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A lampstand in Newfoundland

August 13, 2010
Climbing Gros Morne mountain in NewfoundlandAs I shared in my previous post, I spent my vacation in Algonquin Provincial Park and at Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. In between those adventures, I took a road trip to Newfoundland with my best friend.
For one week, we marveled at the Maritime culture, wildlife and dramatic landscape of Gros Morne National Park. As we prepared to head home, I came across a familiar sight from my work in Toronto.
It was our final day in Newfoundland. My friend Lee, a campus lay missionary, suggested we go to evening mass before we boarded the ferry. An internet search found no daily masses in the area apart from the little town of Lourdes.
Lourdes is located on the triangular Port au Port Peninsula, which reaches into the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the south-west corner of Newfoundland. Sunset on Port au Port peninsula, NewfoundlandOur guidebook described the peninsula’s main road as the French Ancestor’s Route, owing to the area’s early settlers.
Despite the lovely name, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t a regular tourist destination. A pair of bored-looking teens manned a quiet information centre. They listed off the peninsula’s three restaurants, none of which offered a seafood meal, much less French cuisine. Whereas the towns along Newfoundland’s north-western arm were saturated with bed & breakfasts, here, it seemed, the locals could keep the rugged shoreline to themselves.
Sizing up the village, I was skeptical about our chances of finding a Mass. Was the website information up-to-date? If there was a priest to be found at the church, would we find other worshipers?
I ought to have known better than to doubt the Catholics of Newfoundland. At the local parish (Our Lady of Lourdes, naturally) we were met by a healthy assembly of the faithful. StarfishThey participated in the Mass with reverence and enthusiasm, afterwards conversing with the pastor about points of the liturgy. Fr. Terry Boland eschewed the stereotype of an isolated rural priest. He spoke glowingly of the care shown to him by the community, who would lovingly drop off an abundance of home-cooked food at the rectory.
As I exited the Church, I noticed a small stack of Salt + Light newsletters. Though I knew the lampstand was being mailed to every parish in Canada, I was encouraged to see the results first-hand. Here, 2400 kilometres from our studio -- and likewise in communities big and small in every corner of the country -- Catholics are doing their part to spread the word about S+L. It’s likely because of a congregation like Our Lady of Lourdes that you found out about S+L, too.
If there aren’t any copies left in your parish, you can read the most recent lampstand here. If you have received your copy, why not share it with a friend who doesn’t know about S+L? And if you've spotted the lampstand in a remarkable place, let us know.
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