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.

Last week I talked about how Jesus had “set his face” toward Jerusalem: in the midst of difficulties, he was determined to reach his goal. Jerusalem was Jesus’ destiny, where he was
rejected by the leaders and killed. It is also the place of his  resurrection, to date the most joyful and life-changing event in human history. In this weekend’s first reading the prophet
Isaiah speaks of that joy, and the comfort that Jerusalem offers.

As I write this, I’ve just presided at my first Mass at St. Alphonsus. To be honest, I ask myself what I’ve gotten into. Yet, the prophet Isaiah reminds me that this addition to my ministry can bring comfort and joy. St. Paul tells the Church in Galatia that he never wants to boast of anything except “the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. As paradoxical as it seems, it is the Cross that brings life! We must be joined into Christ’s crucifixion in order to be joined in his resurrection. That is the Christian message in a nutshell. And it is repeated, over and over and over again. We cannot have resurrection without experiencing death first.

That is why I am convinced that we, as a parish, will be much better off on our return to Assumption church than we ever would have been had we never left there. We have to experience the cross—death—in order to experience true life. Soon the contractor and architect should be able to confirm a date for us to be able to use the church at the University Campus once again, pending the safety inspection of the plaster. Once we return, we will celebrate our new life with a parish picnic and other activities.

Besides my own new responsibilities at St. Alphonsus, parishes are experiencing changes across the diocese this past week. On July 2, a number of parish families were activated, including two in Windsor and another in Essex County, and priests have been reassigned. I know that some experience this as a death. I invite you to pray for all in our diocese who are affected by these changes, that these difficulties may lead to a new and fuller life.

We’re back into Ordinary Time, which is actually anything but “ordinary”. With green vestments, the Church focuses on growth and hope, even when things may seem to be heading in the wrong direction. Our gospel passage today uses a Hebrew turn of phrase that fascinates me: Jesus “sets his face” toward Jerusalem. Luke makes it clear that even though Jesus knows it will lead to his passion and death, he is determined to go there; nothing can deter him. Of course, as believers we know that his passion and death were the greatest things that could have happened to us, because they led to his resurrection from the dead and the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. I take great comfort from that passage. It tells me that even though things may look quite complicated, if I “set my face” to doing God’s will, everything works out for the best. I need that reassurance now.+

Some of you may have heard that Franciscan Fr. Nichola Mauro-Iko, pastor of St. Alphonsus, received word that he is being reassigned to his province in Egypt. I am sure that many people whose lives he has touched will miss him greatly. His new assignment leaves a big void; it will not be easy to fill it. This past Saturday when Bishop Fabbro came to celebrate Mass for the General Assembly of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, he met with me—and asked me if I would accept the role of administrator at St. Alphonsus parish, in addition to my duties here at Assumption.

Many years ago I resolved never to refuse an assignment from the Basilian Fathers. I believe that there is wisdom in the vow of obedience, even when it may not be visi-ble at first glance. That obedience carries over to Bishop Fabbro as well. Before he was named Bishop of London, he was my Superior General. I will need your prayer and support. With Fr. Steven, along with Fr. Mark Gazin returning from his service at St. Theresa and St. Vincent de Paul, and Fr. Leo Walsh joining us as he leaves St. Paul’s in LaSalle, we will be four priests, able to cover the Masses.

As you may remember, Assumption will be in a “Family of Parishes” along with St. Alphonsus and St. Angela, so this move is a logical first step toward the eventual activation of our family. The diocese has “set its face” toward this model of ministry. It will work, and work well, provided that we truly become a missionary Church, forming disciples of Christ. Pray for me; pray for our parish, and use your gifts to be a disciple

When Pope Francis wrote Amoris laetitia back in 2016, he mentioned the 1987 Danish film Babette’s Feast, most likely making it the very first movie to be mentioned in a papal document. It tells the story of Babette, a French woman who arrives in a Danish village that has been led and influenced by its very strict and rather joyless Protestant minister. For them, life is about work and following rules, not enjoyment. Babette ends up winning a French lottery and decides to spend the money on an extravagant feast for the people of the village. She puts her entire self into the meal. She spends hours and hours, much effort and creativity, as well as all the money she has. And the result is marvelous: In spite of their firm resolve not to enjoy the meal, the people of the village find that they can’t contain themselves, and start to “come alive” with each successive course that Babette serves. By the end, not only have they been nourished in an extraordinary way, they are also eternally grateful to Babette for opening their eyes to the simple joys of life.
 
In so many ways, this is what Jesus does in the Eucharist. He gives of his entire self for our spiritual and physical wellbeing. God wants to nourish us, in both our souls and our bodies. Sometimes I forget the physical part, because the Eucharist has evolved into a symbolic meal. Today’s gospel, though, reminds me that Jesus fed people’s bodies as well. People ate until they were filled. As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) this weekend, I think the Church is reminding us that we also are called to be Eucharist. Like Jesus and like Babette, we are called to give of ourselves to nourish others, and to help open their eyes to the simple joys of life. This can take the form of a meal prepared for others. I can’t count the number of times that I have been delighted and nourished by the food others have prepared for me. It can take the form of an encouraging word, building up and strengthening others.
 
I think this is one reason Bishop Fabbro has invited the entire diocese to a year of prayer, that we might be a missionary Church forming disciples of Christ. As crazy as it may sound, that can be Eucharist. By being a missionary Church, we cannot help but nourish others, to help people recognize Christ. As disciples we actively follow Christ bringing him to others as nourishment for body and soul. I pray that through each of us, others may come to know and be fed by Christ.

Over these past few years I’ve become more and more fascinated by the concept of Trinity. I think it is our attempt—using the poverty of human concepts and language—to describe a God who is relationship. We speak of the Father because Jesus referred to God as his Father. We speak of Jesus, the Son, as God, because he said that he and the Father are one. And in multiple places in scripture we hear of the Spirit as the presence of God. We hear that we are temples of the Holy Spirit—God actually dwelling in us! God’s indwelling is not an easy concept. I can pray to God “out there” or “up in heaven”; I can find the risen Christ easily in the Blessed Sacrament. But it’s a lot harder to find God’s presence in a flawed human being—whether myself or another—especially when the flaws are more evident than the goodness.

And then there’s the next step: finding God in the non-human parts of creation. That’s easy when we look at the Rocky Mountains or Niagara Falls, but a bit harder in those things we see every day. A while back I wrote that one of the effects of being faithful to meditation is to notice how everything is connected. St. Francis of Assisi was known for personalizing creation, talking about “brother sun and sister moon”, for example. Meister Eckhart, the 13th-14th century German Dominican priest and mystic wrote something that can seem rather shocking: “Is this not a holy trinity: the firmament, the earth, our bodies. And is it not an act of worship to hold a child, and till the soil and lift a cup. And Communion, first seek that from your lover’s soul before anything offered from a priest.” I think what Eckhart is saying is that we need to see the connections. If God is present in creation, if the Holy Spirit has chosen to live in us, then we are called to make those connections. We are called to find sacredness in our world, in those that surround us, in ourselves—and then we can more easily find it and be awed by it in the Sacraments of the Church.

For me, the hardest part is living what I just wrote. Theoretically, I believe every word of it. But when things don’t go my way, or I start judging others, or I don’t like something, I find it so difficult to live. I think that may be the reason the Church celebrates the Holy Trinity each year just after Pentecost. It is a way of reminding us that God is not “static” and distant—instead, God chooses to be intimately involved with each of us. May we find God always!

“Being a mission-oriented Church that forms disciples of Christ”: Bishop Fabbro used those words several times during our Pastoral Study Days in London last week, and Jean mentioned them in her announcement last week. I will do my best to ensure that we all become familiar with that phrase here at
Assumption. I understand that as a challenge to us as individuals and as parish. Our call is not only to be “mission oriented”; it is also to form disciples, to help enable others to become Christ’s followers. As we celebrate Pentecost, my prayer is that the same Spirit that enlivened and empowered the apostles might enliven each of us, so that we, too, can go out of our comfort zones, showing the goodness and joy of the Gospel. Pentecost is often considered to be our birthday as Church. This event is the key that drives out the fear that the apostles were experiencing and enables them to go out and preach Christ’s message. And this Pentecost we celebrate the beginning of restoration work on Assumption church! On Monday, Windsor City Council approved our restoration plans for phase one, and construction started Tuesday morning. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit be our guide, and Our Lady help us to say “yes” to God’s will throughout this process.

Note that the hearers of their preaching were from all over the ancient world, and the message resonated to each of them. That is one reason I am so supportive of our efforts to launch Assumption Cares, helping to carry Christ’s message to all in our area, regardless of background or faith tradition. It is also why I support the restoration of Assumption church, which is a beacon to many, proclaiming the Church’s presence in Windsor for over 250 years.

I invite you also to consider learning a bit more about this  Jesus, whom we worship as our Lord and Saviour. Each year I help lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; it is a unique type of pilgrimage, one focused on Peace and Justice. I find that it has helped me to understand not only the reality of the situation there today, but also how it was in Jesus’ day and how Jesus’ message would have impacted his first disciples. If you think you might like to be a part of the adventure this fall, please join us for an informational meeting on Monday, June 17, at 7:00 PM in Rosary Hall. Come see pictures and hear stories about the places we go and the people we meet.

Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for each of us and for our parish! May the Holy Spirit guide us on our way.

 

This past week, Jean, Deacon Paul, Fr. Steven, and I took part in the Pastoral Study Days for the Diocese of London. It was a privilege to also be presenters at breakout sessions. As a team, we talked to people about how Assumption has experienced a rebirth, and the lessons we are learning from that. I’ve mentioned before in homilies how blessed I am to be a part of this amazing parish. In a time when church attendance is dropping across North America, we are growing, slowly but steadily.

Each of us plays a part in that. Thank you for your presence, your participation, and your constancy. Then in a second breakout session Jean, along with two parishioners, talked about discernment of gifts. People across the diocese are learning about the good things happening here! Personally, I learned a lot about collaboration and personal interactions. In some areas, I think I could congratulate myself; in others, I was reminded how far away I am from the ideal. Each of us is called to hear God’s call to growth.

If you’ve passed by Assumption church in the last few days, you will no doubt have noticed that construction is beginning! I am so grateful for the outpouring of support and positive energy.

Let us continue to pray that we be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we move forward. Of course, this weekend we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord. As a Church, we use the timeline from the Gospel according to Luke: For 40 days after the resurrection, Christ appeared to the disciples. He helped them learn to recognize him the Breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist. He helped them to comprehend that God’s final word is life, rather than death. The crucifixion led to the groundbreaking event of Jesus’ resurrection. I like to imagine that part of what Jesus taught during these 40 days was how to see that he is present even when he’s not there in the flesh. He was getting them ready for what we celebrate next weekend: Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus, God embraced human history as one of us. With the Ascension, Jesus returns to the glory of God, and then fills us with his presence through the Holy Spirit. That’s really quite a bold concept: that God wants to infiltrate our very lives, to be the force of life in each of us. For almost 2000 years now, we’ve been trying to realize its implications. I think we get glimpses of it here and there, but as a society we haven’t fully grasped that reality. My prayer this week will be to recognize God’s Presence in all those I meet. How about you?

For several weeks we were announcing that if you or someone you knew was interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, they should contact Jean Beneteau. Imagine, if you will, that she would tell any man who was interested that he would have to undergo minor surgery—without anesthesia—in order to become part of the Catholic Church. And anyone, male or female, would have to adhere to strict dietary regulations. Somehow I don’t think we would have too many people inter-ested in following up with her if that were the case. Yet that is something akin to the experience of the early Church. When Paul and Barnabas started preaching to non-Jews about Christ, and these people wanted to become Christian, there was a dilemma. While some were welcoming, others said that in order to be a Christian you had to become a Jew first. And being a Jew meant circumcision for men, as well as following strict dietary and other ritual customs. Paul and others ended up going to Jerusalem to try and reach a solution. Did being a Christian mean following Jewish law?

This meeting of the early Church became known as the Council of Jerusalem; it was a truly groundbreaking event. I love the language they used to inform the believers in Antioch: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials…” And with this deci-sion, theologians tell us that the Church moved from being a sect of Judaism to a religion open to all. It was a huge step in our history. One way to envision it is to think of a ladder: there are many rungs to get to the top. When the rungs are nicely spaced and start close to the ground, it’s fairly easy to climb the ladder. When the lower rungs are gone, it’s quite difficult at times. For me, starting with circumcision and dietary laws would be like taking away those bottom rungs. But by concentrating on essentials, the early Church ensured that the bottom rungs were there, enabling people to come into the Church community without too much hardship.

Early in his papacy, Pope Francis spoke of his vision of the Church as a “field hospital”.  For me, that is not only ensuring that the ladder has some bottom rungs, it’s also building a wheelchair ramp! The Holy Father asks us to reach out to people and meet them where they are. One way we’ve been doing that here at Assumption is in our effort to be a welcoming parish. Assumption Cares, which will hopefully get under way by fall, is one of those opportunities to welcome. The reactivation of the CWL is another. And we are all called to be Intentional Disciples. It seems to the Holy Spirit and me that each of us is called to play our part. To what ministry might God be calling you?