“How do we extend hospitality to our Lord Jesus Christ?”
This was the question Archbishop Smith posed in his homily, preached during his pastoral visit to the Our Lady of Fatima, the Portuguese Catholic parish, in Edmonton Feb. 3-4.
“By simply entering a house, Jesus signals that he wishes to be part of our ordinary daily routines, to be a member of the family. No matter, however seemingly trivial, is outside of his concern.”
Much of the Archbishop’s homily was inspired by the hospitality that he experienced both during his parish visit and his summer visit to Portugal for World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon.
“I learned how the Portuguese people had opened the doors of their homes and hearts so wide that they practically adopted our pilgrims as members of their households. It was beautiful to see,” Archbishop Smith recalled.
This same spirit of hospitality filled the Archbishop’s visit to Our Lady of Fatima, as he was welcomed by bountiful food and the warm welcome of parishioners from many generations.
After Mass on Saturday, Feb. 3, Archbishop Smith had lunch in the parish hall with Father Marcio Luiz da Costa, the pastor of Our Lady of Fatima church, the office administrator, and pastoral and finance council members. Also at lunch were key fundraisers for the Santo Cristo, Imperial, Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Fatima Feasts at the parish. On Sunday, Archbishop Smith joined Father Marcio and parishioners for lunch.
Our Lady of Fatima Parish was established in 1972 by the Catholic Portuguese immigrant community of Edmonton and Fr. Arduino Antonello, a Portuguese priest from Brazil. It was first called Sacred Heart Church and the name was later changed to Our Lady of Fatima. The parish celebrated its 50th anniversary in October 2022.
Archbishop Smith noted not only the immigrant legacy of Our Lady of Fatima, but also the common feeling of being an outsider that many Catholics experience today.
“Many of us have had experiences of visiting or living within a foreign culture. In fact, the pioneers who founded this parish had to do just that, as they emigrated from their homeland to this new and unfamiliar country.
“Their culture shock would have been far more dramatic than my little episode. The point I want to make here is that all of us, precisely as Christians, are engaging every day with a culture that is increasingly foreign to the Gospel,” Archbishop Smith said.
“Our surrounding culture is in serious need of healing.”
Archbishop Smith’s visit to Our Lady of Fatima also marked the memorial of St. Blaise, a fifth-century Armenian Bishop who was known for facilitating many miraculous healings.
In honour of the memorial, Archbishop Smith and Father Marcio offered the traditional St. Blaise throat blessing to parishioners, where two blessed candles are crossed and rested around the throat of the recipient, with a prayer for healing and special protection from ailments of the throat.
To the parish of Our Lady of Fatima and to all the Catholic faithful, Archbishop Smith ended on a note of hope and called for a reawakening of the healing power of evangelization.
“The love of our Lord, who enters our homes and our lives with his healing power, inspires within us the same zeal that impelled Saint Paul to say, ‘Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel!. . . Thank you for all you do in service to the Church and her mission.”
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