Actions of Solidarity: Where is Your Voice?

– Br. Michael, ofm

Ethan Bear is a defenseman on the Edmonton Oilers who happens to be from Ochapowace First Nation in Saskatchewan. I don’t personally know Ethan; I have never met him and probably never will and yet something that happened to him this past week continues to echo in my mind. He was the subject of racist behaviour as the Oilers lost their first round of the NHL playoffs. When I first heard this news, I was disgusted. I still am disgusted. It amazes me how we seek shelter behind our phones and screens to make ignorant comments about someone and their race. It is never okay to do this, it is even worse to think we have a privilege to this because of the power of technology we hold in our hands. Our phones can become loaded weapons which seek to destroy another person. A person who more often than not we have no sense of their life.

Ethan along with his partner Lenasia responded to the racists remarks in a video statement. They responded with grace and dignity. They challenged us again to consider what it means to be part of community and how love and kindness are our core actions which lead to healthy relationships and tearing down walls of racism. Ethan and Lenasia ask us to be a part of the change and are rooted in the hope that we can get to place where racism does not exist. Something he said which really struck me is that he is not doing this for himself, but for others. I can imagine that the sports world can easily have an athlete turn in on themselves only thinking about themselves. Ethan could have stayed in his own world and become bitter about it all and let it destroy him and his future. Instead, he is taking this moment to again draw our attention to the big issue of racism and how it remains prevalent in society as it impacts many lives. Ethan is challenging us to face this reality and do something about it. What can we do? It’s too big of an issue, we say. Yes, it is a big issue but there is something each of us can do. Each one of us has a voice and each one of us can use that voice for the good – for love and kindness. Using our voice on social media platforms, in our circle of family and friends, at community events and supporting those who deal with racism every day. We have to ask ourselves how are we doing this in our communities and in building relationships with First Nations communities, Peoples of Colour and all people? The other question we must ask ourselves is: Why does another generation have to endure the immaturity of not seeing the value of each human being?

As I read about Ethan and this latest stint of racist remarks he has faced, I was taken back to a year ago when much of the world was horrified by the death of George Floyd in the US. A year later with race related deaths on both sides of the border we clearly still have a long way to go. George Floyd’s death sent shock waves and called for change. Small steps have begun. We however must ask ourselves have we continued to raise our voices for justice with love and kindness as we strive for a world where the God-given dignity of each person is respected (no matter their life journey)? Through the racist remarks that Ethan faced this past week, which do indeed kill part of a person, Ethan is again calling to our attention the reality which First Nations and Peoples of Colour face. Yet he is calling us to move forward with hope. I choose to stand with Ethan and be a person of hope, using my voice to condemn hatred. I choose to use my voice to expand the circle of love and kindness our world desperately needs. How about you?

In the Catholic world this past Sunday (May 30) was Trinity Sunday, where we celebrate God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here is a perfect community where love is the dominate feature, kindness is an outpouring of this love and a collective self-emptying (as in not doing it for self) is the norm. Seems to me that if we remember that we are made in the image and likeness of God, who is love and functions in a community of love then we could tackle the ugliness of racism and move towards eliminating it. Together we can stand along side Ethan and Lenasia with hope for a future where love and kindness are the norm because we have done our work and raised our voices for the common good. That time is now, the future is this very next minute, and then the next hour and so on. We have a choice to make. As St. Francis would say: let us begin again.


Photo credits:

Jon Tyson

Andrew Thornebrooke

Priscilla Du Preez

Sharon Santema






















Pentecost: The Dwelling of the Holy Spirit

– Br. Michael, ofm

Pentecost brings to a close the great festival of Easter, reminding us we are sent forth as witnesses of hope, love and the good news entrusted to us. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to all people and as the text from Romans reminds us the Spirit dwells within us. This has always amazed me – our God that close – dwelling within us, in our every breath. We often pray “Come Holy Spirit” and yet the Spirit is already here. May we become more attuned and attentive to how the Spirit is living and moving in us. It need not be in grandiose moments but rather in the steps forward each day.



Holy Spirit

you who enkindles

in me the fire

of your love,

you who awakens

in me the depth

of your love

you who stirs

in me the joy

of your love

I welcome you here

you are here

with each breath.

Holy Spirit

you who are

so close to me

like a breath

you who are

so near to me

like the air

you who are

so entwined in me

like my blood

I welcome you here

you are here

my life-line.

Holy Spirit

you who moves

in and through me

dance with me

you who delights

in dreams and ideas

inspire me

you who rises up

in me and my living

guide me

I welcome you here

you are here

my companion.

Holy Spirit

you who are

the ultimate gift-giver

showing me how to give

you who are

the life-force of all

direct my living

you who are

God the source of love

my very all

I welcome you here

you are here

today, tomorrow and always.

My heart is your

dwelling place, tabernacle, home

you are always welcome here

you are always here.

Welcome Holy Spirit – the door is open.

Support of our Retreat Captains and BenefactorsHoly Spirit Province Saint-Esprit


Pentecost is the Feast Day for the Franciscans of Canada.

The Holy Spirit is our patron as we continue to preach the gospel in Canada.

We humbly ask for your continued prayers and support.

Peace and All Good.







Photo Credits:

Mateus Campos Felipe

Valdemaras D.












Proclaim Good News – Ascension 2021

– Br. Michael, ofm

There is a line in the gospel for Ascension Sunday which catches my eye. In the gospel of Mark we read: “They went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them” (Mark 16.20). In ages past I’m sure this would have been used as a conquering and propagation tactic. Christians would have used it as a means to rob truths from other cultures and try and be dominate – claiming Jesus was in their strong crusading arm. Sadly, this fails the message of the good news and the Lord at work with us.

I believe the proclaiming of the good news is proclaiming how much God is in love with us. How much this love is God’s mercy given to us time and again restoring, renewing and refreshing us when the filth of life tries to rob us from our inherent goodness and dignity. Proclaiming the good news is about seeing Christ at work in each other, trusting that his work is being fulfilled when we share who we are in life-giving ways. When we do this, we are working from the holiness which each of our lives possess. The good news is about a message of hope, new life and paths which lead to a greater awareness of wonder and awe.

               The Lord working with us is about our openness. Open hearts stirred by the gospel see the truth of the conviction of the first shall be last, the blessed will see God, the hungry and thirsty eat and drink in abundance, and our lives magnifying the goodness of our God. Each and every day the Lord works with us in our ordinary and extraordinary lives. Yet we doubt this, we seem to think this is not possible that only saints have this gift of the Lord working with them. We must stop believing this lie, for we too are saints and the Lord desires nothing more than to work in amazing ways in our life. Whether that is carrying for a child, listening to an elder, praying a litany of prayers for the world, volunteering at a food bank, cutting our neighbour’s grass, sending a card or leading a group of people in a mission project – the Lord is at work with us.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he didn’t abandon us saying: “Good Luck – see you all in heaven!” No, he entrusted us with the gift of his Spirit – which empowers us to proclaim the good news and see the good news in our lives. This same Spirit reminds us that the Lord works with us in our given life here in this time and place. God will not abandon us – children loved so dearly. What God does ask of us is to see how God is uniquely at work in each person, culture, nation and church. We are not all identical cookie cutters rather we are infused uniquely with God’s very life. When we can see this then we will truly see how the good news is being proclaimed and how the Lord works with us always.

The time is now. The time is ours. The Lord is working with us.

How are you called to proclaim the good news?

Photo Credits:

Adrien Olichon

Rod Long












Abiding in Love: The Vocation of Motherhood

– Br. Michael, ofm

One of my favorite things to do when I get to spend time with my mom is to rest my head on her shoulder. This means we need to be seated for our heights do not match. It often happens at the end of a day full of whatever may have come our way as we reflect on what was and consider what is in store. It is a graced moment; a moment where time seems to sit still.

Head on her shoulder moments seem to hold every moment in which she has held me, comforted me, encouraged me and sheltered me. Through a lifetime these can number a lot moments with each one providing a snapshot into her vocation of mother. As I consider my mom’s vocation of motherhood and that of the many mothers of the world, I can’t help but reflect on the words of Christ: “Abide in my love…love one another as I have loved you… go and bear fruit that will last”

(John 15.9-7).

To abide in love is to remain stable in love. Christ’s love is stable and continuous – is ever encompassing and it never falters. God doesn’t show us love in hard to grasp scenarios or philosophies instead God shows abiding love in simple concrete moments, like resting on a mother’s shoulder. My mom’s shoulder to rest on and cry on is a witness of Christ’s abiding love in my life. I am also aware that not every child has this encounter of love and witness of Divine Love. There are times when I rest my head on her shoulder that I think of the children who do not know their mother or those who have broken relationships with their mom. My heart aches for these children as we should all be able to know the abiding gift of love. May our prayers be for these children and for their mothers, for hope and for reconciliation.

Love one another as I have loved you is a call to action. It is not stagnant but life-giving. It means sacrifice and dedication. God invites us into this command by the endless gift of love poured into our lives and then simply asks that we share this love with others. Mothers have a way of showing love as real and tangible. Not only in tasks done where they lay down their lives over and over again for their children but in tender moments where an adult son can rest his head on his mother’s shoulder and breathe in the gift of God’s love that close. There are other times when I rest my head on my mom’s shoulder that I think of this gift of love and how it has infused my life because she has lived into her vocation of motherhood. I am always grateful for this. I also think of the mothers who struggle to share this love and to be present because of traumas and hardships in their lives. May our prayers be for these mothers from all walks of life that healing may touch their lives and they may know the gift of Divine Love.

Bearing fruit is a natural part of motherhood – we the offspring would be that fruit. We are in a sense a legacy of our parents and how we bear fruit gives testimony to hope and new life. We sometimes don’t nurture the fruit which is ours to grow and at other times we may even neglect. Still mothers choose to bear fruit and instill lasting values, qualities and opportunities. As a child who will never have his own children, I can see how bearing fruit is not simply about being a parent but is in how we nurture others and are present to others. This can be a bearing of fruit which will help transform someone’s life and set them free to love with the heart of Christ. There are still other times when my head rests on my mother’s shoulder that I give thanks for her nurturing and encouragement. How she has shown me ways to bear fruit that will last by fostering my relationship with Christ and by helping me to see the ways my life is bearing fruit. I also then become aware of those who struggle with being loved, struggle with their value and the gifts they offer; whether that is a mother, father or child. May our prayers be for those who struggle to see the fruitfulness of their life, may they have continual glimpses of God’s love for them and may we be heralds of their dignity.

My plan for this Mother’s Day was to show up at home and surprise my Mom. Although this pandemic has changed those plans again, I give thanks for the moments I have had to rest my head on her shoulder in the past and look forward to the next time I can share in this graced moment. Until then I am grateful for her vocation of motherhood and how I have encountered the abiding love of God as close as my mother’s shoulder.

Let us offer our prayers for all the mothers of our world, from all walks of life who bear love so to help our world love better.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom and to all Moms!