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St. Anne - Mother of Mary, Grandmother of Jesus, Patron of our Church

posted 7 Sep 2017, 18:49 by Gary van der Meer   [ updated 20 Sep 2017, 07:45 ]
What is the best way to celebrate our patron saint, Anne the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus? What is the best way to celebrate the ministry of a church named for this saint?

This summer, I visited St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in Riverdale (Broadview and Gerrard) to take part in their celebration (different spelling but the same saint). It was the 102nd anniversary of the parish, and the occasion celebrated both Anne and their church's ministry in the community. I noticed that they moved their festivities from the traditional calendar date (July 26) to the nearest Sunday. That's practical, and we have taken it a step further by moving our celebration to September 17. We hope everyone is back, refreshed from rest and travel, and ready to celebrate with us.

St. Ann's Church did some things we have tried: A visit by the bishop, invitations to special guests including their MP, acknowledgement and thanks to all who serve in their many ministries of outreach in the community, and a barbecue in the front yard following the liturgy. The way they went about it was beautiful and memorable:
  • The church organized a novena - a special nine-day prayer that people commit to do each day in their homes - to pray for their community and its needs, and to ask God's guidance in their readiness to serve their local community.

  • John Robinson, leader of their Native Peoples' Mission, opened the liturgy with smudging for purification using a special mixture of cedar, sweetgrass, tobacco, and sage. Diverse representatives of the Native Peoples' Mission walked through the whole community using eagle, peacock and goose feathers for the smudging, as John led the whole community to face the four directions, the earth at our feet, and the Creator above us.

  • They had a special Hymn to St. Ann written for their church:

    • Chorus: Mother of Mary, teach us ever more to be faithful and to serve as you taught the one you bore.
    • First Verse: The love for our God you gave to your daughter
      Mary that she would agree to be the mother of our Lord.
    • Second Verse: You gave of yourself as serving in the temple.
      You taught her that the gifts she had were promised to the Lord.
    • Third Verse: The lessons you taught with Joachim your husband
      gave her the strength to be a witness to her Son.
Of course, every church community is different. Not every good idea translates easily into our setting. Let's give thanks for St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church, and let's do what makes sense for us.

Here's our plan for St. Anne's Day on Sunday, September 17. The 10:30 a.m. service will celebrate Anne and the ministries of our church. The service includes Holy Baptism: we pray for Luna Li and Lingyin Shen as they conclude their preparation to be baptized and as they prepare their testimonies of faith. 

We will have a reception in the church following the service, including a St. Anne's Day Cake and a light lunch. 

Our first concert of the 2017-2018 season takes place Sunday at 2:00 p.m. It's a benefit concert to continue repairs to the church organ. We're looking forward to beautiful music featuring some of Toronto's finest organists! 

Sunday, September 17 is also the Community Dinner, and we welcome volunteers from 2:30 p.m. through to 7:30 p.m. for all aspects of the dinner: food preparation, serving guests, cleaning up. 

St. Anne's Day is a full day of loving God and loving our neighbours, our St. Anne's way of "Bringing the Community together for Good."

If I could adopt any one aspect of the celebration from St. Ann's Catholic Church, it would be about that novena prayer. What about, over the coming week, some thoughts about our neighbours: who are they and what do they need? Maybe, we are asking God to show us the best ways for our St. Anne's to befriend our community and stand with them in the challenges and joys of life.

Blessings to you as we celebrate the patron saint of grandmothers, women in labour, horseback riders, the Mi'kmaq of Canada, miners, sailors, and the protector from storms.

The Rev. Gary van der Meer