AINT JOSEPH'S PARISH sent us on the road twice this year . The first Mission was to Sandy Bay, Saskatchewan in June to see how the saints up there were doing, and to encourage them in their Christian walk. (You may recall we went there twice in 1996.) Then in October, the Jubilee 2000 Committee of Saint Mary's Parish in Brooks, Alberta invited us to help them prepare for the Great Jubilee.
The people of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Parish in Sandy Bay warmly welcomed five of us. Mark Fetherston was our mission leader; Colin Riley was master of ceremonies; Cecile and Gary Flater led the praise; yours truly was responsible for hospitality and home visits. Everybody was involved in the skits. We were blessed in a special way to have Father Ron Zimmer, o.m.i., join us in Sandy Bay for the mission. He drove all the way from LaLoche, Saskatchewan so that he could celebrate Mass every day with the folks in Sandy Bay and share his wisdom about the approaching Great Jubilee. (The parish in Sandy Bay has been without a resident priest since Fr. Bill Stang was sent to Africa last December. Please join us in asking our Lord to send a priest to Sandy Bay.)
We followed our standard format of praise-preaching-skit on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings and again Saturday afternoon. Fr. Ron celebrated Mass for us at the end of each evening session. The theme for the mission was personal conversion; our primary references were the Holy Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Last year we discovered that skits are a big hit with those attending the missions; we included at least one skit in every session. On Saturday evening Mark started us off with a short talk on healing; then we celebrated Mass and followed that with a healing service. Many emotional and spiritual wounds were healed that evening as our prayer teams prayed with people and encouraged them to forgive those who had harmed them.
A special treat for Cecile, Gary and me was being invited to the school (which is right beside the church) to meet with the students on Thursday afternoon. I think that we met all of the students from Kindergarten up to Grade Six! We sang songs and shared stories with them, and had a fabulous time.
We closed the mission on Sunday morning with a terrific talk from our champion, Cecile, followed by Sunday Mass. Our return journey to Winnipeg included an enjoyable and informative meeting in The Pas with the Archbishop, His Grace Peter A. Sutton o.m.i.
Thank-you to the people of Sandy Bay for your excellent hospitality towards us; we look forward to visiting you again. Special thanks to Fr. Ron for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us for this mission.
The team journeyed to Saint Mary's Parish in Brooks, Alberta for five days at the beginning of October. We met some very wonderful people in that town and their hospitality was superb.
We were six on this mission including Pauline Albert who came to extend Jesus' friendship to the members of Saint Mary's. We left Winnipeg rather early on Tuesday 30 September and travelled all day in two mini-vans (an old Dodge Caravan and a brand new GMC Safari!) arriving in Brooks shortly after dusk. It was a real treat to have Pauline along. Thank-you, Pauline.
Kim and Harold met us at the Golden Arches and showed us the way to our beds. For our accommodations, Gay and Dennis gave us their cottage in Kinbrook Island Provincial Park on Lake Newell, a short distance south of Brooks. The refrigerator and pantry were well stocked with breakfast and lunch supplies plus an assortment of snacks. Trena and Gay ensured that we were supplied with fresh baking and a hot lunch every day. We ate supper on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings in the homes of parishioners. Many people from the Parish contributed to these fine feasts. Thank-you, one and all.
There was a big Fall Supper on Saturday in Tilley, about 30 km away. Colin and Gary represented us at that event; we knew we could count on them!
So, what did we do? Colin and I met the Pastor, Father Brian Frank, on Wednesday afternoon and he introduced us to the parish's history. We found him to be a very down to earth, practical kind of guy with a terrific sense of humour.
Our mission theme was personal conversion by embracing the victory of Christ. We kicked off the mission on Wednesday evening with some songs of praise, a big talk from Mark on the power of Forgiveness, and a skit. On Thursday evening, after the singing, Colin gave a really good talk on praying with people and the laying on of hands; Cecile followed with a talk about the great victory which Christ won for us on Calvary. During Friday's session Mark spoke powerfully on forgiveness and healing.
Gary, Cecile, Pauline, and I met with the Grade Six and Seven classes at Holy Family Academy on Thursday afternoon. We sang many songs with the children and put on a skit for them. Pauline and I each shared about ways that our Lord has worked in our lives. We repeated this for the Grade Eight class on Friday afternoon; then we participated in a full school assembly. We heard many wonderful testimonies from the students during the assembly. Afterwards, we boarded the school buses to go to the deJong family dairy farm for a tour and supper.
On Saturday afternoon, Gary shared that we are ordinary people with ordinary lives but Christ transforms us so that we can live extraordinary lives for the sake of God's Kingdom. He compared this to ordinary bread and wine which become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist. Then Cecile spoke further about Christ's victory. After that, Colin gave a great talk on the Lord's Prayer and its significance for every day life.
Mark led us in a healing service during Saturday evening. After a few praise songs, Mark opened the hearts of those attending to Jesus' healing power through a short teaching; then we repeated several times a cycle of scripture, prayer, song. During this cycle, Mark would read a passage from the Gospel according to St John, then he spoke a prayer while I softly played a meditative song on the piano. At the end of the prayer, Gary joined in with his guitar while we sang the song. Everyone was touched as Jesus poured out his healing power upon us during the service.
On Sunday morning Cecile championed the parish with an inspired teaching before Mass. After Mass, there was a time of fellowship in the church hall before we departed Brooks for our return to Winnipeg.
We thank all the members of Saint Mary's Parish for their warm hospitality and friendship during the time we shared together.