An ambassador from the Vatican visited our Agency on Friday, March 3, reaffirming our mission to help society’s most vulnerable, blessing three of our ministries, and leading Mass for staff.
Starting his three-hour visit with our Agency, Most Rev. Luigi Bonazzi, the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada and Titular Archbishop of Atella, presided over Mass with the assistance of Archbishop Richard Smith from the Archdiocese of Edmonton and Deacon Randy Abele, who is our Agency’s chaplain.
"It was beautiful to see both Archbishops, and also to see our deacon -- our own chaplain -- assisting at the altar,” CSS CEO Stephen Carattini said. “In that instance, we had not only a link to our local ordinary, but we had a link to the Holy Father. A connection, if you will, in a very real and profound way -- and through the celebration of the Mass and the Eucharist, to Christ our Lord. So we had all of these elements coming together truly in a place of communion."
In his Homily during the Mass for staff, Most Rev. Luigi Bonazzi encouraged us to continue to find joy in our friendship with Christ by celebrating Jesus’ Word, embracing the Sacraments, reading the Bible, and by continuing to serve our brothers and sisters.
“If we are faithful in our friendship with Jesus, he is a faithful friend who never abandons us,” he said.
Mass was followed by a lunch where members of our Agency’s administration shared not just our mission and values, but how those lead to the work we do each day.
"The blessing is that we are a Catholic agency. The challenge is to be a Catholic social services agency, in both word and deed, in a society that is increasingly becoming secular,” Stephen said. “We must always fight against the temptation to make sure we don’t allow what we do to be separated from who we are. One flows from the other.”
After lunch, Most Rev. Bonazzi was joined by Archbishop Smith and Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy Bishop David Motiuk at our building on 99th Street in Edmonton for a blessing ceremony. That location is home to our Mercy Counselling, Gianna Centre, and some of our Immigration and Settlement Services staff.
“What you do… you do for me” Most Rev. Bonazzi told those in attendance.
Noting that Most Rev. Bonazzi speaks on behalf of Pope Francis, Archbishop Smith highlighted the significance of the occasion and the Papal Nuncio’s words.
“I think the presence of the Papal Nuncio here today underscores very powerfully and very visibly that your work is clearly in communion with the mission and the call of our Holy Father himself,” Archbishop Smith said. “I think it’s a real blessing to have this opportunity through the presence of the Papal Nuncio to have that communion underscored.”
During the blessing ceremonies at the 99th Street building, Most Rev. Bonazzi prayed for the managers and staff of each ministry, and blessed the offices and counselling rooms with Holy Water. He also met with staff from each ministry.
“I thought the blessings were astounding,” Carattini said. “It was interesting to watch him interacting with our staff. That was really quite lovely.”
“It was an incredible honour to have the Apostolic Nuncio’s blessing and support for the type of care we provide in assisting immigrants and refugees coming to Canada,” said Jim Nguyen, a ministry supervisor with Immigration and Settlement Services. “To have his embrace and encouragement for our Ministry’s practice is truly touching and is a sentiment our team will cherish.”
“Being graced with this visit reminds us that people are the Church -- and amongst the people of the Church are those who have dedicated their lives to supporting and praying for us with love and tenderness as we minister to others,” said Mercy Counselling Director Dr. Theresa Zolner.
“The Most Rev. Luigi Bonazzi said at the blessing that, through our work, we have the opportunity to see Christ anew in each person we serve. We pray that we may continue to experience Christ through the people we serve and to convey the mercy of the Triune God through our work and indeed our whole lives each day.”
“More than a blessing, it was also a commissioning which is intended to recognize and consecrate a commitment to the service of Christ in the world, either in general terms or in connection with a particular responsibility,” said Vera Fischer, the Manager of Gianna Centre. “Many people have asked what the experience was like for me. Although difficult to describe in words, I truly believe that the event will have a lasting effect in our ministries, our Agency and indeed the lives of those we are blessed to serve.”
"I was grateful for our staff and everyone involved. Everyone in our agency presented themselves well. I think that the Nuncio came away with a greater sense of the passion and of the commitment that our people have to our mission and to the people in our care and the work that we do,” Stephen said.
In addition to visiting with CSS, Most Rev. Bonazzi also spent time with Covenant Health, area school districts, priests, deacons, and other groups. More about his visit can be read at the Archdiocese of Edmonton website.