Last weekend brought me in contact with several hundred of my former parishioners at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Surrey, B.C. I also had an opportunity to visit the flourishing school still celebrating the 120 newly confirmed young children. It is always a delight to visit the classes. I only wish I had had more time to do so here at SS Peter & Paul’s. Those smiling and happy faces cheer my heart and nourish my hope.
My trip was a response to an urgent call to attend an auction- banquet to raise money for Salesian work among the poorest of the poor in Tijuana, Mexico.
Vancouver is a booming city. It now boasts over 400,000 Catholics, fueled mostly by immigration. Our Surrey Parish, with seven masses each Sunday and as many as three Saturday evening, serves several ethnic, working class groups. Sunday collections have reached $30,000!
The Catholic faith is firm in the beautiful city of Vancouver. Priests are strongly united with their Archbishop. I worked closely with Archbishop Adam Exert, O.M.I. for the eleven years I was in Canada. He has since retired. The present Archbishop moved from the Victoria Diocese to Vancouver a couple of years ago. Archbishop Raymond Roussin has not enjoyed good health recently and Pope Benedict has assigned him a Coadjutor.
The local press announced: “With the arrival of Archbishop Miller in Vancouver Western Canada will get a ‘player in church terms.’ While bishops are closing parishes in the east the challenges is copping with the influx of church going Catholics, who bring a vibrant faith. If this continues,” the paper reported, “it will not be long before British Columbia gets its first Cardinal and Michael Miller would be an ideal candidate.”
Archbishop Miller is a member of the Basilian Order and as Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Vatican made international headlines when his Congregation issued the now famous statement barring men with deep seated homosexual tendencies from entering the priesthood. He also drew wide coverage when he suggested strengthening a Vatican push to insure more educators at Catholic schools and parishes are officially licensed by local bishops—which critics hailed as leading to a lack of academic freedom.
One writer hailed Miller, born Canada (but took out a US citizenship): “an intellectual who is very orthodox. The Pope can trust him to carry out the mission of reinforcing a traditional Catholic identity.”
I was delighted to learn that our Holy Father will be strengthening this bastion of Catholicity on our West Coast.