Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 25, 2010
Fr. Gartner's blessing helped immigrants adjust to a new land
When my family arrived in Canada in March 2001, we did not have any friends or relatives here. Immigration was a big challenge for my family and we had a lot of anxiety about our future.
We encountered a church two blocks from our home. Everyone in my family had been baptized in the Catholic Church in South Korea. No one, but me, could speak English at the time of immigration.
However, we liked to attend weekday evening Mass. There was no hesitation about going to English Mass in a Canadian church because we were lonely and we wanted to rely on God's mercy.
At the entrance of Good Shepherd Church on a Tuesday evening, a priest welcomed us. I introduced myself and my family to Father Len Gartner.
During Mass, Father asked God's blessing for my family and lifted up our names to the Lord. We were deeply impressed. We felt we were receiving God's grace and my heart was full of deep emotion.
The blessing was a big surprise and we were full of gratitude because no one had requested a blessing.
This blessing encouraged us so much and helped us overcome our loneliness. We kept attending weekday evening Mass as well as Sunday Mass.
A few weeks later, we joined in the listening centre at Good Shepherd Church, which was introduced to us by a parishioner who had offered us her hand after the first Mass we had attended there. We got to know many sincere friends through the listening centre meeting. Four of them have become sponsors for each of my family members when my children reached Grade 6 at school.
Father Gartner loved the children. He hugged each child, held the child high and offered his hand to children when he proceeded to the church hall at the end of Mass. The parishioners and my family watched the scene with happy smiles.
Father Gartner embraced his parishioners with love and he related to many of his parishioners' pain. I remember the article about Father Gartner in the Jan. 14, 2002 WCR. He said, "I'm trying to understand everyone's needs. . . . Not every person comes neatly packaged. People come from brokenness, diverse backgrounds and they come to the same meeting place on Sunday."
Father Gartner empathized with parishioners who have experienced loss through death, separation, divorce or as a child who has lost their parent.
I found my comfort in the priest's prayer when my father was sick in Korea and I was unable to go and visit him. We believed that my father could pass away in peace thanks to the priest's and the parishioners' prayers.
While we lived for two and a half years in a two-bedroom apartment, which Father Gartner had blessed, we experienced many good things and amazing grace.
Thanks to Father Gartner's blessing on my family and home, my family has successfully settled in our new homeland Canada. We received divine favour and we were able to deliver our helping hands to new immigrants to Canada.
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