Please find our latest bulletin for Sunday, August 14th, 2022 here:
Chris Adam’s book Review of Ordinary People, Extraordinary Action — Refuge Through Activism at Ottawa’s St. Joe’s Parish
It’s a unique event in the life of a Roman Catholic parish when a Canadian university press publishes a monograph on one of its ministries. In fulfilling its mission over the past 30 years, the St. Joe’s Refugee Outreach Committee (ROC) has, of course, extended far beyond the boundaries of its home parish — helping to settle more than 200 refugees and immigrants seeking asylum and a new life in Canada. Earlier this summer, when I had the chance to attend the University of Ottawa’s book launch of Ordinary People, Extraordinary Actions — Refuge Through Activism at Ottawa’s St. Joe’s Parish, I purchased a copy of the book and committed myself to reviewing it. This succinct and accessible co-authored work is based heavily on oral interviews with 16 of the ROC’s past and present volunteers, as well as several refugees who were once the recipients of care and support. The book also relies on the ROC’s archive of meeting minutes, the Parish Bulletin and the Spirit newsletter, newspaper clippings and other media sources. One of the most important contributions of this book is how it has drawn on, and helped to preserve grassroots primary sources held by volunteers. These are the types of sources, accumulated by passionate community organizers, that are frequently neglected in published works. In time, they also risk being lost.
Co-authors Stéfanie Morris, Karina Juma, Meredith Terretta and Patti Tamara Lenard framed the ROC’s history within the broader context of private sponsorships –formally introduced into law in 1978 as part of Canada’s Immigration Act. Section 115 of the Act allowed charitable organizations and groups of five or more private Canadian citizens to select refugees abroad and commit to funding and coordinating the first year of their settlement in Canada. Faith communities have been the driving forces behind these private sponsorships. Not only were Christian and Jewish communities the most vocal advocates in lobbying the federal government to become more open to accepting refugees after World War II, but they were the first to step up, organize and raise the necessary funds to settle new families.
The connection between religious faith and refugee outreach appears throughout this book. Speaking with the authors, ROC volunteers said: “Christianity is our motivation, but we are not here to proselytize.” We learn of the trailblazing efforts of Ottawa Mayor Marion Dewar, a practising Roman Catholic, in welcoming thousands of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ to the nation’s capital in 1979. Mayor Dewar launched Project 4000 as she felt that the federal government had been lacklustre in its efforts to settle Southeast Asian refugees. She believed that much more could be done. On July 12, 1979, Mayor Dewar spearheaded a rally in Lansdowne Park, which attracted more than 3,000 participants. The demonstration included a roster of high-profile religious leaders as keynote speakers, notably Catholic Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde, Anglican Bishop William Robinson and Rabbi Don Gerber of Temple Israel. Local media, including the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Journal, played an active role in building support for private sponsorships as well. The rally and the popularity of sponsorship among faith communities helped convince the new Progressive Conservative government of Prime Minister Joe Clark to augment the quota of refugees from 8,000 to 50,000. The government also signed agreements with 40 churches and faith-based organizations that would serve as partners in the private sponsorship programme. Between 1979 and 1982, the majority of Southeast Asian refugees to Canada (34,000 out of 60,000) were being privately sponsored — largely by faith communities.
To read the full book review, please visit: https://christopheradam.ca/2022/08/06/book-review-ordinary-people-extraordinary-actions-refuge-through-activism-at-ottawas-st-joes-parish-by-stefanie-morris-et-al/
Young Adult Ministry & Faith Formation: Volunteers Needed!
The Young Adult Ministry & Faith Formation office is looking to re-launch a number of sacramental preparation programs this year, and asking for volunteers to help with facilitating the different programs. In the fall of 2022: Marriage Preparation and RCIA. In the spring of 2023: First Reconciliation/First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. If you have any experience or interest in helping in one of these areas please contact our new Faith Formation Coordinator, Paul Dansereau, at firstname.lastname@example.org..
Thank you to all those who have helped with these programs in the past, and even if you do not feel like you are able to be involved at this time, please do not hesitate to contact Paul and share any suggestions you might have. Your experience and expertise is a valuable asset to our parish! Thank you.
An Introduction from the Pastor
Greetings to Family and Friends of St. Joe’s Parish,
As I begin my ministry here in St. Joe’s, I thought a word of introduction would be important to introduce who I am and what I have done in the past. This fall will mark 41 years since my ordination. Since then I have ministered mostly in different First Nations Communities across northern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. During that time, I lived and worked mostly in and on northern reserves, staying an average of about 8 years at a time.
Inculturation has always been important to me, and I had the chance and privilege to attend and participate in a number of First Nations ceremonies such as Sweat Lodges, Sun Dances and pipe ceremonies. My last First Nations parish was in an inner-city parish of Winnipeg called St. Kateri where I served for almost two years. From there, I accepted to become a chaplain at a federal prison called Stony Mountain Penitentiary. I truly enjoyed this ministry, but COVID brought an end to this when the chaplains were seen as non-essential, which terminated our ministry for months. In the meantime, a small French-Canadian Parish in southern Manitoba found themselves without a priest, again because of COVID. Here the local bishop asked the Oblates for a helping hand and we as Oblates responded to the call to serve. Since this parish did not meet the criteria of “mission” I was to stay for only one year. Fortunately, because of a crisis the parish was experiencing, I was able to stay two years to help the community through this difficult situation and bring it to a peaceful resolution.
One of my goals while ministering at St. Joe’s is to be present to the poor and marginalized, and to help the recognize their dignity in the society and within the Church. Another goal I would like to undertake is to help and promote lay involvement within the Church. This is an important role as we are called to become authentic witnesses of the presence of Christ in their lives.
Fr. Robert Laroche, OMI
As some of you are probably aware, my name is Paul Dansereau and I am excited to have begun in the role of Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry & Faith Formation here at St. Joseph’s Parish just this past week. My family and I—I am joined by my wife and four young children (all under the age of 8)— relocated from Alberta in order to serve this parish community in this capacity. I am very much looking forward to getting started, ever since I received the news I’d been hired this past May! Originally hailing from British Columbia, we spent two of the past three years in Edmonton, Alberta, while I finished my degree in theology at Newman Theological College, and the past year helping run a retreat centre just outside Hinton AB.
While I am keen to learn more about how St. Joseph’s Parish lives its faith, I also come with a deep sense of passion for what St. John Paul II referred to as the “New Evangelization”—a concentrated effort, so-to-speak, to meet people where they are, and lead them to where God is calling them to be. It is my hope that I may be of particular service here at St. Joseph’s Parish—being that it is a community that strives to do just that, meet people where they are—and do what I can to help lead them to where God is calling each of us to be — in a loving relationship with Him, the God who “is love” (Jn 4:16).
Thank you in advance for the warm welcome. I’ve really appreciated getting to know all those people I’ve met so far, and I look forward to getting to know all those I have yet to meet. If anyone would like to get ahold of me anytime, for anything pertaining to either young adult ministry or faith formation, my email is email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
My Little Church has reopened !
After more than two years, My Little Church has reopened last Sunday. It features toys, and books to keep the children of St. Joe’s occupied during mass. Please note that children need to be supervised by parents or guardians when they are in this play space located in the gathering area of the church.
St Joe`s Women`s Centre: Towel Program
Gently used and/or new towels can be dropped off to the Women’s Centre Monday – Friday, 9:30 – 3:30pm.
For more information, please contact Jennifer firstname.lastname@example.org, 613-231-6722.
Thank you for your generosity & support!
St. Joe’s Supper Table: Items Needed
St. Joe’s Supper Table is currently looking for some ground coffee, instant coffee, tea, white sugar, cookies, toilette paper, soap and granola bars. Any brand is most welcomed. Thank you for thinking of us!