A LETTER FROM THE PASTOR & CHAPLAIN
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Trahe Nos…...Draw Us! This simple phrase adorns the coat of arms of our own Bishop, Douglas Crosby, and comes powerfully to my heart as I share this letter with you today. These words so fittingly express the invitation we know our God makes for us to be drawn into relationship with Jesus, who leads us to the Father by the gift of the Holy Spirit. With deep thanksgiving we know many have felt and responded to this tender, compassionate, and even at times challenging invitation, a commitment which we renew each day. As we come to this moment of invitation in our faith community’s life I would like to place before you these simple words to pray with, to reflect upon, Trahe Nos!
As you know, the past weeks, months, and years have been a time of deep discernment for our faith community; looking at where we have been, where we are today, and where we are being drawn. To discern in a moment such as this means to take time, to examine what is, to ask where the Holy Spirit is moving, and to allow God to bring many voices into unity in the quiet of prayer. Much has happened along this path of discernment; our One Flock, One Shepherd, One Hour sessions, the building of our Senior Leadership Team and attendance at the Divine Renovation conference, the invitation to 30 leaders in our community to be part of Alpha and discussion evenings, not to mention the many conversations and prayers offered by you individually. Finally, I hope the past weeks’ preaching series, Back to the Future, has been as much of a gift to you as it has been for me. Discernment is never easy, but truly the Spirit is alive in our midst, and we are drawn, as always, deeper into the mystery of God’s life in our midst, we are drawn so that we might draw others into this gift that is ours.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of our current journey is to concretely discern what steps to take in this present moment. This weekend, as I shared in my homily, we are putting forward some key changes aimed at helping us to draw together more fully as one community of faith, in our Sunday experience.
These changes begin with our celebration of the central mystery of our faith, the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass. It is at the Mass that we gather as one, to experience the presence of Christ in our community, in the Eucharist, and to be strengthened to live this more fully as we are sent into the world. It is in this spirit that beginning the 1stSunday of Advent, our new Liturgical year, Mass will now be celebrated at 6:00pm on Saturdays and 11:30am on Sundays. These times have been chosen for several reasons; first and foremost, to honor the desire and vibrancy of being drawn together as one community of faith, in numbers and spirit. Furthermore, this change will also allow us to build a greater culture around the Sunday experience, with socials, programs (Alpha), and community life that will go beyond one quick hour. Finally, these times also complement the Mass times of parishes around us, and thus open the door for visitors and newcomers to join us. Trahe Nos!
Together with Mass these time changes we are also hoping to build upon our experience of Alpha, opening and expanding this program to be a regular part of the life of our community. Alpha is a program through which we can invite family, friends, Catholics and non-Catholics to consider and experience the gift of life in relationship with God, it is a doorway on the journey of faith. To this end, we will begin in January to offer Alpha before our 11:30am Mass, to deepen the experience of Christ for those who have been members of our community for many years, and as an opportunity to welcome anddraw new comers or visitors into our midst. It is our hope that in the future we will also be able to offer a regular experience of Alpha before the Saturday 6:00 pm Mass. We, as a community of faith are on a journey not only to maintain what is, but always to be drawn deeper, to fulfill the great commission, to make disciples of all nations. Trahe Nos!
Perhaps the most significant change in what we have proposed is the cultural shift that underlies and informs these decisions. It has become powerfully clear that we have an opportunity like no other to draw many into relationship with Christ. We exist as a community of faith to find ways to engage the world around us and to give credible and attractive opportunities for others to come to know the God who has drawn us. We are here, at Main and Emerson, to be that cornerstone, that beacon of light in the midst of our world, to proclaim that Christ is alive and that God is drawing all to Himself.
The journey we take up with these small changes makes some small change to how we function as a community within, but the impact these changes will have upon our community as a whole, the impact it will have in the eternal community we prepare to join, is far more significant. We are called to draw others to Christ, to be drawn deeper ourselves, and to experience as one the gift of a God who draws all things to himself. It is a great journey we are on, and I invite you to join me as we proclaim anew the Gospel, the Good news to our world.
Father Bradley Markus
FROM OUR SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM
One of the greatest joys of my week is to see and connect, even if for a brief moment, with so many of you who make up our faith community when we gather for our weekly Sunday liturgies. I am grateful for your witness of faith through the years. I am very excited for our community as we look ahead to the future and the opportunities that will be available to us, as shared in Father’s letter. I remember the wonderful celebration of the Sunday Mass before the Flock party when we all came together to worship before joining in the fun. I look forward to experiencing more of this spirit when we gather as one community beginning in Advent. I am excited that even more people will have the opportunity to participate in Alpha in the New Year. The food is delicious (thanks Deacon Joe!), the opportunity to get to know others on a deeper level and the group conversations have helped and encouraged me in my own journey of faith.
- Sister Mary McIntyre
Our society and our communities are changing, our Catholic faith is being challenged and displaced by secular ideas, atheism and other religions. The community of Canadian Martyrs has the great opportunity to respond to these challenges in our world today. Nevertheless, perhaps it is the greatest challenge of all to admit that we cannot respond by simply maintaining status quo. Parishes that are satisfied with status quo don’t grow and run the risk of being closed or amalgamated as time goes on. Jesus does not call His shepherds and flock to be comfortable or maintain status quo. Instead, Jesus calls His shepherds and flock to proclaim the good news to the world (Mark 16:15) and to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14). I see the new Mass Times and the Alpha Course, the ‘Sunday experience,’ as incredible steps toward this growth, vibrancy and longevity.
- Deacon Joseph Di Loreto
What a gift it is to be a part of a community that is not afraid to “put out into the deep,” (Luke 5:4) and follow the call of the Holy Spirit! I truly believe that the Mass time changes, and implementation of Alpha, are going to bring such a richness and new depth to our community that we are ready for! I had the privilege of being one of the hosts for our first wave of Alpha over past few weeks, and I’ve been so amazed by the ways God is moving through our discussions and times of prayer together. I can’t wait for more of you to experience it for yourselves! We all know that these new changes are going to require a leap of faith and trust, but we also know that it is these moments of great faith that bear the most fruit! I am excited to journey with you into this new season at Canadian Martyrs, and I hope you are too!
- Kathleen LeBlanc