A Faith Connections update

Sr. Mechtilde O'MaraSr. Mechtilde O'Mara wrote the following article about recent developments at Faith Connections for the Fontbonne Ministries newsletter, and we thought we would share it here as well. She writes:

The appointment of Kelly Bourke as the Interim Program Director has been an important development since the last Fontbonne Ministries newsletter. Kelly has worked  in chaplaincy in Secondary Schools and at Newman, and served as President of the Student Body at Regis College while studying theology. If you visit Morrow Park you will see her in her office on the 1D corridor. Do stop in to welcome her if you have not already done so.

In a July celebratory meeting, Faith Connections passed on to St. Christopher’s Parish in Clarkson Scripture Sound Bytes, the program of weekly reflection on the Sunday gospel which had arisen as a result of a Faith Connections tri-parish program held there a couple of years previously.  The pastor, Father Kevin Scott, came to the gathering, shared in the reflections, and endorsed the  continuation of the program under the auspices, now, of the parish.

On August 7th, Faith Connections hosted a Theology on Tap in the Community Room at Morrow Park with guest speaker Father Thomas Rosica CSB, Consultor to the Pontifical Council on Social Communications, and CEO of Salt + Light Television. Many young people from as far as London, Woodstock, and St. Catharines came for the session. Father Tom spoke, with his characteristic energy, on ‘How the Church deals with Crises: Reflection on the Sex Abuse Scandal.’ He demonstrated the compassion, clarity, and conviction essential for spokespersons for the Church on any issue. Lively conversations ensued in which the Sisters and other participants reflected on the questions provided by Father Tom and he in turn responded to further questions after the table conversations. Many of the young adults wrote to us of their interest in meeting with the Sisters, and of their gratitude for the hospitality that they experienced at our Motherhouse. Sisters from Morrow Park and beyond assisted in welcoming the participants and in sharing  their conversation.

Brett Salkeld, who along with Leah Perrault, was scheduled to be a speaker at the September Theology on Tap, was delighted to meet two sisters from small town Saskatchewan, as is he.  He had happened to sit with the Bouchards from Kerrobert. Then he met Sister Jane MacDonald, and laughed with her over the very complicated description of where she was born, a description he said his parents could match though he himself was born in town. Like the other young adults, Brett enjoyed meeting the Sisters, seeing from the verandah the old Regis College (he is in a doctoral programme at the new Regis on Wellesley Street) and engaging with other young adults. One young man marvelled that there was another teacher in his group and that the Sister in his group also had been a secondary school teacher.

Brett and Leah were the speakers September 20th, at the Theology on Tap in the Duke of York Pub; their topic was ‘Theology of the Body in Relationships.’ More than 100 young adults  thronged the pub and the discussions were very animated. We are off to an excellent start for this year’s programme.

A dozen hearty souls completed the Hike and Prayer at Edwards Gardens on August 22 despite rain.

Building on the interest of the young people to see more of Morrow Park and to meet again some of the Sisters, Faith Connections hosted in September a group of young adults for Sunday Mass and lunch. After Mass, several of the Sisters joined the young adults at table for interesting discussions.

Our newest programme is ‘Eat, Pray, Share,’ a kind of supper club, meeting  six evenings during the autumn to reflect on scriptural themes related to food. It is located in a downtown community house, where the ten participants share on many levels: they cook, serve, and eat the meal; reflect on a scriptural passage, pray privately, share their insights; and do the cleanup together. Genevieve Anderson, formerly with Faith Connections, now a secondary school chaplain, proposed the program, created a curriculum based on scriptural references to food and hospitality, and facilitates the sessions.  In addition to hospitality, celebration, feasting, fasting, and the Eucharist will be among the themes considered. Sister Bonaventure Sandford, one of the Sisters in the local community of Sisters of St Joseph who have made their home available for the gatherings, is the hostess for the group. Annette Gagliano, a university student writing  for The Catholic Register Youth Speak News wrote a fine article about ‘Eat, Pray, Share’.

Faith Connections is involved in the Federation sponsored retreat for Young Adults called ‘Village Earth Outreach: Earth Story ... Our Story... God’s Story,’ Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt participated with the planning team in an overnight meeting in Coburg and Faith Connections has provided publicity and support  for the retreat. Our mandate extends to what can build faith connections and this seemed a good candidate for our support. We also are looking into the opportunity to assist ecumenical groups who work with young adults in a faith context by engaging with them in theological reflection on our common ministry. A networking meeting with these persons is in the planning stages for after Christmas.

On September 16th Sisters engaged in ministering to young adults gathered at Mustard Seed for dinner and discussion. The participation of the Sisters in Faith Connection activities, and their suggestions and support of our programs is most welcome.