Please Pray for Those in Redemptorist Formation

Canadian Redemptorists & Redemptoristines

Formation 2018




Talents and Interests of Our Students

Psalm 40.5

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
   your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
   none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
   they would be more than can be counted.

One of my delights in vocation ministry, is getting to know the interests and talents reflected in the men who have a desire to become a Redemptorist.  Some of you have already delighted in the musical talent of Andrew Phillips.  A few years ago he serenaded us with bagpipes, in


the backyard of our Toronto house.  He is back at Fort George for his summer work, and showing off some historic instruments used by British soldiers in the 1800’s.   Many of you know Luis, who is studying philosophy and living at our student house in Toronto. What you may not know, is that to help him relax between assignments and exams, Luis takes up his electric guitar to belt out some “heavy metal” music.   Recently I cheered on Noel, who competed at a fencing tournament at the University of Toronto sporting complex.  Here he is with his coach.

…. et sur la piste….en garde!!

I want to thank all of you who have put up our new display to promote the Redemptorists.

And for example,  I know that in May, Fr. Santo Arrigo, St. Patrick - Toronto, arranged for all those preaching at the Masses on Good Shepherd Sunday to speak about vocations.  I heard from Fr. Steve Morrisey,  St. Mary  - Saskatoon, who before Easter, was speaking to a number of classrooms in the schools affiliated with St. Mary’s parish about vocations.    Once again, the St. Patrick community, hosted a supper and spiritual direction evening, where quite a number of men in the Toronto area were in attendance.


Fr Jon Hansen, C.Ss.R. Appointed Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith

By MC Havey, Archivist

Since moving to Inuvik as pastor of Our Lady of Victory parish in 2015, Fr. Jon Hansen, the next Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese, has raised the awareness of the missions of western Canadian Arctic on many aspects.

Through superb photographs and captivating updates, he has chronicled lyrically about the mission territory, describing glimpses of daily life, the contrasts of scenery, weather and the culture, intertwining the contemporary social, environmental, political issues with spirituality.

From the July 2017 update, Fr. Hansen described the annual Great Northern Arts Festival, which encompassed painting, carving, music and dance performances, noting that the Inuvik church, known as the “Igloo Church,” hosts many music concerts due to the seating capacity and domed ceiling.  The arts scene in the north, he wrote, “truly is a multi-hued canvas influenced both by and in reaction to the extremes of nature found here. … Through creativity of our imaginations and the work of our hands we bless God through the beauty of our art.”

Besides Inuvik, he provided care for the missions of Tsiigehtchic, Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk. Of these communities, he wrote in Community Connections in 2015.

What these communities share is the friendliness and welcoming attitude of the people. While there is a real sense of independence and self-reliance, it does not hinder the desire for relationship and community-building. … There is also pain here. Social issues and addiction are evident. The legacy of the residential school system is a memory that is not very distant and although there is deep spirituality among the people, resistance and a cautious attitude toward the church is sometimes apparent.

 There, ministry here requires more listening and less talking, more time spent being present with and less presiding over, more consoling and less cajoling, taking the time to first listen, learn and discern what the Spirit is asking while I am in this magnificent land among these wonderful people.

His profound passion, appreciation and understanding of the North may be rooted in his Danish ancestry and a childhood in Northern Alberta. Although born in Edmonton at Misericordia Hospital on February 18, 1967, Jon grew up in Grande Prairie, where the family moved for his father’s work in commercial construction. His parents, Paul Hansen and Karen Falkenberg-Anderson, both immigrants from Denmark and Lutherans, converted to Catholicism in the absence of the Lutheran presence in their area.

The family attended the Redemptorist parish of St. Joseph’s, where Jon remembered a young Redemptorist Fr. Dino Benedet and Brother Leo Insell, visiting the school talking about vocations. Jon attended the local schools of St. Gerard’s, St. Patrick’s junior high school and St. Joseph’s high school before enrolling in a pre-med program at Grande Prairie Regional College and working at Sports World and the Olsen Construction Co.  In the spring of 1986, he attended a vocation retreat led by Fr. David Purcell at the Redemptorist Clement House in Edmonton.

For the next eight years, he experienced different aspects of life as a philosophy student at the University of Alberta while living at Clement House; a student and graduate of Building Construction Engineering Technology at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, an employee of the Flint Engineering Co. and of McLean-Young Construction (1990-1993), where his father also worked, and a traveller on a cross-Canada bicycle trip, where he decided on a Redemptorist vocation.

In the spring of 1994, Jon worked on the Redemptorist SERVE program in Edmonton and returned to Clement House and to the University of Alberta on a scholarship, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 1997. A few months later, he entered the Redemptorist North American novitiate in Chicago, making first profession on October 16, 1998 in St. Patrick’s church, Toronto. While studying for a master of divinity degree at the University of St. Michael’s College, he also volunteered at the parish’s winter Out of the Cold program for the homeless in the inner city, at L’Arche in Richmond Hill, Ontario and on the SERVE team at Gerard House. Besides taking a unit of clinical pastoral education at Vancouver General Hospital in 2001, he also lived at Sarnelli House, Philadelphia, where the students worked with street people, living on the edge. After completing the graduate degree in 2003, a diaconal appointment followed at Holy Redeemer parish in Sudbury, Ontario. On April 24, 2004, he was ordained by Grouard-MacLennan Archbishop Arthe Guimond in his home parish of St. Joseph’s, where a day later he celebrated his First Mass.


Redemptorist assignments have been varied, including postings as associate pastor at St. Teresa’s, St. John’s (2004-2005) and St. Patrick’s, Toronto (2005-2009), where he also directed the Out of the Cold program and the formation program for Redemptorist students as well as participating in Becoming Neighbours, which assists immigrants.  Returning to Western Canada as pastor at St. Mary’s, Saskatoon (2009-2015), Fr. Hansen balanced the care of an ethically-diverse parish and its outreach initiatives with service on the Saskatoon diocesan Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Bishop’s council of priests and with the diocesan offices of migration and justice and peace.


Upon his episcopal ordination and installation in 2018, the new bishop will bring his wisdom and experience to guiding the second-largest diocese of over 1.5 million square kilometres with its boundaries from the Alberta border in the south with parts of northern Saskatchewan, Nunavut to the east, the Yukon to the west and north to the Canadian border.


The London Chinese Catholic Community, Couples for Christ and The Welcome Home

By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.

“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts.” (Acts 2:46).   “… to Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow-sol  dier, and to the church in your house…”  (Philemon v. 1-2)

The early Church consisted of small groups meeting within people’s homes or small public rooms or open air spaces.   I am so impressed by youth who commit themselves to these kinds of groups to this very day.  I am reminded of how St. Alphonsus gathered people in faith sharing groups at the butcher’s shop or in a courtyard in Naples.

Recently I was on the campus of Western University in London, ON.  The London Chinese Catholic Community (LCCC):  “welcome anyone interested in the Roman Catholic faith. It does not matter whether you are Chinese or not.  You do not even have to be Catholic, and we would still welcome you to our family!   We are a student group with over 30 years of history. LCCC’s goal is to create a safe haven that would allow Catholics and Non-Catholics to explore the Catholic faith and support one another.”

A big “shout-out” to LCCC for inviting me to lead the group in the prayers of St. Alphonsus while we meditated on the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.  One of the group members had just come from a discussion with a friend who said to her, “...male and female are just social constructs.”  So we also discussed what the Scriptures have to say to us and what does out Catholic Tradition have to offer us with regard to this statement.  If you are in London and looking for support for living your Catholic faith please feel free to contact Brian, one of the leaders of the group at: or on their facebook page at 

Recently in Winnipeg, meeting in a “Household” group, were the Couples for Christ-Youth.  We meditated on the golden slipper dropping from Jesus’ foot, as seen in the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.  With the help of the prayers of St. Alphonsus, we looked at how much Jesus “gave up,” as he let go of his place in heaven to take on our flesh.  We also shared what we can give up for Lent, that helps us to better love and serve those around us, in our family, our community, and in our world.


This group’s ability to make sacrifices for their faith, and to look out for one another, impressed me deeply.  If you are in high school or in university and looking for support for your faith in the Winnipeg area, please feel free to contact  Rommel at; or Alyssa at:  Couples for Christ - Youth groups are found all across Canada.  If you are in other areas such as Toronto or Vancouver, you can find more information at


While in Winnipeg, I was encouraged to see the strength of this “church in your house,” at work in The Welcome Home.  Sunday the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, then a men’s group or a young adult group takes place on Tuesday evening, food is shared out on Wednesday morning, followed by a women’s cooking skills group in the afternoon, a community evening on Thursday with vespers and supper, Saturday brings the “Sound of Music” as children attend piano lessons, plus many other events;  this is an amazing mission of St. Alphonsus.  In the picture at the right, I am standing in front of The Welcome Home where many people passed through to pick up groceries, a bag lunch, and some hot chocolate.  The warm drink was appreciated as some people stood outside in minus 13 degrees Celsius, for half an hour before the doors opened.


In the picture at the left, please meet ( r.) Guy, Noel, and Oleksandr.  They form the core volunteer team who live at and help run The Welcome Home.  Behind them you can see the pictures of the over 50 young adults and Redemptorists who have given witness to Jesus Christ during the past 25 years that The Welcome Home has been open.  If you know any young people who would like to be involved in a truly enriching missionary experience, where they can join this great tradition of evangelizing and being evangelized by the poor, please encourage them to contact Delores at; visit their website at


Rise Up 2017


By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.

“Dominion from sea to sea….”

These words, taken from the prophet Jeremiah and engraved on the tower of our Federal Parliament building, were a perfect title for our conference of over 800 attendees, associated with Catholic Christian Outreach.  A conference with representatives from every province of Canada, from over 70 college and university campuses, and held in Ottawa at the end of December, in honour of our 150th anniversary of Canada.    This is only one example of faith-focused conventions or conferences coming up across our country this year.  May I suggest for your next community meeting, you consider attending something like this in your area, in order to promote our Congregation and make invitations for people to come and join us.

At this RiseUp 2017 conference, I connected with other coordinators of vocation ministry.  For example,  on the far left is Fr. Mbugua William, S.J..  Since the summer of 2017 and through to this coming summer, he is working with two other Jesuits to get them “up to speed” as they transition into this ministry.  On my left is Fr. John O’Brien, S.J. and not pictured here is Deacon Edmund Lo, S.J..   On the far right, is Ms. Kelly Bourke, the Executive Director of Jesuit Volunteers, Canada.  She oversees the volunteers who live in the house next door to St. Patrick monastery in Toronto.

Fr. Mbugua, mentioned to me that the Jesuits have almost 20 people from Canada in their formation program at the present time.  He reported also, that one of the regions of Jesuits in the Unites States has assigned five Jesuits to their vocation ministry, and they are receiving five to ten candidates per year.  This is strong experiential evidence that supports conclusions of a research project done in the United States that concluded, if a community assigns people to work full-time in vocation ministry then they will attract more members to their community.  I mention this here, as we go through our own process of re-structuring for mission in Canada.  I believe, it will help our mission greatly, to assign three full-time Redemptorists to vocation ministry within the country of Canada.

Thanks to Fr. Remi & community and Fr. Santo & community for hosting Come & See suppers in January.


For The New Year: Looking Ahead and Looking Back

By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.

Wow!  It has been many, many months since I have been able to make time to write.  My difficulty with time for writing is that much of my time is taken up in speaking with, writing to, and visiting families of, men who are interested in joining our Redemptorist community.  As one man asked me this fall after attending vocation activities since last spring, “so what’s the next step for joining the Redemptorists?”

Here you see five inquirers who attended a December retreat at our student house in Toronto.  We used the Icon of Our Mother Perpetual Help to meditate on “The eternal Word became poor for us,”  and “The eternal Word became flesh for us.”  For our common prayer on these themes, we used the words of St. Alphonsus, who, as you know, has written many meditations on the mystery of the Incarnation.    A special thank-you to our student community who hosted this retreat.  Please remember to pray for our inquirers across the country.  We have one man in Toronto and one near Vancouver who want to apply to the next stage as a Candidate with our community.  Please remember to pray for Alfredo and  Luis, who continue their studies of philosophy and theology.   May I suggest, that at your next gathering of Redemptorist Associates, or at a community meeting, you take time to sign a card as a tangible expression of your prayers, and to send this encouragement to our two students in Toronto.  And, if you are up for a challenge, send encouragement to Ivan who is in our novitiate in Poland, and Eumir who is studying theology at our student house in Austin, Texas!

Thanks to Fr. Michael Brehl!  He brought an originally written copy of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, from Rome to Toronto.  I used this icon for our retreat day mentioned above.  I am also taking these reflections and this Icon,  “on the road.”  This next picture highlights a retreat for parishioners from St. Norbert Parish, North York.  As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations they held a full day Advent Retreat.

In the coming months, I am meeting with groups of young adults for a retreat evening, or series of evenings, or a retreat day in this format.  In addition to the themes mentioned above, Anne Walsh and I have developed the following reflections:  “Our Mother’s help through loving eyes,”  “Mary holds us in sickness and suffering,” “Our Mother's Help to see Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread.”  As you look ahead to the coming year or even next year, please let me know of any groups who might be interested. 

I enjoy very much in my travels, participating in special events in all of our communities across the country.  Here I was blessed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of St. Joseph Parish in Winnipeg.  Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak presided, while Fr. Dmytro Dnistrian C.Ss.R,  the pastor at St. Joseph, and I concelebrated on the 17th of September.

I arrived in Saskatoon in November  just in time for the installation of Bishop Mark Hagemoen.   In the pictures you will see Redemptorist Bishop Bryan Bayda C.Ss.R. (at the left) and just behind the ambo in the sanctuary is Bishop Gerry Pettipas C.Ss.R. (picture at right).   Among the priests behind the sanctuary, you will not see Frs. Ciro Perez, Steve Morrisey, David Purcell, nor Graham Hill who were also in attendance.  If you look closely you will see a soon to be bishop, Fr. Jon Hansen.

As you know, Fr. Steve Morrisey, serves three parishes all within an hour’s drive from Saskatoon.  In the picture at the right, he is with parishioners who attended a Sunday Mass at Paroisse Sts. Donatien et Rogatien, at the end of November.  The week after this celebration, Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer, Joan and Bob Williston arrived to preach a parish mission for the three parishes that form a pastoral unit.

During the summer, I was joined at Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré by two men who wanted to live-in with the Redemptorists for a short time.  This was an experience which helped their desire to join the Redemptorists, to grow stronger.  Pictured at the left at a crêperie, is Hawkins.  Although Hawkins worked very hard at the Basilica, we also took time to visit in Québec city.

I am always inspired by the pilgrims who come to celebrate St. Anne and to ask her help in their lives.  Seated with me on the bench are John and Jerome.  They are part of a family of Innu people who traveled from Sheshatshiu, Labrador.  Talk about a pilgrimage!  Sheshatshiu, is situated on a lake which extends out to the east coast.  It takes many days to travel by a long winding road out of the interior of Labrador and down into Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré.  They make this pilgrimage every year.

I was also very inspired by my visit to the Redemptoristine Sisters in Ste-Thérèse, Québec.  Ste-Thérèse is a growing city, about a half hour drive north of Montréal.  A more recent member, Soeur Marie-Hélène Bourdon, born in Québec, professed her first vows in May of 2015.   My inspiration for this visit started in Toronto where a Vietnamese confrere showed me a video of 12 men being ordained, and 17 men professing their vows with the Congregation, in Vietnam, during the spring of last year.  In the middle of a large group of sisters, dressed in black habits, I noticed two sisters dressed in crimson.  I found out that they were from the community of Notre Dame du Perpétuel-Secours  in Ste-Thérèse.  They were sent to help found a new community in Vietnam!  You can see in the picture at the left, a novice of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer, who finished her first year of novitiate in Québec and who is now completing her second year of novitiate in Vietnam.

In a more recent visit just before Christmas, we had a meeting to discuss how to do some activities together to attract inquirers to our family of the Most Holy Redeemer.

I hope you are encouraged, as I am, that although some messages in the secular press report that no young people are interested in the Catholic Church, across Canada there are indeed, young people interested in serving the Church;  there are people interested in joining the Redemptorists and the Redemptoristines here in Canada.  As you plan ahead for the coming year, I hope you will invite people to get to “come and see”  your community.  If you find yourself saying, “we don’t see or meet any young people in our ministry”, I can give you the names and locations of individuals and groups of young people who are very close to where you live.   Here is a group of university students who meet weekly on the campus of the University of Toronto. During recent years, three priesthood candidates and two sister candidates have emerged from this group.  They asked me this past fall,  if there are any Redemptorists who could participate in their group on a more regular basis than I am able to participate.

Eumir Bautista’s First Vows

This is a special year for our Redemptorist family in Canada.  We celebrate several milestones of new members in our midst.  Brother Eumir Bautista joined the Redemptorists on the 14th of August 2015.  He professed his first vows to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in Winnipeg at St. Joseph Church.  

Born in Libon, Albay, the Phillipines, Brother Eumir graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Manila.  In 2006 he began to formally study the traditions of the Christian East in Ottawa.

Eumir stated, “I am inspired by the service of Redemptorists to the poor and to those who are most abandoned.”  He, therefore, really enjoyed living at The Welcome Home in Winnipeg for two years, before recently completing his novitiate in Toronto.  “We Redemptorists are deeply drawn to devotion to the Mother of God,”  Eumir added about his reasons for joining the Congregation.   

Annual Student Gathering in Canandaigua

From the 21st of May through the 27th, all the Redemptorist students in North America along with those in formation ministry and those in vocation ministry met at Notre Dame Retreat Centre, near Rochester, New York.We gathered in the morning for a two hour workshop.  Our presenter was Fr. Dennis Billy C.Ss.R..  He guided us through the life and times of St. Alphonsus.  He illustrated through Alphonsus’ own writings, Alphonsus’ genius for pastoral ministry, his stature as one of the greatest spiritual writers and mentors, his guidelines for us to become great preachers, and confessors, and his inspiration for us to live a community life which reflects Jesus as Saviour and Redeemer. Each afternoon and evening, was filled with social time to build fraternity among the students, while many of those in formation and vocation ministries held meetings.  

On Saturday at the closing Mass, we were delighted to see Fr. Stephen Rehrauer and Fr. Jerry Knapp along with some who are in formation ministry, receive the renewal of vows of some of the Redemptorist students.  Please remember to pray for our Redemptorist students, especially as many are going through transitions through this summer and into the fall.  For example, many people may have heard, “we are moving”!  Many theology students are moving from Chicago and Boston to complete their theological studies at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.  This school was founded in 1903 by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.  The main languages for their education there will be English and Spanish.  Fr. Peter Hill and Fr. Mick Fleming  will be responsible for leadership in this community of students.  

Our formation programs in Dallas, at the University of Dallas, Texas, and at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, where the formation programs take place primarily in Vietnamese and English, will continue as they have.  Fr. Francis Dang will remain in leadership with others on the formation teams in these places.

Come Discover Yourself, While Helping Others in Need…

Consider joining us at the Welcome Home – A Mission of St. Alphonsus an inner city ministry in Winnipeg, where we work together to always be inclusive of those who can be over-looked, the poor and the most abandoned.  Founded by the Redemptorists over 20 years ago, the Welcome Home works to build a community that embraces the material, emotional and spiritual needs of those in need.   The Welcome Home is now accepting applicants for the live-in community commencing September 2017.  We ask for a 10 month live in commitment however the length of stay is negotiable and can be a little as 4 months.  

Interested in exploring the possibilities of living in community, giving of your time and talents while receiving the gift of a life changing experience?  Get more information at or contact the Welcome Home at 204-946-5352 or email: .

Fr. Graham Hill’s Ordination & First Mass

Graham Hill was ordained a priest, by Archbishop Gerry Pettipas on the 10th of June.  Archbishop Gerry spoke about three people who had greatly influenced Graham’s spiritual and personal formation.  Most of the priests in the archdiocese attended the ordination; some making great sacrifices to travel from very far flung locations, and then returning to their parishes for their Sunday celebrations!   

Graham was also joined by men from his novitiate class; pictured below from right to left are Kevin Zubel and Quy Duong (both of whom were ordained to the Transitional Diaconate on June 26).  Fr. Dennis Sweeney, next to Quy, was the rector of Graham’s community during Graham’s theology studies.

Thanks go to many Redemptorist confreres who came from across North America.  A banquet for clergy and friends was held before the ordination.  

And we are very grateful to many volunteers from St. Joseph Parish who helped to host a reception in the parish hall after the ordination and after Fr. Graham Hill’s Mass of Thanksgiving on the following Sunday.