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2017

 

Lent 2017 - Everyone is a Gift

 

The holy season of Lent is an opportunity for each of us to take stock of our relationship with the Lord and with each other. Pope Francis in his lenten message this year, asks us to see the word of God and each person as a gift to us. He uses the Gospel story of Lazarus and the rich man to help us identify the need to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need, and to stay attentive to the temptations that can lure us away from God and one another, especially the desire for wealth, power and riches.

The Pope says: “Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply.” Through the Lazarus story, we learn that “other persons are a gift, and a right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value.” Through the opening of our hearts to others, especially to the poor and the stranger, we can recognize the face of Christ in them. In meeting people every day, each life, says the Pope, is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love.

Lent is also a time, through our prayer and fasting, to make an account of how we are living our call as Christians and followers of the Lord. As the Pope notes in his letter, sin and temptation, can lead us away from good and from God, and can make us blind to the needs of our brothers and sisters around us. As the rich man was blind to Lazarus and his needs, so we too can become blind and unaware of the struggles of our sisters and brothers around us, even in our families. That is why during Lent we make a special effort through Development and Peace to raise our awareness of these needs and to reach out in generosity to our brothers and sisters struggling throughout the world. This is a duty that compels us through our works of mercy and in our Christian calling.

As we enter this holy season, let us in particular, make it a time of true prayer and reflection, a time of true reconciliation and forgiveness, a time of deepening our awareness of the gifts of those whom we meet daily in our lives, and a time to strengthen our relationship with God through the forgiveness of our sins in the sacrament of Penance. God’s word in the scriptures can help us realize our need for this conversion and direct us in our daily encounters with one another.

Again Pope Francis notes: “Lent is the favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.” This is the best advice for all of us, as we enter this holy season on our journey to Easter joy.

Bishop Fred J. Colli

 

2016

The Christmas Story

 

Each year as this wonderful feast comes round, we retell one of the most important stories of all history. We all know how children love stories. I recall when I was growing up, how stories of Hans Christian Anderson was one of my favourite books. We know that parents tell stories to their children, usually before bedtime, and of course we all love to hear stories of our family history and of how we came to be where we are today. The stories are more than remembrances in history, they are real and alive for us, they are a part of who we are.

As we recall the Christmas story and the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, into our world, we know that this is more than a story. It is a sign of the outpouring of love that God has for us, for all humankind. We know that the birth of a child into the world, even in sometimes harsh circumstances, is still a story of joy and thanksgiving. As we recall the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and as we note the details of the story, with the angels, the shepherds, the lack of space in the inn, the arrival of the wise me - let us remember that this story is also about us. Jesus came into the world, not just to give us a joyful story to recall, but to teach us of the great love that God has for us, so that we in turn can share that love with one another.

The Nativity Story is also a story of peace. We know that each year we pray for peace in our world, peace in our families and peace in our hearts. With the tumult that we see around us in the world today, it is wonderful for us to reflect on a message of peace that come directly from God. We know that for many in our world, the peace of Christmas will not be felt. We pray for them in a special way that the Lord can touch their hearts with peace.

St.Luke in his account of the birth of Jesus, asks us to look at the details, to imagine the scene, to place ourselves in the story, not just as observers, but like the shepherds, to be filled with excitement since the glory of God surrounded them. It is a reassuring story for us, since St. Paul reminds us that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all” and the prophet Isaiah reminds of of the great light that has come into our world.

As you celebrate Christmas this year, take a moment to reflect on the story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Remember that he came into our world to teach of us God’s love, and to show us how to love unconditionally. As we follow his example let us show that same kind of love and concern to our families, our friends, and especially to our sisters and brothers in need. By doing so, we relive the story of Christmas again and again, since it is a story with a message that endures all the year long.

A Merry and Holy Christmas to all.

Most Rev. Fred J. Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay


Medical Assistance in Dying

 

Medical Assistance in Dying
“… I have set before you life and death,. blessings and curses. Choose life so that. you and your descendants may live,. Deut. 30:19"


My Dear Catholic People,


Today in Canada our government has put into effect a bill that will allow Physician Assisted Dying. Even though it was debated in the various houses of government, it is important for us, as Catholics, to react on what this means for us. We know that many of our Christian values that were once important in our society, are no longer supported culturally or legally. Respect for life from conception to natural death is no longer to be presumed or expected, nor is it protected by law.
It is therefore important for us, who believe that life is sacred and a gift from God, that we maintain our convictions, that we uphold our Christian faith and confirm our resolve to uphold life. With the daily temptations from our culture and the challenges that face us each day, it is always tempting to find ourselves drawn into popular thinking and to follow the crowd. Medically assisted death in our country has become widely supported and seen as an acceptable and efficient medical intervention for dealing with both suffering and death. However, suffering and death are not medical problems, they are a part of life and the human reality.

Medically assisted death is unacceptable and morally wrong according to the standards of our Catholic teachings. The Catholic Catechism notes in number 2258:"Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being."
As Christians, we know that in the past we have have been challenged by society on our beliefs and have stood courageously to defend them. We are once again in such a situation with regards to the defence of life, the mystery of suffering, the protection of the vulnerable, and with regards to the freedom of conscience.

Each celebration of Mass reminds us that the mystery of our faith and the sacrifice of the Lord, gives us the courage to face suffering and death. Jesus has conquered death through his death and resurrection. Faith in the Resurrection is what allows us to face with hope, even the inevitable sufferings associated with the end of our earthly life. This is the hope, when upheld by a community of faith and the accompaniment of our brothers and sisters, which makes possible facing even the last temptation (the possibility of suicide) without falling into despair or feeling abandoned.

The fear of pain, the loss of one’s dignity, guilt at being a burden to others, uncertainty regarding care needs and a loss of control can prompt a person to seek medically assisted death. However, where a community, committed to the care of suffering persons exists, it can diminish these fears and anxieties associated with end of life, and such a community can also protect a person’s right to live with dignity and die a good death.

Now that medical assistance in dying will become an acceptable practice in our secular and pragmatic society, as Catholics we must learn to live our faith in this present unwelcoming culture which promotes death rather than a respect for life. For us to choose life, as the word of God calls us to do, it will be necessary for our Church to promote merciful and caring pastoral practices for all our fellow human beings, but with particular attention to our sick and elderly, our vulnerable and our dying.
In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has challenged us to become evangelizing communities by showing mercy; by becoming more deeply involved in the lives of people; by facing life’s human struggles in the way we care and support each other, and by embracing each other’s sufferings. In doing so, we are proclaiming our belief in the dignity and sanctity of the gift of life that we share. We must become informed about the legalization of medially assisted death, we must be attentive to our choice of healthcare providers, and we must insist on respect for our Christian values.

As a Catholic community it has always been our commitment to assist the suffering and the dying by providing care for them. I think of the great example of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who demonstrated to the world, the need to provide dignified care to all those who are suffering and dying. Through her example she demonstrated to everyone, the generosity required to reach out with compassion and care to our sisters and brothers who are weak and suffering and to unite them to the Lord in his sacrifice.
As we approach this next challenge in our society, may we, as a community of believers, make sure that we minister with compassion and love to all those who are sick and suffering, supporting them with our prayer, our presence, and our concern. Let us also demand adequate palliative care services in our health care institutions supported by our governments. Let us be ministers of compassion to assist and accompany the dying in our tradition of a good death with dignity.
As we work on this, we entrust our effort to our patron, Mary the Mother of Charity, who stood by her dying son, who is the Mother of the Church and ask her to continue to pray for us, “…now and at the hour of our death.” Amen.

Most Reverend Fred J. Colli Bishop of Thunder Bay
June 21, 2016


 

Statement on Physician Assisted Death


Dear People of Thunder Bay Diocese,


I write this letter to you as a very concerned bishop about the proposed legislation now being prepared by the federal government on Physician Assisted Death. We know that the Supreme Court of Canada has legislated that this service is legal. My concern is that the committee recommendations given to the government to formulate the new law do not take into account in a serious way, the conscience of physicians or health care workers, who do not wish to participate in this killing procedure. Also Catholic health care institutions in the province could be forced to go against the moral principles which govern them, and to supply this service of medical killing. Our Catholic health care principles have always been to sustain and respect life, not to eliminate it.

I am asking that as concerned Catholic citizens you write a brief letter to your local member of parliament and urge them to include in the new legislation, respect for the freedom of conscience of physicians, health care workers and organizations to opt
out of this service when it opposes their beliefs and moral principles.

Also we want to encourage the federal government to support good and available palliative care for all citizens. As Catholics we have always opposed killing, and unfortunately this new legislation, will authorize it under the guise of health care.

We need to respond to all people who are suffering and in need, that is true, but our response should always be with care, compassion and love. I ask you to please contact your local MP and express your concern that this legislation, which will become law, will respect the conscience of all Canadians, especially those in our health care system and Catholic hospitals and institutions. Thank you for your attention to this very important health care matter that affects us all!

 

Sincerely

 

Bishop Fred J. Colli


Easter Message 2016

 

At the Easter Vigil Mass in all Catholic churches in the world, where catechumens are baptized and candidates are welcomed as members into the Catholic community, they will hear these words from the Gospel of St. Luke: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

 

These words and this message from the Gospel are the main reason why people are baptized into the Church and are received as full members. They believe that Jesus is alive and in their hearts. They want to welcome the Lord into their life in a new and special way. They want to live this living faith with our community, and they hope to learn and to experience the joy that the risen Lord has won for us.


Usually when we speak of life at Easter, we refer to the everlasting life that Jesus offers us after we have left this world. He has opened the gates of heaven for us, and if we are faithful, we will enter and share this eternal glory. But I think sometimes we fail to see the life that literally surrounds us at Easter. The life of spring, the life of new birth in nature, the life of the family, the life of love, care and compassion that we experience each day from those around us who love us. This is also sharing in the life of the Lord.


Sometimes we fail to see this life, because, as the angel noted in the Gospel, we are looking in the wrong places. We think that this joy, this life, this love, and this excitement that Easter brings, must be found outside of us and our environment. It has to be something out there, instead of something within.


Maybe this Easter, as we rejoice in the resurrection of the Lord, and as we treat our children with chocolate goodies and share family gatherings of abundant meals at our tables; we should seek the joy of this season from the depths of our hearts and realize that Christ’s life shines within us. We are the instruments of his life and love to one another. As Pope Francis notes, we are called to be instruments of God’s love and mercy to everyone whom we meet in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.


Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus, it is about gathering with our faith community and praying together in order to be strengthened in faith. It is also about realizing that this faith and this life is not something out there to be grasped, but it dwells within us, in our union with Christ the Risen One. If we allow him to enter our hearts and if we seek a deeper relationship with him, he will be sure to fill us with the life and love that Easter proclaims. It will be an Easter joy that is our gift for today and throughout the entire year. A Holy and Happy Easter to all!

 

Bishop Fred J. Colli


 

Lent 2016 - Mercy not Sacrifice

 

The holy season of Lent is an opportunity for each of us to take stock of our relationship with the Lord and with each other. Pope Francis in his lenten message, uses the Gospel of St. Matthew to remind us that God expects mercy from us, and during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, lent is a most appropriate time to examine our works of mercy towards one another. Pope Francis emphasizes the need to practice the Corporal Works of Mercy and in doing so, we enter into a deeper understanding of ourselves and our need for God’s mercy in our own lives. It also helps us to see how we can practice the Spiritual Works of Mercy in our prayer, instruction and assistance to others. He says: “God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn...inspiring us to love our neighbour.”

 

The season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favourable time for us to listen to God’s word and to practice the works of mercy. The Pope says: “In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy - counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer - we touch more directly our own sinfulness”.

 

During these forty days of Lent let us look sincerely at how we live the works of mercy in our daily lives, and let us be active and enthusiastic about sharing the reactions of charity and love, as disciples of Jesus. The Gospel is a message of joy and compassion, and even though Lent is a time of prayer and penitence, it should also be coupled with that inner joy which is manifest in our relationship with the Lord.

 

In Lent we react on poverty, not only in our own area but also the struggle of peoples throughout our world. Our Development and Peace support is an action of mercy and an outreach in a very concrete way, to help our sisters and brothers in developing nations achieve normal standards of living and growth. We also have been extending a hand of welcome to refugee families, helping them to feel safe and a part of our society. A true sign of God’s mercy active in our hearts.

 

As we enter this holy season, let us in particular make it a time of true prayer and and reaction, a time of true reconciliation and forgiveness, a time of deepening our understanding of mercy and sacrifice out of love for one another. Again Pope Francis notes: “the mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation which each Christian is called to experience at first hand.” Thus our works of mercy help to proclaim the mercy of God in our struggling and suffering world.

 

May the Holy Spirit sustain us and increase our concern for one another, so that we can become more compassionate and always act with mercy towards one another. May our journey during this lenten period, increase our love, deepen our faith and strengthen our relationship with God and with one another. We ask Mary, the mother of the Lord, who recognized God’s mercy in her own life, to pray for us. This will prepare us to celebrate with true joy, the Resurrection of the Lord at Easter.

 

Bishop Fred J. Colli

2015

Christmas Message 2015

 

“The people who walked in darkness, have seen great light”. These words arefrom the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading of midnight Mass. These words in a certain way reflect our own personal journey as followers of Jesus and members of His family. As a people we know that light and darkness touch our world and our lives. We live with darkness and sin daily, and we see it most evidently in the suffering inflicted on others by mankind himself. War, unrest, political domination, injustice, intolerance, rejection and murder are some of the many darknesses that we recognize in our world. We struggle because of them.

 

And as the prophet notes, we walk in this darkness and we stumble in this darkness, because that is the journey that identifies our life here on earth. But in the midst of this we see a great light which helps to illuminate our way. That is the Light of Christ Himself who came into our world to guide us and show us the way. He lived among us and demonstrated in His own life, how we are to live in accordance to God’s will; and He promised us that we would live in glory with Him if we followed his exampleand commands.

 

As we celebrate the birthday of our Saviour Jesus Christ, we are called to live lives that reflect this example in our everyday interactions with one another. We are called to be merciful, compassionate, generous, caring and loving in all that we say and do. This is not an easy task in the midst of the darkness that still surrounds us, but it is a task that is connected to our commitment to Jesus. This came on the day of our baptism when we were united with Him in life and in love. We are reminded by Pope Francis, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, to seek mercy from God in our own personal lives, but also to be instruments of mercy for others. We are called to be ‘light’ for one another. Now the light we are called to share is the light of the Lord. That great light that guides us to truth and to the Father. The people of Isaiah’s time longed for this light. We now enjoy it through the coming of Christ Jesus into our world.

 

Christmas is a time for family gatherings and family sharing. This year we should ask ourselves how we can be the ‘light of Christ’ for each other. How, through our works of mercy, through our actions of kindness and compassion, we can bring the light of Jesus to our brothers and sisters. In particular let us be sure that we bring this light intoour own families, through reconciliation and forgiveness wherever it is needed.

 

As you celebrate this most holy day of our church year, and as you open your heart to the great light of Jesus come into our world, may you be an instrument of that light to one another through your love and mercy in a very real and effective way. A Holy Christmas to all.

 

Bishop Fred J. Colli


 

 

Easter Message 2015

“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.”
These words come from the Gospel of St. Mark and were addressed to the women who went to the tomb in the early morning to anoint the body of
Jesus. They were reassured, when they did not find the body, that He was raised - and that they should now go and tell His disciples that they will see Him.

 

This story from the scriptures is about new life. It is appropriate that at Easter we celebrate new life. We celebrate the new life that Christ won for us
through His death on the cross, and we celebrate the new life that springs forth as we share in this springtime season of the year.

Life is such a precious gift. We have all been in the situation where we have had a loved one die, so we recognize, in a special way, the gift of life and
the value of this gift. So often within our world, we see the senseless destruction of human life through war, unrest, poverty, disaster, personal
choice and greed. It is fitting that at Easter we are given an opportunity to give thanks for this gift and in particular to deepen our appreciation of this great
gift that we share. Each day, as we prepare ourselves for the challenges that will come our way, we should give thanks to God for the gift of our life.

As we gather in many ways this Easter, as families, as faith communities, as neighbours, let us give thanks for all that we share, and let us be grateful for
the great gift of life that sustains us. Let us also be determined in our efforts to protect and safeguard this gift, in each and every person, from the first
moment of the conception of a new child to the eldest of our senior citizens. In this gift of life, we touch the life of God and it is for us a foretaste of the life
that God has prepared for us in the kingdom.
Let us ‘not be alarmed’ when we feel discouraged or upset, but let us look for Jesus, the giver of life in one another. In doing so, we will truly
experience the Easter joy that this most important feast brings. A holy and joyful Easter to all!

Sincerely,
+ Fred J. Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay

 


Lent 2015

"Have Mercy O Lord, for We Have Sinned"

 

This is the response to the psalm we sing on Ash Wednesday and it sets the tone for us as we begin the important period of Lent. This time is given to us by the Church to help us reflect with prayer, on our journey of faith and on our relationship with God and with one another. These forty days are days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving or outreach to the poor. These forty days are special for us, as we prepare our hearts for the joy of Easter.


As believers, we enter this time of penance and prayer with humility. We know that it is a unique time of prayer, and in the busyness of our hectic lives, we seek to find some time, a little extra time, to spend with the Lord. Lent is a time for change or conversion. Not only do we decorate our churches in purple and cease to proclaim alleluia, but we know that within our hearts we seek a deeper link to the Lord. We desire to know Him more intimately and to discover Him, especially in the difficult moments of our lives. Our prayer, our Masses and our sacrifices help us to link ourselves to the cross of Jesus which we share as his followers.


Pope Francis has asked us to seek a change within our hearts for a renewal of spirit and a deeper conversion to love. The Pope asks us to reflect on our relationship with our neighbour, especially our neighbour in need. He reminds us that the temptation to indifference towards our neighbour is always present in our world. He notes that as our brothers and sisters suffer, we as a Church also suffer with them. We are to unite our prayers with the saints in heaven, and as a community, to go out and to be engaged in the life of society, to be missionaries to the poor and needy in particular.


We are given many opportunities during Lent to increase our prayer life, to seek a more simpler lifestyle, and to reach out to our bothers and sisters in need. We do this in a concrete way through our support of Development of Peace which reaches out to countries in our world to help others rebuild their lives. Your continued support to this cause is encouraged again this year.


As humble sinners, who at times have seen worldly issues more important than our spiritual growth, we use this holy time to see a conversion in our hearts, and to grow more in the image of Jesus. May our prayers, our sacrifices and our generous outreach to others, help us to better understand the Paschal Mystery in which we believe and live, and may this time help us to see ourselves as “ambassadors of Jesus” to a world that needs the message of Jesus so badly today.


Let us journey together during this holy time, in order that we might share in the glory of new life in Christ on the great feast of Easter.

 

+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay

2014

 

Bishop Colli's Christmas Message 2014

'Waiting in Joyful Hope'

 

     Have you ever wondered how much time in your life you spend waiting for something? I mused on this question while I awaited a flight home from meetings in Toronto recently.  We wait at airports, in lines at banks and stores, we wait for children to come home from school, we wait for computers to load, we wait for shows to come onto the television and we wait for special events and seasons in our lives.
     For four weeks in December we await the celebration of Christmas.  The season is called Advent.  It is a time for pondering the true meaning of Christmas and the spiritual significance of this holy time.  It is a period of anticipation.  We anticipate the arrival of family and friends for sharing meals together and Christmas cheer.  Children await the coming of the gifts at Christmas morning.  Many await the break from work and the holidays and some rest and relaxation.  There is much anticipation as we await Christmas.  In the midst of all this waiting, there can also be some anxiety.  There is much to do and much to prepare, and we wonder if we will be ready for all these celebrations?
     In all of this anticipation we can be distracted and forget the true meaning for all this preparation.  Our commercial world, with all its temptations, can lure us away from the real meaning of this special time.  We are waiting to welcome Jesus into our homes and into our hearts.   We are filled with hope and joy in order to properly celebrate His birthday - but we also look with anticipation to that day when He will welcome us into the fullness of His life in the kingdom of heaven.  We celebrate the miracle of Christ's birth and we anticipate the miracle of our new birth with Him in glory.

     The gifts we exchange, the food we share together, the greetings of peace and good tidings we extend to one another, are all signs of the hope that rests in our hearts.  This hope gives us the courage and desire to share in the goodness of God's love, made manifest in Jesus who was born 2000 years ago and who invites us into His life.
     As we prepare for the holy season of Christmas, let us turn our minds and hearts to its true meaning, and especially share this meaning with our family and friends.  Christ came into our world to bring us life and peace.  We are striving for that world peace which we so badly need.  We look for an end to violence and to all forms of abuse, and we value the gift of life in all its stages and developments.  Christmas is a season for giving thanks and praise.  We worship together and in our prayer, we know that God listens to our needs and helps us in our journey.
     May this season bring you and your family the goodness, grace and love that you are so faithfully awaiting in joyful hope.  A Merry and Holy Christmas to all
 

+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay

 


 

Bishop Colli's Message for Easter 2014

 

 

“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good.”

 

These words are taken from the first reading of the Easter Vigil service from the book of Genesis. On this holy night we begin our journey through the scriptures showing us the interaction between God and creation, and in particular between God and humanity. It is a summary of our salvation history and it leads us into the celebration of Baptism for those becoming members of our community and culminates in the Eucharist, where we share together at the “supper of the Lamb”.

 

God saw all that he had made and indeed it was good. Pope Francis in the past year of his ministry, has asked us to recognize the goodness that surrounds us in creation and in particular in our brothers and sisters. He has asked us to turn away from any spirit of judgement or condemnation and to employ mercy, gentleness and humility in our lives and in our interaction with one another.

 

As we celebrate the feast of Easter, and we rejoice in new life, the new life of creation as the earth awakens to spring, and the new life of God, which we share through our Risen Saviour, Jesus Christ, let us follow the example of Pope Francis to the best of our ability and make this Easter a turning point in our journey of life and faith. Let us seek to be more humble in our living and more generous in our sharing. Let us be merciful and forgiving of one another, seeking to find the positive in our relationships and not the negative. Let us ask the Lord to “create in us a clean heart” which does not pass judgement on others, but reaches out to others with compassion and love.

 

The feast of Easter is a time for prayer, thanksgiving and family. The joy of this feast is evident in our church services, in our family gatherings with special meals and encounters, and in particular in the excitement of children who anticipate the special nature of Easter with its treats and celebrations. With a compassionate heart we can help to mend broken relationships at Easter, we can reach out in kindness and generosity to our sisters and brothers in need, we can give thanks for the abundance that surrounds us and show gratitude for our many gifts. It can be a unique and blessed time for all.

 

A famous response used in our liturgy is: “this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.” Easter is truly the Lord’s day, for it signals forus, our share in eternal life with Jesus and our hope that we will share this lifewith our family and friends in the kingdom of God forever. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good.”

 

+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay

 


 

 

Bishop Colli's Message for Lent

 

February 24, 2014

 

"Lent 2014 - Sacrifice and Love"

 

The holy season of Lent is an opportunity for each of us to take stock of our relationship with the Lord and with each other. Pope Francis in his lenten message, using a theme from St. Paul’s writings, noted that Jesus ‘became poor so that by his poverty we might become rich’.(2.Cor.8) The Pope notes that Jesus became one with us in order to help us to see how we can deepen our relationship with God and with one another. The Pope also notes: ‘God’s becoming man is a great mystery! But the reason for all this is his love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us.’

 

The season of Lent gives us forty days to reflect on our relationship with God and how we love. Through our prayer and fasting, through our outreach to the needy, through our reconciliation with God and with one another, we deepen our appreciation of love and in turn deepen our relationship with God. ‘What gives us true freedom’ says Pope Francis, ‘what gives us true salvation and true happiness, is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of Christ’s love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us.’

 

During Lent we reflect on poverty and what it means to do with less, to sacrifice in order to better understand the true meaning of love. Also we sacrifice in order to, in some way, try and identify with our brothers and sisters who are poor and struggling in this world. Many people are aware of the true meaning of sacrifice out of love. Parents sacrifice daily for the sake of their children, spouses sacrifice in order to deepen their commitment to each other, and people give of themselves, their time and talents, their riches and their goodness, for the sake of others in volunteer work, in hospice care to the sick and elderly and in many other areas in our society.

 

As we enter this holy season, let us make it a time of true prayer and reflection, a time of true reconciliation and forgiveness, a time of deepening our understanding of poverty and sacrifice out of love for one another. Again Pope Francis notes: ‘In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.’

 

Development and Peace is one of the organizations that helps us to respond to this challenge. It’s annual lenten campaign is an opportunity for us to learn about the struggles of our sisters and brothers in developing countries, and to reach out to them with generous hearts. I encourage everyone to respond generously to this outreach and to any others that we are aware of in our local community or area.

 

May the Holy Spirit sustain us in our resolve and increase our concern for human suffering so that we can become more merciful and always act with mercy towards one another. May our journey during this lenten period, increase our love, deepen our faith and strengthen our relationship with God and with one another. This will prepare us to celebrate with true joy, the Resurrection of the Lord at Easter.

 

 

+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay

 

2013

 

Bishop Colli's Christmas Message

December 09, 2013

 

"Let us all Rejoice in the Lord..."

 

These words begin the entrance antiphon for the Mass of midnight this Christmas and this theme reflects the recent words of our Holy Father Pope Francis, when he said that a Church without Joy is unthinkable. We rejoice in the Lord. This type of joy is not the kind that we find in our world. The world does provide us with some moments of joy, but these moments seldom last and we continually are seeking for more.

 

The joy that the Lord brings, is a deep seated joy within our hearts, it is a joy that we share with the Lord Himself. The Pope said: "We always think of Jesus when He preaches, when He heals, when He travels, walks along the street, even during the Last Supper... but we aren't used to thinking about Jesus smiling, joyful. Jesus was full of joy. In that intimacy with His Father He said 'I rejoice in the Holy Spirit and I praise the Father'. It is precisely this internal mystery of Jesus, that relationship with the Father in the Spirit that fills Him with joy. It is His internal joy, the interior joy that He gives to us."

 

How are we aware of this interior joy? It is the spirit that gives us courage in times of difficulty. It is the spirit that gives us hope when everything seems to be going in the wrong direction. It is the spirit that challenges us to love generously and to act compassionately, and to respond gently even in the most annoying situations. This joy is a force or a grace within us, that sustains us and gives us the courage to move forward and to seek Christ in one another each and every day.

 

Christmas is a time for remembering. We use gifts and cards and treats to acknowledge those we love in a special way and also to rekindle friendships with others. This Christmas, as we remember the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, let us also remember to encounter Jesus again in our prayer, in our everyday experiences and in our interaction with one another. Jesus seeks to be encountered by us, especially during this holy season. We must open our hearts to His Spirit and to His joy, in order to properly celebrate the Christmas mystery of His birth.

 

We 'rejoice in the Lord' and we allow His grace and joy to permeate our hearts and our being, so we can be a light of love and caring to one another, not just during the Christmas season, but throughout the entire year.

 

As you gather with family and friends for this festive time, I pray that the Lord will bless you and your families with an abundance of His joy - and that this season will be a time for everyone to encounter Jesus in a new and personal way. Knowing Him and sharing life with Him will keep that joy alive in our hearts and will make it manifest to others in our words and actions. A Merry and Holy Christmas to all!

 


 

Clergy Appointments and Transfers

May 24th, 2013

 

As bishop of the diocese I wish to thank the priests for their cooperation in these appointments and transfers, and in particular I wish to express appreciation firstly to the Scalabrini Fathers for their great ministry at St. Anthony's parish for so many years. I am pleased they will continue their ministry among us at St. Dominic's parish, and we wish Fr. Corradin a happy retirement.
I wish also to thank Fr. Andrew Deptula and his Franciscan community for their many years of service at St. Casimir's parish here in Thunder Bay. We wish Fr. Andrew a good rest and good health as he returns to his community in Montreal for re-assignment.
Appreciation and thanks also go to Fr. Richard Kowalchuk who has served in our diocese for over 10 years in various positions, lately at Corpus Christi parish. Thank you for your faithful service and we wish you, Fr. Richard, continued fulfillment in your ministry in your home diocese of St. Catharines.
Also to Fr. Rey Sorgon and his Augustinian community, we express our thanks for your ministry among us and for sharing your insights and ministry skills. We wish you well in your new work with your community in the Philippines.
Let us all remember to pray for our priests and to support them in our parishes and to pray for vocations to the priesthood to serve in our diocese.  (The full list of transfers are available here.)


Sincerely in Christ,
+Fred J. Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay


Service with Humility

Easter 2013

March 25th, 2013

 

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate the great feast of Easter, the Lord Jesus risen from the dead, let us pause to think about what this feast can mean for us. It is not just coming together to have a special meal, it is not just chocolate eggs and bunnies, it is not just family gatherings to share time and memories. Easter is a feast that not only brings us new life and grace, but a feast that challenges us to live this new life, this new creation that we are in Christ, in a particular way in our world.

Living the call of Easter is a challenge for all of us. When our meals are done, our chocolates eaten and people return to their homes, is it all over until next year? I think not. I would like to share a few thoughts given to us by Pope Francis in these past days, to help us learn how to live Easter.

We are challenged to live humbly in our world, and to serve with tenderness. The Pope notes that we are called to be 'custos', protectors or caretakers, to protect the world, its blessings and most importantly its people. We are called to live tenderly and compassionately with one another, to strive for peace and justice, and to be an example of the risen Christ and his love to one another. This is not always easy today. There are many temptations, many who will entice us to follow another way or an easier path. A way that will pleasure us, but many times at the expense of others. The temptations are always there to selfishness, pride, jealousy, envy and retribution. Pope Francis notes that we must be caretakers or protectors of ourselves too, especially of our hearts. For from the heart will come love or hate, peace or turmoil, concern or neglect. Our heart is the source that guides our actions. Let our heart always be like the heart of Jesus Christ.

Easter is a time to celebrate the great mystery of God's love for us in Jesus. We cannot comprehend this love, it is beyond our imagining. However this love touches us so intimately that we are transformed by it and become new creations in the Lord. As faithful followers of Jesus let us be sure to share this love and generosity with others in the way we live. Let us reach out especially to those in need and those who are struggling. They might be within our own families, among our coworkers or in our parish community. We are called to be humble servants in the Lord's vineyard, which is the world. Let us strive to be protectors and caretakers of one another in love and kindness, as Jesus would want us to be.

The challenge of living Easter is not just for a day, or a weekend, or even a week, it is for a lifetime. Can we rise to this challenge? Can we be those holy protectors and caretakers in our world? The grace of God will help us to respond with generous,
humble and tender hearts, and the risen Lord will show us the way. A Happy and Holy
Easter to all.

Most Reverend Fred J. Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay


 

Lent 2013

January 21st, 2013

As we begin the holy season of Lent this year, we recall that we are in the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI. In his Lenten message the Holy Father brings together the virtue of Faith and the virtue of Charity. He notes that Lent gives us an opportunity “to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God, the God of Jesus Christ, and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.”

 

The season of Lent gives us forty days to reflect on our relationship with God. We do this through our prayer and fasting. In our prayer, whether at Mass or in private prayer, we converse with the Lord and share our needs and hopes. We give God praise and thanks for the graces we have received, and we petition God in prayer to assist us on our faith journey on earth, until we meet together in the kingdom He has prepared for us. Lent is a time for more fervent prayer on the part of all of us. Our fasting or suffering is a sign too that we share in the cross of Jesus in order to share in His victory. The deepening of our faith and prayer, leads us to action and especially to acts of charity.

 

Pope Benedict XVI notes: “Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it; charity is ‘walking’ in the truth. Through faith we enter into a friendship with the Lord, through charity this friendship is lived and cultivated. Faith causes us to embrace the commandment of our Lord and Master, charity gives us the happiness of putting it into practice. In faith we are begotten as children of God; charity causes us to persevere concretely in our divine sonship, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Faith enables us to recognize the gifts that God has entrusted to us; charity makes them fruitful.”

 

As the Holy Father notes, during this season of Lent we not only deepen our faith life and relationship to God, but also it prompts us to act in charity and generosity to our neighbour, whomever that might be. In our church during Lent we direct our special efforts towards our neighbour in developing countries of our world. We support the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, which extends this outreach of charity for us throughout the world in countries needing our help.


Also during Lent, and during this special Year of Faith, we reflect on the sacraments that are so important for us. We recall our Baptism when we were given the gift of Faith, and united to Christ and to one another in the community of the Church. We share in the Holy Eucharist more frequently during Lent, knowing that this sacrament nourishes us for our Christian journey and transforms us in holiness, to act in the name of Jesus in our charity towards others.

 

As we prepare to celebrate the event of the Cross and Resurrection - in which the love of God redeemed the world, may the light of Jesus shine upon us, may we deepen our understanding of our faith in Him and in His Church and its teachings. May our prayer life prompt us to action in ways of charity and love towards our families, our neighbours and our community. May this holy season be a time for us to enter with Jesus into the dynamic love for God our Father and for every brother and sister that we encounter in our lives.


Bishop Fred J. Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay

 

2012 and Earlier

Christmas 2012

December 17th, 2012

“And he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. These words are from the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading of midnight Mass. These words are words of comfort and encouragement for a people who longed for their God. The southern kingdom of Judah was being threatened by vast foreign armies and Isaiah wanted to encourage the people, but he also warned them, that their sin and failure to be open to God, could also bring destruction upon them.

 

As we celebrate the birthday of our Saviour Jesus Christ, we seek comfort and consolation, for we know that there is much turmoil around us. Many countries of our world are filled with unrest, many people are poor and struggling to survive, many tragedies touch our lives and the lives of those around us both near and far, and yet the light of Christmas, who is Christ the Lord, helps to reassure us, that even in the midst of turmoil and strife, the love of God is poured out upon us and this will be evident. “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us” says the prophet, and this Son is the Son of God. He comes in humble beginnings, in a stable in Bethlehem, but “authority rests on his shoulders....he will establish a kingdom with justice and with righteousness from this time and forevermore.” We are a part of the establishment of that kingdom.  We are His Church, His people, and His Holy Spirit works through us to bring the kingdom and reign of God to our world.


Christmas is about family gatherings and special sharings of love and friendship during this holy and timely season. Jesus the Lord brings His peace and comfort through these sharings and moments of love. Christmas is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation, it is a time for rebuilding relationships, not only with God but also with one another. It is a time to turn from our pride and any anger that might be lingering in our hearts, to an openness and compassion for one another in the name of this small child born into our world. We know that all children are precious to us, and all children need our protection and care. As Jesus was protected and loved by Mary and Joseph, may we also love one another with a similar care and concern, in our generosity to the needy, in our support for the lonely, in our acceptance for the young and the confused and in our love especially for our families.

 

As you celebrate this most holy day, may the “Prince of Peace” bring you His peace, may the “Mighty God” bless you and yours with His grace, and may our “Everlasting Father” lead you to the glory of His kingdom. A Merry and Holy Christmas to all!


Bishop Fred J. Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay


Prepare the Way of the Lord 

 

As we enter into the season of Advent, the four weeks of preparation for Christmas, the figure in the scriptures who stands out most strikingly is St. John the Baptist. He is the prophet who summons us with the words 'prepare, make ready the way, open your hearts to conversion.' St. John the Baptist played an important role in calling attention to the people of his time, in order that they open their hearts for Jesus. He asked them to turn away from sinfulness and to open themselves to God's grace and goodness. We know that St. John the Baptist had many followers, and yet in the end, he directed everyone to the Lord.

 

As we begin this preparation season during this 'Year of Faith' we ask what we can do to prepare ourselves for the great feast of the Incarnation, or the birth of the Son of God into our world. Pope Benedict XVI has urged us to learn more about our faith and to study and pray, in order that our lives can bear witness to Jesus in our world. The preparations taking place around this feast in many ways, are merely secular ones. We prepare gifts, decorate our homes and offices, we prepare special meals and we send greetings to friends and family. These are all important, but the true meaning of Christmas for us is the awareness that God 'so loved the world that he gave his only son' in order that we might be saved. This great act of love and generosity is really beyond our imagining and comprehension. We wish we could be as generous in our actions and endeavours.

 

The four weeks in Advent give us a chance to prepare properly for the great feast of Christmas. Not only do we engage in the secular preparations, but we know that we must prepare ourselves interiorly. We seek forgiveness from God for our sins through the Sacrament of Penance, we recognize our need to reach out to those in need and those who will struggle in this Christmas season. We pray earnestly for family members and friends, in particular for those in distress, and we direct our thoughts to the meaning of Christmas who is Christ the Lord, with whom we seek to deepen our relationship in love.

 

These four weeks, marked by the candles on the Advent wreath, remind us that we need to be spiritually prepared in order to prepare a way for the Lord into our hearts. He desires to come and strengthen us in our journey through life with all its joys and stresses. Our prayer, our reconciliation and our generosity will all make this preparation possible. 'Prepare the way of the Lord'. May St. John the Baptistʼs call truly inspire us.

 

Bishop Fred J. Colli


"YEAR OF FAITH"

October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

 

My Dear People,
    

     Pope Benedict XVI has announced a “Year of Faith” to begin on October 11, 2012 and to conclude on November 24, 2013. This special year of prayer is an opportunity for the entire Catholic Church throughout the world to reflect on our commitment to Jesus Christ and to His Church. This year also commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th Anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

 

     A “Year of Faith” is a time for prayer and for study. The Pope is encouraging us to deepen the knowledge of our Church and its teachings in this special year. He is recommending a study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or the Compendium to the Catechism, and also a re-study of the Documents of the Second Vatican Council, which gave us the direction of our Church practice today.

 

     There will be special events and lectures during this year in our diocese. I recommend that you take advantage of whatever services, study groups or presentations that are made to help you share in this “Year of Faith” in a meaningful way. The Pope speaks of a ʻneed to rediscover the journey of faith we share, so as to shed a clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of our encounter with Jesus Christʼ.

 

     Of course, the best way to participate in a “Year of Faith” is to deepen our prayer life and our link to Jesus through our regular participation at Sunday Mass, through prayer and devotions like the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Sacrament of Penance, daily prayer in our homes and with our families, and most importantly the reception of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Even a small initiative on our part will prove fruitful for our spiritual life.

 

     May this “Year of Faith” bring to each of us and to our diocese a unique grace, so that in our words and actions, we will draw closer to the Lord Jesus, closer to His Church, and closer to one another.

 

May Our Lady of Charity, Mother of the Lord, pray for us in our efforts.

 

+Bishop Fred J. Colli


What can we do for the Year of Faith

What can we do for the Year of Faith?

A few proposals for you that are doable, simple and can be very effective.


1. Continue to pray earnestly. Attending Mass and the Sacraments, and saying daily prayers, especially with our family, even if only at the dinner table in giving thanks. Attend any special Masses or ceremonies your diocese might have for this special year.


2. Take on any opportunity that might arise to study our faith. Attend a workshops, seminar, discussion group, or training on the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Compendium of the Catechism.


3. Read the Catechism or the Compendium of the Catechism to get a better understanding of our faith and its teachings. The compendium is easier to follow since it is structured in a question and answer type of teaching. Use the ‘YouCat’ catechism for youth as a study guide.


4. Learn a little about Vatican II. Maybe read a document or any pamphlet or text that helps you better understand what happened between 1962-5 and what this meant for our Church. There will be articles available, and on the website there are numerous resources on this topic.


5. Pray the Nicene Creed. It might be a good gesture for this prayer to be the beginning of every meeting for the Year of Faith. Use a card to follow the words and pray the creed carefully, reflecting on its teachings.


6. Pray a prayer for an increase in faith in our lives and in our world. These prayers are also available to us on website and through churches.


7. Commit yourself to reading one spiritual book during the year of faith. Maybe the Pope’s book about Jesus or his book called “Light of the World” (2010) (available on Amazon.ca) in which the Pope helps us to see the issues and role of the Church in the world today.


8. Encourage your parish priest to have a workshop or study group during the year of faith at the parish - looking at Vatican II and its role in our church today. Every priest should be able to conduct such a study group.


9. Have a special project for the Year of Faith where you get to deepen your appreciation of God’s Word from the Bible. Buy one of those little books that have a scripture each day for reflection - or get it off the internet - v.g. “Pray as You Go” website.


10. Do not let the Year of Faith pass you bye - without it being a time for some growth and study. Many Catholic seek to know more about the teachings of our church, and many good Catholics even have mis-information about the Church’s teachings. This is a year to help you seek the answers to any questions you might have and to know the truth about what we believe.


Computer : Google - Year of Faith.
Seek a site that will help you understand.
The Vatican itself has a website on this year of faith:
www.annusfidei.va/content/novaevangelizatio/en.html

 

 


Catholic Education Week 2012

 

April 30 2012
 
Reverend Fathers & Parish Communities of the Diocese of Thunder Bay: 
 
Catholic Education Week 2012 is being held from Sunday May 6th. to Friday May 11th.  The Theme of this week is: “Walking in the Light of Christ.” This is a very important week for our Catholic educational system.  It is an opportunity for the entire Catholic family to recognize the importance of our Catholic schools and our partnership with them in handing on the teachings and traditions of our Catholic faith to our children. This theme during the Easter season, reminds us of the light we received at Baptism - and carry with us in our daily lives as Christ guides us in our faith journey.

I recommend that your parish community share in a special way with your parish schools in celebrating this week. Please participate in the events taking place in your parish schools and join in the celebrations where possible. A display in the parish church from your schools might be a suggestion to enhance the awareness of your people to this important week for Catholic education.

In your Sunday celebrations, please pray for those who are in ministry in our schools, and if opportune, include the theme of ‘Catholic education’ in your homily or have a special speaker share a few words after communion at Mass, on Catholic education in our communities. The speaker might be a retired Catholic school teacher who dedicated his/her life to this important ministry. We must do all that we can to support, maintain, build and safeguard this important system of education for our children.

Your support and encouragement are essential for all who share in the work of Catholic education. Parents, in particular, look to the support of their parish priest - the ‘church, home and school’ working together as partners.

 

Thank you for your attention and participation in this important week of events, as we join together in support of our Catholic school system.
 
Sincerely in Christ,

+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay


 

Easter Joy (Easter 2012)

 

I have been asked to define “Easter Joy” for some people. Now Easter joy can be found around a family table as they gather to enjoy a special meal. Easter joy can be found in the glee and excitement of children as they search for and find Easter eggs or chocolate bunnies. Easter joy can be found when students return home to be with their families once again. Easter joy can be found when we sing ‘alleluia’ in our churches at Mass as we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord. But Easter joy is really more than all of these.


On the day of our baptism, when we first received the gift of faith and our lives became linked to Jesus in a special way, Easter joy was planted into our hearts. This Easter joy is the recognition that we are now special in God’s family, and that we are coheirs with Christ to eternal life in the kingdom. This joy helps to sustain us in our faith journey here on earth and it gives us hope and courage especially during times of struggle.


I am sure that each of us knows of someone who, even in the midst of difficulty or upset, has exhibited Easter joy for us. Those people who always see life and its experiences as a gift and a challenge. Those people who lift our spirits with their enthusiasm and excitement at every event in their life journey. Those people who seem to tackle each hurdle of life with gusto, trusting that God will help them in their efforts. Easter joy is that spirit within us that urges us onward and  ustains our hope even when things might look bleak. Easter joy is not just a gift during the Easter season, but is with us continually.


Sometimes we do not realize this, and feel that this hope and support is only given to us by God at certain times. But God is always present in our lives, and as Jesus demonstrated by his life here on earth, God is especially present to us during hard or difficult times. This joy comes to us at Baptism, and that is why during Easter we remember our baptism in a special way.


We are reassured of this joy and support in the letter to the Romans where it is written “we have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” These words are really the source of our Easter joy. They are words of hope and assurance. They are words that give us courage and words that direct us and remind us of our ultimate goal.


As we gather with our families and friends this Easter and as we share in this special Easter joy, may our hearts and minds be turned to God in thanksgiving. May we be appreciative of all that we have and share, and may the Risen Christ, who is our light and our life, be our constant companion as we journey in faith to the kingdom of God our Father. A Happy and Holy Easter to all!

 

+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay


Lent 2012


“Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” Pope Benedict XVI uses this phrase from the letter to the Hebrews to give us a theme for prayer during the season of Lent. Lent offers us once again the opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of our call as Christians, our call to charity. The words of the author to the Hebrews exhort us to trust in Jesus Christ who has won forgiveness for us and who prompts us to be sincere in faith, to live in hope, and to love generously. To be concerned for one another means that we must first be attentive to the needs and condition of others, especially those who suffer. Sometimes we ignore the plight of others under the guise of ‘privacy’. But the Gospel call for us is a call to reach out and to show concern in whatever way we can. We are called to see one another as brothers and sisters, whose lives also touch our lives, since we are connected by faith and as children of God. Concern for others means desiring what is good for them, physically, morally and spiritually.


The Lenten season prompts us to be grateful for the abundance we share but also to reach out to help alleviate the material struggles of our neighbour. The traditional ‘almsgiving’ during Lent and our support to developing nations responds to this important call. Sometimes we can become unaware of the ‘cries of the poor’ due to an over concern for ourselves and our own personal
pleasures. Lent helps us to refocus and recall our need to be generous.


Being concerned for others also entails a concern for their spiritual well being. We are called to pray for one another, to seek and extend forgiveness to each other and to turn from sin and evil ways, in order to live in God’s grace and love. Forgiveness is an integral part of the Lenten journey. We not only seek mercy and forgiveness from God but we also do so from one another. Moved by love and concern, we turn from sin and seek to be an example and an inspiration for others to do the same.


Concern for others also carries with it an eschatological perspective. The Christian community must not only be concerned about our journey in this world, but we must support one another in the hope of sharing eternal life together with God. The Pope calls this dimension our insight into ‘communion’. Our sins and our actions of love have a social dimension, as we seek forgiveness for sins and we rejoice in virtue. We are ‘one body’ as St. Paul notes, and all our actions affect the entire body. This ‘response in love and good works’ helps us to walk together in holiness and to bear witness to that holiness in the secular world. Being concerned for one another should spur us to an even greater and more effective love which makes us live each day in anticipation of our union with God and with one another in His kingdom.


May this season of grace be a time for greater prayer, a deeper reflection on our call to holiness and our concern for our brothers and sisters. May the sacrificial spirit of Lent help us to truly prepare for the celebration of Easter joy.


+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay

 


 

Lent 2011

 

“You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him.” Pope Benedict XVI uses this phrase from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians to give us a theme for reflection during this season of Lent. Our baptism is the door which allows us entry into the Church and gives us access to the wonders of God through the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. In Baptism we become members of Christ’s body, and members of the Church and along with the benefits of this membership we also assume the responsibilities of helping to build the kingdom of God here on earth and to build up the Church of Christ through our witness to the Gospel. Through Baptism we are created anew and share in the life of God. Through this life we also become sharers in the death and resurrection of the Lord, which is expressed in a special way in our Lenten journey together.

As believers, we enter this holy season of prayer and penance and we reflect in particular on our relationship with God and with one another. The upheaval in our world, the turmoil in countries of the Middle East and even the unrest in our own nation, prompts us to turn to to the Lord in our prayer, especially for a change in the hearts of world leaders, and for peace and justice to be restored in the world.

In our prayer we seek a closer union with Christ, and we beseech Him to hear us. Pope Benedict XVI notes: “In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year – what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent,leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of our Christian initiation, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken as we follow Christ in a fuller giving of ourselves to him.” The Word of God nourishes us at each Mass and in our daily prayer and readings. It is a means by which we come to know Christ more intimately and to know of his interaction with others and his example of mercy and forgiveness so generously given. We all seek that mercy and forgiveness during the season of Lent. In our prayer, in our fasting and in our almsgiving or outreach to the poor, may we recognize that through our Baptism we carry Christ to the world. Our actions speak of Christ to others. Our witness helps the message of the Gospel, the message of hope to encourage others.

May this season of grace be a time for inner reflection, a deeper appreciation of the gifts and goodness we share, a time for rebuilding broken relationships through mercy and forgiveness and may “this Lent renew our acceptance of the grace that God has bestowed upon us from our Baptism so that it may illuminate and guide all our actions.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

 


+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay


Easter 2011

 

Saint Hippolytus, a great saint of the third century - in celebrating Easter service prayed over his people in these magnificent words - “Joy to all creatures, honour, feasting, delight. Dark death is destroyed and life is restored everywhere. The gates of heaven are open.”

You can sense the joy and excitement of the words of this prayer, as the faithful gathered in their parish church to rejoice in the Risen Lord. As was done centuries ago, we do today in our churches at the Easter Vigil and on Easter morning. We gather as a faith community to rejoice that the words of Jesus promising us a share in His eternal life, are true.

Our great song of the vigil service is the Exultet. Again these words ring out with joy for us: “Rejoice heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels! Exult all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ, our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!” These words of exuberance uplift us and sustain us in our hope for eternal life.

Along with the news of resurrection, we recognize the new life that surrounds us with spring, and even nature shares in the act of rejoicing as new life is brought forth. However, we are also very aware, that in the midst of joy there is much struggle in our world. We remember the turmoil and unrest in many countries of our globe. Turmoil and unrest that is a result of political upheaval, war, poverty, and natural disasters. Many will struggle this Easter,both at home and abroad, to find joy in this feast.

Our prayers and support for them and for one other in our parishes and in our families can bring some hope and joy to others. Easter and our connection to the Risen Lord Jesus, also reminds us of our connection to one another, and our need to reach out to others wherever and whenever we can. Like the Easter candle which is a sign of the Risen Christ, we are called to share our light with one another by generously sharing our gifts and talents.

May this Easter be a time of true religious observance for us. May it not be a mere excuse to purchase chocolate eggs and have a large meal, but may it be a time of prayer, a time of recognition of Christ our Risen Lord in our lives, a time of family love and nurturing, a time of peace in our hearts and a time of generous outreach. Easter is not just one day in our calendar, but is a stepping stone into days of spiritual growth and new life into the future. May you and your families, especially your children, experience the joy and holiness of this great feast. I wish everyone a Happy and a Holy Easter!

 

+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay


Christmas 2011

 

'Today A Light Will Shine Upon Us'

 

Each day when I listen to the news and read my newspaper, I am overwhelmed by the events of unrest and chaos that seem to plague our world. Protesters, government upheavals, rebellions, and political unrest seem to dominate the airwaves. One might ask what is happening to our world? Is there no peace and calm anywhere? Will this turmoil ever cease?

 

These questions are thought provoking and important especially today. We seek some peace and comfort in our lives and yet we are surrounded by turmoil and noise. This applies not just to the world around us, but also at times to our personal lives. Where will we find this peace?

 

In the message of Christmas and in the weeks as we prepare to celebrate this important feast, we ask the Lord to instill within us, some sense of peace and calm, in the midst of all the turmoil and busyness that mark this time of the year. Today a light will shine upon us, says the prophet Isaiah. A light that is unlike the light of this world. This light comes from above and it is the light of God in Jesus Christ His Son. This light will not only bring some peace within our hearts but it will also help us to see the way for our daily living. Our openness to this light, is a sign of our willingness to see this season and this feast in it's true light. This is not just a holiday or a time for gift giving and fancy meals or decorations, it is a time for us to examine our hearts and to discover if we have allowed the light of God to touch us and to guide us in our everyday living.

 

If our heart is open to this light and peace, then our relationships will change. There will be a greater sense of love and respect for one another. There will exist a greater sense of appreciation and gratitude for the abundance that we have. There will be a true sense of compassion and concern for others manifest in our outreach to help, especially those who are less fortunate in our society. There will exist within us a sense of reconciliation and forgiveness, to reestablish bonds and relationships, especially in our families, that have been severed through anger, argument or jealousy.

 

This light from above can change our life and give us a deeper appreciation for the gift of life itself which we enjoy. So in the midst of the turmoil, upset and impatience, let us allow this light to shine on us. We need not wait until Christmas for this to happen, since the light and grace of Jesus Christ is available to us now. A simple prayer seeking this light and an openness of heart to allow God's light to enter us will be sufficient.


May these days that lead us to Christmas and may the celebration of this great feast with our families and friends, be a time for us to allow the light of the Lord to shine in us and to help us bring some peace and goodness to the world around us.

 

A Merry and Holy Christmas to all.

 

+ Fred Colli

Bishop of Thunder Bay

 


 

A Manger Scene Prayer

Christmas 2010

 

Each year, when I was growing up, on the buffet in our dining room, we would set up a manger scene. You could say it had a place of prominence in our house for everyone to see in the midst of our traditional Christmas decorations. I remember how the scene would change when we purchased new figurines, and yet it always remained the same, in that it reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Christ the Lord. It is wonderful for households today to have a manger scene in a special place for their family to celebrate this great feast.

I don’t remember having said many prayers before the manger scene, however I know that my prayer today would consist of many themes. One theme would be that of ‘gratitude’. Giving thanks to God for Jesus His Son, who came into the world in order to redeem us and to bring us back to God. Thanks also for the many blessings that touch our lives, our families and our friends. Gratitude could be a theme that we all can share this Christmas.

The second theme would be one of ‘humility’. We don’t speak of humility much today. For some it is seen as a weakness - for others it is dangerous to open yourself before others in humility, people could hurt you. Yet at the manger scene we see God coming into our world as a humble child in humble surroundings. God could have chosen some other way to enter our world, however, this humble and gentle entrance was to teach us that we too need to be humble in our lives and to recognize the good in others and rejoice with them in their gifts. Pope John Paul II called it a sharing in ‘communion’ with God and one another.

The third theme that would be included in my prayer would be a desire for a greater ability to ‘love’. We all know that loving a newborn child is easy. Loving one another and even those who seem to be against us, is the true challenge of Christmas. Christ came into the world to teach us this love. A love that sees all people as important, worthy and filled with dignity and goodness. A love that challenges us to do what is right and good, even in difficult times. A love that shows us that to sacrifice for the sake of another, is a true way to share in the love of God. We share much love at Christmas with family and friends. May our love truly reflect the love that the Lord Jesus brought into our world on that first Christmas night.

The last theme that would complete my prayer would be the theme of ‘sharing’. Christmas is a time for gift giving and sharing. We share special meals together. We extend best wishes and greetings to others, and we buy gifts that express our love and concern for one another. We share generously as God shared His Son with us and continues to share His goodness and love. We share with one another and more importantly we share with those who have little. We reach out in a spirit of generosity to those around us who are less fortunate and struggle in even greater ways with the burdens of life.

My prayer before the manger would ask God to help me to be generous and not to be too attached to the things of this world, knowing that they are here for my use only and for good. A prayer before a manger scene can contain many themes. These are the ones that come to mind for me. May your Christmas be filled with the gratitude, humility, love and sharing that Christ the Lord taught to us. A Merry and Holy Christmas to all.

 

+ Fred Colli


Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Bishop of Thunder Bay


“A Chocolate Holiday?”

Easter 2010


The store shelves were filled with chocolate treats, bunnies and eggs, little chicks and chocolates of all shapes and sizes. These are for purchase to celebrate the Easter holidays. People in many ways were connecting chocolate with Easter. Needless to say, the comparison to chocolate and the true meaning of Easter is very remote.

The fact that Jesus, the Son of God, rose from the dead in order to share eternal life with all of mankind, is never depicted in a chocolate bar or candy. However, we do know that chocolate was seen as a delicacy and a special treat for unique occasions, and there can be none more important than that of the feast of Easter. We gather with our family and friends for our Easter celebrations in Church and our voices joyfully sing the famous ‘alleluia song’. We reflect on God’s love for us and our need to share love and forgiveness with one another especially in our world today , which seem so fragile and uncertain. We, once again, give thanks for the boundless mercy and concern that God shows for all people and we open our hearts to that mercy.

Once we have given thanks for these wonders, we share with family our very best in food and treats - symbolizing the significance and centrality of this feast for us.

In our churches, candles, Easter lilies or special flowers and blessed water for baptisms, remind us of life and goodness, holiness and joy. The Easter proclamation in the midst of the multitude of lighted candles in our ceremony echoes these words: “Rejoice O earth, in shining splendour, radiant in the brightness of your King!...Exult in glory! The risen Saviour shines upon you!” As the risen Saviour shines upon each of us, and we enjoy the ‘specialness’ of this feast with fancy treats, in particular for our children, may all people be blest with the peace and the hope that a true celebration of Easter brings us.

 

 

+ Fred Colli

 


Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Bishop of Thunder Bay


 

Sexual Abuse Crisis

(April 15, 2010)

Over the past few weeks, in the midst of our great Easter celebrations, there were many articles in the news concerning the Pope and sexual abuse scandals in our Church. It seemed like the media wanted to headline any information that would or could accuse the Pope or the Catholic Church of inaction, indifference and a lack of concern for victims abused by priests. As horrendous as these crimes were and are, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, our Church has taken many important steps to eradicate this terrible behaviour in the ranks of our clergy and anyone working for the Church. Pope Benedict XVI, in particular, has spoken about and confronted this issue more than any other Pope of our time.

 

Many of the news articles dealt with issues from 20 to 30 years ago, and the priests who abused in the past have either died or been removed from ministry and the priesthood. Currently, men desiring to be priests in our Church are examined and assessed in a multitude of ways, throughout many years of training and formation, to make sure they will be faithful priests for the Church. The cases presented in the news during these past weeks seemed to indicate a new wave of sexual abuse in the Church, and this is definitely not true.

 

Every diocese in all of North America has a strict policy concerning this issue, and any credible allegations against a priest or anyone in the Church are taken very seriously. Our first and primary response is to help the victims and their families in whatever way we can. The accused priest is removed from ministry and in many cases never returns to ministry if found guilty. Proper civil authorities are always informed and strict procedures are always followed. Years ago, no one seemed to know how to respond to these cases. I am sure mistakes were made in the learning process and our response today is certainly much different than it was in the past. We have deepened our understanding and worked with civil, medical and Church persons to help us know what actions to take in these difficult situations.

 

The media failed to report that the Catholic Church, including the Canadian and American bishops, have come a long way in better understanding and combating this serious issue in our Church. I believe the presentations in many articles over the past weeks were incomplete, skewed and intentionally hurtful, especially to the Holy Father.

 

It was regretful that this entire episode of criticism was promoted during our Easter celebrations. It must have made it very difficult for many of our Catholic faithful to enter into the true spirit of this Easter time. However, the Spirit of the Lord keeps us strong and will see us through this episode and into the future. We will always work to improve our actions and to make sure that all people, especially children, are safe in our Churches.


Easter is a time of newness and new beginnings. Our Catholic faith is strong and I am convinced that our Church community will continue to live this faith in hope. May God bless us and give us courage and strength for our journey.

 

Sincerely in Christ,


+ Fred Colli

 


Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Bishop of Thunder Bay


Lent 2010


“The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ” St. Paul gives us this text in his work to the Romans and Pope Benedict XVI uses it as his major theme for his Lenten reflection this year. What is justice? How can it best be described? The dictionary calls it “fairness or fair dealing, righteousness and correctness.” Our theological dictionary describes ‘justice’ as giving to another what is due. Justice is an universal concern. In the Old Testament justice has to do with one’s relationship with another. To be just means to be free of faults that would harm one’s relations with others. In the New Testament justice means accepting the Gospel of Jesus, by becoming a disciple of Jesus, one is removed from the company of the unjust, and the fulfillment of the commands of justice is an expression of the justice of God.”

As believers, we enter this holy season of prayer and penance and we reflect in particular on our relationship with God and with one another. Our recent response to the struggles of the people of Haiti, helped us to see how important justice is in our world. We are called to respond to the cries of those who are less fortunate than ourselves and who are in need, always with a spirit of generosity and a sense of justice.

The justice that St. Paul speaks about - the justice of Jesus Christ, is the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends for his sins, but it is through Jesus that we have been justified through his death and resurrection. Our Lenten journey reminds us of our need to turn to God in thanksgiving for the graces we have received and to recognize that through the love of God we have been saved. Our prayer, our penance and our almsgiving are all reflections of this gratitude and thanksgiving. Strengthened by this experience and understanding, as Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, “we are moved to contribute to creating just societies, where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

May this season of grace be a time for inner reflection, a deeper appreciation of the gifts and goodness we share, a time for rebuilding broken relationships through mercy and forgiveness and “a time for authentic conversion and a deepening of our knowledge of the mystery of Christ, who came to fulfill every justice .” (Pope Benedict XVI)

We pray for those seeking employment, we pray for the poor seeking food and shelter, we pray for the lonely seeking encouragement, we pray for families struggling with multiple burdens, we pray for our youth seeking guidance, we pray for the Church in its mission, and we pray for grace and holiness in our lives. Lent is a time of special prayer as we enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. Let us travel this road together for these forty days - knowing Christ accompanies us in this sacred journey.

+ Fred Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay


 

A Mother Teresa Christmas

 

As we celebrate this great feast once again, let us reflect on what this might mean for us as followers of Jesus. We know the story of our salvation and we recall it each Christmas. But what does it mean for us? For Mother Teresa it was a special time. She began her work with the poor of India on Christmas day. She said: recall your fondest Christmas memories: most  ikely, they are family and friends gathered together to cherish one another. The greatest gift you can offer your loved ones is the gift of yourself - your time, your attention and your presence, for it is Christmas every time you let God love others through you....yes it is Christmas time every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.


As we share in the wonder and joy of Christmas we ask ourselves, how often do I offer my hand in love to another? How often  o I think of the needs of the other, as more important than my needs and wants? Mother Teresa saw her life as a response to that call from Christ to see Him in everyone, especially in the poor and the abandoned. She saw the condition of all mankind in the fragile and defenceless child born in a stable in Bethlehem; and equally she saw the Baby Jesus in all human beings. She saw Him especially among the poorest of the poor, because those who suffer the most and have nothing, are most like the baby born in Bethlehem. She saw Him in abandoned children as these innocent creatures represented the condition of the child Jesus even more clearly.


Mother Teresa saw Christmas in a special way. Not so much in the gifts and fancy trees or decorations, but in the decoration of one’s heart in love. She also saw the response in love to one another as the continuation of the meaning and spirit of Christmas that began with God’s great gift of His Son to us. We are called to see Christmas in this spirit of love and generosity. As we share this time let us open our hearts to Christ, to His call of love and to offering our hand to our brother and sister in need.


Story of a Christmas in Calcutta with Mother Teresa. Monsignor Hnilica recalls: I remember one in particular. I was in Calcutta, India. Mother Teresa invited me to dinner on 24 December, Christmas Eve, to celebrate with her and the other nuns. It was a meager meal as is usual for the Missionaries of Charity, but rich in joy, affection and fraternity. The atmosphere was so cordial that we almost forgot to eat. ‘At a certain point, I heard a knocking on the door. One of the nuns went to see who it was and returned with a basket covered in cloth. 'A woman gave it to me and then rushed off,' she said. As she gave the basket to Mother Teresa she added, 'She was probably a benefactor who wanted to donate some food to us for Christmas.' Mother Teresa removed the cloth and her eyes lit up. 'Jesus has arrived' she said with a beautiful smile. The other nuns ran to see. In the basket there was a sleeping baby boy. He was an abandoned baby who was a few days old; the woman who had brought him, perhaps his mother, was unable to look after him and so entrusted him to the nuns; a frequent occurrence in Calcutta. The nuns squealed with joy and held onto the basket, moved by the sight of the sleeping baby. Their cries woke him up, and he began to cry. Mother Teresa picked him up, smiled and yet at the same time had tears in her eyes. 'Look, now we can say that our Christmas is complete,' she said. 'Baby Jesus has come to us. We must thank God for this wonderful gift.' A powerful emotion emanated from her, a protective force which was her great love.'

 

+ Fred Colli


Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Catholic Bishop of Thunder Bay Diocese


Opposition to Bill C-384

(Sept. 15, 2009)

Dear Mr. John Rafferty, MP
Thunder Bay-Rainy River:

 

In writing this letter to you I wish to express opposition to Bill C-384. This bill would amend the Criminal Code to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. I oppose the legalization and practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide on the grounds that they undermine the dignity of the human person by denigrating the dying process and by rejecting the community dimension of the person. I believe that euthanasia and assisted suicide are contrary to the practices of holistic health care, cannot be regulated to prevent abuses, and are inconsistent with Canada’s reputation as a protector of personal dignity and human rights.

 

I urge you to reject euthanasia and assisted suicide as a solution to the challenges posed by the suffering of terminally ill members of our society, and instead, to adopt policies and practices that promote access to comprehensive end-of-life care for all Canadians.

 

By attending to the needs of dying persons among them, Canadians can transform health care. By committing ourselves to compassionate palliative care, Canada could provide the world with yet another model and example to be imitated in the realm of health care. We have come a long way in our research in the area of pain control, and assisting those who are suffering, and modern medicine has the ways and means to assist all those in these circumstances.

 

I believe the development of policies that will give palliative and end-of-life care higher priority in our health care system — not the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide — is the way to ensure that people near death receive compassionate care and are able to die with dignity. As a Member of Parliament from my area, I ask you to consider seriously my objections and concerns. Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

+ Fred Colli

 


Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Catholic Bishop of Thunder Bay Diocese

 


Reaction to Situation involving Bishop R. Lahey

(Oct. 7, 2009)
 

My Dear People:

 

Over the past week, there have appeared many articles in our local newspaper and in the media, about the charges against Bishop Raymond Lahey, the former bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia.

 

Like you, I was shocked and dismayed to hear about these charges and the warrant for his arrest. My thoughts and prayers went out to the children and their families, and also to the people of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, who knew this man for many years and who trusted him.

 

Pornography, and in particular child pornography, is hurtful to all involved, especially the victim-children and their families. I cannot explain the sense of hurt and regret that I feel for them, and for all those involved in this terrible situation.

 

I ask that you pray for the children and their families and that you remember the people of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland who are hurt by this tragic turn of events and who knew this bishop for many years.

 

As a Church community we recognize that mercy and trust in God's faithfulness will carry us through any tragedy, and we pray that, in spite of human weakness and sin, this trust will renew our hope in the Church and its mission in this world.

 

Sincerely,

 

+ Fred Colli

 


Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Catholic Bishop of Thunder Bay Diocese

 


H1N1 Flu Virus

(October 13, 2009)

 

For the last several months, the diocese has been in communication with health officials to determine whether or not it is necessary to alter our liturgical practices, in light of current concerns regarding the spread of HINI influenza. To date, we have been informed that this is not required. It is important, however, that we remain diligent with preventative measures. We need to take note of the following reminders from our health officials which are practical and make common sense:

 

— Good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of all flu viruses. Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often.

 

— Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) handy at work, home and in your car. It needs to be at least 60% alcohol to be effective.

 

— Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue. Cough into your upper sleeve if you don't have a tissue.

 

— Stay home when you are feeling sick or have a fever, out of respect for those around you.

 

— Keep common surfaces and items clean and disinfected.

 

In addition to these general recommendations from the health officials, I would ask everyone to be attentive to some particular points relating to our celebration of the liturgy:

 

— Parishes may wish to provide small hand cleaning stations near the entrances to the church with small bottles of a sanitizer.

 

— Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are especially reminded of the need to practice good hand hygiene.

 

— Ministers of Holy Communion should always wash their hands before Mass begins. In some parishes, as a further precaution, hands are cleaned before and after distributing Holy Communion inconspicuously at a side table.

 

— The faithful should be instructed that if they feel ill, have a fever, or have been sick in recent days, they certainly should not receive communion on the tongue or from the cup. Of course, as noted above, if they are ill, they really should stay home.

 

— The Sign of Peace is an important part of our liturgical celebration. The usual custom is to express the Sign of Peace by shaking hands. It may, however, be preferable, especially in our present circumstances, to use another gesture, for example, by bowing and perhaps saying "Peace be with you." This is correct and acceptable.

 

We will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, adopt additional measures. We are stressing common sense and good hand hygiene at this time.

 

Sincerely in Christ,

 

+ Fred Colli

Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Bishop of Thunder Bay


 

An Era of Hope

Christmas 2008



As Christmas draws near and we sense the increased activity and busyness that touches our lives in preparation for this great feast, we also note that in the world around us, each Christmas time, there is a sense of hope that touches people and societies. New leaders promise a hopeful future, governments, even with dire news of economic uncertainty, tell us that there is hope at the end of this crisis, the worker who is laid off from their job, is hopeful that there will be a return to employment, and parents are hopeful that things will get better and that a stability in our society and economy will enable them to provide for their children.

Hope fills us with the courage to carry out our work and responsibilities even in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty. This was the spirit of the people in the time of Jesus’ birth. They were a hope filled people, knowing that God would not abandon them and that the Messiah would come to bring newness and freedom, a new era of hope. The Christian message for us today is that the Messiah, Jesus, is our Hope, and He brings us the promise that to follow Him is to live in hope. St. Paul in his letter to Titus, which we read at the midnight Mass notes: “ the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all people.... and we are to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Our hope is in the Lord and it is in this that we place our trust and are made secure.

Unfortunately many in the world place their hope in what the world has to offer. This hope can be weak and disappointing - and seldom brings us lasting comfort and fulfillment. True hope in the Lord, sustains us even in the midst of turmoil and fear. This hope sustained the great saints of our history and the great martyrs of today. This hope is seen in the great works of love and charity that we witness, in particular during
this Christmas season. This hope lives on beyond the tinsel and coloured lights of Christmas in the hearts and minds of all believers and sustains them throughout the entire year.

Can you share in this hope? Can you open your heart to the true message of Christmas which is to welcome Christ into your life in a more intimate and loving way? Can you live, as St. Paul noted, an upright and godly life in this world in order to manifest the love of Christ brought to us on that first Christmas day? These questions are important for us, for they challenge us to recognize the true meaning for our celebrations. Our prayer, our family sharing, our outreach to the needy, our compassion and mercy shown in forgiveness to one another, is the meaning and hope that we live at Christmas. Are you willing and open to share in this kind of hope? May the Spirit of the Lord lead us all to this great light and understanding.

 

Merry and Holy Christmas to all.

 

+ Fred Colli

 

 

Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Bishop of Thunder Bay


 

Response to Naming of Henry Morgentaler to Order of Canada

(July 10, 2008)

 

It is with dismay that we heard on July 1st that Dr. Henry Morgentaler was named to the Order of Canada. I do not believe that his high honour should be accorded to someone who has made it his ultimate goal to promote abortions in our nations and worldwide. We are fully aware that abortion is the willful killing of innocent life, and no argument for "free choice or personal freedom" gives anyone the right to take innocent life. I believe this committee has dishonored the Order of Canada with his nomination. I have written to the Governor General, the Prime Minister, and my local MPs expressing my objections to this nomination. I ask that you do the same.

 

Sincerely in Christ,

 

 

+ Fred Colli

 

 

Most Rev. Fred J. Colli,
Bishop of Thunder Bay

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