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Saturday 31 December 2016

Fifth anniversary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter - Happy New Year!

January 1, 2017 marks five years since the formal erection of the OCSP. With thanks to God we celebrate the beginning of this initiative for Christian unity in North America.  

The Catholic Parish of St. Thomas More, Toronto will, D.V., complete five years celebrating Sunday Sung Mass weekly in May 2017.

Mass with Fr. Eric Rodrigues, Chaplain to the STM Sodality 2011 - 2013

Fr. John Hodgins, first priest administrator of the OCSP Parish of  STM (2013 - 2017), 
celebrating Christmas morning Mass in 2016 at the Catholic Parish of St. Thomas More, 
263 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto 
The early days with Msgr Jeffrey Steenson seem to be so recent and we are thankful for all the graces we have had in the growing number of Ordinariate sodalities, missions and parishes.  Growth has been slow but steady and with some 60 priests and several thousand laity, the OCSP is larger now than some of the Eastern Rite churches in North America.
Fr. Paul Acton with Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, first Ordinary of the OCSP

OCSP now has its own bishop, Steven Lopes, and a developing structure for the training of seminarians and development of ministry through which more than fifty instituted acolytes were commissioned for subdiaconal ministry last Fall in Houston.

It has been a great five years at STM. Here are a few photos from our beginnings: 
Fr. Paul Acton, Msgr Jeffrey and
Subdiaconal Minister Joseph DeCaria

Fr. Paul Acton, Deacon and Joseph DeCaria, subdeacon with Msgr Steenson

Children help Msgr Steenson cut a cake celebrating the formation of
the Parish of St. Thomas More, Toronto

Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson celebrated Solemn Pontifical Mass for
the Parish of St. Thomas More, Toronto
Colonel the Rev. Father Paul Acton proclaims the Gospel celebrating
the newly formed quasi-parish of St. Thomas More, Toronto
there is hope for the future of this mission for the Catholic unity of the English-speaking world. 

In Toronto we are grateful for the warm welcome we have received at the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, administered by the Fathers of the Oratory.  
Fr. Hodgins preaching Christmas Day 2016

In Canada we look forward to growth in the OCSP as initiatives in Brandon, Manitoba and Tyendinaga, Ontario take root and other communities mature to parish status.

We are hopeful that with the continuing prayer of our friends and those being called into full communion we will see much progress in the coming five years.

Thank you all for your prayers and support!


As we begin the year of our Lord 2017, the fresh wind of unity in the Holy Spirit is blowing through Canadian Benedictine communities. 

Jane, my wife, and I have been spending part of the Christmas season with our friends at the Abbey of Ste-Marie des Deux-Montagnes in Ste. Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Quebec.  

Jane with Sr Louise, OSB - a painter of beautiful icons
Celebrating the offices and Mass with them is always a joy and particularly so at this time as the abbey has just announced a new initiative for vocations.  

Beginning this year, the abbey is offering, for the first time, a bi-lingual novitiate. English-speaking inquirers, postulants and novices will be welcomed to explore the contemplative Benedictine life, without being required to learn French.
Sacristy at the abbey

For over seventy years, this contemplative abbey of women has been known for Gregorian chant and fine liturgy. They celebrate the liturgy in Latin according to the norms of Vatican II. This is now the only cloistered community of Benedictine nuns in Canada. 

Opening to vocations from the rest of Canada outside of Quebec is a dynamic move encouraged by the leadership of both the men’s and women’s Benedictine communities worldwide. 
L - R:  Sr. Magdalena, OSB,  (extern sister for the Guest House),
Dom Charles Gilman, OSB (Chaplain)

Sr. Louise, OSB, sacristan and icon painter

At the Abbey of Sainte-Marie, Mother Abbess Isabelle, OSB is fluent in both French and English.  She is enthused about the encouragement from her colleagues following a meeting of the heads of Benedictine congregations in Rome this past year. Mother Abbess is joined in her excitement for the initiative by Dom Charles Gilman, OSB, an American bilingual member of the Abbey of Saint-BenoĆ®t-du-Lac currently serving as chaplain to the nuns at Deux-Montagnes.

A young woman who wishes to explore a cloistered Benedictine vocation should contact Mother Abbess Isabelle Thouin, OSB at: info@sm2m.ca

NOTE:  For beautiful hand-painted icons produced at Sainte-Marie see the website of Sister Louise, OSB

Icon of Our Lady and Child by Sr. Louise, OSB

Friday 2 December 2016

A Homily for Advent

“Drop down ye heavens, from above.”  Isaiah 45:8

The new Church year begins with a plea for God to come amongst us: “Drop down ye heavens, drop down,” as we hear the voice of Isaiah in the Advent Prose, the anguished voice of Israel imploring God to look down from heaven to save and shepherd a lost people.

The language is simple. But these ancients express the penitential attitude – the people of Israel realizing, waking up to, their sinful ways, their failure to keep God’s covenant, and especially to their inability to save themselves.

In this Advent season, we see our own lives through the experience of Israel. We examine our consciences. We wake up to the fact that God is coming amongst us. We ask God to soften our hearts so that we may not refuse God’s reign, wander further from God’s ways, or withhold our love from the God who comes to us in unexpected ways and at an unexpected times.

God is faithful, St. Paul reminds us.  God has hearkened to the cry of his children, coming down from heaven for Israel’s sake . . . and for ours – to redeem us from our exile, to restore us to his love.

God wants to give us his presence and to bless us; but we need to ask. We need to wake up to the fact that God wants us to ask so that we may receive, being awake to his love.

In Jesus, we see the Father (John 14:8-9).  The Father has let his face shine upon us. Jesus is the good shepherd (John 10:11-15) who has already come to guide us to the Kingdom of God. No matter how far we have strayed, God will give us new life if we turn again, if we call upon the holy name of Jesus, and if we commit to follow Him.

As St. Paul says, God has given us every spiritual gift – especially the gift of Penance with Absolution and the Holy Eucharist to strengthen us as we await Christ’s final coming. He will keep us firm to the end – if we will remain awake to God’s love.

So, in this season of repentance, we should heed the warning – be watchful, for we know not the hour when the Lord will return or how God will bless us, if we ask.