It is already almost the conclusion of my third year as Pastor serving Our Lady of Fatima Parish Community. I have also completed 35 years of ministry as a priest in the diocese [Ordained on June 16, 1984]. Change is a constant in our lives: I am thankful for the help provided by Fr. Lester Mendonsa [who left us and returned to India after Easter] and recently, Fr. Dan Hawkins, a retired priest of the Congregation of Holy Family. As of July 1, Fr. Hawkins will leave us to provide pastoral care at Holy Rosary Parish. I am grateful that the recently retired archbishop of Kingston, Brendan O'Brien, has agreed to fill in as my regular helper. Archbishop O'Brien was a priest of Ottawa before becoming an Archbishop, so this is home coming for him.
Since I am the only one shepherding this large parish community, I rely more on your collaboration as we strive to build up this faith community to be welcoming to all whom we encounter!
The Holy Spirit blesses us with unbaptized adults seeking to be Catholics and live as disciples of Christ. We endeavor to ask parishioners to mentor them into our Christian way of life!
Pope Francis, in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, sees the parish as a locus in our journey, a place of missionary outreach. He laments that “the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of loving communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented” [EG 28]. It is every parishioner’s task, not just the hospitality ministers, to make the newcomers feel they belong when they enter our church.
We are not unconnected individuals who happen to worship God together, but it is Christ who calls us to gather as a worshiping assembly every Sunday so that we build a Christian community which is also our spiritual home. Let us be mindful of those who are looking for a new place of worship and recall how we feel when we enter our church for the first time. From welcoming to witnessing, our whole community is called by Christ with the mandate: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” [Matthew 25:35].y.