We have been fortunate to have two theological students join us from January to April. Both are studying at Trinity College in the University of Toronto and parish placements give them hands on experience of parish life. We said goodbye to Michael Perry in this role on April 8, Michael has focused on Children and Youth Work and we soon welcome him back in this capacity as as a pastoral associate until Labour Day. James Leatch has assisted with the liturgies of the parish. We thank them both for their contributions.
Three masses this morning had a common element - saying thank you and farewell to Mother Jennifer Schick as she completes four and a quarter years of outstanding ministry at SMM and becomes priest in charge of St. Bede's in the east end of metro Toronto. We have valued her time with us and been inspired by the wide range of programs that she has initiated and fostered. Gifts and tributes, thanks and cakes were all part of an eventful morning. Thanks to Jennifer and Shane, Nolan, AJ and Emily Grace. We have all been enriched by your presence.
Releasing the Alleluias buried at the beginning of Lent at 9:30 followed by Procession to the Easter Garden, celebrations of the Eucharist - with more processions and glorious music at 11:00 Easter Morning was a truly joyous one.
There were two major liturgies on Good Friday morning. The first for families took us on a journey for the five senses where we had a chance to engage with the way of the cross. We learned to sing "Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom", the simple Taize hymn, and heard the gospel story. Then we explored touch through learning about making the sign of the cross. Carrying the cross is demanding - but as a community we can share it. We met one of the women of Jesusalem who were weeping - and we learned that crying can sometimes be a good thing because God is bigger than we are and hears our prayers. We wrote prayers for others on large tear drops.
We moved to the centre where we could see the large cross at the front - and were reminded that Jesus was given sour vinegar to drink and taunted by the soldiers. Then we heard about a dramatic event where rocks tumbled and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. This was a chance to learn something about the place of the Temple at the time of Jesus. It had several sections and different people were allowed into different parts of it - Gentiles on the outside rim, observant Jesus closer in - and the high priest in the centre only once a year. But that structure was torn apart - and left cloth souvenirs as reminders.
Finally we returned to the sanctuary and had a chance to smell frankincense and myrrh - and used them to bury Jesus and lay him in the tomb. And we were reminded that this was not the end of the story - and went downstairs for hot cross buns and egg decorating.
The more traditional Good Friday Solemn Liturgy followed - unaccompanied hymns, a forceful homily delivered by guest preacher, Fr. Pearce Carefoote, the solemn collects, the Veneration of the Cross with Willan's moving setting of the Reproaches sung by the Gallery Choir alternating with the congregational "Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle".
The Sacrament returned to the high altar and a mass of the presancitified followed. Then all departed in silence to respect the solemnity of the day.
The Altar of Repose lies in wait. A homily, moving singing from the gallery and from the Ritual Choir, a eucharist with many celebrants and a procession to the St. Joseph's Altar. All furnishings removed. The high altar ready for Tenebrae.
From outdoor readings and marches to distributions of palms and indoor processions. Palm Sunday is rich and varied at all our masses.