Thank You For Serving The Poor
I will never, ever forget those beautiful words our Holy Father Pope Francis said to me after he offered me the gift of a rosary, “Thank you for serving the poor.” What makes me happy is he recognized that our parish is a place for all, just as the Catholic Church should be. Pope Francis later said “I am pleased to see that in this parish, where people of different communities of the First Nations, the Metis, and the Inuit come together with non-Indigenous people from the local area and many of our immigrant brothers and sisters, this process has already begun. This place is a house for all, open and inclusive, just as the Church should be, for it is the family of the children of God, where hospitality and welcome, typical values of the Indigenous culture, are essential.”
Our Sacred Heart Church has always been known to be welcoming and inclusive. From my first days at Sacred Heart Church, I have tried my best to foster that spirit of being welcoming and inclusive. I extend my heart-felt thanks to all the members of our parish for maintaining this spirit of welcome and inclusivity, core values of our parish.
Although Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us until the end of time, he invites us to serve the poor and the needy. Over the past five years here at Sacred Heart, I have learned that serving the poor and the needy is not an option, nor is it my own personal choice – rather it is my spiritual duty, demanded of me as they are my own brothers and sisters.
Centuries ago, St. Gregory the Great taught that when we care for the needs of the poor, we are giving them what is theirs, not ours. We are not just performing works of mercy, rather we are paying a debt of justice. Life does not consist in possessions but in sharing what we possess with others. The goods of the earth have been given to everyone. Thanks be to God for all of the generous and committed volunteers who dedicate their valuable time and offer their true love to serve the poor, the needy and, the less fortunate at Sacred Heart Church.
Pope Francis calls us to be a House of Reconciliation:
Having acknowledged our service to the poor and the needy, Pope Francis has also called us all to practice the spirit of reconciliation among ourselves, as Indigenous and non-Indigenous. He has explained to us the true source of reconciliation is the cross of Jesus. As we pledged in our welcoming address to our Holy Father, we are committed to reconcili-ACTION in the coming months and years.
First, as we acknowledge the wrongs and abuse done to Indigenous peoples by some members of the Catholic Church, we need to open our hearts and seek forgiveness from one another. Second, we want to help restore the cultural traditions that express the core values of the Gospel: justice, love, and compassion. Third, with guidance from Elders, we will foster language revitalization, offer coaching for drummers and beadwork. Fourth, we will seek out people who are struggling with anger or stuck in grief and not able to move forward and offer healing workshops and companionship in their journey towards healing and reconciliation. Finally, we will strive to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as much as we can, for which we seek everyone’s support and assistance.
As a parish, we will continue the ministry that Pope Francis has recognized, but also want to use the momentum and enthusiasm around his visit, to deepen and develop our outreach to the poor and needy, in a way that would honor his perception of us. We thank you all for your support and prayers.
Fr. Susai Jesu, OMI
Fr. Mark Blom, OMI
Related story: Pope Francis visits Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples