Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pour Vivre le Carême en 2017


Selon la coutume, c’est le dimanche de l’Épiphanie que l’Église fait l’annonce des dates importantes à venir durant l’année qui débute. Cette année, la grande fête de Pâques – le dimanche de la Résurrection – sera célébrée avec solennité le 16 avril prochain. 

Les quarante jours du temps de Carême qui débutera le mercredi des Cendres, le 1er mars sont étroitement liés à la fête de Pâques.

Le but du Carême est de permettre aux disciples de Jésus de remettre de l’ordre dans leur vie, de se remettre sur le droit chemin, de se bien préparer à fêter Pâques.

Traditionnellement, le Carême nous présente trois voies pour nous rapprocher de Dieu : la prière, le jeûne et l’aumône. La sagesse que renferment ces trois pratiques chrétiennes tient au fait qu’elles font appel, à la fois, à la contribution de notre réalité corporelle et spirituelle dans notre recherche de Dieu.

Choisir de dévouer une plus grande partie de notre temps à la prière, nous aide à prendre du recul par rapport aux demandes incessantes que nous retrouvons dans nos vies de tous les jours et nous aide à mieux entendre et à mieux répondre à la douce voix de Dieu qui nous parle dans notre présent, dans notre aujourd’hui.


Comme sainte Mère Teresa nous le faisait remarquer, « Prier, ce n'est pas demander. Prier, c'est se mettre entre les mains de Dieu, à sa disposition, et écouter sa voix au plus profond de nos cœurs. » Vouloir se mettre à l’écoute de Dieu est une disposition nécessaire pour vivre un bon Carême.

Le jeûne et l’abstinence sont également des éléments importants dans la vie de foi des catholiques. Durant le Carême, les catholiques doivent s’abstenir de manger de la viande le mercredi des Cendres et tous les vendredis, et jeûner, ne prendre qu’un seul repas complet, le mercredi des Cendres et le Vendredi saint. 

Ces pratiques témoignent, dès le premier jour du Carême, le mercredi des Cendres, de notre désir de nous convertir et sont également signes de notre désir de témoigner de manière spéciale, le Vendredi saint et chaque vendredi, de notre gratitude envers notre Seigneur Jésus qui a accepté de donner sa vie pour nous. 

Les autres actes de pénitence que nous acceptons de faire durant le Carême, tels que nous abstenir de manger des bonbons ou des pâtisseries, nous abstenir de boire de l’alcool ou de fumer, de même que de nous priver de quelques autres plaisirs pourtant bien légitimes, nous aident à faire de notre sacrifice un instrument personnel qui nous aide à nous détourner du péché et à croire dans la « Bonne Nouvelle ».

On ne jeûne pas pour rétrécir notre tour de ventre afin d’être en mesure de porter les vêtements que nous présente la nouvelle mode printanière ! Il s’agit plutôt d’une pratique qui nous permet d’acquérir une discipline, la capacité de dire « non » à des choses que nous aimons, et de renforcer notre volonté, notre vie spirituelle. Ceci nous aide à résister à la tentation de faire le mal.

Jeûner est également un geste qui témoigne de notre solidarité avec le grand nombre de nos frères et sœurs qui, chaque soir, doivent aller se coucher le ventre vide ou avec la soif aux lèvres. Jeûner, ressentir de la faim, nous motive à vouloir aider ceux et celles qui ont vraiment faim.

Faire l’aumône, pratiquer la charité, c’est volontairement accepter de faire le sacrifice de mettre de côté un peu de notre confort et de notre abondance afin de pouvoir partager davantage avec ceux et celles qui sont vraiment dans le besoin. Voilà un geste essentiel que nous devons accentuer pendant le Carême. 

Donner généreusement nous garde de l’idolâtrie du matérialisme. Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ nous le dit, chaque fois que nous avons habillé une personne qui était nue, donné à manger à celle qui avait faim ou donné à boire à celle qui avait soif, c’est à lui que nous l’avons fait (Matthieu 25, 31-41).

Les sacrifices que nous faisons durant le Carême nous permettent d’économiser et de donner davantage aux pauvres. Nous devons nous faire proches de nos frères et sœurs dans le besoin, autant des personnes qui vivent tout près de nous que de celles qui vivent à l’étranger.

Pour ce faire, nous pouvons contribuer aux bonnes œuvres de notre paroisse et aux campagnes en faveur des pauvres de ce monde organisées par des organismes comme Développement et Paix, agence créée par les évêques du Canada, il y a déjà cinquante ans, pour aider les pauvres et promouvoir la justice sociale dans les pays de l’hémisphère Sud. 

Penser aux autres et donner généreusement nous permet de satisfaire notre besoin de partager et d’aider notre prochain, et de reconnaître que nous sommes tous des enfants de Dieu.

Enfin, la célébration du sacrement de Réconciliation est un geste important qui peut nous aider alors que nous allons notre chemin vers la sainteté. L’Église recommande fortement aux catholiques de faire une bonne confession au moins une fois l’an, dans le temps pascal. Se confesser est une façon privilégiée qui nous est donnée pour grandir spirituellement.


En fin de compte, le Carême est un cadeau que l’Église offre aux chrétiens. Il ne s’agit pas d’une punition qui nous revient une fois l’an. Le Carême est un temps qui nous est donné pour nous préparer à célébrer dans l’allégresse le moment le plus important de notre vie personnelle de chrétiens et de chrétiennes, ainsi que dans l’histoire du cosmos, c’est-à-dire la Passion, la Mort et la Résurrection de Jésus Christ!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Making Plans for Living Lent 2017


The Church traditionally announces the important dates of the year on Epiphany Sunday. The key one is the solemnity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Easter Day—on April 16 this year.

Closely tied to that is the forty-day period of Lent that begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1. 

Lent’s purpose is to reorder the lives of the disciples of Jesus where they went astray. The time-honoured ways to draw nearer to God in Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The genius of these dependable Christian practices is how they acknowledge our spiritual and physical natures in our yearning for God.

Purposely spending more time in prayer helps us step back from the pressing demands of busy lives. Then, we can better hear and respond to God’s quiet voice in the present.

St. Mother Teresa once remarked, “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Being intentional about listening to God is a basic Lenten practice.



Fasting and routinely abstaining from meat are important aspects of a Catholic’s devotional life. 

Catholics are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. We are to fast (eat only one full meal) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This expresses our desire for personal renewal at the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. We show gratitude for the Lord Jesus’ gift of his life for us on Fridays, especially Good Friday.

Other traditional acts of “giving up” sweets, alcohol, tobacco or other pleasures during Lent help us personalize our spirit of sacrifice. We “turn from sin and believe the Good News.”

Fasting isn’t about dieting to shrink our waistline for a new spring wardrobe! Rather, it is about disciplining ourselves by saying “no” to things we like—to build up our spiritual will. This strengthens us to avoid other temptations to wrongdoing.

Fasting also expresses solidarity with our many fellow humans who go to bed hungry or thirsty each night. The Lenten fast, with its small hunger twinges, motivates us to help the truly hungry.

Almsgiving or charity is the practice of intentionally sacrificing a little of our own comfort and lives of abundance. We share with those who are in genuine need. This is an essential Lenten discipline. Sacrificial giving releases us from the idolatry of materialism. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that when we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, or assuage the thirst of another person, we do it to him (Matthew 25:31–41).

Almsgiving flows from saving money by these sacrifices. We should care especially for the needy near and far. We can take part in our parish’s social outreach. We can also support the Lenten campaign for the poor of the world conducted by Development and Peace, founded fifty years ago by the Bishops of Canada to promote social justice in the Global South. Being other-centred by purposely giving to charity connects our innate need to help with our recognition that we are all God’s children.

Finally, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a big part of our quest for holiness. The Church urges Catholics to make a good confession each year during the days surrounding Easter. The practice of confession is a major impetus to spiritual growth.

Ultimately, Lent is the Church’s gift to Christians, not a seasonal punishment. It helps us prepare more worthily and joyfully to celebrate the most profound moment in our personal life and the history of the cosmos—the Passion, Death and, Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

[Originally published in the Ottawa Sun on February 19, 2017]

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Death of Father André FORTIN Décès de M. l’abbé André FORTIN


C’est avec regret que nous vous faisons part du décès de M. l’abbé André FORTIN décédé a l’Hopital Montfort le lundi 9 janvier 2017 à l’âge de 84 ans.

Né le 5 juin 1932 à Cobalt, Ontario, il a été ordonné prêtre le 17 juin 1960 à la paroisse Saint-Jean-Marie Vianney, Gatineau. Détenteur d’une maîtrise en bibliothéconomie, ainsi d’une licence en droit canonique, il a été professeur au petit séminaire Pius X pendant près de dix ans, assistant-chancelier, archiviste et, ensuite vicaire judiciaire adjoint puis vicaire judiciaire au Tribunal ecclésiastique de l’archidiocèse d’Ottawa, poste qu’il a occupé jusqu’à sa retraite en 2004. Il a également exercé du ministère dans plusieurs paroisses francophones, anglophones  et bilingues à titre d’administrateur, d’assistant curé et de curé.

Les funérailles de l'abbé André Fortin seront célébrées le lundi 16 janvier à 10 h 30 à la chapelle de la Maison-mère des Soeurs de la Charité d'Ottawa, 27 rue Bruyère, Ottawa et seront présidées par S.E. Mgr Terrence Prendergast, s.j.

Souvenons-nous de lui et de sa famille dans nos prières.

* * * * *

We regret to inform you that Father André FORTIN died on Monday, January 9, 2017 in his 85th year following a brief illness.

Born on June 5, 1932 in Cobalt, Ontario, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 17, 1960 at Saint Jean Marie Vianney Parish in Gatineau. Holder of a Master`s degree in Library Science and a license in Canon Law, he taught at St. Pius High School for close to ten years, served the archdiocese as Assistant-chancellor, Archivist, Associate Judicial Vicar and Judicial Vicar of the Ottawa Ecclesiastical Tribunal until his retirement in 2004. Father Fortin also served French, English and bilingual parishes in the Archdiocese as Administrator, Assistant Pastor and Pastor. 

In his retirement he frequently celebrated  daily Mass for the Sisters of Charity, a short walk from his apartment near Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Funeral Mass will be held on Monday, January 16 at 10:30 a.m. in the Chapel of the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse at 27 Bruyère Street, Ottawa, presided by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J.

Please remember him and his family in your prayers.

Requiescat in pace.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bishop McGrattan Named Bishop of Calgary, Succeeds Bishop Henry

Mgr William Terrence McGrattan

Aujourd'hui, Sa Sainteté le Pape François a accepté la renonciation de S.E. Mgr Frederick B. Henry, conformément au canon 401, et a nommé S.E. Mgr William T. McGrattan, actuellement Évêque de Peterborough, Évêque du Diocèse de Calgary (AB).

Mgr Frederick B. Henry

Today in Rome it was announced that Pope Francis, in accordance with Canon 401,  has accepted the resignation of Bishop Frederick B. Henry and has named as his successor as Bishop of Calgary, Alberta His Excellency Bishop William T. McGrattan, currently Bishop of Peterborough, Ontario.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Commended to our prayers: Fr Ernst Schoenhammer, OMI, pastor of Ottawa's St Albertus Parish


Ottawa's German-speaking St Albertus Parish is in mourning following the death overnight December 29-30 of their beloved priest who served them for a half-century.

From the Catholic Ottawa list of jubilarians, Spring 2015:

"Born in Bamberg, Germany on May 16, 1938, Father Ernst Shoenhammer was ordained a priest on December 18, 1965. The following year, he began serving the German-speaking Catholic immigrants in Ottawa.

"He served as Chaplain to St. Albertus Pfarrgemeinde and is Pastor of the parish since 1977. He has also served the Archdiocese of Ottawa as Regional Vicar for the pastoral ministry of Region II of the English Sector.

"He received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany awarded on October 31, 2003, by the President Johannes Rau for serving German-speaking Immigrants since 1966."

Funeral details are pending.

Requiescat in pace.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Death of Bishop Jean Gagnon / Décès Mgr Jean Gagnon de Gaspé


Gaspé Bishop Gaetan Proulx, OSM announced today, December 23, the death of his predecessor after a short illness and commending him to our prayers..  Funeral details will be forthcoming. Requiescat in pace.


"Je recommande à vos prières, Mgr Jean Gagnon, qui est décédé aujourd’hui le 23 décembre 2016 d’une rapide maladie au Centre hospitalier Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis. Il a été évêque au diocèse de Gaspé pendant 15 ans. Les détails des funérailles vous seront annoncés plus tard.

"Le diocèse en deuil est très reconnaissant de tout ce que Mgr Jean Gagnon a donné à son Église. Nous souhaitons à sa famille, à ses nombreux amis et à tous les diocésains et diocésaines de la Gaspésie et des Îles-de-la-Madeleine nos sincères condoléances."


Gaétan Proulx, évêque de Gaspé


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ottawa Archbishop's 2016 Charity Dinner: « Preparing for and experiencing a good death »

Archbishop’s Remarks at the 9th Archbishop’s Benefit Dinner
Ottawa Conference and Event Centre—October 20, 2016


Your Excellencies, reverend Fathers, dear Sisters, dear members and friends of the Archdiocese of Ottawa and supporters of those in need of support at the end of their lives:

On Good Friday, I heard that my friend John Corston was close to death in a palliative care centre. My episcopal vicar, Father Kerslake, and I drove there to be with him, his family, and friends. About thirty of us crowded around his bed praying, chatting, and reminiscing.

Father Geoff and I sang a few hymns and recited prayers for the dying, including granting John the Apostolic Pardon. Our spirits were lifted as we entrusted our friend and fellow-disciple into the Lord’s hands for a peaceful final passage to the Home of the Father. John died a short time after I left, fortified by the sacraments and surrounded by a community of faith.


John Corston was of Ojibwa origin. He was the founding leader of Ottawa’s Kateri Native Ministry. On March 17, 1978, as he heard the story of the Prodigal Son interpreted at a retreat centre, he experienced a profound conversion. Jesus had freed him from the grip of alcoholism, which had held him for many years. John shared his testimony of healing and salvation with First Nations people across Canada. He was an exemplary Christian and a wonderful human being. His beautiful death reflected that reality.

I mention this because, since June 17 of this year, another kind of death has been legally available in Canada. Euphemistically called “medical aid in dying,” it is in fact assisted suicide or euthanasia. However, the permission now granted by law to take one’s life or allow another to assist in terminating does not change God’s moral law, which forbids such practices.

Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of a person by action or omission with the claimed purpose of eliminating suffering. “Action” includes lethal injection and other methods of directly causing death. “Omission” includes withholding medically indicated treatment or nutrition. As a direct and intentional termination of human life, it is immoral and not permissible.

Here is an important distinction. A patient may request not to have treatment or to withdraw treatment when the burdens it brings outweigh any benefits. A doctor may honour this. These decisions are acceptable from a moral viewpoint. Also, medication may be administered to relieve pain and suffering, even when it might shorten the patient’s life. On the condition that this medication is given solely to relieve pain, and not with the intention of ending life, it is morally permissible.

Assisted suicide is collaboration given by another party to a person to kill himself or herself. It is cooperation in an action that is objectively wrong and is, therefore, an immoral act.

Many will try to argue that either euthanasia or assisted suicide is a “compassionate” response to suffering. Such misuse of language must not blind us to the fact that these practices are the deliberate killing of a person.

True compassion calls us to stand with our suffering brothers and sisters and affirm that they are always a gift and never a burden. Their lives are at every moment worthwhile and meaningful. As life nears its natural end, the compassionate response to any pain and hardship is good palliative care, not the killing of the patient.


Quality palliative care is the appropriate way to aid our loved ones at the end of their lives. The Bruyère Centre, one of tonight’s beneficiaries, does this in exemplary fashion.

Palliative care surrounds a person with the spiritual, medical, psychological, and social supports necessary to affirm and uphold their dignity. It assures the best quality of life possible as the patient approaches natural death.

The request for euthanasia or assisted suicide is in direct contradiction to the baptismal call of the dying believer to proclaim at all times, especially at the approach of death, that “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2.20).

The Catholic Church is resolutely committed to honouring and protecting human life at every stage from conception to natural death. That is practically the motto of Action Life, our other worthy beneficiary tonight. God alone is the author of life and we are but stewards. From the earliest days of the Church, she has opposed the killing of innocents.

The Scriptures led Justin Martyr, among others, to oppose suicide and the “mercy killing” of infants by exposure in the early second century, when the law of the land had long permitted them. This kind of true progressive thinking led to the legal protection of the lives of innocents across the Roman Empire. On euthanasia and assisted suicide, the Catechism is clear about “the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded” (CCC 2277).

For Christians, death is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new, resurrected life with God almighty. The catechism teaches that our fate after death ultimately hinges on the state of our souls when we die (CCC 1021).


The solicitude of the Church for her children does not end with death. She continues to intercede for the deceased person and minister to the departed soul’s loved ones. Our funeral liturgies do both.

In Halifax’s St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, there is a lovely stained-glass representation of the death of St. Joseph, watched over by his spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster-son, Jesus Christ. It depicts an ideal of loved ones surrounding the deathbed of a believer.

Catholic chaplains in palliative care tell of the beauty and dignity in the unhastened passing of a soul. There are family reconciliations, deep expressions of love, and, yes, conversions to Christ. These experiences cannot compare with the distressing, guilt-inducing taking of a life that is euthanasia.

Please join me in expressing a resolve to affirm life. If we accompany our loved ones in their old age and final illnesses, the forces prompting people to seek suicide and euthanasia will vanish. Bless them with your presence, affection, and prayers as they make the journey to their Creator and Saviour.