To the faith-filled people of the Meadow Lake Cluster:
My hope is that, whether this letter arrives by post, by email or by hand, you are doing well, that you and your family are safe, healthy and faith filled. This pandemic has provided all of us with huge challenges, financially, emotionally, physically, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. Today, as I read the gospel, John sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the one to come or, are they to continue waiting. The People of Israel were used to waiting, a skill many of us are working to develop.
It has been some time since I was last in touch with you! Today, I wish you God’s blessing and God’s peace as you prepare for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I understand well that we cannot welcome people to our homes or gather physically with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We are not without hope because we can read the story, we can sing or listen to Christmas carols, and we can pray. We can also connect with one another using technology. We can make phone calls, or we can use a smart phone/iPad/computer to facetime or organize a Zoom meeting with family and friends! Our desire for connecting to others can be accomplished safely with a little creativity. We do not have to be alone.
As people of faith, we have lived through a lot this year. We have had a significant number of deaths in the Meadow Lake Cluster and suicide has emerged as a serious and a growing problem that needs attention. The ongoing need for reconciliation and change between our Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous peoples is real. The need to reach out to people who no longer feel connected to the Parish/Church is something we need to examine as a parish community and as individuals. Are we generous in forgiving and in welcoming one another?
This year we baptized several young people, and a wonderful group of young people/families celebrated the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Eucharist. Here in Meadow Lake, we established a grotto and Our Lady of Grace now watches over us as we pass by. We have moved our Parish Office into the Chapel Hall and demolished the Old Rectory/Parish Office. While we spent money to do this, we should see some significant savings as we move forward. The number of people who helped make this possible is amazing! Thank you! We have added LED lighting, and we purchased new audio and video equipment to enhance our liturgies and to provide for live streaming. This summer parishioners trimmed back some trees and did some yard cleanup. We have also added and enlarged an exit from the Church, and we are in the process of adding emergency and exit lighting to our Church Building. These actions were asked of us by the Fire Inspector several years ago.
Through the pandemic, parishioners continue to gather non-perishable food in support of those who are suffering (CWL Hamper/KofC Reverse Collection). We are in the middle of yet another successful Bishop’s Appeal. We are close to achieving our goal for the second year in a row. These things are possible because of your generosity and commitment. Our Facebook page and website enable us to reach out to parishioners. A remarkable number of people gather with us every day for prayer, for formation and for fun!
In Green Lake and Waterhen Lake we gathered to remember and celebrate those of our family and friends who have gone before us. Our income has decreased as the grants from Catholic Missions of Canada have significantly decreased or ceased altogether!
In Green Lake a newer furnace was installed this month. The parishioners also took it upon themselves to do some fundraising and to give the parish Church a facelift with some paint, some cleaning and organizing and a renewed commitment to decorating the Church. Many thanks to those who gave of themselves to these tasks.
In Waterhen Lake we have done some reflecting as a parish community, but the virus has stalled our plans to gather and to visit parishioners who are shut in. We celebrated several baptisms and are delighted for the life they bring. The Good News is alive and well here!
Presently, 30 people can physically gather for the celebration of mass. Some have commented that Church has been cancelled. Belonging to the Church and practicing our faith is not limited to gathering at the Church for prayer or rituals. While gathering as God’s people to celebrate our sacraments is an important expression of our faith, it is not the only expression of our faith. In fact, most people spend little time in our Church building at our prayer rituals. We are Church in our relationships, in our homes, schools and workplaces. It is in these places that we need to share the light of the Gospel. Perhaps now more than ever! Our Church is very much alive!
As I look back over the year, I see much that reminds me that people in our Meadow Lake Cluster are intentionally choosing to follow Jesus. Are we perfect? Not at all! But we are working hard to take the gospel seriously and to allow it to impact our life choices. As we prepare for the birth of Jesus into our lives, my prayer for us as people of faith is that we deepen our trust in God’s love for us. We are loved and we are forgiven, and we share that love and forgiveness with others so that the goodness of God may be seen everywhere!
While I may not see you for awhile, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers every day. The Church needs you! We need your prayer, your financial assistance, and your presence in our community. We also need the joy and generosity that the Holy Spirit stirs within you!
Doug Jeffrey, OMI (Pastor, December 2020)
Hi! My name is Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI and I am the pastor of the Meadow Lake Cluster. I serve the faith communities of Our Lady of the Smile, Waterhen, St. Jude's, Green Lake and Our Lady of Peace, Meadow Lake. I arrived in the cluster on August 15th, 2019. You can see more information about me on the home page!