also a funeral. You see I recently got a call from one of our parishioners who works in a local hospital, the largest in Canada, and she mentioned that one of her patients, a homeless gentleman had died. He was in the morgue and there was no family to claim him. She was trying to arrange for a social services funeral. As we talked about we came up with the idea of giving him a funeral. She knew he was Italian and Catholic and felt he would have appreciated it.
So like I said, parishioners gathered in Church. [Lately we’ve been having mass in our parish centre while the roof is being replaced, but for the occasion the roofers stopped work.] One of our organists and cantors volunteered their gifts and we had the usual team of funeral altar servers who participated. It was a really touching liturgy and in a way was a prayer for the countless homeless women and men who have no one to pray for them.
Today’s Gospel was very appropriate for the funeral too. The blind man asks of Jesus… “Son of David have pity on me!” We prayed for God to have pity on us who are sometimes blind to His presence in the midst of our brothers and sisters on the streets.
The team from the hospital and I went to the cemetery for the committal prayers. It was soooo cold, but so worth it. May our friend rest in peace!
In the afternoon I accompanied a parishioner who is seeking refugee status to the Catholic Refugee Office. We met with a member of the team there to get some advice and support. Our parishioner has three children and they are living here hoping to get status. Her husband is back home where he is being discriminated because of his ethnic background and cannot make a living. It’s not an easy sell, especially since this country where he lives is an ally of Canada, but it still seems to treat some people very poorly. All this family wants is one place where they can all live freely and make a living. The folks at the Refugee office gave us some good next steps. I hope we can help them.
My thoughts and prayers are with a young couple from our parish who are in the process of adopting a baby. The child has just been born and the parents have signed off on the adoption. Our parishioners have flown there to be with the baby and to wait through the “cooling off” period where the birth parents can initially change their minds. It must be tough not know whether you are coming home with a baby or not. If they do come home, the birth parents still have another month or so to change their minds. Hopefully all will do what is best for the child.
I also am praying for a couple of parishioners who are living with illness and some preparing to live through their deaths. It’s a weird way of saying it, isn’t it? But as Catholics that’s what we do… we live through the experience of death. It can’t be easy, but the people I am praying for are amazing faith filled people. May they have a peaceful evening.
Tomorrow morning it’s time for the children of our parish who are celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. It’s always a beautiful experience.
Keep you posted…