Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
March 8, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
St. Francis offers community
It was with great sorrow and sadness that we listened to Father Dennis Vavrek report to the congregation and read in the follow-up WCR article(March 1) that St. Francis of Assisi Parish will be permanently closing. I was an active parishioner along with my family for 30 years.
Not only did we receive most of our sacraments at St. Francis, the church was a gathering place for family events such as Baptisms, First Communions, weddings and funerals. The Catholic schools we attended used St. Francis for many of their events as well (graduations, Confirmations, etc.).
In the last year, my wife Ermila and two young children, Christian (20 months) and Grace (three months) moved to south Edmonton and became parishioners at St. Thomas More Parish.
St. Thomas More is a very large, dynamic, talented parish with over 3,500 families. It is a joy for our family to attend Mass and see an active near-professional choir and leader of song, a full church with many young families and children, Baptisms and First Eucharist celebrations with not just one child but anywhere from five to 15 at once, an entire full-time parish staff, including full-time youth coordinator, constant and continual parish programs, such as baptismal preparation, etc.
Imagine attending a church where there is a traffic jam along 23rd Avenue before and after Mass, and to ensure a seat in the church one must plan on arriving at least 30 minutes before the start of services. All these wonderful items listed above were both a shock and new experience for a young family coming from the much smaller (10 times smaller) north Edmonton parish of St. Francis of Assisi.
My message is to those who currently attend smaller comparable parishes to St. Francis of Assisi (St. Agnes, St. Clare, St. Alphonsus, St. Patrick, etc.). Despite all the wonderful attributes described above, if we had a choice between attending St. Francis or St. Thomas More, we would without hesitation select St. Francis. Nothing beats the small church atmosphere of the close community, knowing almost everyone by name or at least becoming familiar with the faces, having all the priests and brothers know your name, establishing life-long acquaintances and friendships, growing up with other similar familiar families, sharing as one full church community special events.
As Catholics we are now beginning to understand and see the evidence of the lack of ordained ministers and the economy of maintaining churches for which we have been warned for some time now. Although there is not much we can do besides prayer and continued hope that the dire situation will improve, my message to the current parishioners of the smaller churches in Edmonton and surrounding area is to enjoy and participate in your beautiful parishes while you can. You have something very special which, when it is gone, can never be replaced.
Former RCIA member voices his concerns
I am impelled to bring the following to the attention of your readers:
Today, the first Sunday of Lent, and the RCIA Rite of Election has passed into history, with more than 300 catechumens and candidates attending the basilica, electing to look towards the Easter solemnities for their faith fulfillment.
As a long-standing member of the archdiocesan RCIA committee, I have always been convinced that the Holy Spirit not only inspires these catechumens and candidates to make their choice, but it also guides the mighty ranks of men and women lay ministers who as parish catechists have brought illumination, hope and knowledge into their journey.
The Edmonton archdio-cesan RCIA committee has always been recruited from these people.
This weekend we learned that our mandate has been ended. We have all been sacked, without consultation, which we would have welcomed. At the same time, the Liturgy Office has been asked to survey how the RCIA is implemented in our parishes so that they can form their own "new" committee in the fall. A similar non-consultative process - in the name of progress - ended the Liturgy Commission organization a year ago.
It was in 1979 when Archbishop Joseph MacNeil invited Oblate Father Gerald Wiesner and Ursuline Sister Connie Piska to convene a province-wide committee to investigate the response to Vatican II documents regarding adult initiation. The committee began in November 1981, lay ministry being its touchstone.
I believe that the numerous distinguished lay people who have offered their talents, time and resources to build up the archdiocesan community of God by so serving have echoed my personal ministerial devotion to the committee.
Our strong ties to the North American Forum and the Western Catechumenate Conference, our diocesan-wide retreats, workshops and the newsletter give any new committee a challenge. Deo Gratias for Vatican II and the Holy Spirit that enlightened Pope John XXIII and attending bishops who envisioned our work.
Response - 03/15/04
Better understanding of layoffs
Thank you for the"Pastoral centre restructured" article in the Feb. 23 WCR.
The article provided me with a better understanding of the recent layoffs within the newly organized Catholic Pastoral Centre.
But I remain upset at the manner in which staff were notified of the disappearance of their jobs as a result of the plan. Has the human resources department of the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton become no better than General Motors when it comes to terminating employees?
Visionary was not a muse
Concerning "Gibson chose a mystic muse" (WCR, Feb. 16). I disagree with the word "muse."
Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich was no "muse;" she had no time for this and her whole life was dedicated to helping her neighbours; first her family and, as a nun, her sisters.
She also suffered and prayed for the Church, the popes and especially for the souls in purgatory. All the while she endured terrible sufferings and visions (almost continual) of the life of Our Lady and Our Lord and the saints.
If Mel Gibson was "inspired" for his movie - well, I've seen it - and only in parts is it similar to Anne Catherine's visions. Some of the movie is very different from the account in the book, The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
One example: His portrayal of Our Lady and St. John is very disappointing and not at all according to Anne's visions.
However, I hope viewing the movie will increase gratitude and love for our beloved Saviour Jesus Christ.
Let there be joy!
I have to share my delight at readingFather Ron Rolheiser's column in your Feb. 23 issue.
I am not qualified to comment on the global state of aesthetic affairs in the Church but I know that locally we suffer an aesthetic drought. The visuals, the rituals, the music tend to be disastrously dull.
It is not entirely surprising, in view of the obsession of the local ecclesiastical management with downsizing and cost cutting, that the crucial importance of aesthetics in sacramental and liturgical celebration is ignored.
It was not always that way. Not so very long ago we had a lively and vibrant archdiocesan art and architecture committee. The members were prominent local liturgists, artists and architects, who worked collaboratively with local parishes.
To get some idea of how it was and how it can and should be check your copies of Design for Liturgy and Worship, the 1993 and 1995 editions. They were and should be, in the Pastoral Centre library, unless they were "downsized" into the archdiocesan blue box.
"Without vision, the heart doesn't know where to go; but without romantic fire, it doesn't want to go anywhere, least of all to church."
Amen. I still go, but there is no joy in it.
Return to the sacred
Concerning the article "Companions of the Cross"(WCR, March 1).
Father Bob Bedard describes his religious order the Companions of the Cross as an order that likes "loud singing and clapping . . . upbeat music in church and the raising of hands." He further compares his order to that desirous of an atmosphere often experienced after a sporting event where victorious fans go "mad, . . .waving arms and cheering."
With all due respect to Father Bedard, it is little wonder, with this kind of attitude, that the Catholic Church is today experiencing a serious crisis of faith. No wonder various bishops in Canada will not accept his order.
Many in the Church today are growing tired of showing up for Mass only to have to endure what often resembles a Dionysus festival complete with maenad worshippers.
What is needed today in the Holy Mass is not loudness and movement but silence and reverence - a return to the sense of the sacred.
In referring to music in the liturgy, Pope John Paul has only recently stated in his letter on sacred music that "A composition for Church is sacred and liturgical insofar as it approaches Gregorian melody in flow, in inspiration, and in flavour, and so much less is it worthy of the temple insomuch as it is recognized as departing from that supreme model."
Similarly, his holiness has mentioned how "Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of 'doing for the sake of doing.' We must resist this temptation by trying 'to be' before trying 'to do.'"
No doubt an energetic counter-cultural movement on the part of the Church is critically necessary today if she is to survive the negative influences of secularism, technology, science and materialism in the third millennium.