St. Philip Parish Front Canopy Project Update

During the May 14-15 weekend, the St. Philip Parish Temporal Affairs Council’s Front Canopy Project subcommittee distributed an written update on the project’s status. The subcommittee – comprising Peter Moore, Pat McIver and Dan McKenna – and with the TAC’s and Fr. Bob’s approval, are moving ahead with the project. Please see the attached handout for the latest information on this project.

Please note that individuals wishing to contribute towards this legacy-building project can also make a donation online using their credit card through Please select the “Canopy (Front Entrance) Project” option in the drop-down box. Click here to make a donation today!

Fr Bob Writes – Pentecost Sunday

Concluding our excerpts from Fr James Mallon’s book “Divine Renovation”:

“How, then, can we introduce experiences of the Holy Spirit into the everyday life of a parish so that it becomes a value that will contribute to the transformation of parish culture? …Pope Francis reflects on this same question in Evangelii Gaudium: “How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervour, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction!  Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts” (EG, no. 261).

Here are a few suggestions from my experience as a pastor of how to help our people experience this burning:

* It is that which is not understood and that which is unknown that causes fear.  We need to teach about the experience of “God in us” through the Holy Spirit.  We must teach people that there is no single experience that captures how God works in the hearts of believers.  We must teach that an emotional response to God is a healthy part of being in relationship with God, just as it is in any other personal relationship.  We must teach people that to be Christian is to be “pentecostal.”  That there is no Christian life or Church outside of the pentecostal experience. We must teach that God gives gifts, including charismatic gifts for the building up of the Church, and that God gives good gifts to his children and will never give a snake instead of a fish or a scorpion instead of an egg (Luke 11:11-12).  Our disposition ought to be to say yes to each and every “good gift” that God desires to give us.  We need not be afraid, even if we may not fully understand. …We seek God’s power because without it, we can do nothing.

* In our liturgies, we are conscious of invoking the Holy Spirit in song during the celebration of the Eucharist, and even take extra time after Holy Communion to ask the Holy Spirit to come.  After all, as we acknowledge in Eucharistic Prayer III, being “nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son and filled with his Holy Spirit” ought to be a part of every celebration of the Eucharist.  We also teach that it is important to pray the ancient prayer of the Church Veni Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit) with expectant faith.  Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, long-time preacher to the papal household, often tells a story of a custom in his hometown.  On Sunday morning after Mass, it is very common to hear invitations to neighbours to come and visit at some point.  This invitation, however, is a form of social politeness and includes no expectation that the person will show up.  Cantalamessa points out that when we invoke the Holy Spirit and ask him to come, we should do so with ardent expectation.  It is only this kind of prayer that will yield the fulfillment of the promise of God in our own time for the renewal of our Church.  Only the power of the Holy Spirit will allow us to not only recall our true identity as a missional Church, but to throw off the shackles of maintenance and go out. Pope Francis agrees:

“We need to avoid it by making the Church constantly go out from herself, keeping her mission focused on Jesus Christ, and her commitment to the poor.  God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!  This stifling worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who frees us from self-centredness cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God.” (EG. no.97)

Happy Pentecost, everyone!!

Fr Bob Writes – Ascension Sunday, May 8, 2016

In both our first reading and gospel this Sunday, which is Ascension Sunday, we see Jesus preparing his apostles to receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the “Promise of the Father” after he, Jesus has left the earth.  Again and again he tells his disciples that they are under no circumstances to leave the city of Jerusalem before this event.  Even when two of them take off for Emmaus, he goes after them to bring them back to the holy city (cf Luke 24).  If it is so important for them to receive the Holy Spirit, we cannot dismiss the importance of receiving the Spirit in our own lives.  Fr James Mallon, in his book Divine Renovation, from which I quoted last week, explains why it is so crucial for us:

“Many believing Christians…may have heard that there is a Holy Spirit, but have virtually no experience of the Holy Spirit and no relationship with the Spirit of Power.  God is no impersonal force or energy.  God is not even just a personal God, but a tri-personal God who yearns to be in relationship with us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  These are not mere modes of being, but three distinct personal relationships.  Even those who have had a personal encounter with Jesus that has brought them into relationship with the Father as Father may struggle with being in relationship with the Holy Spirit.

If the third person of the Trinity has been reduced to a concept, or some abstract thing that we receive at confirmation, with no corresponding experience beyond sacramental gestures, how can we speak of truly knowing the Holy Spirit?  We have a theology that tells us that we “have” the Holy Spirit and continue to receive the Holy Spirit, but in a manner that does not in any way translate into a life-altering experience of power.  Indeed the mystery of God-in-us is highly misunderstood in the Church today and remains undiscovered by many believers.  This experience of the power of God through the Holy Spirit is foreign to many believing Christians throughout the world.  This may be, in part, due to an underdeveloped study of the Holy Spirit in our theological tradition, but it is far more likely a cultural intrusion upon historical, biblical Christian spirituality.  Anyone who has traveled to Africa or the Caribbean will notice that the fear of emotive spirituality is not a Catholic issue per se , but a Western European Catholic issue that has been affected by post-Enlightenment culture- in particular idealism.  To dwell in the realm of ideas is far safer and less threatening than to encounter the reality of the idea.  Compared to our brothers and sisters in the faith who dwell in the southern hemisphere, we are emotionally constipated when it comes to expressing our faith…

If there was consistency in our culture around the issue of the affect, at least our stoic spirituality would make some kind of sense, but there is not.  When we go to the cinema or the theater, we regard the movie or production to have been a great success if we were moved emotionally.  When we go to sporting events, we consider it natural to enter into an almost religious state of emotional rapture… Being emotional is a normal and healthy part of what it means to be human, and yet this essential dimension of our spiritual lives is checked at the doors of most churches as we go into pew mode… Yet , who is more worthy of our tears and cheers?  Who is more deserving of our spontaneous praise and demonstrations of love and devotion than the Lord who has created and redeemed us?”


Pentecost Mission– May 9,10 & 11 , 7pm Join Fr Bob and Fr Ben St-Croix as they lead this mission and prepare us to fully receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost!  All evenings start with Mass at 7pm.  Monday May 9th and Wednesday May 11th will be at St Philips, and Tuesday May 10th will be at St Clares. Reconciliation will be available on Wednesday May 11th.

Evening of Divine Mercy – Thursday May 12The perfect end to our mission week, and a glorious lead-in to Pentecost:  an evening of Eucharistic Adoration, along with veneration of the relics of St Maximilian Kolbe, St Faustina, and St John Paul II-Thursday May 12, 7:30-9:30 pm at St Philips. Note: this will take the place of our usual prayer mtg.

Pentecost Sunday – May 15-Mass, 9am St Clare & 10:30 St Philips

Sacrament of Reconciliation-Saturday before mass (3:30-4:15) , Wed May 11, 7pm (at the Mission)  and on request – call the office at 613-838-2314