Auteurs > Father John Walsh

Father John Walsh

The Church in Quebec - The challenge of asking why?

Par Father John Walsh le 1 octobre 2017

father_walsh.jpgIn the recent visit of the Catholic Bishops of Quebec to Pope Francis, Bishop Lortie of Mont Laurier, vividly and honestly described the Catholic Church in Quebec.  He told Francis that the Bishops “are aware of the limits and poverty of our Church and we are looking for concrete ways to develop a missionary spirit in a Quebec that has broken its relations with the Catholic tradition and heritage and chooses to find its references elsewhere than the Gospel. In the present context being pastors of a small number, a  little flock, we ask ourselves as pastors, how can we reawaken the faith, reveal the love and mercy of God, open hearts to the Gospel, invite people to conversion, create disciples … in a secular, pluralist Quebec that is often allergic to religion?”

Listen to the whisper of God

Par Father John Walsh le 21 février 2016

father_walsh.jpgThere is a current in history that is pushing us towards reconciliation and peace. Listen to the whisper of God everywhere. At Vatican II the whisper of God could be heard in the document Nostra Aetate when fundamental questions about our human existence were posed. Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness?


Par Father John Walsh le 9 août 2015

father_walsh.jpgPeople are often happy to scratch the surface of discontent and see little victories that offer hope.  The major difficulty is that the problems created by any system require that the system be literally dismantled and sent to the sin bin, not the recycling bin.  The bishop of Rome, as he refers to himself, signed the encyclical Laudato si, on care for our common home, Francesco or simply Francis.  Why does Francis do what he does?  To the first question posed to him:  Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?  He answered, I am a sinner and he added that he wished it were a verb “mercying” him all the time. 


Par Father John Walsh le 23 juin 2015

father_walsh.jpgThe human being is a work in progress.  The human narrative is being re-written.  “Human” means many things to many people.  Hat’s off to Mayor Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal, for inviting 30 mayors of the cities of the world to a Summit in Montreal to address the theme, Living Together.  Humans living together.  No person is an island and communities are made up of diverse individuals from a variety of traditions, languages, cultures, religions, secularists and atheists.  Diversity is a treasure to be opened and shared by all humanity.  Diversity is ubiquitous.  Our streets and our neighborhoods are a microcosm of the diversity found in the entire world. 

The Need For A Liberal Arts Education. It's About Being Human

Par Father John Walsh le 2 mai 2015

father_walsh.jpgEvery once in a while someone delivers a commencement address to graduates that makes you sit up and notice.  A recent address by Fareed Zakaria, at Sarah Lawrence College, the quintessential liberal arts college, admitted that to speak about the liberal arts is not very cool. What you’re not supposed to do is get a liberal arts education … A liberal education - as best defined by Cardinal Newman in 1854—is a “broad exposure to the outlines of knowledge” for its own sake, rather than to acquire skills to practice a trade or do a job. However, the President of Yale, the late Bart Giamatti, asked in one of his beautiful lectures, “what is the earthly use of a liberal education?”  Zakaria says it teaches you how to write. 

Je Suis Charlie

Par Father John Walsh le 8 janvier 2015

father_walsh.jpgThe world must stand up for freedom, freedom of expression; freedom, pure and simple!  History has proven that the denial of freedom is the greatest obstacle to our development as human beings.  The greatest freedom we have is to seek the truth.  Truth will make you free.  What is the truth about Je Suis Charlie?
Although we seek truth that is absolute and therefore self-evident, truth is not absolute, it is relative to the events and circumstances in which we seek the truth.  It is not situational but must be situated in the time and space in which truth is sought after.  In the case of Charlie Hebdo, people use their pens as satirists and draw cartoons lampooning people and events in depictions that may be considered extreme to wake people up who otherwise would be very content to live with the status quo.  

On appearances

Par Father John Walsh le 10 août 2014

father_walsh.jpgDo clothes make the woman or the man?  There are shocking and staggering fashion industry statistics.  There are over 7 billion people on this planet. If you count one number a second without stopping until you reach a billion, you’d be counting for 31 years, 259 days, 1 hours, 46minutes, and 40 seconds. If each person owned only one pair of pants, one shirt, and one jacket, that would be 21 billion articles of clothing. If you were to count each of those, one per second, it would take nearly 672 years. We spend more than a few dollars to keep up our appearance. 

Change In Scriptural Interpretation Is Inevitable

Par Father John Walsh le 26 juin 2014

father_walsh.jpgAll religious traditions are facing the same reality; we are struggling to emerge in a new way from a re-interpretation of our sacred texts.  Brian McLaren in his book "Everything must change" states the matter succinctly as "when the world’s biggest problems and the teachings of Jesus collide."
Have we experienced enough of the dog- eat-dog-world to know its futility?  Will we be content with a callous and cold world?  Hope may erupt when all our faith traditions are in compliment with each other and together we refuse to accept conflict and confrontation to resolve whatever differences we may face together.  

A Pilgrimage Of Peace

Par Father John Walsh le 15 juin 2014

father_walsh.jpgThe road to peace in the Middle East has a new roadmap.  Pope Francis walked a road less travelled with his two friends from Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, former rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, and Sheik Omar Abboud, a former secretary-general of the Islamic Center of Argentina. Francis was telling the world that he had been on the inter-faith road for a long time. What we have learned is that Pope Francis cannot be orchestrated.

Faith and secularism after the election

Par Father John Walsh le 5 mai 2014

father_walsh.jpgIn many way we may be experiencing the end of the cultural wars that have marked Quebec politics and Québec life for the past many decades.  The recent proposal of a “Charter of values” was divisive of the population and the use or non-use of religious symbols in public institutions raised the ire of members of all religious communities and resulted in professionals in health and educational institutions publicly refusing to follow the demands of the Charter.
The reactions to the election of a Liberal majority government by pro-federalists is one of elation; the defeat of the PQ has sent the party members into a deep reflective mode questioning the very redefinition of the “raison d’être” of the party. 

The Invisible Servants

Par Father John Walsh le 15 février 2014

father_walsh.jpgThere once was a television series about New York called The Naked City and the opening line was: There are 8 million stories out there.  How true!  Each woman and man has a story to tell and so few are told.  I would say that is really true about the homeless.  The story of homeless people begins and ends with what they look like, not who they are, not what they have experienced and we never get to know why they are homeless.  They just are!  They just are on our streets, in our neighborhoods, and although they are just there we distance ourselves from them by not recognizing who they really are. 

A Real Charter For Quebec

Par Father John Walsh le 15 février 2014

father_walsh.jpgThe fundamental reason for the Quebec Charter of values as proposed by the present PQ Government, tabled as Bill 60, is to render Quebec a secular society, defined as a neutral society disallowing any faith community to be part of a public discourse.   No society can move forward without hope and if it were possible to create a neutral society the need to instill hope in every member of Quebec society remains fundamental.   Hope speaks louder than faith.
The following expressions of hope are essential to a Charter which opens all of society to a good life today and a better life tomorrow.

Where Is Virtue Ethics In The Quebec Charter Of Values?

Par Father John Walsh le 3 janvier 2014

father_walsh.jpgWe are hard-wired to be happy.  What we want most is a good life.  What does make people happy? In the World Happiness Report of 2013 Jeffrey Sachs offers a very thoughtful chapter entitled, Restoring Virtue Ethics In The Quest For Happiness.  He presents differing views on how happiness is achieved.  He writes that virtue ethics, the ethical dimensionleading to happiness is the most often overlooked in any discussion about well-being. Where is virtue ethics in the Quebec Charter of Values? 

A Christmas letter

Par Father John Walsh le 23 décembre 2013

father_walsh.jpgChristmas reminds us that many people cannot find a room in the Inn.  They are left out in the cold because we failed to invite them into -  not our home because there isn’t room for all of them -  but we could open our hearts to them. S rely there is enough room in our hearts for them.
It is truly amazing that when those who are out in the cold come out of the cold and into the warmth of our hearts, everyone is speaking the language of love and everyone understands each other. The many colors of their skin form a rainbow to celebrate the end of prejudice and hate.

Two Popes In The Footprints Of Two Saints

Par Father John Walsh le 8 juillet 2013

father_walsh.jpgIn the early Jesus movement a serious dispute arose between Peter and Paul.  Paul held that the new Gentile converts would not be required to be circumcised.  A Council was called in Jerusalem to address the problem.  In the letter to the Galatians commentators have described the confrontation of Peter by Paul as one where the sparks were flying.  The issues:  Are Gentile converts to be circumcised?  And what about following the Mosaic Law?

The pertinent record of the Council is found in the Acts of the Apostles chapters 10 and 15.



Par Father John Walsh le 6 juillet 2013

father_walsh.jpgIt is time to take off the gloves.
I find you are amazing the world with your innovations, making incredible strides in so many fields of endeavour, and you are greatly respectful of all that is genuinely human.   You have created a new enthusiasm for the protection of our planet, you want creation to flourish, and you have a true desire for peace.   You are forging new roads where no one has travelled.  You want the planet to be sustainable.  You belong to this world.  You venture into the unexplored mystery of life on the planet earth and in the unfolding mysteries in the universes beyond our planet.   You are not shutting your eyes to the world around you.  You are secular, and that means, in its full sense, world-centered.

Bridging The Secular Divide

Par Father John Walsh le 9 juin 2013

father_walsh.jpgMcGill University was the site of a two-day Seminar that gathered people from all over Canada to discuss and debate how religion can or must bridge the growing divide between religion and secular society.   Persons from a myriad of religious faith traditions were represented and each took an active role in contributing to the Canadian religious mosaic and expressed varied views of how religious people are investing time and energy to dialogue with the secularization of society.


Par Father John Walsh le 16 mars 2013


The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes from or where it goes; so it is with every person who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)  A puff of white smoke!  A new Pope!  Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, becomes leader of the Roman Catholic Church.  On the balcony overlooking Saint Peter’s Square he addresses the people of the world.  His first words are memorable. In times of uncertainty, disruption, division, and alienation, he offers the image of a “camina,” a walk, pilgrims together, and then, spontaneously he includes all people of good will with the faithful. 


The Papacy Part III: The Church in Quebec

Par Father John Walsh le 11 mars 2013

father_walsh.jpgAttention has been riveted on Rome since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  The possible election of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a native of Quebec, may even distract Quebecers from the reality of the Church of Quebec which was recently addressed by the Assembly of the Bishops of Quebec.  The title of their letter to Catholics in Quebec is entitled, Catholics in a Pluralist Quebec (January 2013).  It serves as a reminder that the Catholic Church is essentially a grass-roots church.  The Church is built upon the lived experience of faith expressed in local ecclesial communities, commonly known as parishes. 

The Papacy – Part II: Who Is Knocking On The Pope's Door?

Par Father John Walsh le 3 mars 2013

Will the next Pope be from the Americas, Europe, or Africa?  Speculation is growing exponentially about who the future occupant of the papal residence will be.  More so for us in Quebec with the mention that a Canadian Cardinal, a Quebecker, Marc Ouellet, is in the running!  The other names on the list are several in number and not known by many outside of Italy or South America or Ghana.  The choice will be made shortly but while waiting I recall a priest I knew as a teen-ager, Father Wally Sutton.  

The Papacy: A Time Of Decision

Par Father John Walsh le 12 février 2013

father_walsh.jpgMomentous occasions and defining moments are not everyday occurrences.  The sudden stepping down from the Chair of Saint Peter by Pope Benedict XVI was a worldwide surprise.  It was unexpected and unsettling.  The Papacy is in a time of transition and of decision.
No one can predict the future and Benedict himself disclaimed limbo, so we are confronted with the challenge to discover new images and new metaphors to describe our present experience.  I happily recall the words of Pope John XXIII who, in his opening address at the Second Vatican Council, situated the Church at a new dawn, in need of an “aggiornamento,” an updating and a renewal of the Church. 

Blood Is Being Shed Everywhere

Par Father John Walsh le 2 février 2013

father_walsh.jpgThe Vietnam War, in the late 1960’s, was the first time that war was transmitted via television into our living rooms.  We had to judge whether or not the shedding of the blood of another human being was acceptable.  Had we forgotten fratricide in the biblical story of Cain and Abel?  

What about the jealousy of blessing in the intrigue of Jacob and Esau?  In the end, the American people confronted their beliefs and values and eventually judged that the war had to be terminated.


A Question of Time

Par Father John Walsh le 2 décembre 2012

Many years ago I entered a dialogue with the children during a Sunday morning Eucharist.  I asked the children if they could make a sentence with the word time in it.  One little girl blurted out, “time flies.”  I thanked her.  Then another girl, with her hand waving in the air, and somehow to her mother’s premonition and chagrin, said, “My mother kept saying, hurry up or we won’t get to church on time.” 
The congregation chuckled.  Then, at the very back of the Church, a young man of about eight put up his hand.  I walked down the length of main aisle and escorted him to the center of the aisle.  I asked him to cup his hands around his mouth so everybody could hear his sentence.  In a booming voice, he said, “We’re wasting time.”

Religion and a secular charter for Quebec

Par Father John Walsh le 19 octobre 2012

I grew up in Montreal when the French-speaking Roman Catholic Church was literally present everywhere, from the opening prayer at a hockey tournament to the blessing of a beauty salon.  The hierarchy and the local clergy were the Church.   They were placed on pedestals with the expectation that they could solve all problems and do no wrong.   The religious, priests, brothers and religious women (nuns) ran the schools, hospitals, orphanages and every institution that dealt with the lives of French-speaking people in Quebec.   The educational system offered a classical education which meant that the French-speaking students were not introduced into the world of science where progress was exponential and the system also left them without an understanding of the impact of economic development. 

Vivre en plein milieu du peuple

Par Father John Walsh le 19 octobre 2012

father_walsh.jpgUn jour j’ai rencontré Sœur Hélène Préjean, l’auteur du livre Dead Man Walking et consultante majeure du film du même nom, dont Susan Sarandon à obtenu un « Oscar » pour le rôle de la religieuse.  J’ai pu l’interviewer à la radio et j’étais surpris quand elle me disait que la vie à Nouvelle Orléans cote « suburbia » était une vie tranquille.  Mais, un jour elle a déménagée l’autre cote de la ville, quartier pauvre, et le premier soir quelqu’un cognait à la porte.  Elle ouvre la porte et une femme me poussait de cote et entrait brusquement, un homme la suivait avec un couteau à la main.  La surprise qu’elle me révèle : ce soir-là mon Dieu a changé complètement. 

Insights from homelessness: There is much to learn from those who live far from the madding crowd

Par Father John Walsh le 19 octobre 2012


homeless.jpgThe majority of people in Montreal, and elsewhere, pass a homeless person on the street and they are unable to go beyond what their eyes see.  The very presence of a homeless person on the same street where people have their daily route to work disturbs some people; others, walk on as if they do not exist.   
The homeless are no different from you and me.  No different.  They laugh, they cry, they feel pain and they are struggling to make sense of their lives.  Each of us hasn’t a story to tell, we have a history to recount.  It begins with birth and ends with death.  History unfolds in one’s upbringing, one’s childhood, youth, adolescence and adulthood.  The road less travelled is that of the homeless people. 


Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini: Candidate for Papacy forged new alliances between Catholics and Jews

Par Father John Walsh le 30 septembre 2012

carlo_martini.JPGThe death of a retired Cardinal has made headlines throughout the world.  The headline of the New York Times was "Cardinal Carlo Martini says Church 200 years behind."However, the headline didn't capture his prophetic voice as a reflection Jeremiah knew when he wrote:  “When I found your words, I devoured them, they became my joy and the happiness of my heart."

Looking for God in all the right places

Par Father John Walsh le 26 octobre 2011

I had never imagined a room filled with people who were so different from one another.  There was a woman with a head scarf, a man with a chequered scarf around his neck, a woman with a beautiful sari and others with a variety of western clothing.  One man with a yellow toga and a shaven head was, I surmised, a Buddhist.  They were mingling with one another but they were distant from one another.  I began to speak with a young man who declared immediately, “I am a Sikh,” and the Buddhist I had already recognized declared, “I am a Buddhist.”

An Irish Tale

Par Father John Walsh le 21 avril 2011

polly_bridgewater.jpgIn Polly Of Bridgewater Farm  -- An Unknown Irish Story (Cabbagetown Press Limited. Toronto. Ontario. 2009) Catherine Fleming McKenty offers a refreshing look at her own family’s life in Ireland and their eventual coming to Montreal and settling in Toronto.

The secrets of the Sistine Chapel

Par Father John Walsh le 4 novembre 2010

sistine-chapel-picture-3.jpgThe canonization of Brother André brought many Montrealers to Rome.  Inevitably they will complain about the long line-ups to visit the Sistine Chapel but will they have uncovered the secrets of the Sistine Chapel?  Viewing the work of Michelangelo is breathless but does the Chapel still hold its secrets from the average visitor.  The incredible frescoes required a rather complex method to prepare the plaster before the first stroke of the paintbrush would bring color to life.  Imagine Michelangelo laying on his back for four and a half years painting the entire ceiling and walls of ceiling and walls of the Chapel.  The Chapel is a replica, of identical size, of the Jerusalem Temple and symbolized the successionism of Catholicism over Judaism.  The masterpiece has, from the time of its painting, been regarded as an affirmation of the Roman Catholic Church’s central place in the economy of salvation.

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