Journey through Advent – 1st Sunday of Advent

On Monday, November 23 2020  the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) announced a new online weekly video series created to help Canadian Catholic faithful to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Entitled Journey through Advent, the videos serve as an introduction to the liturgical Season and present reflections on the Gospel readings for each Sunday in Advent. The Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton and the Most Reverend Pierre Goudreault, Bishop of Saint-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, provide spiritual and pastoral guidance on the readings that illustrate the true meaning of Christmas.

This video series is especially relevant given the COVID-19 pandemic that places limitations on in-person gatherings for faith communities. It is hoped that Journey through Advent will be a source of deep spiritual solace and insightful preparation for all.

Below are the introduction video and the video for the 1st Sunday of Advent. Check back here each Friday for the video in preparation for the next Sunday of Advent.

World Day of the Poor Reflection

Thank you for spending the week with us exploring Pope Francis’ message for World Day of the Poor, it’s connection to fratelli tutti, learning how we can Live Frugally, and catching up with the Tiny Homes at St. Mary’s.  Today we invite you to reflect on what we have learned, and spend a few moments praying for the poor in our community, and for each of us as we “stretch forth our hands to the poor”.

The reflection video below features pictures from various organizations working with the poor in our community.  You can find links to these organizations in the description of the video.  Thank you to all these organizations for sending pictures for us to use, and for all you do for the poor in our midst.  Please spend a few moments in quiet prayer as you watch this video.

St. Mary’s Tiny Homes

There are currently twenty-two tiny homes installed at ‘A Better Tent City’. With the support of our parishioners, the Diocese of Hamilton, and the broader Catholic community, all of these homes have been winterized, hooked up to electricity, and provided with heaters. This will keep the residents warm and safe through the coldest months of winter. There are also plans underway to build ten more units inside the building to provide more security to the individuals still living indoors in tents.

Beyond keeping people warm and safe, the tiny homes have had a huge impact on the wellbeing of residents. One resident named Dean* has been in and out of the shelter system for years. When he got his keys, he sat down on his new bed and cried. No more getting robbed, no more freezing nights in a tent. He was home. Another female resident was on the phone with her mom, when her mom asked where she was. She replied, “I’m at home mom. I’m at home”. She hadn’t been able to say those words for years.

There is still lots of work to do to stabilize and improve ‘A Better Tent City’ for the individuals who need it most. Anyone who would like to support the project can do so by making a financial donation to the St. Mary’s Outreach Program** or contacting Tony D’Amato Stortz, the Outreach Coordinator for the Parish.

* – Not his real name
** – Specify in the notes that the donation is for “Outreach”

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Living Frugally

Part of Pope Francis’ call to “stretch forth your hand to the poor” is to recognize that how we live our own life affects others.  There is no such thing as living isolated in today’s world.  How we live, the resources we consume and what we produce from them, affects the resources available for others, and what they are able to do with them.

The Working Centre (downtown Kitchener) has an incredibly informative website, detailing all the various programs they run and are associated with. They also have a section called Living Frugally.  Today we invite you to look through the resources in this section of The Working Centre’s website, and evaluate the way you live your life.  Are there ways in which you can live more frugally in order to leave more resources for others to access?

Pope Francis is challenging us to change the way we live our lives to create a more equitable world.  Let us start today by living frugally, so others can live.

fratelli tutti – A Call to Hear the Cry of the Poor

Pope Francis has, from the very beginning, focused his papacy on the poor and marginalized. He leads by example the vocation of the church to meet people where they are, in the mud of the streets. fratelli tutti continues this call, and expands upon it.

The Catholic Register had an article on Oct. 8, 2020 called Fratelli Tutti: A vision of unity and dignity for all.  In this article the author discusses how Pope Francis’ encyclical responds to current events and challenges the church and all humanity to recognize the dignity of each person. “When we read this, we can recognize that it affirms our own dignity and the inviolable rights we all have.”

COVID-19 has brought to light many deficiencies in our societies that were once glossed over, cracks that the poor so easily slip into. In the article one interviewee says “How do we make sure that nobody is excluded from the way forward? … If we’re going to be talking about rebuilding our economies, our social networks (post COVID-19), then we have to make sure that the most vulnerable are part of these conversations — that solutions are provided for them.”

We invite you to read the whole article by clicking here.

And if you haven’t read the encyclical yet you can read it here.  It’s a long read so get a nice tea or coffee and a cozy blanket and avoid the windy weather with an inspiring read from Pope Francis. 🙂

Don’t forget this afternoon’s webinar with Bill Huebsch at 2pm. Click here to learn more.