Welcome to the New Parish Website!

Hello, and welcome to the new parish website for St. Philip Church and St. Clare Mission, two catholic communities in Richmond and Dwyer Hill, respectively!

In the spring of 2013, the St. Philip Church Parish Finance Council (“PFC”) began discussing how it could improve upon the existing website such that it was a more informative and communicative site for the parish community. At the same time, the PFC was continuing its efforts at increasing revenues generated by the St. Philip Parish Hall, and it recognized that having an effective and informative web presence was crucial to those efforts.

What you are seeing now is the fruits from those discussions!

Fr. Bob Writes – October 27, 2013

“I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” So proclaims the psalmist in the readings for this Sunday’s mass. And , like the psalmist, I also want to bless and praise God, for giving me two wonderful, warm and loving parish communities like St Philip’s and St Clare’s to shepherd!!

A big THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for honoring me so marvellously last weekend for my 25th anniversary celebration. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and affection from so many people, expressed in the many tributes, presentations, gifts and best wishes I received. The spiritual bouquet , written on all the maple leaves, was a splendid touch . So many of you have promised to pray rosaries and offer Masses for me that I have every confidence God will have no choice but open the gates of heaven wide for me when my time comes!!

Thank you so very much , Donna Hawkes, for pulling the whole celebration together, and to your wonderful team of workers who helped decorate the hall and take care of all the arrangements for the Saturday evening . A special thank you to the CWL for providing such delicious food for the occasion, including a fabulous cake (and there was another for me to cut on Sunday morning when the celebration continued after the 10:30 am mass in the hall). Talking of food, I especially loved the “roast” I got from Peter Moore, because I know when someone is not afraid to give you a “ribbing” to your face, that means you are really loved. I learned a great deal about my favorite soccer team, my driving abilities, and my sartorial attire, as well as sundry other of my habits!! Just beware next time you come to confession, Peter (and by the way, check out the English soccer Premier League and see how high up my beloved “Saints” are )!!

Above all, the main reason I praise and bless God for you all is because of the eager way you are so willing to allow the Holy Spirit to move in your midst and the tremendous spiritual fruit which is so obviously growing in each parish community. It is my desire to spend many more years with you, helping to cultivate this fruit and seeing St Philip’s and St Clare’s becoming the best versions of themselves they can be. Thank you all again for the fabulous celebration you gave me last weekend, and here’s to the next 25 years. I love you all!!

Ad multos annos!!

Fr. Bob Celebrates 25 Years in the Priesthood!

On October 8, 2013, Fr. Bob celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood.

During the weekend of October 19th and 20th, parishioners of St. Philip Church and St. Clare’s Mission held receptions after each weekend Mass to celebrate Fr. Bob’s milestone.

Here are some photographs from Saturday’s festivities! (Click “Read More” to view photographs)

Photographs courtesy to Tom Chmara.

Fr. Bob Writes – October 20, 2013

The gospel parable for this Sunday’s mass about the widow and the unrighteous judge is probably among the most misunderstood stories of Jesus. Many think that Jesus is saying that God is like the unrighteous judge, and that you have to keep on pleading with him to grant your prayer, because he doesn’t want to grant it, and so you have to wear him down with your persistence.

This is definitely NOT what Jesus is saying. This is a parable of contrast. Jesus is making the point that God is totally UNLIKE the judge in his parable. And so, if even an unrighteous judge will eventually grant a petition if you besiege him long enough, how much more will God, who is totally righteous, as well as totally loving, want to grant our prayers? There is a similar point made in another saying of Jesus in Matthew 7:11: “If you, evil as you are, yet know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him?” (italics mine).
I always urge my bible study groups to study the context of any given passage in Scripture in order to understand properly what is being said in it. In the case of the gospel parable this Sunday, we must note that Jesus has been talking in the previous chapter, chapter 17: 20- 37 about the end of the world, and the coming of the Son of Man (ie. Jesus) as judge.

If there is one thing we can all agree on about the state of the world today is that there is an awful lot of injustice going on in it. We long for this state of affairs to be brought to an end, for the righteous to be rewarded and the wicked to be punished. That will only come about finally when Jesus returns to bring about the kingdom of God in its fullness.

Jesus assumes that those who long for the kingdom of God will be crying out to God to bring it in as soon as possible. But is that in fact true? How many of us spend any length of time at prayer, urging God to bring the evil and injustice in the world to a speedy end? “Thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is a petition familiar to us from the Lord’s Prayer. How many of us spend time praying this prayer, and praying it often, with all our heart? No wonder Jesus concludes the parable this Sunday with the words (spoken somewhat wryly, I am sure), “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” To pray for something implies faith for it to be answered. If we are not bothering to spend much time in praying for the end of the injustice of the world and the coming in of the kingdom of justice and truth and love, ie. the kingdom of God, what does that say about the state of our faith?

Fr. Bob Writes – October 13, 2013

It is singularly appropriate that, on this weekend traditionally kept as Thanksgiving weekend, that the readings for theSunday mass, also speak about giving thanks. In fact ,the very word we use nowadays for Mass, eucharist, literally means “thanksgiving”.In the central prayer of the mass , the eucharistic prayer, the priest, on our behalf, gives thanks to God for all He has done for us : creating us, redeeming us, sanctifying us, in a word : saving us. When we give thanks to God like this, we are acknowledging that, as sinners, we do not deserve any of these incredible gifts from God.

In our first reading and our gospel, two people, who would not ordinarily consider themselves worthy to receive anything from Israel’s God , do in fact obtain the mercy they ask for . In the first reading, the army commander, Naaman is healed of his leprosy at the intervention of the Israeli prophet Elisha. As a result, he solemnly declares that the God of Israel is the only true God and that henceforth he will worship only Him. In the gospel, the Samaritan, who was considered a half-breed by the Jews, receives healing of his leprosy from Jesus , the Jewish Messiah, and in so doing realizes something that the other nine Jewish lepers, also healed, miss altogether: that this Jesus is not only a miracle -worker, but is also the Son of God. So he worships him in thanksgiving , and Jesus tells him because of this declaration of faith , he has received something more than just a physical healing. He has come into salvation-forgiveness of sins, eternal life, adoption as a son of God.

This Thanksgiving, apart from all the other things we might want to give thanks for, let us especially praise and thank God for showing mercy to us, when we do not deserve it, in giving us the precious gift of faith for salvation. The best way of doing this is to attend Mass, the Eucharist, the thanksgiving celebration.

Fr. Bob Writes – October 6, 2013

Fr Bob writes : “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.”  So begins our second reading for this Sunday’s Mass.  The “gift of God” that St Paul is referring to is the Holy Spirit which we receive at our baptism.  Many Catholics think that since they have already received the Holy Spirit, they don’t need to think about  him anymore.  But, in fact, St Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:18 that we should go on “being filled with the Spirit.”  Firstly, because although we have received the Spirit at baptism, for many Catholics this gift has remained at the “dormant” level, rather like a pot of water which is put on the stove on a back burner, and left to quietly simmer.  The Spirit wants to be much more than that in our lives.  He wants to be in us “a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline”, to quote our second reading at Mass.  The Spirit wants to fill us with the love and the power of God so that we are “on fire” with the desire to share our faith with others. To use our analogy above, the fire underneath the pot of water on the stove needs to be “turned up” to boiling point.

Secondly, we need to go on being filled up with the Spirit, because we “leak.”  We leak the Spirit.  We leak the Spirit through our sin and our emotional wounds and the sheer struggle to live the Christian life in a post-Christian, often anti-Christian, world.  No surprise here.  Even the apostles, despite receiving such an awesome experience of Holy Spirit empowering at Pentecost in Acts of the Apostles chapter 2 are, a couple of chapters later in Acts chapter 4, praying to God to renew them with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit because they have just been subjected to severe persecution from the Jewish religious authorities and they are “wilting” spiritually.  And God responds by renewing the gift of the Spirit within them so they are filled with a new spirit of boldness in proclaiming the gospel.

When St Paul urges Timothy, his spiritual “son”, to rekindle the gift of the Holy Spirit within him, he does so because it seems that Timothy is being intimidated by older members of the community, since he is himself rather young and inexperienced.  So Paul reminds Timothy, somewhat forcefully, that he did not receive a spirit of “cowardice” (some translate this word “timidity”) but “rather a spirit of power and love and self-discipline.”  We all, even the best and most committed and dedicated of us need a regular refreshing of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

This coming Thursday evening, at the Life in the Spirit seminar, the participants at the seminar will be prayed for to receive just such a fresh outpouring.  Please keep them in your prayers during this coming week, because they will be subjected to fierce pressures from the devil, who will try hard to “steal, kill and destroy” this gift from them and in them (John 10:10).  And, even if you are not attending the seminars, I urge you on a daily basis to pray for a fresh ‘rekindling” of the power of the Holy Spirit within you also.  “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of your love.”