"Chastity is a difficult, long term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit, for the happiness of loving kindness which it must bring. But at the same time, chastity is the sure way to happiness."
--Saint Pope John Paul II
Hello! I grew up in the small town of Espanola, Ontario, where my parents raised my brother and me. My immediate family still lives in Espanola as well as some extended family. The rest of my family is mostly in Ontario, with the exception of one uncle out West.
Growing up, God was always someone I could turn to when I needed help. I believed that God existed, but in my opinion, He didn’t play a large role in my life. However, while in high school I decidedly rejected God and the Catholic Church. This led me to frantically search for something to fulfil the void I had created. By the time I was in my first year of university, my life felt stressful and empty. I left the university setting to return home, feeling quite low. That summer through many conversations with a co-worker, I started pondering my life and God. When I returned to campus in September, I was searching for something that would fulfil me. That’s when I ran into some CCO missionaries and was invited to a CCO retreat. By the grace of God, I decided to attend.
During the first workshop, I realized just how huge and beautiful God’s love is. I realized that God loves the whole world, but that he loves everyone individually, that he loves ME personally. I had finally learned who God was. Saturday night, during a night of adoration I prayed that God would come into my heart completely. This was a pivotal moment for me. This was when I finally made the adult decision to enter into a relationship with the Creator of the Universe! After making that decision, there were many areas of my life that I slowly gave to Christ. CCO’s annual Christmas conference, Rise Up was extremely significant in solidifying my relationship with Jesus. At this conference I felt the call to participate in a CCO summer mission, Impact Halifax. On this mission, I grew considerably in my faith. I like to describe it as a crash course on Catholicism, where I learned a lot of what I had ignored as a teenager. Since Impact, God has taken me on a pretty amazing journey with both highs and lows. Now that I know Jesus personally, this doesn’t mean that my life is burden-free. However, this means that burdens are bearable, and meaningful. I’ve never been more deeply fulfilled or joyful then I am now that I’ve found Christ and the Church.
A HIGHLIGHT OF MY ROLE SO FAR
Being involved with CCO as a student has been absolutely amazing. I have had the privilege to witness God change many hearts and lives through the Discovery faith study. One particular semester, I witnessed three women give their hearts to Christ. Each of these women is now a student leader and leading her faith study participants to Christ! One of these girls served on the student executive for CCO and two of them are participating in Impact Victoria! I am so thankful that I got to see each of these women encounter the Lord.
IMPACT THAT SPECIFIC MINISTRIES HAVE HAD
The CCO annual fall retreat has impacted both my life and the lives of those around me. This retreat creates a perfect environment for participants to encounter Christ personally, whether during the Mass, during the Sacrament of Reconciliation or through Eucharistic Adoration. The lives of many of my close friends have been radically changed through the fall retreat. The fall retreat is where I first encountered the Lord: it is a powerful experience indeed.
HOW I HAVE GROWN BY BEING ON STAFF
By being on staff, I have been able to grow in my reliance on God. Committing to full-time missionary work is certainly a leap of faith, one that is not necessarily easy to take. However, God has clearly called me, and I have been able to rely more fully on Him and take this leap of faith. Since then, God has confirmed the calling, and allowed me to grow closer to Him.
ON GOING PRAYER REQUESTS
For an openness in the hearts of all those who will hear the Gospel.
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Pope Francis on Saturday at the North American College - AFP
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday made the short trip to Rome’s Janiculum Hill to the Pontifical North American College, the national seminary for the United States.
The College was hosting a day of reflection on Blessed Junipero Serra, the Franciscan missionary to California who will canonized by Pope Francis during his trip to Washington, DC, in September.
Pope Francis said during his homily he wanted to discuss three aspect of the life of Blessed Serra – his missionary zeal, his Marian devotion, and his witness of holiness.
Pope Francis said it was “that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ: a gift that he had first received and experienced in all its truth and beauty” which drove the Franciscan Missionary to leave everything he knew and go to the ends of the earth.
The Holy Father said this a challenge to us today, and asked if are able “to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God, who invites us to leave everything in order to worship him, to follow him, to rediscover him in the face of the poor, to proclaim him to those who have not known Christ and, therefore, have not experienced the embrace of his mercy.”
Pope Francis noted Blessed Junipero wanted to consecrate his life to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to ask her for the grace to open the hearts of the colonizers and indigenous peoples, for the mission he was about to begin. The Pope said you cannot “separate her from the hearts of the American people.”
And finally, Pope Francis pointed out he was one of the founding fathers of the United States, a saintly example of the Church’s universality and special patron of the Hispanic people of the country.
He said this zeal was also true for the many missionaries who brought the Gospel to the New World and, at the same time, defended the indigenous peoples against abuses by the colonizers.
The Pontifical North American College has been at capacity enrollment for four years, reflecting an overall increase in vocations to the priesthood in the United States over the past few years.
The full text of the homily by Pope Francis at the Pontifical North American College is below.
“I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47; cf. Is 49:6). These words of the Lord, in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles which we have just heard, show us the missionary nature of the Church, sent by Jesus to go out and proclaim the Gospel. The disciples experienced this from the first moment when, after the persecution broke out, they left Jerusalem (cf. Acts 8: 1-3). This was true also for the many missionaries who brought the Gospel to the New World and, at the same time, defended the indigenous peoples against abuses by the colonizers. Among these missionaries was Friar Junípero; his work of evangelization reminds us of the first “12 Franciscan apostles" who were pioneers of the Christian faith in Mexico. He ushered in a new springtime of evangelization in those immense territories, extending from Florida to California, which, in the previous two hundred years, had been reached by missionaries from Spain. This was long before the pilgrims of the Mayflower reached the North Atlantic coast.
There are three key aspects to the life and example of Friar Junípero: his missionary zeal, his Marian devotion and his witness of holiness.
First of all, he was a tireless missionary. What made Friar Junípero leave his home and country, his family, university chair and Franciscan community in Mallorca to go to the ends of the earth? Certainly, it was the desire to proclaim the Gospel ad gentes, that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ: a gift that he had first received and experienced in all its truth and beauty. Like Paul and Barnabas, like the disciples in Antioch and in all of Judea, he was filled with joy and the Holy Spirit in spreading the word of the Lord. Such zeal excites us, it challenges us! These missionary disciples who have encountered Jesus, the Son of God, who have come to know him through his merciful Father, moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit, went out to all the geographical, social and existential peripheries, to bear witness to charity. They challenge us! Sometimes we stop and thoughtfully examine their strengths and, above all, their weaknesses and their shortcomings.
But I wonder if today we are able to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God, who invites us to leave everything in order to worship him, to follow him, to rediscover him in the face of the poor, to proclaim him to those who have not known Christ and, therefore, have not experienced the embrace of his mercy. Friar Junípero’s witness calls upon us to get involved, personally, in the mission to the whole continent, which finds its roots in Evangelii Gaudium.
Secondly, Friar Junípero entrusted his missionary activity to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We know that before leaving for California, he wanted to consecrate his life to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to ask her for the grace to open the hearts of the colonizers and indigenous peoples, for the mission he was about to begin. In this prayer we can still see this humble brother kneeling in front of the "Mother of the true God", the Morenita, who brought her Son to the New World. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was and has been present in the twenty-one missions that Friar Junípero founded along the coast of California. Since then, Our Lady of Guadalupe has become, in fact, the Patroness of the whole American continent. You cannot separate her from the hearts of the American people. She represents our shared roots in this land. Indeed, today's mission to the continent is entrusted to her, the first, holy missionary disciple, a constant presence and companion, our source of comfort and hope. For she always hears and protects her American children.
Thirdly, brothers and sisters, let us contemplate the witness of holiness given by Friar Junípero. He was one of the founding fathers of the United States, a saintly example of the Church’s universality and special patron of the Hispanic people of the country. In this way may all Americans rediscover their own dignity, and unite themselves ever more closely to Christ and his Church.
With the universal communion of saints and, in particular, with the assembly of American saints, may Friar Junípero Serra accompany us and intercede for us, along with the many other holy men and women who have distinguished themselves through their various charisms:
• contemplatives like Rose of Lima, Mariana of Quito and Teresita de los Andes;
• pastors who bear the scent of Christ and of his sheep, such as Toribio de Mogrovejo, Francois de Laval, and Rafael Guizar Valencia;
• humble workers in the vineyard of the Lord, like Juan Diego and Kateri Tekakwitha;
• servants of the suffering and the marginalized, like Peter Claver, Martín de Porres, Damian of Molokai, Alberto Hurtado and Rose Philippine Duchesne;
• founders of communities consecrated to the service of God and of the poorest, like Frances Cabrini, Elizabeth Ann Seton and Katharine Drexel;
• tireless missionaries, such as Friar Francisco Solano, José de Anchieta, Alonso de Barzana, Maria Antonia de Paz y Figueroa and Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero;
• martyrs like Roque Gonzalez, Miguel Pro and Oscar Arnulfo Romero;
and so many other saints and martyrs, whom I do not mention here, but who pray before the Lord for their brothers and sisters who are still pilgrims in those lands.
May a powerful gust of holiness sweep through all the Americas during the coming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy! Confident in Jesus’ promise, which we heard today in the Gospel, we ask God for this special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
We ask the Risen Jesus, Lord of all ages, that the life of our American continent may be rooted ever more deeply in the Gospel it has received; that Christ may be ever more present in the lives of individuals, families, peoples and nations, for the greater glory of God. We pray too that this glory may be manifested in the culture of life, brotherhood, solidarity, peace and justice, with a preferential and concrete love for the poor, through the witness of Christians of various confessions and communities, together with believers of other religious traditions, and people of upright conscience and good will. Lord Jesus, we are merely your missionary disciples, your humble co-workers so that your Kingdom may come!
With this heartfelt prayer, I ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, Friar Junípero and all the American saints to lead me and guide me during my approaching apostolic journeys to South America and North America. I ask all of you to keep this intention in your prayers, and to continue to pray for me. Amen.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, delivered a baby girl. The baby weighs 8lbs 3oz. The last baby girl was Prince Andrew's daughter Princess Eugenie in 1990. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered her daughter at 8.34am.
The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth.
The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and members of both families are happy with the news.
Princess Kate and her child are both doing well.
Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church Lectionary: 284
Video added later
Reading 1ACTS 13:44-52
On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”
The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Responsorial PsalmPS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4
R. (3cd) All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God. or: R. Alleluia. Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm. R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God. or: R. Alleluia. The LORD has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God. or: R. Alleluia. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; break into song; sing praise. R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God. or: R. Alleluia.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, says the Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”