It's a happy day here in Ottawa, despite rain and gloom, shorter days, chillier temperatures and falling leaves. We began the Evangelium Course, our catechesis preparing us for entry into the Catholic Church.
So it feels like we are going somewhere, like something is happening and the room was full of shining faces and laughter and joy in our little church family.
Fr. Francis slipped in to our service before the Eucharistic prayers. I brought him a hymn book and bulletin and could hear him joining us in song.
He is associate pastor of a big Catholic parish that was just recently assigned to the Companions order (a wonderful relatively new priestly order that is charismatic, deeply faithful and has priests living in community) because their previous rector admitted to a gambling addiction and the Archdiocese has recently turned an audit of the parish finances over to police. So the congregation, who loved their previous priest, is reeling.
Fr. Francis had been most recently in the Philippines and had also been with the Companions in Texas. Interestingly, when Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast asked him to accompany us (the archbishop didn't ask for volunteers, apparently, he just asked Fr. Francis if he'd be willing to do it) he did not know how steeped in Anglicanism Fr. Francis has been. He even lived at the Angl0-Catholic Trinity College in Toronto for six years or so as the Roman Catholic priest in residence, so he has a great familiarity with our liturgy and hymnody.
He also knew one of our parishioners from when she was an Anglican in a Montreal parish. Bishop Carl and other TAC priests are big Companions of the Cross fans---and interestingly, their present head is a former Anglican!
Fr. Francis is exceptionally warm and friendly and probably spoke to everyone in our small parish, making us all feel like the Catholic Church welcomes us and is excited about our coming in.
The Evangelium Course is a power point presentation with a wonderful use of Christian art. There is an accompanying work book that most of us were trying to read all in one gulp this afternoon. The course is expandable as there are references to the Cathechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium, as well as other Catholic writers. We have homework that Bishop Carl prepared for us from Thomas Aquinas on proofs of the existence of God. Though we all believe in God etc. etc. it was good to have these reminders just in case, well, we run into a pagan or secularist or fundamentalist relativist and we need to use rational arguments about the first "Be-cause."
One thing that was cool, was how some of the children were also paying attention. Bishop Carl made it lively, added value by his own observations (and jokes) and ensured we were all involved. It was a lot of fun.