The Regional Council held a teleconference meeting on April 14, 2020, the Tuesday of Easter week. Canada has been in a virtual lockdown since March 13 so a face-to-face meeting was not possible. The meeting was called by Fr. Gustave Lulendo to deal with a number of topics of a more immediate concern.
As usual the meeting started with a review of community life in the three communities starting with Toronto, followed by Ottawa and Montréal.
Yuliwan talked about the community schedule during the COVID – 19 pandemic. Everyone is home and sharing the work of cooking and cleaning. All the Holy Week celebrations were celebrated together and the presidencies at the services were shared. The members also keep up their physical exercises. At St Thomas More the services were held in an empty church and life-streamed. The High Park and Thomas More houses held a community meeting using Zoom and shared their experiences during the isolation. The two students Fr. Petrus Murwanto and Fr. Willyans Prado Rapozo are keeping up their studies on-line. Fr. Petrus Murwanto has just finished his English course, he got A-. However, not all the research materials have been available for him to continue the MA Program in education, so OISE proposed that he do the MEd Program instead. Fr. Yuliwan Maslim has tried to stay in touch with the Indonesian community and has held virtual meetings with the community. The isolation imposed by provincial and national governments have allowed the community to spend more time together for prayer and communal activities.
Everyone is in good physical health but emotionally the community is feeling the effects of the isolation measures. Fr. Elie Muzungu has self-isolated and has not been able to partake in the community activities. Fr. Paul Tennyson is still going to the Rideau- Perley. When entering the hospital, he has to undergo the daily checking of temperature and respond to questions regarding his health and activities. He has presided over a few funerals, but these have been only grave-side burials with a limited number of people present. He has held some services at the Rideau-Perley but with the presence of a very limited number of people. There have not been any cases of the coronavirus at the facility (although on April 20 seven staff persons and a few days later a number of residents have shown to be positive. As a consequence, Fr. Paul’s continued presence at the hospital will have to be re-examined.) The community members at Daly are continuing to do physical exercises mostly through walking. Holy Week was celebrated in house with different members of the community presiding. Lily Ooi has been doing most of the grocery shopping and has taken on a great deal of the meal preparation. It is very stressful to stay away two meters away from people.
Dieudonné Tchouteu is doing ok after his prostate cancer operation. He has just been declared free of cancer. Everyone else in the community is doing fine. The Lenten retreat which the community had organized could not take place because of the isolation measures. It was replaced with a more intense community meeting. Also, in Montréal the community members took turns presiding at the Holy Week celebrations. The Easter meal (lamb) was a great success. Because of the pandemic, the pastoral team at the parish had to stay at home and will also not be receiving their salaries. In Montréal it was not possible to hold live-stream masses. The Churches are locked. There have been no funerals, no weddings, no contacts except virtually with the parishioners. The Unité pastoral does not have a website. Hence, at present, the members do not have outside pastoral activities. Maurice Légaré has been doing the groceries. Dieudonné also helps and continues his work in finances. Everyone is at home. Linda still prepares lunch (9:30 – 1) Maurice takes care of the other meals. Nicole Béland has been working from home but comes in from time to time to take care of mail. Roger Phaneuf has been isolated in his room at Residence Angus and eats his meals there. He celebrates Eucharist in his apartment.
Richard Woodbury has continued to live alone at the Séminaire and has been finding it very difficult. On Saturday he called his psychiatrist to help him deal with the isolation. The psychiatrist assured him that it was normal in these circumstances. He is basically alone in his house. He once tried to go out to get a newspaper, but was warned that he should stay inside. He finds it very difficult to be that isolated. He tries the stay in touch with the community in Montreal. He has established a telephone ministry during this time, sharing with his parishioners the common concern about the situation. During holy week he printed the liturgy booklet Prions l’Eglise and left copies at the door of the parishioners. The situation of the Séminaire: the school will not be reimbursed for April and May, there will be no salaries and no subsidy for meals and travel. Robert Laurin, the chaplain, created a video of the teachers from the school to the students and parents. It was very upbeat.
4. Activities of the Regional Superior:
- Gustave conducted a visitation of the Ottawa community in the beginning of March. The service of leadership of Paul Tennyson has been much appreciated. The Wednesday meetings of the community continue to be a good experience. On March 6, Fr. Gustave had a meeting with Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa to discuss with him the position of Fr. Elie Muzungu at Frère André. He was assured that the ministry at the parish in Vanier will continue.
- The request of Fr. Martin Kadamattu. Fr. Gustave Lulendo received a letter from Fr. Martin with the request to become a member of the Canadian Region. The request has been accepted by the Council. In the meantime, the District of India as well as the General Administration has accepted the request. Fr. Martin is now a member of the Region of Canada.
- Letter of Fr. Greg Murray. Fr. Gustave Lulendo also received a letter from Fr. Greg Murray in which he asked to return to the Ottawa community. Fr. Gustave approached Archbishop Prendergast for a possible position within the Archdiocese. Council approved the request and Fr. Greg will come to Ottawa after the summer.
- Approval of the budget of the Migration Committee: Fr. Peter McKenna sent in a proposal for the budget of the Migration Committee. The budget was accepted by Council. Council also expressed a high appreciation of his work.
- The celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart. The Regional Community was to gather at Dehon House in Ottawa for the June 17th Because of the COVID-19 pandemic it is impossible at the moment to predict whether the effects of the pandemic will have mitigated. Council found that we should avoid compromising the health of our older members unless it is clear that by June the virus will have run its course. A decision will be made by May 15.
- The General Visitation of General Superior and the Regional Assembly in August. Here the same question as for the communal celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart was raised. If COVID-19 is no longer a threat the assembly in Arnprior will take place. A decision will be made by June 15. If the assembly has to be postponed, we could hold an assembly when it is safe to hold an assembly.
Fr. Paul Tennyson had sent an earlier email regarding our finances in view of the financial downturn caused by COVID-19. He reported that the financial downturn had affected us but not as seriously as the financial markets (-22%). The SCJ Canada Foundation decreased by 5.7%; the Prêtres du Sacré-Coeur Inc. went down by 2.12%. The Mission Office has also been affected by the financial downturn. Nicole Béland will be asked to give a report to Paul Tennyson and Jim Casper regarding the decrease of income and the situation of the different projects. Since the Montréal community was not receiving the salaries from the parishes, they will be receiving the subsidy which the government of Canada provided during the pandemic. Fr. Richard Woodbury mentioned that it was not clear how the parish would be able to pay the heating bill for the Church in Grenville.
Council also allocated $ 7.000 for the repair of the roof of our house on Boismenu in Montréal. Council also learned that the rental of Maison Dehon has not yet taken place.
6. Leopold Mfouakouet of Cameroon who was to come to Canada for a sabbatical year has obtained his Canadian visa but was not able to come because all Canadian airports have been closed to non-Canadians during the pandemic.