Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Doings at the Country's End


Given this moment in the semester, a relative breather between mid-terms and finals, I have a miscellany of news and updates that I thought worth conveying to faithful readers, eminently loyal despite the lengthy delays between postings these days.

Regency life has so far been a great blessing, although mostly yet more growth in learning to manage time and rely on the strength that only prayer can give. Constant need to relearn that left to my own devices and strengths, I quickly fade into weakness and powerlessness, while at the same time, learning how even the smallest recourse to the Lord in prayer repays in dividends. This is, of course, a gift, if only I can remember it long enough!

But this is precisely what Regency is for, a period in which many of the structural supports of novitiate and first studies are removed, and we are sent to be apostolic workers in a vineyard somewhere. Mine happens to the sylvan folds of the UBC peninsula, where our little college, Corpus Christi, is located. Vancouver lives up to its legend. Everything, from the sea to the mountains and the very houses and yards are exquisite. Cedars and delicate Japanese maples abound. At the same time, at least this time of the year, it is prone to long series of mist-shrouded and rainy days.

Yet I have been impressed with the human vibrancy of this place, especially the Catholic population. The parishes are vital centres of prayer throughout the city. On-campus there are numerous clubs that do endless rounds of social, prayerful and outreach activities. The Archdiocese seems very proactive: there was a huge conference for men called ManAlive, a forthcoming television campaign called "Catholics Come Home" to invite lapsed believers to revisit their parishes, an annual cathedral Mass for university students (each year it gets bigger), an annual Youth Day that sees thousands attend, an annual "Spirit Day" for confirmation students, with thousands attending (it was a bit surreal to be in an auditorium with 1000 grade seven students, but the day was enjoyable)... Clearly this archdiocese, with Archbishop Miller at the forefront, is taking the year of faith quite seriously.

At the college, aside from teaching, I work in a variety of programs with the students, which I won't belabour here. One thing, however, that I have started to do is take students on what we have come to call the Corpus Christi Curbside Outreach. Once a month, in the evening hours, we go to Vancouver's downtown eastside, which has been called "Canada's poorest postal code", and set up tables and hand out hot drinks and muffins. The students have taken to it, as they meet first-hand the local residents, often homeless, prostitutes or drug addicts, and see their humanity up close and personal. It's not much more than a chance to extend a friendly word, but it is good medicine for us all. We do this near the home of the Missionaries of Charity, who have their own methods of outreach during the day. Sometimes the men will decide to "sing for their supper", often with hilarious and heart-rending results!

Corpus Christi College and St. Mark's (theological) College, at UBC, Vancouver

And now, some forthcoming events, possibly of interest:
-If you are in the Vancouver area, there will be an Ignatian discernment retreat for young men and women at St. Mark's Parish/College, on Saturday, January 26th. Contact me for more details. 
-In March 2013, there will be a two-day symposium on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, at which I am a panelist. There will be more than fifteen speakers, with Archbishop Terrence Predergast (Ottawa) and Dr. Michael Attridge of St. Michael's College (Toronto) as keynotes. It will be the main scholarly event in western Canada to mark the occasion. To register, visit the college website here.
 More to come.

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