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: https://westernu.campuslabs.ca/engage/organization/londonchinesecatholiccommunity or on their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ccc.london/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or Alyssa at: email@example.com. 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 http://cfcyouth.ca/
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 (l.to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; visit their website at http://www.thewelcomehome.ca/