December  2008 Issue No. 17 

The Gift of Cursillo!

As I write this we are fast approaching Advent: a time for reflection, prayer and preparation. I reflect on the events of my past year and find that this year I have many significant points of reflection. These points include three trips to Afghanistan, the potential of entering into my last year at work, celebrating significant parental birthdays and all the usual events that happen over the course of a year.  I find that I have been walking in grace this past year, continually blessed by friends and family, upheld in prayer and comforted in tragedy.   My anchor has been my faith in the Lord and the ability to reach into our faith community, not only in St. Mark’s but also into the wider Christian community.  A large part of that community is my Cursillo family.

Cursillo is a Spanish word which, when loosely translated, means a short course in Christianity… and that course for me was a turning point.   I can look back at my life and see a division between life before my Cursillo experience and afterwards.   Before Cursillo I attended Church faithfully and participated in all the Church activities, but it was more of an intellectual exercise for me.  When I was given the opportunity to go on a Cursillo weekend, I did so with some trepidation and misgivings about what I was getting into – but after the first day I was well on my way to taking Jesus from my head and firmly establishing Him in my heart.  He dwells there always as my personal friend and companion.  There are not many times that I cannot reflect back on that experience and credit it with giving me the inspiration to journey into new and challenging experiences, or for giving me a firm foundation on which to rest when the world appeared to be conspiring against me.

A Cursillo weekend starts off at a gentle pace, allowing time to contemplate where God fits into your life.  Then, through study and prayer, you become aware of the opportunities that allow us to grow closer to God in our day-to-day lives.  As the weekend continues, there is a growing sense of anticipation that something special is coming.  You are encouraged to seek new opportunities to discover God; you may discover insights into how God influences our communities and environments through us; and yes, there is music and joy.  Over the course of three days we have had many opportunities to discover how our faith can be exercised in our daily lives, we have been given tools to help us be more effective in our ministry and hopefully we have encountered Jesus and are ready to re-enter our regular lives with an infilling of spirit and enthusiasm. 

Many of us have had the opportunity to participate in ALPHA, and many of us found that we wanted a little more of what was started.  Cursillo could be that little more.  You don’t have to worry: it is not a secret society or cult.  It is not a solution to all problems, or even a rule of life.  It is an opportunity for many to awake an inner self, to embolden personal spirituality and to empower ordinary individuals to recognize opportunities.  It calls us to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world, not just for one day but for all days. 

As each of us embark upon our own preparation for the Christmas season, I encourage all of you to give some thought to how you might benefit, not only from a Cursillo experience, but also from participation in prayer groups or volunteering with various help organizations.  As we wait for the arrival of the Christ Child, let us ask ourselves where we can be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

May the blessings of Christmas remain with you and your families now and throughout the year!

– Michael Perkin
  Ottawa Anglican Cursillo Lay Director 

The Pastor’s Page

 “I was a stranger and you welcomed Me…” (Matthew 25:35)

As a result of a recent Parish Council initiative, I placed an order for an addition to our road sign that reads “All Welcome”. 

On Sunday, November 30th, I invited those in attendance at Sunday services to join me in blessing those signs, and to commit themselves to the ministry of welcoming others in our midst. I think Jesus’ words from Matthew’s Gospel are still relevant, even though they come from the Gospel the week before:  

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? 'And the King will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:37-40)  

This is a team effort, and you’re all members of the team. It won’t work unless every one of us is committed to the goals of the team. The ministry of hospitality includes greeting others, watching out for people who are new to St Mark’s, and inviting people to join us in the mission of Christ. But it’s more than those things. We might think of our outwards actions as visible signs of an inward spirit and grace. A true Christian ministry of hospitality, with deep and ancient roots in our practice of faith, is really about welcoming the other as an honoured guest.

What do I mean by ‘the other’?  What does hospitality feel like?  Well, I was getting my hair cut a few weeks ago, and my barber and I discussed many aspects of faith and culture.  It turns out he’s Muslim, married to a Christian, a living example of our pluralistic society.  As we talked, we discovered many things we share in common. We discovered respect for our differences.  He made me feel welcome and at ease, with no pressure that I would have to be like him in order to gain his respect.  In that case, I was ‘the other,’ but I was received as an honoured friend. I believe that’s what hospitality feels like, and someday, if he comes to visit me at my place of work, I will offer him the same in return.

Of course, I and other members of Parish Council hope that a welcoming Church will encourage others to join us in our walk with Christ. But gaining new members cannot be the aim of this ministry.  Expecting a return on our investment is not in the spirit of Christ. The Grace of God is abundant and free, and so is our hospitality which flows from that Grace. Those who experience true welcome, freely given and without expectation, will naturally find among us an experience of authentic Christian hospitality.  For some, that’s all that the Lord requires of us.  The rest, what happens next, is up to God.

 – Fr. Brian Kauk  †  

The Real 12 Days of Christmas

One Christmas Carol is particularly baffling. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans and especially the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning, plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their Church. Each element in the carol has a code word for religious reality that the children could remember.

The partridge in the pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtledoves were the Old and the New Testaments.
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds were the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit – Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.
Eight maids a-milking were the eight Beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
Ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven Disciples.
Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostle's Creed.

There – a Christmas history lesson.

St. Mark’s Diamond Jubilee

Next year we will observe the 60th anniversary of the birth of the parish of St. Mark the Evangelist and Martyr. So how shall we celebrate it?

Events will be planned throughout the year, including a few dinners, a dance, a cookbook of cherished recipes, and special crafts fashioned with the wood left over from the refurbishing of the Chapel Altar. A new Parish Directory will be commissioned, with photo shoots taking place in the fall. Past Rectors will be invited to participate, possibly to celebrate; previous theological students who studied with us will also be invited to preach. In addition, original members of St. Mark’s will be contacted and asked if they would like to join us on a particular date. The beautiful Memorial Garden will be completed by the end of the year. Our official celebration will be on Saturday October 10, with the Bishop as our special guest.

Funds will be raised to pay for these activities, with the residue going to the Lenten Outreach Program.

David and Delores Whitman are co-chairs of the Anniversary Committee, with help from Judy Corbishley, Rosalie Graham, Brian Harrison, Coralie Sheehan and the Volks. If you have any ideas on how else to make this a wonderful year for all of us, please feel free to speak to them.

A Note from the Treasurer

The givings in September and October were both about 20% less than expected. As a result, at the end of October, our current year's spending exceeded our current year's income by about $20,000. Because of our pattern of income and expenses, our expenses will often exceed our income until December. However, this is about $6,500 worse than where we expected to be at this time of year. We have also been hit with unexpected repairs to the furnaces, so our prospects for ending the year in a positive financial situation are not rosy.

– Joy Bowerman  

MEDITATION: A New Beginning

Alpha & Omega windows
given to the Glory of God,
in loving memory 
of John Wilkins   

Happy New Year. We are at the beginning of another New Year within the Church. The Church’s New Year starts the end of November or early December. There is no set date – it’s simply the first Sunday of Advent, whenever that is each year. It’s a time when we can start fresh.

A favourite hymn of mine, “New Every Morning is the Love, our wakening and uprising prove,” reminds me of fresh starts. We don’t need to wait until the New Year; each day can give us a fresh start. Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow may never come, but today is here, with its fresh beginning, and we are called to live it to the fullest.

What do we have from yesterday that we would like to forget, that we would rather the world didn’t remember? Let’s forget it, let’s get on with what we have and who we are, let’s start afresh to make our mark on the world.

But first, let’s review what the past year has done for us. What memories would we like to bring forward?

For me, the past year has had many memories. A new and exciting adventure for me this summer has been moving into “new digs.” The work of settling is hard and slow and very rewarding. Also, it’s another year as Chaplaincy administrator at Carleton University. During the summer, I had the Chaplaincy lounge renewed with fresh paint and new chair cushions.

Since September, 5,000 new students entered Carleton University. When we think that was once the total size of the student body at Carleton University and now it’s the first year contingency, this is phenomenal. Some of these students have found their way to the Chaplaincy looking for fellowship with other Christians. Here they can bring their concerns, sorrows and joys. And in just a couple of weeks they will be writing their first exams at university – another new beginning for them.

As we enter the New Year, there are those less fortunate with events that would be better forgotten. What would we just as soon forget? For each of us, there are many things that are adverse situations, forgettable things. Can we shed them? We will, eventually, forget it all, but perhaps right now the pain is too great. It may be that the pain is paralyzing us. And yet, here is our chance to make a new beginning. To do so would mean we need to let go of the past, the people who hurt us, events that didn’t go according to plan. We all have them. For some of us, these things have been more devastating than they’ve been for others. Each new day and each New Year gives us an opportunity to move forward, and to bring ourselves to that point where sometimes we can cut our losses and move on. And with moving on, there are always some things that we’d like to take forward with us. Sometimes it will be the lessons we’ve learned from adverse things; sometimes it will be the happy times that we’ve had throughout the year. We will take our most pleasant experiences and hold on to them forever. Many of the things that have happened will help to enrich our new beginnings and our new experiences. Many of these things will bring us to the point of giving our all to the King of Kings.

After all’s been said and done,
Did I do my best to live for Him?
Did I do my best for the King of Kings?
Did I do my best for Him?

We will seek to do our best as we enter our New Year. Whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, pleasing and commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think and act on these things.

It is good and commendable to give our best to the King of Kings. This can only be done by taking each day as a new beginning.

– Marion Stalter


A Call for Copy

This Newsletter is an open forum of communication for all of us.  

If you have a story to tell, or a bit of history to recount, or an anniversary to celebrate, or an inspiration to share, then please share!  Tales of such nature can’t be appreciated unless they are told.

Any and all contributions are welcome. It is a great convenience to receive files electronically, but I shall willingly transcribe for people who do not have computer access. 

The best method for e-files is to save them in Rich Text Format (RTF) and email them to me.  Hard copy can be mailed or handed to me on Sundays at St Mark’s. 

If you wish instead to receive the completed newsletter electronically in a condensed format, please send your email request both to me and to the Church office.  

- Sheila Vaudrey  Editor

Next submission deadline:  
February 1, 2009

The Frugal Culture Connoisseur

Budget restrictions are a fact of life, but they should not restrict our exposure to culture. Fortunately, they don’t have to. Ottawa has an amazing selection to fit all price ranges. There are various events taking place that might interest a lot of people and that cost next to nothing. Bob Ryan makes a point of searching out interesting demonstrations of local talent.
Dec. 6, 13, 14 - 2:00 pm / Dec. 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14 - 7:00 pm Bethel Pentecostal Church’s “Singing Christmas Tree.” 500 Viewmount Drive at Fisher Avenue. Free; donations of food accepted.
Dec. 6 - 2:00 to 6:00 pm : The Mayor’s 8th Annual Christmas Celebration. The Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park. See Santa and the Mrs.; enjoy hot chocolate, Beavertails, crafts, live music and entertainment. From 6:00 to 7:00 pm, activities will move to the Civic Centre, where you can share the ice with the Ottawa 67’s. From 7:00 to 10:00 pm, the whole family can skate to the magic of Christmas music. Free; food donation for the Food Bank appreciated.
Dec. 7 and 14 - 2 and 8 pm: The Salvation Army’s “Festival of Carols.” The Centrepointe Theatre, 101 Centrepointe Drive. Free; get your tickets well in advance.
Dec. 9 - 7:00 to 8:45 pm: The Ottawa Storytellers “Stories from Pakistan.” The Tea Party Restaurant, 119 York Street, in the Market at Dalhousie Street.
Dec. 26 to 31: Tour the hallways of Parliament and go up the Peace Tower to get a bird’s eye view of the Christmas Lights Across Canada that dazzle throughout downtown Ottawa.

The Parish of St. Mark the Evangelist
Anglican Church of Canada

1606 Fisher Ave, Ottawa, ON K2C 1X6
Tel: 613-224-7431  *  Fax: 613-224-7454
e-mail: stmarks@

Newsletter editor:  Sheila Vaudrey


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