As many of you know, I have been to the Holy Land several times now, both on pilgrimage and as a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, serving in Hebron. So earlier this month it was great to see people I’ve become friends with over these past years. At the same time, it was distressing to see the changes in Hebron. There are more shop closures in the Old City, because very few people go there any more. My friends Jamal and Abed and Muneer are barely able to stay open—and I think part of the reason they do is as an act of resistance. A number of the military checkpoints, which have been rebuilt and fortified over the past couple of years, now have wooden fences around them, hampering CPT and other international groups from their monitoring activities. Just south of there, the Bedouin village of Umm Al Khair is experiencing difficulties because of the neighbouring Israeli settlement. The entire village was moved to their present location in 1948, but now the settlement wants them gone. In the Negev, the village of Al Arakib has been demolished 150 times! The handful of people who remain  continue to rebuild rudimentary shelters. All over, things look bleak for these people and so many others.

I find it easy to despair and lose hope in these situations—and I’m only an observer. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be living through these atrocities. Yet our readings offer me hope. A couple of weeks ago we heard God tell the prophet Habakkuk to write down the vision clearly, to keep it present. And this weekend Jesus tells the disciples a parable “about their need to pray always and not lose heart”. That is our task as a follower of Jesus: As difficult or as hopeless as a situation may seem, I am called pray and not lose heart.

That advice goes for us as well here at Assumption. As we  experience ups and downs with donations and hopes for a  complete restoration, God tells us to not lose heart. We are to have the vision before us (thus the importance of our Pastoral Plan and Assumption Cares), we are to pray, and not lose heart. This weekend, if all goes according to plan, the washroom in the church will be back in service. And then before long the new heating system should be keeping us all comfortable as we gather for worship. Let us keep praying and not lose heart, that with God’s help we complete the restoration and offer meaningful service to Windsor’s West Side.

 

Even though I will be back in Windsor by the time you read this, I write this on the way to Tel Aviv and our last night of the pilgrimage. As every time before, this has been a powerful and moving trip, one that inspires and challenges me. And as people tell us their stories I find it easy to take sides. We see so much injustice, and meet so many people who have lost their homes and lands and rights, the temptation is to consider one side “bad” and the other “good” (even though we do recognize right and wrong). But this morning we visited with Archbishop Elias Chacour, the retired Archbishop of Galilee in the Greek Catho-lic Church. It is fitting to end with him because he challenges me to be inclusive. It doesn’t work to be “pro Palestine” and “anti Israel”; nor does it work to be “pro Israel” and “anti Pales-tine”. We must all be conscious of our shared humanity as chil-dren of God and guests on the land. He is fond of saying that the land belongs neither to Israelis nor Palestinians, but rather we belong to the land. (That is also the title of one of his books; I will be happy to loan out a copy to whoever would like to read it.)

I think those words are so important in our own North Ameri-can context, in two areas. First, we are all sisters and brothers, children of the same God, no matter our religion, ethnic origin, or social status. When Jesus healed the lepers in today’s gospel story, he did so with no regard to their ethnic origin. And the one who returned to thank him was a Samaritan, an outcast, one generally hated by the Jews. It would be comparable to Jesus healing a member of ISIS. He didn’t take sides. It’s also one reason that the Assumption Caresprograms are open to all peo-ple, regardless of who they are or what they believe.Second, we belong to the landreminds me of what Pope Fran-cis has so often stressed.

In Laudato Sihe reminds us that the earth is our common home and we need to care for it. When we first returned to Assumption church, Bishop Fabbro acknowledged that we are on the traditional land of the Three Fires Confederacy, who provided refuge to the Hurons, who in turn offered a place to Fr. Potier and the parish. Today we may hold the deeds to our homes (or pay rent to the one who does), but in the end we are passing through, and the land belongs to God. This challenges me to care for the earth and to walk gently up-on it. And know that I look forward to treading the soil of Windsor again soon!

I write this from Bethlehem, which is no longer a “little town”. After three nights staying at a pilgrimage house on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, we’re now here in the city of Jesus’ birth. It’s such a privilege to be staying just  adjacent to the Church of the Nativity and to see the thousands of pilgrims who come to see this special place.

As important as it is to experience these holy sites, or “dead stones”, as Archbishop Elias Chacour calls the churches, our group has also been spending time with the “living stones”, people who work for peace. In Jerusalem we met an amazing Israeli woman who risks her reputation and her safety because she shines a light on the injustices that Palestinians face at the hands of the Israeli government. We heard from a Palestinian and an Israeli, members of the Bereaved Parents Circle, who lost a husband and a daughter in the conflict and who now work for reconciliation and healing. We meet with Omar at Sabeel, a Palestinian Christian organization, who led us on a Contemporary Way of the Cross highlighting the present suffering of the people of this land. Amos led us into the Negev Desert, where we learned about the situation of the Bedouin people. In Bethlehem we’ve met with the Holy Land Trust, an organization dedicated to understanding the “other”, promoting nonviolence and healing. We met with Daoud (David), a Christian from Bethlehem whose family’s farm is in danger of being confiscated to make way for more settlements. His message is one of hope, and refusal to be a victim. We visited a refugee camp in Bethlehem and learned the history of the displaced people who live there, and with Wi’am, a Centre for Mediation and Reconciliation run by Christians. By the time you read this I will have visited Hebron, where I have served on team with the Christian Peacemaker Teams, and will have heard the story of the Bethlehem Icon Centre, where Christians today learn this ancient art form that is a window into the sacred.

Each time I come here I experience a plethora of emotions. There is deep joy and yet a profound sadness. Hopelessness is mingled with great hope. The situation is dire for many of the people here, and the injustice is so blatant. Yet this is reality. I take great comfort in this weekend’s Scripture readings. Jesus, too, lived under a time of occupation, yet he tells his followers to have faith. The prophet Habakkuk lived in a difficult time, and experienced hopelessness. “Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help and you will not listen?”, he says. But the Lord answered him: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets so that a runner may read it.” God tells him to write down his hope, so clearly that someone running by can see it. That is what I’m experiencing here. So many people are writing down their visions of hope, and it becomes contagious. May we all be people of hope as well. Be assured of my prayer for each and for all of you here in this sacred place.

As I read and reflected on this Sunday’s readings for Mass, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Jesus’ quote from Luke 9:58. “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  The day before I left on my vacation a few weeks ago, our Basilian Fathers’ leadership and Bishop Fabbro asked me to begin serving at St. Anne’s Parish in  Tecumseh on October 1st. There was more to this request because the young diocesan priests at St. Anne’s had also been asked to take on the ministerial leadership of Good Shepherd Parish in Lakeshore. These are huge parishes.

This Lukan passage I quoted is part of the requirement of being an apostle. In other words, for the preaching of the gospel to take effect, one must be ready to go. At the end of Mass, the deacon or the presider says, “Go, the Mass is over!” or similar words. Every Catholic is called to go and preach the gospel by his or her words and actions. These modern times call all of us to a greater commitment of faith and action. This is why our Canadian bishops are asking every parish to financially contribute to the needs of the Church in Canada this Sunday and the Vatican is also asking us to pray for migrants and refugees throughout the world.

We are living in times where the maintenance model of parish must change to the mission model of being parish. And this is the model to which all parishes in the Diocese of London are gradually adjusting. Here at Assumption Parish, there is a long-standing commitment to reach out in mission to students, staff and faculty at the University of Windsor, as well as to the  people of West Windsor-Sandwich.

The readings for our Sunday worship call us to an integrity of faith and action. ‘Resting on one’s laurels’ is not today’s  message. Not only are “men of God” called to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness, but all of us are called to this “good fight of the faith.” This is at the core of being a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ.

I am very grateful to the parishioners here at Assumption whom I’ve met over the past year. You yourselves have been on a roller coaster experience of parish life. My Basilian confreres and the staff here know this roller coaster ride too! Unlike the rich man in the gospel, we are trying to listen to Moses and the prophets and trusting in the one who has risen from the dead.

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time September 22nd, 2019I read an article once about honesty and lying. The author said that children learn from their parents, and that they don’t really differentiate degrees—“white lies” vs. “whoppers”, for exam-le. So if a parent tells the ticket seller at the movie theatre that their child is under 3 (to get the children’s discount, of course) when in fact he or she is nearly 4, the child learns that it’s okay to lie. Even though I don’t have children, I think of that when I go to places like the Bulk Barn. It would be so easy for me to say I’m 65 and get the senior citizen discount (especially since many other places give it from age 60 up). Nobody would ask me for my ID, most likely, but I would know that I’m lying. Or when I cross the border it would be so easy to say that I hadn’t acquired anything, or underestimate the value of what I’m carrying, but I would know that I’m lying. And, as the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr is fond of saying, how you do anything is how you do everything. To be honest, I find that thought frightening, because there are things I would rather not admit that I do. And I like to try and justify my untruth—or whatever deviation from what is right—as okay in this circumstance. Yet Jesus’ words in this weekend’s gospel passage are quite clear: “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”

As challenging as I may find those words, what follows is even more challenging to me: “You cannot serve both God and wealth.” Even though I hate to admit it and would like to be able to say the contrary, I find myself favouring persons of wealth. I’ve cooked a very nice dinner for a major donor; I didn’t invite the people who receive help from the St. Vincent de Paul society. Our society values wealth. And because the Assumption restoration is estimated to need some $20 million, it is so easy to fall into the trap of relating with those who can con-tribute financially to the project. Besides, I like to be noticed by people who are “successful”.

The reality is that we live in a complex world full of contradictions. I often pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that I might be able to live my faith in the midst of the challenges that life situations pose to me both as an individual and as your pas-tor. Please pray for me, and pray for yourselves, that we may be able to navigate the complexities of this world while remaining faithful to Gospel values. Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us!From the Pastor’s Desk…“You cannot serve God and idols”Grant that we focus our gifts on serving You and leading others to your Kingdom.

There are no words that can adequately express the gratitude and the hope that I feel as I write this. Our first Mass back in Assumption church was a moment of grace and blessing, for me, for our parish family, and for our entire region. Even though it is impossible to thank everyone, and easy to forget someone if naming names, I would like to acknowledge Bishop Fabbro’s presence, and his ongoing support for our parish. I am also deeply grateful to Paul Mullins for his persistent work on bringing us to this day. Without his study of what went on in the past and what we could do for our future, we would not be back in the church today. And then there are the many, many, many hearts and hands, of our staff and volunteers, that worked to make our re-entry such an effortless and smooth event. There were countless hours of planning, lots of muscle power cleaning and moving. There was documentation. The picnic was a joyful event. All of it combined proved to me yet again that I am privileged to serve in one of the best parishes anywhere! I pray that God continue to bless us on our journey.

Our gospel passage this weekend gives us three stories about loss: one sheep out of a hundred wanders off; a woman loses one coin in ten; and a younger son considers his father as dead, runs off and spends his inheritance. The stories don’t end there, though, just like Jesus’ story doesn’t end with the crucifixion. Instead, God goes above and beyond what would be expected in his day and age: the shepherd leaves the 99 unattended and goes after the stray; the woman scours the house looking for the coin; and the father watches for his son and instead of punishing him throws a party when he returns. That is our story, over and over again. As individuals we stray from the path of goodness over and over again. In our flawed humanity we are sinful; we can be selfish; we hurt others, yet God is always calling us back, always looking for us, and celebrating when we come back to where God wants us. As a parish community, we were away from Assumption church for almost five years. Even though this may be reading into the gospel story, I think that God has called us back. If the joy I witnessed this past Sunday is any indication of reality, God is happy indeed. It was an event worth celebrating! I pray that we always recognize that no matter what we do or who we are, God is always ready to welcome us with open arms.

It’s happening! After many years of prayer, of hopes shattered and hopes reborn, of countless hours of work and research and conversations, Assumption Parish is returning to our traditional home! I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you who has helped make this day possible. I am grateful that we have had the beautiful church of Holy Name of Mary to serve as our parish home since November of 2014.

I am grateful for the parishioners of the former parishes of Holy Name of Mary, St. Patrick, and Blessed Sacrament—as well as the original Assumption parish community—who have all come together, along with many new arrivals, to create a beautiful, multi-cultural community that has become known throughout the diocese. I am grateful to Paul Mullins, who started this process moving, to Bishop Fabbro and many people of the Diocese of London, to the City of Windsor, and to all who have had a role in bringing us to this day. I am grateful for the staff at Assump-tion, who have worked diligently, and the many volunteers who are making this move possible.

Most of all, I am grateful for all of you who are part of the worshipping community of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, or who pray for us in any way. We are indeed blessed and, as Our Lady said, the Almighty has done great things for us!

I am also conscious of our origins, thus Our Lady of the Assumption Parish acknowledges that Assumption church sits on the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy. The Huron, who were given refuge by the Three Fires Confederacy, shared this land with Assumption Parish in order to establish the first Catholic parish in Canada west of Montreal. The cover of this month’s Living with Christis from a stained glass win-dow at the Martyr’s Shrine in Midland, showing Joseph Chi-watenhwa, of the Huron-Wyandot nation and Jean de Brébeuf, S.J. It gives me chills to think that the event memorialized in this image could have taken place right here!

Our readings this weekend are so appropriate for today’s event. Just as Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon, and tells him that he returns as brother rather than a slave, I think God is sending us back with new life, and so much more than we were when we left the building in 2014. We have grown. We have all experienced cross and resurrection, and we are stronger and more united for it. The gospel reminds us of our need to see this project through to completion. Let us pray through Our Lady’s intercession that we complete all phases of our restoration and remain here for generations to come.

It’s finally happening! We move back into Assumption church on September 8! I didn’t know if I would ever see the day, and yet it seems to be happening. I am grateful to God, to Our Lady, and to so many people. I know that many of you have been hoping, praying, and working so that this could become a reality. And September 8 is an appropriate day, the day on which the Church celebrates the birth of Mary, the one whose name was holy and whom was assumed into heaven. Please join us for the 11:00 Mass, presided by Bishop Fabbro, who has been so supportive of the parish and our restoration effort. Immediately following the Mass, we will have our parish picnic on the grounds.

As we enter the church it will be clear that much remains to be done. Phase 1 (the roof, asbestos remediation, and heating) is only an initial step, and the least expensive one. You will see hoarding up over the side altars, and the side pews will be roped off. This is to ensure that no plaster falls on anyone, and will serve as a reminder that we need to ensure that Phase 2
happens, when the plaster will be stabilized and the frescos restored. You will also notice that there is still a staging area outside the church. This will remain in place until the heating system installation is complete, by mid-October.

So many of you stepped up to sponsor roof tiles. Thank you for your generosity. We were able to raise over $150,000 with that effort. We will continue to put names on any more shingles we sell, and they will be installed during Phase 3, when the exterior walls are restored. Until that date, we will keep them safely in storage and ready for the day when they find their home above us.

Many of you may be wondering about what will happen to Holy Name of Mary. It is a beautiful church building, one that served Holy Name of Mary parish for so many years, and then became Assumption’s home for almost five years. Although we will not be having our parish Masses there, we will continue to use the building. It will be the home of our Assumption Cares outreach program, serving the community in so many different ways and, of course, the Holy Name of Mary conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which does important work in the parish.

In our gospel passages in these weeks Jesus reminds his followers and us that sometimes things are difficult. Sometimes we have conflict. I know that not every one of you agrees with the decision to move back to Assumption. As I have said before, my time here has convinced me that we can best serve our parish and our area out of Assumption; it is a significant place not only for us, but for the entire Christian community of the region. I ask your continued prayers for guidance.

Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us.

 
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit our Basilian mission in Cali, Colombia. There, the Basilians serve among the poorest of the poor, providing them access to education that they might not otherwise receive.  As we journeyed throughout the neighborhood surrounding our Parish and school, I couldn’t help but notice how poor the living conditions were in some parts of the neighborhood. Some “houses” barely consisted of four walls, with nothing more than a tarp for a “roof.” Despite their living conditions, I couldn’t help but notice how happy the people were. They didn’t have much, but they were happy with what little they did have, and it showed!

Fast forward a couple of years, and I found myself living in Houston, Texas, driving past the Memorial Drive mansions every day to get to my classes at the Seminary. Every so often, I would notice one large house get torn down, only for an even larger one to be built in its place. It seemed like the people who lived in those houses were never really happy- they always wanted more- more cars, bigger houses, more wealth… all in an effort to find “happiness.”

Today’s readings, however, challenge this view of happiness, reminding us that there is more to life than our possessions! In fact I would say that they even go so far as to warn each of us not to be possessed by our possessions. As both Jesus and the author of Ecclesiastes point out, our possessions will mean nothing to us when we are dead- you can’t take any of it with you!

Perhaps each of us can take St. Paul’s words in the second reading to heart, and learn to set our minds on heavenly things, and not on the things of this world. If we can do this, we can allow ourselves to be renewed by God, and formed more and more into the image of the person that God is calling each one of us to be.

On another note, Thursday August 15th, the Solemnity of the Assumption, is our Parish feast day. We will be having a
special Mass to celebrate the Feast Day at 6:00pm at the McEwan Campus site. We hope to see many of you there!

-Fr. Steven Huber, CSB

In the parish, summer is usually a time when things slow down. We publish the bulletin every other week. School is on vacation, and catechetics are over until the fall. People take holidays. I find it appropriate that the Church gives us the story of Martha and Mary in this weekend’s gospel passage. Jesus reminds us of the importance of sitting at his feet and listening to what he says. When we are distracted by our many tasks and obligations, it is hard to hear Jesus’ words to us, whether those be words of consolation and encouragement, or challenges to live our faith.

When we hear these beautiful words about Mary, it can be easy to criticize Martha for being so busy. Yet many of us have many duties, and can’t just let everything go. So what do we do? I think the key is when Jesus tells Martha that she is “worried and distracted by many things”. I may have to do a lot. My role as your pastor, and now with St. Alphonsus as well, sets many tasks and obligations before me. I think I have three basic choices on how to deal with them: I can absolve myself of my duties by saying that the most important thing I have to do is pray, and the rest will work itself out; I can keep myself constantly running, worrying, and fretting, and not make time for prayer, rest, or play; or, thirdly, I can ensure that in the midst of my many tasks and obligations I carve out a time for prayer and meditation, for rest, and even for play. I am convinced that this third option is the best. It allows me to fulfill my duties, as Abraham fulfilled the duties of hospitality in the first reading, and still sit at Jesus’ feet as Mary did. That, I hope, is the key: I can work hard, I can have many tasks, yet one of the primary ones is to spend time with Jesus. Then the rest can be done without worry and distraction.

The Pastoral Team recognizes that we must be able to pace ourselves and maintain balance; I ask that you pray that all of us who minister in the community may do this. With this in mind, the Finance Committee approved increasing the position of Coordinator of Youth Ministry to full time. We have realized that it is not realistic to expect anyone to accomplish everything we want done with part time hours. In her own discernment, Melissa, our present CYM, has chosen another path. The work she has done in youth and family ministry has been instrumental in our visioning for the future. Our seasonal Family Festivals and other activities she coordinates have been a real gift to the parish. I invite you to join me in thanking Melissa for her service and dedication, and praying for her as she focuses her talent and efforts elsewhere. I am deeply grateful to her for all she has contributed over the past two years. She will be greatly missed. As we move forward with a focus on intentional missionary discipleship, we are looking for a full time CYM to be a part of the parish Pastoral Team, along with much involvement from within the parish community to support a vibrant youth and family ministry here at Assumption.

Lastly, AA Roofing has begun installing the copper shingles! 350 of them have your names written on the back. More will be added later. There are areas that won’t be roofed until Phase 3, so we still have time for you to purchase one with your name or in honour of a loved one. We will also have a book with all the names listed, and a photo is being taken of each shingle with the name inscribed. Pray for the successful completion of this project.