Missals

In response to COVID-19 precautions, missals will not be placed in the seats for the coming year. If you would like to order your own -- which would be taken with you and brought back home -- here are some options:

The St. Joseph Sunday Missal -- the one we have been ordering -- is available through Broughton's (www.bbroughton.com or 1-800-268-4449).

The Word Among Us (specify you want to order the “Complete Catholic Mass Readings for Canada” edition). The Word Among Us contains the readings and a commentary for each day. 7115 Guilford Dr. Suite 100, Frederick, MD, USA 21704-9804, wau.org or call 1-800-775-9673

Living with Christ: Novalis Periodical Dept., 1 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 800, Toronto, ON M4P 3A1, 1-800-387-7164, living@novalis.ca

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Upper Room PEI

A weekly gathering for young adults seeking a deeper relationship with Christ.

Hour of Adoration every Tuesday evening, 7:30 pm in Glastonbury Hall.

For more info, follow us on Facebook @Upper Room PEI.

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Parish Financial Support

If you have not been using envelopes, and would like to, please contact the Parish Office.

If you would like to sign up for automatic debit or arrange for E-transfer contributions, please contact the Parish Office.

Thank you for your financial support of the parish. It is appreciated and much needed.

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Parish Office Hours

Mondays: 9 am - 12 noon

Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 9 am - 4 pm

Thursdays: 9 am - 12 noon.

The office is not open on Fridays.

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Mass Times

Weekdays - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday – 9 am.

Weekends: Saturday - 4 pm, Sunday – 9 am, 11 am & 5 pm.

Note: Due to the number of months we were without bulletin, there is now a surplus of bulletin covers. Until these are used, we will not be able to update the scheduling information shown on them. Please refer to the inside part of the bulletin for up-to-date information.

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Letter from Fr. Keith (September 23)

Dear Friends and Parishioners of St. Dunstan’s,

With the return of the bulletin last week, another step is taken toward the more familiar, left behind last March. COVID-19 has impacted us in lots of ways.  We've had to make adjustments in all aspects of our lives--including our liturgical worship. It's easy to get discouraged. Sometimes we need to sit with the distress and pour out our hearts to God.

Tuesday of last week, we celebrated the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The first reading was from the letter to the Hebrews (5:7-9). Here is part of what was read: In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death.

Those prayers and supplications were sometimes on his own behalf--as when he asked in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before he died if he could be spared the cup of suffering (see Mt. 26:39, Mk. 14:35, Lk. 22:420) or on the cross when he cried out to his Father his feelings of abandonment (see Mt. 27: 46, Mk. 15:340).

Those prayers and pleas, though, went beyond himself. He interceded for those around him, in Jerusalem and Galilee, whose anguish touched his heart. He included, even, those who had arranged and accomplished his death (see Lk. 23:24).

More than that, his cries and tears were for those countless since Adam and Eve, whose lives were burdened with all manner of sickness and frustration and failure and chaos. He would visit them in his descent among the dead during that interval between his cross and resurrection with the gift of redemption.

And, in his love as Son of Mary and Son of God, he reached into the future, even to us, to let us know that in our own struggle--with COVID-19 and all other of our burdens--he is with us, interceding, and as one, who knows, first-hand, what it is to live upon this earth, he walks with us helping us carry the load, and ahead of us into the hope of glory.

That same reading from the letter to the Hebrews continued, [Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered. The word "obedience" comes from the verb "to listen." Out of his own distress, out of the suffering he witnessed around him, out of his awareness of humanity's distress--before and after--his time on earth, Jesus learned to listen to the voice of his Father, reassuring him that he would neither be forgotten or left alone. That reassurance was shown to be sincere in his resurrection.

It's the same for us. In our own strife--pre, during, and after this pandemic--will we learn to listen--as individuals, as families and communities, as the human family--will we learn to listen for and to the voice of God? That voice speaks the same words to us as have been spoken time and again through the record of salvation history. "I have saved you in the past. I'm saving you now. And, be not afraid, I will remain faithful."

In last Tuesday's Mass for the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, the gospel was taken from John's account of the death of the Lord. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman behold your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." That touching scene is the beginning of that unique relationship between the mother of Jesus and his beloved disciple. It's the announcement of Mary's role as our mother. It's also, in all of that, the mandate we've all received from the Lord to live as caregivers to one another. As he was to remain with this mother and disciple in their relationship with each other, so does he remain with us in our blessed relationship, in him, with one another. It's part of the undying bond of love between and among us, which we profess when we say we believe in "the communion of saints.”

So … since mid-March, we and our world are living together in a different and unfamiliar way. We join the vast "cloud of witnesses" who have gone before us who have been challenged with making big adjustments. We prepare the way for those who will come after us, who will, in their own unique ways, be called upon to do the same. We, as will they, are not abandoned or alone. Through, with, and in Christ Jesus, in the company of one another, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, may we learn to listen for and to the voice of the Father, bestowing upon us courage, hope, generosity, as we walk together toward a future filled with hope.

Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave. The power of his resurrection is with and in us. Alleluia!!

With the return of the bulletin to keep everyone up to date, I’ll bring my letters to a close. The bulletin will be on line on our parish website each week. If I can be of direct assistance to anyone, please be in touch with me. frkeithstdunstans@gmail.com or 902-894-3486. I’d be happy to talk with you or to arrange a visit. Mass registration is available through the link on the website. If you would like someone to complete the registration for you, you may call 902-892-9387, 902-621-1988, or 902-367-7829.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith

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Letter from Fr. Keith (September 5)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

“The good old days!”  We often look back on times gone by with fondness and nostalgia. Truth be recognized and told, every age in the history of the world, every era in our personal lives is a mixture of good and bad, of ups and downs, of things being done right and others, leaving ample room for improvement.

It’s the same when we look at Christian history. In this Sunday’s gospel (Mt. 15:18-20), Jesus spoke to his disciples, “If your brother or sister sins against you...” By the very fact he felt the need to say what he does, Jesus recognizes the need for his followers to have a blueprint for reconciling with each other.

There are hints of dissension in other gospel stories. Remember James and John asking Jesus for special status; then the other disciples getting more than annoyed with them—maybe because they were thinking so competitively; maybe, too, out of concern they might get ahead of them (see Mk. 10:35-41).

If your brother or sister sins against you ... In other words: any word or deed done intentionally to disregard us or to do us harm.

He lists steps designed to respond to the resulting rift. First, attempt to deal with the situation directly. It takes courage. At the same time, it’s essential. If that gets you nowhere, involve others, who have a sincere desire to be of aid. If that doesn’t help you may have to get some formal assistance: a go-between, an arbitrator.

Jesus then concludes with what we may be, at first, a bit surprised to hear from him. It might not work, all your best efforts, and after all to be said and done has been said and done, with great regret, we may need to step away. Some reconciliations will happen only in the life to come.

Where two or three are gathered, for all kinds of reasons, there is potential for discord. How does Jesus tell us to respond?

Do everything we can—everything for which we can be responsible—to be reconciled is his gist. Bend over backwards. Don’t get caught up in who’s right and who’s wrong or who must apologize to whom and on and on—all the diversions to which we might resort to ease the hurt and save face. It all hinges on the grace of God and the human desire to mend brokenness and start afresh. If it doesn’t work, leave it to the grace of God, and walk away, with sadness, but in peace.

Two points to bring our reflection on the gospel to a close.  First: the implied advice Jesus would give from all of this. Avoid sinning against another—any thought word or deed intended to do someone harm in any way. Don’t do it. Then, those steps in dealing with the fallout won’t be necessary.

Second: The one with whom we can’t make amends, let such a one be to you, says Jesus, as a Gentile and a tax collector. Careful we don’t misinterpret that as an excuse to bad-mouth and belittle. How did Jesus treat Gentile and tax collector? Well, he died for them.

Jesus knew he wasn’t establishing a flawless community. He saw in them, though, and in us, the potential to apply his example, his teaching to the ebb and flow of our lives. That, he knew, would be for our own true and lasting good, and would ripple out to nurture the seed of salvation in our world.

This week, our thoughts and prayers are especially focused on everyone involved in our educational system as a new school year begins. The threat of COVID-19 is a worry for all.

The diocese, in consultation with the Chief Public Health Office, has just released a protocol for catechetics this coming year in view of the pandemic. We will soon be meeting to make decisions for a bit-later-than-usual start to our 2020-2021 parish program.

Monday is Labour Day. We are reminded of the dignity of human work and of those called upon to perform it. Honest work is one of the important ways we participate in and extend the creative and transforming work of God. Labour Day calls us to gratitude for the countless tasks performed for our benefit by so many. The holiday reminds us, too, of those who struggle in unjust working conditions and of those who are unemployed. We share, also, in the gratitude of those whose work is their joy, and who are grateful for the contribution they are able to make to the common good by the jobs that occupy so much of their time.

I plan to be off Monday through Friday this week. Bishop Richard will preside at the weekday Masses.

Peace be with you and yours,

Fr. Keith

ST. DUNSTAN, PRAY FOR US!

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Letter from Fr. Keith (August 29)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

God’s Word holds a special place in our hearts and lives. The Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, says the letter to the Hebrews (4:12). From that we learn that when we go to the Bible or hear the Word of God read in church, there is something unique about the experience, setting it apart from our encounter any other kind of word. God’s Word isn’t simply a story about people and events in the distant past—as an historical novel would be. Yes, God’s Word recounts events and people from long ago and far away, but it’s always more. God’s Word tells the story of our own lives and the world in which we live. God’s Word reveals God to us, and it reveals us to ourselves. Let anyone who has ears to hear, listen! says Jesus (Mk. 4:23).

Another interesting observation about the Word comes to us from the Scriptures. So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter (Rev. 10: 9-10). In other words, our first encounter with God and his Word is often enchanting. As time goes on, however, things may seem different. The initial exuberance and enthusiasm may give way to hesitation and reluctance or more.

That is the experience of the prophet, Jeremiah, in this Sunday’s first reading. Though at first reluctant to accept the prophetic call (see Jer. 1:4-10), later he prays: Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts (15:16).   They were honey in his mouth.

Today, though, his experience is radically different. The Word has not only become part of him, he’s proclaimed it to people who refused to hear because it upset the applecart of their comfortable lives. Religious and civil leaders wanted rid of him. When we come upon him today (20:7-9), he’s just been beaten at the direction of one of the temple priests, and put on public display to be mocked and to serve as a warning to anyone else who might be thinking about following in his footsteps.

Jeremiah is caught on the horns of a dilemma. He wants out, to be free of the awesome responsibility he carries. At the same time, he’s bursting to speak the Word that fills his heart.

Enter Peter in the gospel (Mt. 16:21-27). Well acquainted with Jeremiah’s anguish, he knows Jesus, if he keeps going as he has been, will be headed down the same road. And not only Jesus, but his followers—himself included. He tries to discourage Jesus from his path, and receives a rebuke that must have set him back on his heels.  Jesus adds these bewildering words to Peter’s scolding, For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

What’s he saying? Lots, of course. We might summarize it this way. For everyone, discipleship and life, in general, can sometimes be overwhelming. While we may want to run and hide, that really won’t be helpful as an ongoing alternative. That’s what Jesus means by our wanting to save our life, but losing it in the long-run: opting to live in a bubble, immunized against reality, diminishing our experience of living. A far more life-giving, life-sharing, choice is to muster our courage, call on the support of others and the grace of God, and take the next step—even if hesitant and faltering. That’s finding our life, according to the Lord.

Today, the word of God speaks to our own moments when life is tough and we feel overwhelmed, wanting to bury our heard in the sand, to run away and hide. Who among us hasn’t had those times? No, encourages Jesus. He inspires us, “Get up, lick your wounds, and keep going.” That’s what he did after he shed tears of fear in Gethsemane’s garden and wondered if the cup could pass him by. Anguish didn’t have the final say. The hope of resurrection, fullness of life, did. So for Jeremiah. So for Peter. So for you and me.

Over the last few weeks, as you know, we celebrated First Communion and Confirmation, delayed from the spring because of COVID-19 restrictions. Please continue to pray for these children/young people and their families.

I’ve several times extended my gratitude and the gratitude of our parish community to the 30 + parishioners who have offered themselves in service to us since our Masses resumed. They’re continuing a true ministry of hospitality: welcoming, guiding people to seats, and being an overall hospitable, helpful presence. Oh, and we can’t forget their cleaning skills after each of the Masses! And, the icing on the cake: I get great company from them! They’d welcome new participants any time. Contact brhod12@hotmail.com; jawhite5414@gmail.com; or call the parish office 902-894-3486. Another option is to let one of the ministers know after Mass some day that you’d like to be involved. Thanks, too, to those who look after the registration lists and register people without access to a computer. I’ll give you the contact numbers again: 902-367-7829, 902-892-9387, 902-621-1988. Share those numbers, please, with anyone you know who’d like to have them. Great, too, if you offered to register someone who requires that service.

Continue, please, to pray for residents of long-term care. Mom is doing well. My sister from New Brunswick was recently home for a visit and spent a lot of time with her. This coming week, it was announced, visiting restrictions will be further eased.

Another group whose intentions we’re invited to remember: those required to self-isolate when they come here for school or for work, especially those far from home. It’s difficult, I’m sure, for some. We’re often buoyed up by the prayers of others—many of whom we’ll never meet. It’s all part of the gift of being among the communion of saints.

This week, we celebrated the memorials of a mother and her son: Saints Monica and Augustine. We invoke their intercession upon all of us.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith

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Letter from Fr. Keith (August 21)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

The shorter days are telling us that summer is passing on toward fall. At last, the temperatures and the humidity took a dip this week. The start of a new school year is on the horizon. I recall a lot of mixed feelings about this time of year as I look back to what is now decades in the past. In 2020, adapting to COVID-19 is top of mind for parents, teachers, administrators, and no small number of students, no matter the level at which they find themselves in the system.

Relationships are a big part of every human endeavour. We’ve mentioned the start of school. Relationships: among friends and staffs, between teachers and students, between parents and their children’s schools. They’re an essential part of the whole enterprise of education.

The relationship between Jesus and his disciples is at the forefront of this Sunday’s gospel (Mt.16:13-20). The story ties into the theme of teaching and learning. Jesus asks the group of followers, who walked with him that long-ago day, who others say he is. He referred to himself as “the Son of Man.” They were quick to reply. They’d been paying attention to the comments they’d heard.

Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Those responses highlight the significance the crowds had attributed to him. All those mentioned were momentous figures in the culture and the faith-heritage of the people.

Jesus doesn’t stop there. “That’s fine,” he seems to say. “You’ve been attentive to what’s going on around you.” Then he quickly adds, But who do you say that I am? The opinions and assumptions and observations of others are significant, and are a necessary beginning, but what about you? It’s a bit like learning something in school. What others have discovered is always vital. But it’s a first step. Have many of us not had the experience of having to try to integrate what we’ve learned into our own persons if it is to become anything more than me with someone else’s information? It needs to become part of us. That’s true whether it’s Bible study or Canadian history or riding a bike or baking a pan of biscuits.

It’s also true about faith development, about our relationship with Jesus Christ, and with our brothers and sisters in him. Others have told us a lot about Jesus: our parents, our grandfathers, our friends, our catechism teachers, priests and sisters. We’ve read books that were part of courses we’ve taken. That’s the first question Jesus put to his friends that day. Who do people say that the Son of Man is?

Vital as is that first level of information, as foundational, he leads us further. But who do you say that I am? Have we thought much about how we’d answer that question? It’s like knowing about some well-known person—say, for example, (you fill in the blank), compared to actually knowing them, first-hand?

It’s to that kind of knowing that Jesus invited Peter and the others. It’s to that kind of knowing Jesus invites us. We respond a number of ways: thinking about him, reflecting upon what we’ve been taught, looking for his presence in our lives and in the world around us, mindfully celebrating the sacraments, reading the scriptures, praying and talking to him about our lives, embracing his life as the model for our own. The list of ways we get to know Jesus is long. Some we share in common. Others are unique to the particular person. Ultimately, we come to know Jesus because the Father, through the power of the Spirit, who teaches us all things (see Jn. 14:26), reveals him to us. Jesus affirms that to Simon Peter, after he recognizes him as the Christ, the Son of the living God: Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven (Mt. 16: 16, 17). Our thinking and praying and searching and reading and sacramental life and gospel living, while they are signs of his already- presence to us, are how we become prepared to meet him, to recognize him when that happens, and to grow in our familiarity with him within and around us.

Not an over-night occurrence—neither for Simon Peter nor for us—but a relationship that develops over the course of a life time—fueled by God’s grace and our openness to receive what is given. Along the way, lots of patience and honesty with ourselves is a daily call.

We continue to pray for the people of Lebanon, in the wake of the recent horrific explosion in Beirut. Donations may be put in a clearly marked envelope with your name and address, and left in the collection basket at Mass this weekend or next. You may also donate through the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, through their website www.devp.org Donations may also be mailed in the form of cheque or money order: Development and Peace, 1425 Rene-Levesque Blvd. West, 3rd Floor. Montreal, QC H3G 1T7. Please indicate Emergency Fund, Lebanon Crisis. For further info, see the diocesan website www.dioceseofcharlottetown.com

This Sunday at the 11 o’clock Mass, the bishop will celebrate Confirmation with our three candidates. Kindly pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them, their families, our parish community, and that the same Spirit may continue to renew the face of the earth.

I trust you, gardeners, are enjoying the fruit of your labours. Twice this week, I enjoyed roasted beets, onions, garlic, and carrots from my little patch. Lettuce and greens are still holding up. Delicious! Thanks be to God!

I’d be happy to be in contact with anyone who might like that. Please let me know.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith

ST. DUNSTAN, PRAY FOR US!

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Letter from Fr. Keith (August 14)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

On Sundays during Ordinary Time—the current season of the Church’s year—the first reading, gospel, and psalm are typically related. The second reading—from one of the New Testament letters, usually one attributed to St. Paul—most of the time is not directly related to the other scripture selections. This week is one of those rare occasions when all four bear resemblance. The theme they share?  The “foreigner.”

The people of Israel—and rightly so—saw themselves as God’s chosen. What they sometimes overlooked was the reason for their call and election. Yes, surely for their own sakes. They were reminded by the Lord, For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you (Deut. 7:6-8a).

God’s purpose, though, went beyond them. Through the prophet Isaiah, God reminded his people that their mission—in keeping with the divine vision and aspiration—extended beyond themselves. It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel: I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (49:6).

The Canaanite woman whom Jesus encounters in the gospel belonged to the “nations.” In other words, she was a non-Jew, a foreigner. As such, many of the disciples would have assumed her outside the scope of who and what Jesus came to be and to do. One wonders what they thought when they heard the response of Jesus to her plea on behalf of her daughter: I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel (Mt. 15: 24). Her persistence pays off. Jesus assures her plea will be heard, after proclaiming in the hearing of all, Woman, great is your faith! (Mt. 15: 28). She is counted among the “all” to whom Paul, in the second reading, announces God will show mercy (Rom. 11: 32), an example of the responsorial psalm’s prayer that [God’s] way may be known upon earth, your saving power among the nations.

No-one is outside God’s concern and care. God shows no partiality, announced Peter, after realizing that God had sent an angel to Cornelius, the Roman centurion, reassuring him his prayer and sacrifice had been accepted (see Acts 10). Peter shouldn’t have been surprised, for Jesus, himself, had affirmed, I have other sheep who do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice… (Jn. 10:16).

As with Israel of old, so for us—the New Israel, the Church of Jesus Christ. We are God’s chosen: loved for our own sake and sent out to “announce the gospel of the Lord” to any and to all, ourselves a light to the nations, that [God’s] salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Sent out, called to be mindful that those to whom we proclaim—by action as by word—are already beloved of God, among those he created and to whom he desires to show loving kindness. We aren’t superior by our election. We’re servants in imitation of the One who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mt. 20:28).

Religiously, socially, economically: the human family can learn something important from the word of God this Sunday. Though there exist many differences among us, we are united as children of God. God’s love—agree Isaiah, the psalmist, Paul, and Jesus—is offered to all who seek it. Sharing a common origin, we are called and empowered to deepen our mutual respect and love. Christians share a particular mission to be light to the nations, so that teaching may be ever more widely recognized and lived.

Last Saturday, we celebrated First Communion with 10 children and their families. Next Sunday, August 23, Bishop Richard will confirm three young people from our parish at the 11 o’clock Mass. Please keep all of them and our entire parish community in your prayer. For those of you who haven’t yet made the move to return to Mass, be assured that we regularly remember “our absent brothers and sisters.”

Once again, I want to recognize the devoted work of the more than 30 parishioners who take turns greeting everyone who comes to Mass, and diligently cleaning according to COVID-19 protocols afterward. New people are joining them. Anyone who’d like to help is most welcome. Contact jawhite5414@gmail.com, brhood12@hotmail.com, or saintdunstans@gmail.com or mention it to someone who greets you when you arrive.

I hope you are all keeping cool and well-hydrated as you either enjoy or endure the heat of summer. Rain is badly needed, especially by our farming community.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Peace,

Fr. Keith

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Letter from Fr. Keith (August 7)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

During the Sundays of Ordinary Time, the first reading and the gospel are related to each other. This week, for example, we hear the story of God’s encounter with Elijah from the Old Testament first book of Kings (19: 9, 11-13), and the disciples’ experience of Jesus from Matthew’s account of the Good News (14:22-33).

What do they have in common? Many things. We’ll look briefly at one. In both cases, God is where they don’t expect God to be. The God of Power and Might and Glory takes Elijah by surprise when he reveals himself, not in earthquake or wind or fire, but in a sound of sheer silence. In the gospel, after feeding the multitudes with the loaves and the fishes, Jesus sends the disciples on ahead of him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (also called, in some gospel passages, the Lake of Gennesaret or the Sea of Tiberias), while he goes up the mountain to pray. A fierce storm comes up. Their boat is tossed about on the waves, and across the turmoil and chaos walks Jesus. So unanticipated his arrival, they are convinced he’s a ghost.

In our lives, we know the force of storm and upheaval, the fear of what it is to be battered about, as did the disciples. We’re familiar with the perception of either emptiness or calm Elijah knew atop Mount Horeb (also called, in some biblical stories, Mount Sinai) Where is it we would never expect God to be? Elijah and the disciples would encourage us to look for him precisely there. Just as he was in the supposed emptiness of silence as in the teeth of the booming gale, so is God with us in all the eventualities of our lives.

Whether recognized or unobserved, there he is. God’s presence doesn’t depend on our observation. Isn’t that profoundly comforting! God is with us in storm and in calm, even if we’re unaware. Ours is to pray for one another and for ourselves that we might have the grace to be alert of that saving gift when we most need courage and comfort and hope. Sometimes, we come to that awareness after the fact, when we look back on our lives. That, too, is for our encouragement. It was a core belief among the people of the Old Testament that as God had delivered them in the past—whether or not they knew it was happening at the time—so would he be faithful in the present moment as they moved toward a future, at one and the same time, uncertain and filled with hope. May ours be the grace to find and to share the same reassurance.

Summer is speeding by! We’ll not soon forget 2020. Looking back, we, like our Jewish forebears of Old Testament times, will discover where God’s saving presence has been: hidden—as is said—in plain sight.

In your prayer, please remember our First Communion children and families. As I mentioned last week, we’ll celebrate this important parish event Saturday at the 4 o’clock Mass. We’re now in the process of choosing a date for Confirmation. Kindly include those candidates and their families as you bring people before the Lord.

Registration for our weekday and weekend Masses is available through our parish website: www.stdunstanspei.com If you know someone who’d like to come, but has no access to a computer, maybe you could offer to register for them or provide them with one of these numbers: 902-367-7829, 902-892-9387, or 902-621-1988. These generous folks will happily compete the registration for anyone who’d like it done for them.

This week held a special delight for me. After almost five months, I was able to go into the PE Home, visit with Mom, and help her with her supper. For the past six weeks or so, our visits have been outside, maintaining physical distancing. She seems to have weathered the COVID storm well, thanks to the Home’s dedicated care-givers. Please continue to pray for Long Term Care residents, families, and staff, and for those charged with making decisions about the future direction of the support, respect, and gratitude owed our society’s precious elders.

May grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Fr. Keith

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Letter from Fr. Keith (July 31)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

“The Dog Days of Summer,” my dear grand aunt, Mame, used to call them! Hot, sticky, the threat of rain, but little to show for it. She had lots of Irish wit, and kept us well entertained. Besides that, she was a keen observer of the weather. This time of year reminds me of her. Come to think of it, lots of weather patterns and climate events do.

Observing what’s going on around us—weather-wise and otherwise. That was Jesus. He wondered aloud on at least one occasion why people were such astute observers and interpreters of cloud formations and wind direction, but tended to overlook the “signs of the times” (see Luke 12:54-56). He was a reader of the human heart. The Samaritan woman whom he encountered at the well in the heat of the day is but one of many examples (see John 4: 1-39).

And he was an interpreter of the obvious. Take, for example, today’s gospel (Matthew 14:13-21). It’s a familiar story. The fact that variations of it are told six times in the four accounts of the gospel shows us it’s important. No other event in the life of Jesus garners such attention by the evangelists.

It begins with Jesus reading what’s going on around him. The crowds had followed him to a quiet place where he had gone to reflect on the death of John the Baptist. He observes their many needs, and reaches out to them. Evening comes. The disciples also observe, but at a different level. They know the throng must be hungry. They ask Jesus to send them away to fend for themselves. Jesus perceives their motives: probably not insensitivity, but fear. They’re overwhelmed with the prospect of feeding such a mass of humanity with resources, amounting, in their estimation, to nothing.

Jesus decides to use the moment for a dual purpose: feed the hungry and instill a sense of personal responsibility and courage in the hearts of the group he will leave behind to carry on his work. To paraphrase him, he directs the disciples, “Identify what you have, bring it to me, and we’ll see where it goes from there.” The paltry five loaves and two fish go beyond what even the wildest and most optimistic imagination could foresee.

The story, of course, is about more than Jesus and his followers meeting up with a hungry crowd one day in a deserted place. It’s about us, our world, the hungers that exist at all levels, and our shared responsibility, in Christ, to respond. It’s about our reaction when we read the signs of our times. There’s no shortage of pity on our part. Our hearts ache. We’re like the disciples on that score. We’re also often like them in their initial impulse. “Send them away to buy food for themselves—whatever kind of food that might be. Or if it seems unlikely they’ll be able to manage that, “Send them off for someone else to take care of it.”

That’s not the way of Jesus, the gospel teaches this Sunday. And if it’s not the way of Jesus, it can’t be ours, either. Rather, the directive is more like this: “Observe the situation. It’s OK if, at first, you’re overwhelmed. Then, ponder the truth of gospel stories like the one we’re considering. Look around for what’s at hand: the resources held by the whole community—be it local or global. Take it, in company with the Lord, and discover it’s not so insignificant as one might first assume. To your collective surprise,” says the Lord, “see it go further than you’d ever expect.”

It’s not pie in the sky. Neither is it a call to hide from the immensity of the challenges involved in working together, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to fashion a world more as God intended—this world—on the way to a world that eternally endures, where all hungers are satisfied, and a perpetual abundance is held in store.

It’s a call, instead, to find our security not in hoarding, but in gathering what we have to share for the common good. It’s recognizing the true security of any of us resides in the well-being of all of us. It’s being committed to the Lord’s teaching that each and all of us have a role to play in feeding the many hungers of the world—including those we find right next door and under our own roof.

A final point to think about: no-one was deprived that day. Not those who gave up their lunch; not the disciples, who, against their better judgement, went around to gather up the meagre bite. All ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. Imitate the pattern established by the Lord, and no-one will be deprived; everyone will have what they need; and there’ll be enough left over to respond to other needs.

Haven’t we glimpsed this truth in our own lives: someone stretches themselves to help us or we allow our reach to exceed our grasp on behalf of someone else, and we’re all advantaged.

Something, friends, for us to think about these Dog Days of Summer, as we not only interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but…know how to interpret the present time (see Luke 12:56).

Our Masses continue. Last Sunday, we expanded our capacity to 100 at the 11 am, as we had previous weeks at the 9. There’s room for more! When you feel ready, we’ll be happy to welcome you. In the meantime, we continue to pray “for our absent brothers and sisters.”

After being delayed because of COVID-19, we plan to celebrate First Communion next Saturday at 4 with nine children and their families. Please pray for them.

Peace be with you and yours,

Fr. Keith

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Letter from Fr. Keith (July 24)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

I indicated last week’s would be my final letter for now. I afterwards heard that some who have not yet made the decision to return to Mass would like me to continue as a way to keep them in touch with the parish. I’m happy to do that.

Our Masses—weekday and weekend—are continuing. This week, we are planning for a maximum of 100 Sunday morning at 9 and 11. You are aware of the registration procedure from earlier letters. 30+ parishioners are currently involved in organizing our Masses: helping people without computer access to register, taking names at the door, guiding people to their seats, cleaning following the Masses. All of this is so very much appreciated. We’ll always welcome others to further swell the ranks!

This Sunday’s first reading reacquaints us with King Solomon. In some ways, Solomon is even better-known that his father, King David. He succeeded David as King of the united Israel and Judah, about 950 years before the time of Jesus. We remember him for his wisdom.

Today, we hear the story of how his wisdom came to be (1Kings 3:5-12). God appears to him in a dream, and offers, Ask what I should give you. Solomon replies, Give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this, your great people? The conversation continues with the Lord’s response. Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed, I give you a wise and discerning mind…

What is wisdom? Wisdom is a gift of God—the first in the list of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is our share in God’s understanding, God’s way of seeing ourselves, others, the world we live in. We’re all familiar with the passage from chapter 3 of the book of Ecclesiastes: For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven; a time to be born, a time to die…God has made everything suitable to its time. Wisdom is the ability to discern what needs to be done and the appropriate time and place to do it. It’s the gift of grace that allows our decisions and plans to be in sync with God’s Big Picture.

In our day, we have access to oodles of information. Wisdom is the gift needed to sift through it, separating grain from chaff, wheat from weeds; and beyond that, to take what is relevant and to do with it what is for the glory of God, for our own true and lasting good, for the salvation of the world. Wisdom is the gift to make the moment to moment decisions, which, eventually woven together on the loom at which we sit with God, and God with us, form the fabric of a lifetime.

What if we were in Solomon’s place? For what would we ask in response to God’s offer?

Wisdom is key because it helps us sort through, and to adjust and adapt to whatever life may hold out. Here is the situation. These are the options. What will we choose?

Wisdom gives us the ability to manage and direct how we will respond and react to the ups and downs and level patches of our lives. Though some things in life are beyond our control, we are not, says Wisdom, at the mercy of whimsy and fate.

For the gift of Wisdom, we pray: for ourselves, for our world. Let us also pray for its close companion, courage. Together, they give us the capacity both to decide a course of action, and then to follow through on its implementation.

COVID-19 has given us two recent scares on PEI: at Whisperwood and the QEH. We are ever so grateful that both were contained. It’s for us to live wisely and courageously during this time of pandemic—following Public Health directives, at the same time we responsibly embrace life, in the care of one another as the children of God.

I’ll close with excerpts from “Solomon’s Prayer” in Wisdom 9. May we make it our own.

Peace be with you and yours,

Fr. Keith

God of my ancestors, Lord of mercy,

you who have made all things by your word

And in your wisdom have established humankind

to rule the creatures produced by you,

And to govern the world in holiness and righteousness,

and to render judgment in integrity of heart…

Give me Wisdom, the consort at your throne,

and do not reject me from among your children;

Now with you is Wisdom, who knows your works

and was present when you made the world;

Who understands what is pleasing in your eyes

and what is conformable with your commands.

Send her forth from your holy heavens

and from your glorious throne dispatch her

That she may be with me and work with me,

that I may know what is pleasing to you.

For she knows and understands all things,

and will guide me prudently in my affairs

and safeguard me by her glory… Amen.

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Letter from Fr. Keith (July 17)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

Almost every day this week saw me inspecting the tiny plot of ground that is my garden. I dug up a little more soil over the past while, and planted some perennials I’d received from a number of people. They won’t show much in the way of flowers this year. I’m hoping, though, they’ll survive the winter and next summer display their full prosperity.

Last year, I grew some tomatoes. No matter how many tomatoes are picked, it seems a few always fall to the ground, evade scrutiny, decay, leave their seeds behind, and grow back the next year. It reminds me of Jesus teaching that the grain must fall to the ground and die if it is to become more than a single grain (see Jn. 12:24).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching evidence of that: some stray tomato plants from the seed of last year’s crop springing up here and there among the lettuce and beets. This week, when both they and their competitors had reached sufficient maturity, I took out the tomatoes and transplanted them. If I’d tried it too soon, I’d have destroyed them and the little beet and lettuce plants among which they’d sprung up.

I was reminded of this Sunday’s gospel. The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field… When the plants came up and bore grain…weeds appeared as well. The slaves inquired if they should pluck out those weeds, but the farmer wisely curbed their enthusiasm. No, he replied, for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.

Weeds and wheat, stray tomatoes and lettuce: it’s, of course, about more than that. Jesus is talking about the intermingling of what is life-giving and what is death-dealing; what we’d like to save and nurture and what we’d sooner be clear of, what’s where it should be and what isn’t. That combination exists around us and is rooted within us—all of us. To jump in too quickly, says the farmer and the Lord, could be the result of misplaced zeal, maybe even doing more harm than good. It’s essential not to confuse weed and wheat, tomato and beet, but discerning the time to cull one from the other is also vital.

As the slaves needed prudence and wisdom greater than their own, so do we. The labourers required direction from the farmer; we, from the Spirit of the living God—many times confirmed by those who care for us. It’s not that the weeds’ uprooting didn’t need to happen, but much more was required than knee-jerk reaction.

The hoped-for result in the field was the outcome of a joint enterprise between grower and field-hand. The hoped-for result in our world and in our hearts will be the fruit of God’s direction met with our compliant response. A keen eye, a willing spirit, patience, readiness to take direction, and a commitment to do the work—as with the slaves—is our part. God, like the farmer, decides the time and inspires our action. Something upon which we might reflect in the week ahead as we observe wheat and weed around us and within.

A reminder of our Masses, weekday and weekend. Because of the need for contact tracing in the event of a COVID incident, and our present restricted numbers, registration is required. Names and contact info are kept here on file for 30 days; then, destroyed. To register, visit the parish website for the link: www.stdunstanspei.com. Would you kindly pass along to parishioners you may know, who don’t have computer-access, that a number of parishioners are available to register for them? They may phone 902-892-9387, 902-621-1988. After August 1, another number will also be available: 902-367-7829. A very willing group of parishioners has been involved in the various tasks now needed for every Mass: checking the names of attendees, greeting and guiding people to their seats, and cleaning afterward. What we are now able to do wouldn’t be possible without them. If you’d like to take a turn helping out, please see one of the hospitality group after Mass or email brhood12@hotmail.com , jawhite5414@gmail.com or saintdunstans@gmail.com

We’ve now increased our capacity at the Sunday 9am Mass to 100. We hope to do the same soon at the 11. In Masses where there is the capacity for 100, it is essential that the two groups of 50 remain completely separate. To help with this, it is important that you note whether your group is North (Sydney St. side) or South (Dorchester St. side). Though everyone enters through one of the doors on Great George St., North or South determines the side of the church for seating. Details are available on the registration website.

This week brought a COVID-19 scare from the QEH. At this writing, there is no word of it leading to any further infection transmission. It reminds us of the need to be vigilant—not frightened, but vigilant. Following the simple precautions recommended by the Chief Public Health Office is our way of helping keep others and ourselves virus-free. To repeat the language of Catholic moral theology, it’s our contribution to the common good. Every individual is responsible for the well-being of the group, and the group shares responsibility for the welfare of every individual.

This will be my last letter for now. It has been my joy communicating with you this way over these past four months. Please monitor our parish website for updates as required. May we keep one another and our wider society in prayer in this unfamiliar time, that we may meet its challenges and find its blessings.

If I can be of help in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in contact: 902-894-3486 or frkeithstdunstans@gmail.com

My prayer is with you and yours. Kindly, pray for me.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith

ST. DUNSTAN, PRAY FOR US

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Letter from Fr. Keith (July 7)

Dear Parishioners of St. Dunstan’s,

I want to begin this week by thanking the group of parishioners who worked so hard preparing to welcome our brothers and sisters, attending last week’s four Masses. Because of their commitment and efforts, things went along smoothly, in spite of the various adaptations needed to comply with Chief Public Health Office regulations. We gratefully acknowledge the work of our provincial CPHO in developing guidelines to support our health and well-being as we come together to worship.

The dedication of the organizing group and public health expertise were met and supported by the cooperative spirit of those parishioners who came together after almost four months without public Sunday Mass. It’s an adjustment for all of us. None of us would choose things to be as they are. Still, the best way for us to respond is to face the reality of our present situation with courage and hope. Patience and good humour also never go astray.

This week, we will welcome 100 to our Sunday 9 am Mass. Public Health directives indicate we are able to have 100 people at Mass in a church the size of the Basilica, if they are divided into 2 distinct groups of 50. These groups must stay completely separate before, during, and after Mass. This is to make contact tracing easier should an issue with COVID-19 arise. Please begin to arrive at least 20 minutes before Mass time. We have divided the church according to North (Sydney St. side) and South (Dorchester St. side). If you registered before mid-afternoon Thursday, you are in the North group. After that, you will have noted the division upon registering. Please take note of and remember if you are North or South. Upon arrival, everyone is asked to use the main stairway on Great George St.: the side closest to Dorchester if you are in the South group; and Sydney, if you are in the North. Please go directly to the correct side of the steps.

No need to be anxious, simply aware. The area will be clearly marked. You will be greeted outside by an usher, and guided in to sit on the appropriate side of the church. We remind you of the need to keep separate from the other group after Mass, as well.

This week, all other Masses will have a capacity of 50. We will gradually increase that number. To do that, we need your continuing support to help check names at the door, greet and guide people to their seats, and with cleaning immediately following the Mass. If you’d be willing to help out, see one of the hospitality group at the Mass you attend or email jawhite5414@gmail.com ; brhood12@hotmail.com ; or saintdunstans@gmail.com

It’s important for all of us—including me!—not to be overly distracted by the necessary changes we now experience when we come to church. Not only is every place of worship around the world adapting to the same reality; every society is. We’re all in it together in a way that seldom happens. Let’s pray our shared struggle with COVID-19 will help build human solidarity and an ever-deepening commitment to the common good on the part of all lands and nations.

In spite of the—we could call them superficial—changes we need to make when we come to church, we celebrate the same Eucharist we always have. The risen Christ graces us with his transforming nearness in one another, in the Word we hear, and most uniquely and profoundly in his Real Eucharistic Presence. He continues to offer our praise to the Father, and to make us like himself through the power of their Spirit. As before, we are sent forth to proclaim the gospel by the holy—if imperfect—living out of our lives.

A reminder that registration is required for all the Masses—weekend and weekday. Please follow the link on the parish website: www.stdunstanspei.com. May I ask you to be attentive to parishioners you know who may not have internet access, and offer to register for them? Alternatively, those unable to register online may telephone 902-892-9387, 902-621-1988, or 902-894-3486. Several parishioners have offered to provide this service as needed. Our thanks to them.

In this Sunday’s first reading the prophet, Isaiah, speaks thus the Word of the Lord: …so shall my word that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Lots of things in life—in Isaiah’s time and in ours—might lead us to interpret God’s Word through Isaiah not to be so. Isaiah encourages us. Even if personal difficulties or such global challenges as a pandemic stifle and baffle and frighten us, hold on. God’s promise will come to fullness. God’s saving desire for us will not be outdone by happenstance or turmoil. Fr. Louis, the Trappist monk known to the world as Thomas Merton, put it this way:

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore, will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Let us continue, this week, to hold one another and our world in prayer, especially mindful of our brothers and sisters where COVID-19 ravages.

Peace be with you and yours,

Fr. Keith

ST. DUNSTAN, PRAY FOR US!

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