At St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Victoria diocese, he shared how isolated mission churches across Canada could not survive without the financial assistance of Catholic Missions In Canada. The day finished at the Holy Cross parish with the 4 p.m. Youth Mass. After Mass, 40 people came to the parish hall for a simple “Soup and Soul” meal, with Bishop Gordon sharing the joys and challenges in his diocese.
It was fitting that Bishop Gary, together with his long-time friend, Bishop Richard Gagnon of Victoria diocese, celebrated Masson the feast day of St. Patrick at St. Patrick’s Church in Victoria. At the reception which followed, Bishop Gordon emphasized the value of the faithful support that Catholic Missions In Canada has provided to Canada’s missions during the last 100 years.
The students and staff at the University of Victoria were moved by Bishop Gordon’s personal and engaging witness to Christ and the mission of the Church in the North.
At St. Peter’s parish in Nanaimo where Bishop Gordon celebrated Mass on the feast of St. Joseph, the bishop said: “The North has a great devotion to St. Joseph because of his carpentry skills—he was always fixing things—essential in the North where things always need to be fixed.”
Bishop Gordon spoke of vocations at the parish level as the answer to the shortage of priests across Canada, as well as the Northern Missions. He challenged not only the young people, but the adults as well, to consider a missionary vocation. In his talks, Bishop Gordon cited the movie, Marley & Me, which he said spoke of unconditional love, a love that finds parallels in the missionaries’ undying love, devotion and trust in the Lord.
But it’s not just priests who are missionaries in the North, said the bishop, “Missionaries can come from the ranks of Sisters, brothers, deacons and lay pastoral leaders.”
Bishop Gordon spoke fondly of the Sisters of St. Anne who have served in the North for over 100 years. One of the Sisters, a school principal for17 years in Telegraph Creek, continued to help the native children with their homework even after retirement so they would graduate and go on to high school: “In love for the love of God.”
Moving up the Island to Parksville, Bishop Gordon celebrated Mass at Ascension Church. At the reception that followed, he showed two videos: Catholic Missions In Canada: Celebrating100 years of Service and a “trailer” that Bishop Gordon, along with friends, had developed forYouTube featuring the Whitehorse diocese and challenging the viewer to join him in his ministry in the North. After viewing it, parishioners celebrated the work of the Holy Spirit across our country.
Courtenay was the final stop on the Island—and Bishop Gordon remarked on the change she noticed since his last visit in 1979 as a university student. At Christ the King Church, he referenced from John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” He said the work of Catholic Missions In Canada is just such a love story—a love story that has been going on for 100 years.
After Mass, the Knights of Columbus served a brunch to about 120 people, and donations from the brunch were presented to Bishop Gordon, who acknowledged the contributions of both the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, that made his educational tour of the Island possible. Unfortunately, time did not permit this gifted speaker to visit more parishes, but those fortunate enough to hear him speak extend their thanks to Bishop Gordon for promoting Catholic Missions In Canada through his personal experience of missionary life in the North: “Our faith was enriched as a result of his visit, and the Church seemed just a little more united in the bond of Christ’s love.” To sum up his visit in two words: Mission accomplished!
With files from: Margaret Beardon, Agnes Geiger, Tina Hallon, Father Dean Henderson and Sheila Quinn.