Communities that Love Christ, remaining Apart to Love One Another

Over the past few weeks, I have made an effort, like so many other pastors throughout the Archdiocese, to call all of the parishioners of the parish. This week, I finally made it through all 412 pages of the parish directory. As I spoke with many of our parishioners, I was struck by the efforts that so many people were making to stay away from their loved ones so that they could keep them safe. This was particularly true last weekend as we celebrated Mother’s Day. Many people told me that they were planning on doing something for their mothers that would show their love for them by somehow staying away and keeping a distance. This is something that many people are doing for their loved ones as they leave groceries on the front step, wave through the window to a loved one in a nursing home, or send a virtual kiss or hug over the internet. We are keeping away from our loved ones because this is the loving thing to do at this time and this is how we can keep them safe. Continue reading

“Do not let your hearts be troubled….I am the way, and the truth and the life,” says the Lord. Turning to Jesus in the Midst of the COVID 19 Pandemic

At the Bathurst Street entrance to St. Peter’s Church, there are two very meaningful plaques on the wall of the building. These plaques are similar to many others that are found in some of our older churches. One of these is dedicated to the memory of all of the parishioners who gave their lives to serve our country in the Great World Wars. It lists the names of the parishioners who died for our country in the last century. The other plaque is dedicated to the memory of Anna Warde, a fourteen-year-old girl who heroically drowned on July 14th, 1904 trying to save another young person while swimming on vacation. I have been thinking about these two plaques quite a bit these last few weeks. They are a powerful reminder of the difficult times that the Church has lived through. Our own community, and many others in the country, has survived the Great World Wars of the last century, the Great Depression and the Spanish flu. Many of our families have survived painful losses, like that of the Warde family and their daughter Anna. Throughout all of these challenges and difficulties, we have turned to Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life of all believers. His love and grace, and promise that there are many rooms in His Father’s house, gives all of us the courage to continue in hope and faith. Just as Jesus has strengthened our community, and the universal Church, throughout the difficulties of the past; so too He is with us today and invites us to turn to Him to trust Him to be with us today. In the words of this Sunday’s beautiful Psalm Response, today’s situation invites all of us to call on Jesus saying: “Let your love be upon us Lord, even as we hope in you.” Continue reading

World Day of Pray for Vocations during the COVID 19 Pandemic

There is a cartoon, which is going around on the internet these days, which shows Satan in a mock conversation with God about COVID 19. In the cartoon, Satan is boasting to God that because of the COVID 19 virus, he has succeeded in closing down all the churches of the world. In this cartoon, God responds, showing that He will always be victorious over Satan, by saying: “On the contrary, I have opened up a church in every home of the world.”

This Sunday, the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. This is a day to pray that all of the baptized will hear God calling them and respond to His call. The word “vocation” itself comes from the Latin word “vocare,” which means “to call.” This word emphasizes the fact that each one of us is called to follow Christ through baptism. Every baptized person has received the Holy Spirit from God and is called to be a “temple of the Holy Spirit,” making Christ present in the world. Continue reading

The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus: When Things Do not Workout and COVID 19

This Sunday’s Gospel from Luke 24:13-35, which presents us with the story of the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus, presents us with what has always been one of my favorite Gospel stories. It takes place on the “very day” that Jesus has risen from the dead. As it takes place, some of Jesus’ disciples are just learning that He has risen. In the case of the disciples in this story, Cleopas and his friends are actually leaving Jerusalem—walking away from the Holy City. As they leave the city, they are completely destitute, feeling that all of their hopes and dreams have been destroyed because of the death of Jesus. They even say: “we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.” Because of the arrest and death of the one whom they thought would redeem Israel, they are devastated and cannot imagine what the future will hold for them. Continue reading

Divine Mercy Sunday and COVID 19

There is a song that I used to like very much when I was a child. It is one that I am sure many of you will recognize. Its words are as follows:

He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands
He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands
He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got a-you and me brother in His hands
He’s got a-you and me brother in His hands
He’s got a-you and me brother in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got a-you and me sister in His hands
He’s got a-you and me sister in His hands
He’s got a-you and me sister in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

The point of this song is pretty simple. It reminds us over and over again, that God holds all of us in His hands and because of His loving care, we will all be fine. As a child, this song made me feel safe and reminded me that the world was in God’s hands and everything would be alright because of His unconditional love and mercy. Continue reading

Thank You for Remembering Your Parish in these Difficult Times!

Thank you to all those who have made an effort to remember the parish in these difficult times! Many people have mailed in their contributions, signed up for pre-authorized giving or simply left their donations in the mailbox. This makes such a great difference at this time. Your parish still has to pay its bills and utilities in order to be here for us when this is over.

If you are able to contribute to the upkeep of your parish church at this difficult time, all donations are greatly appreciated. You may mail in your contribution, sign-up for pre-authorized giving, or leave you donations in the mail slot in the door of the entrance to the offices of the Sisters of Life. You may also donate through the website of the Archdiocese of Toronto. You will be asked to select a parish, please select St. Peter’s Parish, Toronto.

 Thank you for all that you are able to do for your parish at this difficult time.

A Covid-19 Easter

My Dear Brothers and Sisters:

This past Palm Sunday, after I read the Passion Narrative of St. Matthew’s Gospel, alone in our parish church at the Masses , I could not help but think of how much we have in common with the first disciples of Jesus this Easter. After Jesus was arrested, his disciples locked themselves away in fear in their homes and in rooms by themselves. This Easter, we, and many of our loved ones, are locked up in our homes in fear and uncertainty because of the COVID 19 virus.

For the first disciples, the uncertainty and fear that they faced was due to the result of their concern that the Roman officials might also come and arrest them and punish them for being followers of one who claimed to be the King of the Jews. Jesus was ultimately arrested and put to death because He claimed to be the King of the Jews and this was seen as a political threat to Caesar and the occupying Roman army. The disciples feared that they would also be arrested, suffer and die as Jesus did. They were uncertain and anxious about their future and as a result shut themselves away in their homes and in the upper room to keep themselves safe. Today, as we are confronted by the uncertainty and fear of the COVID 19 virus, we are doing the same thing. What we have in common is uncertainty about the future and fear of suffering and death. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, this is actually the state that humanity finds itself in most of the time. Continue reading

Spiritual Resources During this time of Church Closures due to COVID 19 Provincial Emergency

My Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Parishioners of St. Peter’s Parish:

During this Provincial State of Emergency, when our province has been shutdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic, I have been discerning the best way to serve you and provide you with spiritual support in this crisis.

Many parishes have begun to livestream their Masses and I have wondered whether this would be a possible way of serving you.

In considering this option, I have looked at what some other parishes are doing. It seems to me, that if I cannot provide you with a good quality production, it is better not to do so. I also believe that our own Archbishop, Cardinal Collins, is providing the best spiritual resources that all of us can access.

Each morning at 7:30 a.m., Cardinal Collins is livestreaming the celebration of Mass, the Rosary and the Angelus for the day. He will also be celebrating all of the Easter liturgies, which we all love so much, live from the Cathedral. Joining him at these Easter celebrations will be all the priests who live with him and serve at the Cathedral. You can access these events live, or watch them at your own convenience, by visiting the Archdiocesan website at: www.archtoronto.org.

There are many other spiritual resources that you can find on television or on line. The Canadian Catholic network, Salt and Light, has Mass and many other devotions each day.  Vision Television also has many Catholic and Christian broadcasts. Some may also wish to access the American Catholic television station EWTN—the Eternal Word Television Network. All of these provided excellent Catholic resources to feed us at this time when we are unable to visit our parish church and celebrate the Eucharist with our faith community.

Each morning, I am celebrating Mass at 7:30 a.m. privately in our Church for the intentions of the parishioners. If you have any need that you would like me to remember at Mass, you may call and leave a message at the parish office: 416-534-4219. I am still living and working at the parish. If you wish to speak with me, please call. Although the parish offices are closed, if I do not answer when you call, I will call you back as soon as possible.

Please, also, if your situation allows it, remember the financial needs of your parish during this difficult and challenging time. Contributions can be mailed to the parish.

During this time, let us pray for all those who have contracted the coronavirus and their loved ones, that they may have a speedy recovery and know God’s presence in their suffering. Let us also keep in our prayers all those health care professionals who care for them.

Let us all keep before us the central reality of our faith in these uncertain times—Jesus is our Savior.

Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me if you wish. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families and I ask you to keep me in your prayers.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Rev. Michael McGourty
Pastor

P.S. I would like to leave you with Pope’s Francis prayer to Mary for the people of Rome during the CONVID 19 pandemic. In his version, the prayer was offered for the Roman people. Where he had said “Roman people,” I have changed the prayer to read “all people.” I hope the Holy Father will forgive me this change to his prayer.

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of [All] People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

All Churches and Parish Offices in the Archdiocese of Toronto Closed

As a result of the current health situation, all churches and parish offices are closed until further notice. The church will no longer be open for any celebrations of Mass or for private prayer. This is to respect the public closures that have been ordered by the public health authorities to address the current COVID-19 pandemic. Please see Cardinal Collins letter on this matter.

Fr. Michael will continue to offer Mass privately each day for the intentions of the parishioners.

In the event of an emergency, please call the office and leave a message. Messages are being checked frequently everyday. However, as there is no office staff at this time, calls may not be answered immediately.

During this time, let us pray for all those who have the Coronavirus, the health care workers who assist them and all who are adversely effected by this health crisis. God willing, this situation will soon be behind us and we will soon be back to normal.

Please, also, if your situation allows it, remember the financial needs of your parish during this difficult and challenging time.

No More Publicly Celebrated Masses or Parish Events in the Archdiocese of Toronto during the Provincial State of Emergency

Today, the premier declared that the province of Ontario is in a state of emergency until March 31.

For this reason, Cardinal Collins has asked that there be no publicly celebrated Masses during this time and that all church events be cancelled.

For this reason, we will no longer have any publicly celebrated Masses or Stations of the Cross until further notice.

I will celebrate Mass privately every day for the intentions of the parish

The church will remain open for prayer Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., on Saturdays from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It is hoped we can maintain this practice for as long as permitted. As the situation is constantly changing, this could well change from day to day.

The parish offices will remain open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If these hours cannot be maintained by the parish staff, if God willing, my own health allows it, I will staff the parish offices. The office will not be open evenings during the state of emergency.

I am attaching a copy of Cardinal Collins’ letter from today.

During this time, let us pray for all those who have contracted the coronavirus and their loved ones, that they may have a speedy recovery and know God’s presence in their suffering. Let us also keep in our prayers all those health care professionals who care for them.

Let us all keep before us the central reality of our faith in these uncertain times—Jesus is our Savior.

Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me if you wish. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families and I ask you to keep me in your prayers. God willing, this state of emergency and situation will soon be behind us.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Michael