St. Joseph Award 2011 recipient Father Josh Baril
The Oblate priest, Father Joseph Baril, long-time missionary in the north of Québec and Ontario and Labrador, was a recipient of our St. Joseph Award this year. He has served many decades among the Inuit and other First Nations, and continues even now in his travels to the remote outposts with the message of God`s peace and love, and the Sacraments of the Church.
In his autobiography, My Aurora Borealis, this 90-year-old expresses in several places his thoughts about how the people should be ministered to in those far regions. “In my opinion,” he writes, “the Church must show her presence in a particular way; otherwise, our Catholics feel abandoned.” He explains how important it is to have a priest or sister or specially trained lay missionaries among the native residents and others living in those communities. People are rightly impressed by one who comes in humility to share their isolation. It serves to raise their morale and their consciousness of God who is alive and real for them in their ordinary lives.
These missions are hard to reach and poor. They cannot support themselves. That is where Catholic Missions In Canada comes in. We find ways of financing the missionaries, so that they will be able to travel to the sites where their “particular presence” is crucial to the thriving faith. We support their faith education, their maintenance of church buildings, formation of lay leaders, and the education of seminarians.
All this is done through the generosity of Catholics across the land. And a laudable way of expressing faith and beneficence is to leave a gift to Catholic Missions In Canada in a will. This kind of legacy continues a person's good intentions and outreaching generosity long after he or she has gone to a heavenly reward. It is our real hope that many Catholics, while they cannot actually serve in Canada's missions as Fr. Baril has done, will see their will as a method of being a missionary in fact by enabling God's Word and Sacraments to remain alive in the distant regions of our country.
In his will, Blessed Pope John XXIII wrote in 1959, “Born poor, but of honourable people, I am happy to die poor, …having given away, for the benefit of the poor and of the Holy Church that nurtured me, all that came into my hands. …I was kept from giving with all the largesse I would have liked.” In spite of the appearance of the grandness of a pope, Blessed John had almost nothing because he sacrificed all for the Word of the Lord. At Catholic Missions In Canada, we pray that many people will bear the exemplary spirit of John XXIII, and give what they can in their will, to let the victory of Jesus Christ continue to be heard and spoken in the many mission places of this nation.