Pastoral letter from Bishop Gary Gordon

February 4, 2018

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Pope Francis has designated Sunday, February 11, 2018, as the 26th World Day of the Sick, drawing our attention to Jesus’ words on the Cross to both Mary and John: “Woman, behold your son ... Behold your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27). With these words, Pope Francis notes the maternal role of Mary for the life of the Church: she is a mother to us all, tenderly caring for both spiritual and physical needs. Mary’s physical care for us, and of course the healing ministry of Jesus, can never be underplayed: they are signs of the reign of God’s Kingdom announced by Jesus. In the context of the motto for this year’s World Day of the Sick we also see that in that moment of death we do not witness hopelessness, but rather real hope and glory! On the Cross, Jesus does not abandon the Church and her suffering members, but rather cares deeply for us, wanting to ensure that in our suffering, we can encounter Christ, know Christ, and find real hope in the Cross. This hope is communicated through us to the world, to all who are sick and suffering.  Pope Francis acknowledges how the deep response of the Church to the sick and suffering has been a faithful sign of hope and care for those in need. This is exemplified by the Church herself who is a ‘field hospital’ – to use Pope Francis’ image – which cares for the sick and suffering on all levels, whether spiritual or physical, in order to address them with the tender care and mercy of Jesus. This strong tradition is not foreign to our Diocese. Through the tireless self-sacrifice of our parishioners—those who work in our Catholic and other healthcare institutions; those who visit the sick and homebound; and those who work hard to ensure no person is alone in their suffering—all these efforts serve to bring the healing ministry of Christ to those in need. I hope and pray that our efforts in these areas will bear fruit and will continue to grow. Pope Francis also notes the ways in which the Church has been bestowed with healing power in his address for the 2018 World Day of the Sick. The power of Christ to heal, to accompany, and to strengthen, cannot be underestimated. It may not always come about in ways we imagine, but the simple act of accompaniment can do wonders for those who are finding it difficult to bear their suffering alone. With that in mind, I wish to encourage you to sign up for our Diocesan Pastoral Care Outreach Training workshops within the Diocese. In these sessions, you will learn what it means to bring a healing ministry to others; how to work through the difficulties of suffering and pain when offering pastoral care; and more. You will be equipped with the tools necessary to tenderly touch the lives of those who are so much in need of the healing ministry of Christ. My dear family: the pain, suffering, and sickness in our Diocese is widespread, and it is our privilege and responsibility to address these issues together. When one member of the body suffers, we all suffer; Christ calls us to respond in grace, hope, and tenderness. When we accompany others in their time of need, we bring them hope, and give them hope and strength to see and believe that they are beloved of God. Indeed, this is one of the greatest signs of hope that we as a Church can bring to people’s lives: to let them know they are not alone. It is my great hope that you will sign up for these Pastoral Care training sessions, and let that hope shine brightly in the world, through you, beloved of God.       In Communion,  Most Reverend Gary Gordon, Bishop of Victoria
For continuity, we recommend that participants attend all four sessions. Please bring a bag lunch to each session; coffee and tea will be provided. Session 1 The Healing Ministry of Christ February 24, 2018 9 am – 3 pm St. Patrick’s (Oak Bay) (250) 592-7391 Session 2 Listening & Communication and Mental Health March 10, 2018 9 am – 3 pm St. Patrick’s (Oak Bay) (250) 592-7391 Session 3 The Grieving Process and Ministering to Families April 14, 2018 9 am – 3 pm St. Joseph the Worker (250) 479-7413 Session 4 Who Am I as a Pastoral Care Visitor? May 26, 2018 9 am – 3 pm  St. Joseph the Worker (250) 479-7413 Program Info.: Moira King, Chair, Diocesan Health Care Cttee.:

Charitable Donations in 2017

January 21, 2018

Pastor’s Corner - January 21, 2018 - Charitable Donations in 2017   Christmas is a time of gift giving: the gift of God reborn in our hearts and in our lives throughout the New Year 2018. We can be thankful for the many ways in which our Parish community welcomes and makes a home for Christ in our midst and in other parts of the world. Yes, we are very blessed in our community and we are not afraid to share those blessings with others. In addition to innumerable  hours of volunteer service with the CWL, Friendly Hours, K of C, St. Vincent de Paul, the many parish ministries and other community organizations, our parishioners are also very generous in sharing financial resources both here in the Parish and in the wider community.  Let us be thankful for these blessings and for this tremendous generosity.  This past year you have been very generous in giving to Hanti Sidra - One Global Family, to St. Vincent de Paul (your blue      envelopes), to Anawim, to BirthRight, to Marianagar - these separate independent groups appreciate your contributions to their important work and have reported on the considerable amounts they raised here in the Parish.  You also responded with enthusiasm and caring hearts to the special CCCB (Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops) and D&P (Development and Peace) appeal (“Pray, Give, Speak out”) in June on behalf of the millions of people affected by the famine crisis in the South Sudan/Somalia/Yemen areas; $8,439.35 was sent to D&P.  In March we were able to send $ 34,166 to the Dominican Sisters of Siena in Erbil and Mosul in Iraq to help them in their health and education work with internally displaced Christians who had to flee their homes in 2015 and in the fall began to return to their devastated towns and cities. Please, remember that we made a conscious    decision not to sponsor a refugee family for settlement here but rather to send money to help the many internally displaced       Christians who may not have the financial resources to flee or who wish to remain in their own countries and rebuild their lives  because that is their home. I am convinced that in this way our donations can help the most vulnerable and assure a Christian presence which has been there for more than 2000 years despite wars, conflicts, occupations, ethnic cleansing, etc.  In addition, years ago our Parish decided to set aside an amount (about 25,000 to 28,000) in the parish’s annual budget to be given to charitable organizations (roughly 10% of our total budget). Various Parish Councils (present chair: Mary McGovern) and Finance Committees (present chair: Peter Taylor) also decided over the years to give a preference and the largest amounts to small locally administered groups working in developing countries. The rationale being that our financial donations can do so much more in those countries especially in the education and formation of future citizens there. I think we can be very proud of what these charitable donations are enabling small local organizations to do in a wide range of services.   Because of my stay in Indonesia and East Timor from 1989-1993 and several visits since I personally know what these parish donations, as well as your additional personal contributions, have done for the youths and families in Timor Leste (East Timor) and for the Paso-   bolong Holy Rosary Family Centre in Zamboanga City, Mindanao, Philippines. Because of your generosity individual and communal lives have been bettered and people have renewed hope as their youths are prepared for their future. Thank you again for all you are doing to welcome and make a home for Christ in His many disguises. 
PS, Because Talitha Koum received a  substantial donation, we decided not to donate this year.


Epiphany 2018

January 7, 2018

These past two weeks we have celebrated very important feast days: Christmas, Holy Family, Mary - Mother of God and now this weekend, Epiphany. The religious images (in paintings, prayer cards, etc.)  which depict these feast days have, unfortunately, often no relation to the reality of the time of Jesus and also no relation to the reality of our own time. Two years ago we showed a few of William Kurelek’s nativity scenes and printed them in the bulletins (and now in our photo directory) because they reminded us in another way of the reality of our world. Epiphany, epiphaneia the Greek word, means “revelation, manifestation.” It is a feast day of recognition and it is really the continuation of the great feast of Christmas when we celebrate the birth of God in human form in Jesus, the Christ, the Emmanuel, God-with-us. And the epiphany itself is really celebrated in three phases: the first event is the visit of the Magi, symbolizing Christ’s manifestation to the gentiles, to foreigners. The second is Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, when Jesus is revealed as God’s son. The third is the miracle of changing water into wine at Cana, a revelation of Christ’s power, gift from God. In fact, the Gospels and the events in them are all “revelations, manifestations” of God in Jesus.  When we look at all these events and happenings, including the event of the visit of the Magi, we have people reacting in two very different ways. One the one hand, some recognize (“see and believe”) and then pay homage, express their faith; on the other hand, we have others whose reaction can be summarized by anger and fear. The shepherds, Anna and Simeon in the temple, the Magi all recognize that in this simple, obscure event of the birth of this baby in this very ordinary place, there is a significance that is much greater, a revelation or manifestation from and of God. Later in Jesus’ life, we see how his contemporaries, his neighbours, see him so much as part of their everyday life that they will ask in disbelief: “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?…Where then did this man get all this? ... And they took offence at him (Mathew 13: 54-57).” How could the ordinary be the place where anything special is happening? How could God be acting in our own place, in our own world and in our own time? Remember the exclamation of Nathanael in the Gospel of John 1:46: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Well, Philip is also inviting all of us to “come and see!” This Epiphany, this feast day of light and recognition, calls all of us to see the presence of God, the Holy One, in our everyday events, in the ordinary, in the unexpected and unplanned. The Magi followed a star which brought them to something unexpected and unplanned. We celebrated at Christmas the birth of Christ in our hearts and in our lives. That feast, today’s feast, all give us a chance to reflect on just who it is who has come among us and where he is to be found. It gives us once more the opportunity to reflect on the significance of Christ’s presence in us and among us; and to what we are called, to be like Mary, to be mothers of God, giving birth to God in our lives, in our relationships, in our community, in our world. Yes, as children of God through our baptism, we are all called to be God’s manifestation, God’s epiphany! We are all Magi, people with gifts, talents, hopes, dreams: we all see stars. We are all invited to set out on a journey to wisdom and truth, to become, like the Magi, God-searchers and God-finders.  And so the question for us today is: am I, are we, like the Magi, willing to leave the comfort of our home to go looking? Are we willing to put aside our accustomed religious thoughts and see Him in the least likely places, there with us when we feel lost or unimportant, forgotten or ignored? Are we willing to see Him there in the events that upset our equilibrium and cause us to ask questions that we once thought we knew the answers for, there in what calls us out of our usual patterns and expectations? Are we willing to be Magi and make the journey in search of the new life God is offering us?