Mother of God - Mary - is Mother of us all. Mary is an integral part of the church and an integral part of our life. September 1 is the beginning of our liturgical year. Just as we closed our liturgical year with Mary's feast day - Dormition of the Mother of God, so we celebrate the beginning of our new liturgical year with yet another of Mary's feast days: her Nativity. Parishioners and guests gathered inside the Cathedral singing Marian hymns prior to the liturgy. In the meantime, procession of altar boys, laity and clergy started from the rectory. As H.E. Bishop John entered into his Cathedral, the congregation began singing the traditional "Vosel jesi, Archijereju" - "You have entered into your church, Most Holy Bishop." Blessing into the four corners of the world followed by H.E. Bishop John. This year, we were pleased to have our famous Slovak opera singer, Jan Vaculik, among us. His rendition of "Ave Maria" and "Panis Angelicus" helped to put us even more into the spirit of the day. Concelebrating at the altar with H.E. Bishop John, were: Fr. Marek Novicky, Fr. Jozef Mucha, Fr. Ron Comeau. Also serving were Sub-deacon Winsen Zouzal and Sub-deacon Cyril Pinchak, SJ. Homilies were delivered by H.E. Bishop John in English and Fr. Marek in Slovak.
In his sermon, Bishop spoke about Mary and her importance to all of us. He also spoke about the two faces of Mary: spiritual and worldly. He used the example of Lazarus' two sisters, coincidently named Mary and Martha. While Jesus stopped at Lazarus' house, Mary sat at Jesus' feet and hung onto every word Jesus spoke. On the other hand, Martha was busy looking after food and serving and she finally had enough. She approached Jesus and asked Him to please tell Mary to help her. Jesus assured her that Mary chose well; she chose to listen to Jesus. And just as Lazarus' sister Mary chose the better way, so did Mary, the Mother of God. When the Angel Gabriel approached her, Mary could have ignored him and be done with it. She, however, accepted and became the Mother of God. Bishop also mentioned how the name of our church is also very apropos. Before our Cathedral became ours, it was a Jewish temple. And since Mary grew up in the Jewish tradition, it was an appropriate way to honour her. Our late Bishop Michael made a wonderful decision to name this church after our heavenly Mother and thus, we have a Cathedral named in Her honour.
Fr. Marek also praised our heavenly Mother. Using his own mother as an example, he told us about decisions she has made in her life that affected him. She, like Mary, also made the right decision. It is up to us to live our lives as we choose to, making decisions - some good, some not so good. We should strive to make more and more of the right decisions and open our hearts and our minds to the love emanating from Mary. Mary, Mother of God, is also our mother, who looks after us, protects us and wants only the best for us. Let's help Her; let's be the children she deserves and follow in Her footsteps.
Liturgy concluded with everyone receiving anointing - mirovanije - and all were invited to the parish hall to continue with the celebration. Odpusts are gatherings of friends and family from near and far. It is one day when we meet up with our fellow parishioners from our neighbouring Roman Catholic parish as well as parishioners from our parishes in Hamilton, Thornhill and Windsor. It has not been that long since we welcomed parishioners from Oshawa, Welland as well as Montreal. We continue to cherish these moments since we have no idea how long they will continue.
Our parish continues to grow and that is thanks in part to the priest who continues to listen and work with his parishioners. It is also thanks to the unending devotion and time given by parishioners week after week and year after year who sacrifice themselves for the good of the church. This year we honoured the most prominent of these parishioners: Mrs. Kapitan, Mrs. Bujdos, Mrs. Burger, Mrs. Bucko, Mrs. Lilek, Miss Uram, Mrs. Hosak and Mrs. Snell as well as Mr. Kapitan, Mr. Telepcak and Mr. Tutko. Your contribution to promoting our church has not gone unnoticed. We thank you and we thank your families for allowing you to do the work you do. May God grant you many more years in good health. Fr. Marek presented the honorees with a small gift as a token of appreciation from the church family.
Mary Siroky-Snell, Photos Helen von Friedl