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Friday, October 16, 2020

Soul Health XX

1- The parish office is back to regular hours: every weekday 9-3:30, except Wednesdays until Noon only.

2- Volunteer Readers and Collectors are required for weekend masses. Several have not yet returned, so please consider offering yourself for this ministry. Contact the office.

3- Archbishop Lépine has issued a brief new pastoral letter entitled, Under the “new normal,” an enduring essential: the spiritual.

4- Canada received dishonourable mention in an article on last month’s Vatican document, Good Samaritan. It addresses both euthanasia, and the other extreme of “Not accepting the limits of medicine, and aggressively trying to avoid death:” ‘No life is unworthy of life’ .

5- There may be no free lunch, but we have received several free copies of Magnificat (November edition) with the daily mass readings and reflections, articles and much more on spirituality. I’m hoping enough of you will be inspired to order an annual subscription ($72) through the parish so we can get the bulk discount. If you would like to test drive it, contact the office the a free copy.

6- The requiem Funeral Mass for Edith Cavanaugh will be offered Friday 11am next week. If you would like to attend, please call the office.

Weekend Mass, live and live-streamed:

7- Mass times will remain this month: Saturday 4pm & 5:15pm; Sunday 9:30am and 5pm. Last weekend the 9:30 was nearly full again in the sacristy; note there was space however in the Church at the 5:15 and 5pm masses Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

8- If you’re not ready to return yet, join us for Spiritual Communion, where I’ll be celebrating at St. Willibrord’s each weekend, Saturday 7pm & Sunday 11am.

9-Weekday masses livestreamed at 8:30am continue on Salt and Light TV in English, or , broadcast from our very own Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral downtown. The Celebrants are Montreal English sector priests who may be familiar to you.

Blessings in Christ,

Father Robert+

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Soul Health XIX

1- This Saturday's announced Rosary Rally in Verdun is cancelled, due to the restrictions on gathering. All who were planning to attend are invited to pray the Rosary for Our Lady's intentions at Noon Saturday.

2- Pope Francis has just issued the 3rd Encyclical of his Papacy, on fraternity and social friendship. Such documents shape the witness of the Church for generations. Read 10 key takeaways, or the complete document.

3- Our ever-evolving community of Verdun was just ranked 11th Coolest Neighborhood in the World!

4- Browse through the new e-book compilation of Archbishop Lépine’s messages during the pandemic “confinement” found in this week’s Grapevine.


5- October weekend Mass times will continue: Saturday 4pm & 5:15pm; Sunday 9:30am and 5pm. Last weekend the 9:30 was nearly full in the sacristy; note there was space however in the Church at the 5:15 and 5pm masses Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

6- If you’re not ready to return yet, join us online live on Facebook for Spiritual Communion, where I’ll be celebrating at St. Willibrord’s each weekend, Saturday 7pm & Sunday 11am.

7- These St. W’s masses remain posted, including last weekend’s.

8- Weekday masses livestream at 8:30am started earlier this week on Salt and Light TV in English, or on Facebook, broadcast from our very own Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral downtown. The Celebrants are Montreal English sector priests who may be familiar to you.

Blessings in Christ,

Father Robert+

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Soul Health XVIII: News, changing mass times, Alpha opportunity

1- As preached and announced on the weekend, you are welcome and encouraged to come to the parish this evening or next Wednesday for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Why? Take a few minutes to hear Bishop Barron’s excellent Sunday homily on forgiveness and broken relationships:

- We will begin with 10-minute liturgy at 7pm, this week for the First Communion children, and next week for the Confirmands. After they have made their confessions (by 7:30 likely) you are welcome to go to one of the other two priests for the Sacrament. One priest each evening can offer the sacrament in French as well. I continue to offer the Sacrament by appointment.

2- I commend to you an online Alpha course beginning Friday evening. Do sign-up today. This programme gets rave reviews from participants and has remarkably strengthened parishes around the world and here in the diocese through faith development. Starts September 18, and runs Friday evenings, 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. via Zoom -- Join from home. Better yet, It's free! Why does Alpha exist? Learn more here. To register:

3- For more info on Alpha, and for other diocesan news, read This Week’s Grapevine . There’s a brief interview there with Fr. Mike, whose NDG parish has over 150 Alpha registrants this autumn! Let’s do this to likewise build our parish.

4- It’s now easier to support the parish financially by donating online. Consider setting up an automatic weekly or monthly donation instead of using envelopes. This will save the parish the cost of envelopes and volunteer time as CanadaHelps automatically issues you tax receipts. Go the blue button on our website.

5- Changes: As announced last weekend, I have been appointed both Pastor of St. Thomas More (for 6 years) and Administrator of St. Willibrord’s (one year renewable). Mass times will change in both parishes. Note my new email address:

6- Our mass attendance last weekend: 5pm Saturday, almost the pre-pandemic level of 50. 9am Sunday however is around 40, compared to 100 pre-pandemic. Having erred on the side of caution and safety in re-opening, I believe our parish is extremely safe. Thanks to the volunteers who continue to make this happen.

7- We require more readers at weekend masses. Please email or phone Patricia to offer yourself or inquire. Parish office hours: Monday 11-2, Tuesday through Thursday 9-3:30.

8- That said, we are revisiting the question of mass times. Only if you were not at mass last weekend when everyone was polled, Click here to state your preferred time -- Only complete one of the two questions. Note that Sunday mornings neither the 10 or 1030am times are available, both to allow me to offer a morning mass at St. W’s, and because we have agreed to allow N.D.-de-la-Garde parish to have morning mass at St. TM’s.

9- This Saturday’s mass will include First Communions – come out to support and pray for our parish children. Sunday at 10:30 the following weekend former St.TM curate Bishop Robert Harris will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation. He will also be preaching the weekend masses.

10- Prayerfully consider participating in a Public Square Rosary Rally at noon on Saturday October 10. It will be on the Verdun Boardwalk near Godin St. This is one of 700 such rallies across Canada offered for reparation of offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and for the conversion of Canada. For more info or to notify of your intention to participate, call Caroline Landry (514-767-6256) or Maureen Dearden (514-751-2733).

11- Next weekend I will be renewing my prayer list. If there is anyone on the current list who needs continuing prayer, or others you would like prayed for, please email me or leave a message on the parish voicemail. Separately, weekday mass intentions are arranged with Trish at the parish phone number.

12- The Quebec Assembly of Catholic Bishops through the ministry of the Catholic Social Action office of our Archdiocese has made available this brief, important document on our mission in the province. Have a read of it and send me your feedback to inform our direction as a parish.

Blessings in Christ,

Father Robert+

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Soul Health XVII: Lebanon emergency relief; eat grapes or propose Marriage today

1- Today is a Solemnity, one of the high Feast days of the Church – The Assumption of our Lady into heaven. For simple ways to mark this truly marvelous Feast, see below.

2- Our Archbishop has requested prayers for Lebanon and that parishes take up a second collection for relief for the horrible Beirut disaster. We will do so this weekend with envelopes in the pews. For a tax receipt, mark your regular envelope number on them, or your name, or “Lebanon” on your own spare envelope. I have worked together with my fellow Lebanese-Canadian Christian and Muslim leaders to obtain 1:1 matching donations to yours, passed through a Catholic agency. You may also drop an envelope in the office mail slot so marked.

3- Our mass attendance since re-opening last month has climbed, close to pre-pandemic levels at 5pm Saturday, but still just under half those levels at 9am Sunday. I take this opportunity to thank the over two dozen volunteers who have contributed to keep us safely receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It seems to have been done very smoothly thus far.

4- In two or three weeks, with the congregation during the announcements we will revisit the question of the most suitable time for Sunday morning mass.

5- Next weekend I will be renewing my prayer list. If there is anyone on the current list who need continuing prayer, or others you would like prayed for, please email me or leave a message on the parish voicemail. Separately, weekday mass intentions are arranged with Trish at the parish phone number.

6- A reminder to parents of children in catechesis: we will meet by zoom Monday, 7pm. Email for the link if you don’t have it.

7- Keeping the Feast of the Assumption:

Pope Francis today, on the Feast (1 minute read)

Consider it Thoughtfully (5 minutes)

Say the Angelus (1 minute). Daily take 3 minutes, or even 1, for the Angelus: Although the Angelus has been traditionally said three times daily, at 6 am, noon and 6 pm, you can pray it at anytime. (In my home parish growing up and even today, 10:30 Sunday mass is 90 minutes, concluding with the noon Angelus).

Pray the Rosary, particularly the glorious mysteries (note the 4th) today with these mediations. Consider joining the Tuesday evening online Rosary group for whom I am chaplain.

Join priests around the globe every evening as we all pray the Magnificat (1 minute), while contemplating Our Lady’s humility, joy and grace, and/or other Marion Antiphons as our last prayer before bed (another minute), before “the great silence begins.

Grapes, proposals and other Traditions on this Feast.

Our Lady of Lebanon, as we celebrate your glorious Assumption, pray for the people of that devastated country, and for us.

Father Robert+

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Soul Health XVI: We’ve safely re-opened the church; more volunteers needed; church funerals this week

1- Summer Mass times:
Saturday 5 pm,

Sunday changed to 9 am.

2- A couple of tweaks based on an assessment of re-opening weekend:

- There’s space for all – no need for mass passes or registration
- Entrance to the church will be only by the main doors on the street corner

3- Parishioner Joseph Whelton died on Sunday after receiving the Last Rites of the Church hours earlier. His funeral mass is Friday at 1pm; due to the current usable space restrictions for health and safety, the funeral is private. The family asks for your prayers for Joseph, and intends to made available a video of the funeral.

4- Parishioner Joanne Morin died in April of complications related to COVID. Her funeral mass is Saturday at 10am.

5- To continue to offer the two weekend masses this summer, we need even more volunteer greeters. The training is now much simplified after our weekend experience. And we need a laptop operator for music at the masses. Please call the parish number to volunteer.

6- Over two dozen of you have already volunteered in various capacities to re-open the doors. “Well done, thou good and faithful servants” (Matthew 25:21)

7- This week: FREE COURSE: Happiness and the Meaning Of Life, from Bishop Barron’s Institute – 6 videos ~15 minutes each.

8- I announce a special meeting of parishioners to elect a new warden, filling a vacancy for Sunday 26 July at 9:45am (after mass, in the pews). That warden would hopefully become our Treasurer. Nominations may be given to me or any of the wardens.

St. Thomas More, Pray for us

Father Robert+ Pastor, St. Thomas More Parish Verdun

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The parish doors will be re-opening this weekend!!

Note the Summer Mass times:

Saturday 5 pm,

Sunday changed to 9 am

Mandatory “How to” Safety Rules to attend Mass this summer at St. Thomas More Parish, Verdun

Coming Prepared

    •    Only one washroom is available; for emergencies only. Come prepared!
    •    Bring your face mask (we will be able to provide a few at the door)
    •    Bring your faith, to follow these rules for the benefit of the community
    •    Bring your patience, in order to comply with the changes wrought by these rules
    •    DO NOT COME if you have any these conditions that prohibit access: fever, cough, contact with a sick person, or have returned from travel within 14 days prior
    •    In light of the months of lockdown, the Church encourages you to prepare by first receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (if with Fr. Robert, by appointment only). If you cannot, you may vow to do so next week just before receiving communion and then honour your vow, to ensure worthy reception of the true Body of Christ (I Corinthians 11:27)
    •    Bring your “Mass Pass” (only for the Sunday 9am) – It is this sheet of paper

Upon Arrival

    •    To control access, 2 centre doors as well as the Moffat and Bannantyne entrances will open no earlier that 20 minutes before mass time. Only those with mass passes may enter
    •    Both side doors will be closed just before mass time; go to main doors
    •    At that point Mass Passes are no longer valid and anyone may enter until we reach capacity
    •    Before the inner entry doors and on the steps, respect the distancing floor markers
    •    We are not permitted to mark the sidewalk: physically distance there as well
    •    Before the inner doors, study the pictogram (also in this mailing)
    •    Inside the final doors, there is no holy water
    •    Listen to the instructions of the greeters
    •    Then sanitize
    •    Find a pew while respecting the floor markers marked with the colour of the ribbon designated for that mass – red, green or purple – as posted inside
    •    For family groups, use only pews with an additional white ribbon
    •    Masks are required while inside, except for those who cannot wear them. They will sit in the designated pews behind the mask picto-sign towards the back of the church
    •    Do not sit nor even touch any other pew but yours. If you have mobility issues, you cannot support yourself with another pew; rather come prepared and take your time
    •    Respect the distancing floor markers on your way to your pew; do not pass anyone in the aisle
    •    Sit only at either end of colour designated pews. This ensures 2M physical distancing
    •    A coloured mass response card will be placed where you can sit. No one else will have handled this within 3 days. Leave it where you found it upon departure.
    •    No other papers or hymn books will be in church except what you bring for the collection plate

Inside the church

Be Safe:
Help Others Feel safe in the Church

During Communion

    •    Do not leave your pew; communion will be brought to you.
    •    Lower or Remove your mask to receive
    •    Cup your hands, one over the other
    •    Do not say “Amen” until the communion minister is giving to the next person

After Mass

“Go into the world, glorifying the Lord by your life”

    •    The back row will exit first
    •    Lift your kneeler to the upright position
    •    Do not leave your pew before the people behind you have left theirs
    •    Do not stop, thereby holding up traffic, even on the sidewalks
    •    Clergy will not be greeting at the back; if you have any comments, needs or questions, please call Father Robert
    •    There is no socializing on church property
    •    If doing so on the sidewalk physically distanced, ensure you are not blocking it

When you receive communion:
“Behold what you are
Become What you see”
St. Augustine (5th century)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Soul Health XV

We’re re-opening the church next weekend!

1- First, I’m happy to report that Patricia (Trish), our parish secretary, is recovering very well from surgery. During her convalescence this month, she will be doing some work from home.

2- Check out this 1-minute video of Pope Francis, “Our Families”, that ought to be taken to heart by each of us.

Re-opening our parish: News and information

3- Volunteers required at each mass: One to operate the laptop for music (simpler than it sounds – pun intended) and several more to be safety greeters. Please contact me to inquire. Thanks to our two dozen volunteers who have come forward, some of whom were trained yesterday.

4- The doors will be opening next weekend!! Note the Summer Mass times:

Saturday 5 pm,

Sunday changed to 9 am

5- Due to provincial capacity restrictions for health and safety, we will add a 10:30 mass with catechism, however restricted to the catechism families, who have been communicated with separately.

6- The rationale is that Sunday at 9 am:

- respects the survey results completed by most
- adding a separate family mass allows enough space that all parishioners can attend Sunday morning without registration (only the 9am mass however requires you bring a “mass pass” to guarantee you a seat)
- almost eliminates the risk of contact between the elderly and children
- as health safety doesn’t allow us to use large fans directly, this hour would not be as hot inside

7- The “mass pass”: It’s purpose is to ensure that, without having to register, our parishioners have first call on the limited available seating, until just before mass time when we admit other people until we’re full.

8- All parishioners will receive in the mail this week an extensive letter, including a separate sheet of safety rules for mass attendance. You will read therein what the “mass pass” is.

9- Additionally, an information session to answer your questions will be held by Zoom and phone call-in Tuesday evening at 7pm for those interested.

10- The parish office will be staffed for calls (514-768-4741) only this Friday from 10am-noon to answer your questions about the parish re-opening after having read the mailing. Also, if you haven’t received the letter, please call then. At other times, messages left will always be returned, except those related to re-opening which will be returned after Friday morning.

11- With the need to prioritize a successful weekend re-opening:

- Weekday masses won’t begin for at least one month
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation will not be offered before mass, rather by appointment with me
- Funerals will resume immediately, baptisms shortly thereafter I expect
- The office will remain closed for personal interaction until it is safer, and at least until Trish is fully back in the saddle. I’m available by phone at the parish number and email.
- Only the church itself and the sacristy washroom (for emergencies) are accessible for now

All further changes and adjustments will be announced at masses and included in these emails and on our website.

St. Thomas More, as we re-open, Pray for us

Father Robert+
Pastor, St. Thomas More Parish Verdun

Friday, June 26, 2020

Soul Health XIV

Mandatory REGISTRATION to attend mass; Patronal Mass online tomorrow

If you wish to attend mass at St. Thomas More parish this summer, YOU MUST REGISTER BELOW THIS WEEKEND. Registration and details below. First:

Patricia (Trish), our parish secretary, successfully underwent surgery yesterday and is recovering in hospital. Please keep her in your prayers. During her 6 weeks of convalescence, Claudette has agreed to volunteer to handle all admin matters.

Our next and possibly last online mass will be available on our website tomorrow, Saturday, at 4pm. This is our annual Patronal Festival: St. Thomas More, Martyr. The special mass intention is for Fr. George Oakes. Join us!

Re-opening our parish

Whether or not you are hoping to attend mass this summer, we need your help. Please offer 3 minutes of your time to complete this questionnaire this weekend:

Thanks to the over half of you that have. Tomorrow volunteer callers will begin calling our parishioners who don’t have email to complete the questionnaire for them and register them for mass attendance. Then we’ll know if we require additional masses to maintain the cap of 50 persons, and when to offer them.

The parish re-opening committee has determined that to re-open the parish requires upwards of 20 volunteers to be present, spread out across different masses. Offer yourself in the questionnaire.

St. Thomas More, our patron, Pray for us, as we together endeavor to re-open to celebrate our Lord

Fr. Robert+

Pastor, St. Thomas More Parish Verdun

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Special Soul Health XIII: parish re-opening news

Give me Your grace, good Lord, to set the world at nought, to set my mind fast upon You

To think my worst enemies my best friends

To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me; for His benefits incessantly to give Him thanks.

St. Thomas More, Martyr

1. If you wish to attend mass at St. Thomas More parish this summer, YOU MUST REGISTER BELOW BY WEDNESDAY. NO EXCEPTIONS. Details below. First:

2. Patricia (Trish), our nearly indispensable parish secretary, will be undergoing surgery on Thursday. Please keep her in your prayers. Her recovery time is estimated at 6 weeks. She has been serving our parish daily for 40 years!!

3. Our next and possibly last online mass will be available on our website next weekend. It will be the annual mass of our Patronal Festival, St. Thomas More, Martyr. The special mass intention will be for Fr. George Oakes. It will run approximately 40 minutes; the homily will speak directly to the children in Confirmation prep, who will then be gathering online again next Sunday.

Re-opening our parish

The provincial government has given permission for re-opening churches with a maximum of 50 persons in the building at one time. The Archdiocese has done immense preparation for this moment so that the health and safety of the faithful can be paramount. Thus re-opening our parish will be a complex process, including determining how many weekly masses we will have to satisfy parishioners while strictly respecting the cap of 50 persons. In order to determine this, and for you to register for mass attendance so we don’t exceed the cap, you must fill out the questionnaire by next Wednesday, Feast of The Birth of St. John The Baptist:

Additionally, in these ways: re-opening for mass, aiming for July 11, turns on your support:

**The parish re-opening committee which has already met twice, has determined that to be compliant the parish requires upwards of 20 volunteers to be present, spread out across different masses. Offer yourself in the questionnaire.

**Once you complete the questionnaire, please call other parishioners you know who do not have internet (over 60% of our parishioners), completing the online questionnaire for them by next Friday.

**Offer in the questionnaire to be one of the volunteers who will then call the remaining parishioners to do the same beginning Saturday.

Let’s by the grace of God work together to re-open our parish!

And commit all this to your prayers:

Have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for you; for His benefits incessantly give Him thanks.

St. Thomas More, Pray for us

Fr. Robert+ Pastor, St. Thomas More Parish Verdun

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Soul Health XII: Experience “Love, for us!”; Next online parish mass

In the Eucharist we “renew the memory of that incomparable love for us which Christ revealed in His passion” on the cross.

St. Thomas Aquinas, 12th century
who developed the liturgy for today’s
Feast of Corpus Christi – The Body and Blood of Christ

Dear sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ,

1. This morning we enjoyed our first online gathering for Confirmation catechesis. It was great to be together as the Body of Christ, even virtually, with some of the parish families! We’ll continue every other week through the summer.

2. I shared with the parents part of a beautiful reflection on today’s feast by our own Episcopal Vicar, Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, at the bottom of this page. For more, and his parish mass, and to make your spiritual communion:

3. A couple of parents have asked if First Communion catechesis might continue virtually. If your child is part of the First Communion gatherings, please email me your thoughts on this.

4. The next online liturgy should be up in 2 weeks. That will be the mass for our Patronal Feast of St. Thomas More, Martyr. It will be offered with special intention for Fr. George Oakes.

5. To produce that mass, we need volunteers to read, and to video even using a phone. Also someone who can advise on how to record the sound with our audio system would be helpful. Only a handful of you replied to the 2-minute questionnaire on whether you wanted these masses. You can still complete it here: In the meantime, all online masses will speak directly to the children in Confirmation prep.

6. We need two more volunteers for the de-confinement planning committee, which would help the parish reopen more quickly. Thanks to those who have come forward, we got off to a great start last week, meeting online. We will be part of diocesan webinars on the matter this week in English and French. More info in next week’s Soul Health.

7. For a host of excellent spirituality opportunities, see this morning’s Grapevine:

Together in Christ,

Fr. Robert+
Pastor, St. Thomas More Parish Verdun

Dear friends, fellow members of the Body of Christ!

…Today, we commemorate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. We are a Eucharistic people. In receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, we are transformed from within: we become Christ’s Body and Blood, our lives broken for others, poured out in loving service of all humanity. In this time of pandemic, when so many of us have been deprived of sacramental communion for nearly three months now, how are we called to celebrate this feast?

As I speak to parishioners and others following our online celebrations, I hear that they appreciate them very much, but they still look forward to our being all together again, so that we can celebrate Mass together, pray and sing together, receive communion together. Perhaps this time of imposed sacramental fasting has been for all of us a reminder of how easy it is to take the Eucharist for granted.

And yet, if this is literally Christ's body broken for us, Christ’s blood poured out for us, each day of our lives, we are challenged on this day to recognize both the awesome nature of the gift of the Eucharist, and the challenge which it presents in our own lives as Catholic Christians, to live as his Body in the world. This includes paying attention to those “members of the Body” who are most vulnerable at this time, the victims of racism, of all forms of injustice, those who are sick, isolated, addicted, neglected, or unwanted. All must be treated with respect and dignity…

Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, E.V.