Archive for April, 2014


Saturday, April 19th, 2014

“The Lord has risen indeed”

For Blog Easter

May you have a joyful Easter celebration!  Many of us have fond memories of Easter traditions from our past.  Below are those of our friend and olm partner, Maria Teresa Velasco.  Please add your own memories below in the comments box.  We’d love to hear from you.

 He is Risen

Easter is for Christendom the holiest time of the year. In the Philippines, the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia, it is not less so.

I remember growing up learning the importance of this day, and the days preceding it. The beginning of the season of Lent was Ash Wednesday, and those of us who were in school would be shepherded to church services where ashes would be imposed on our foreheads in the form of a cross. This signaled the beginning of Lent. For us children, Lent meant many things: an opportunity to be quiet, to be good, to make friends of enemies. Perhaps more so, it meant no meat on Fridays.

On Palm Sunday our family of four children and parents would troop to the church carrying palm fronds made up into neat shapes: ribbons, crosses, flowers. We were told it was to be a quiet time for all to remember Jesus and his suffering to save us. Outside churches vendors were selling their palms, and no one entered without one.

All around the country, Holy Week was celebrated in ways sometimes unfamiliar to the West. Of course there were prayers and Stations of the Cross, confession; some people availed of retreats. In the provinces and cities there were other practices, like the Visit to the Seven Churches on Thursday, in remembrance of the seven holy churches of Rome. For the uninitiated we would trek by car or by foot to churches near or dear to us. It seemed like the entire community had turned out to join in this commemoration. Along the way we would bump into friends and acquaintances.

In many villages and towns there was also singing of the passion, mostly from loudspeakers so everyone could hear the solemn words.

Then on Good Friday, there was the reading of the Seven Last Words. In all churches there would be a reading of the crucifixion of Christ. In some villages, men would flagellate themselves with whips, their faces covered with cloth and crowned with thorns, in imitation of the suffering of Jesus. Some would be raised on a cross, with either their hands tied, or nailed to it. It was a gruesome sight, but strangely it brought home the saving power of Christ’s suffering.

Then all would go home. There was an old belief that one should not bathe on Good Friday, to respect the death of Christ Jesus.

I remember these things, especially now, where, in Canada, I am exposed to a different way of doing things for Holy Week. I deeply miss my parents, who have since passed, my younger brother, too; and all family and friends I have left behind in the islands. Holy Week is a bond I share with these loved ones that brings together all of humanity in recognition and celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, and redemption.

Maria Teresa Velasco, olm partner


Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Chris Sabas of the Christian Peacemakers, who works with the  Aboriginal Justice Team made a second presentation to Our Lady’s Missionaries and their partners on Sunday, April 6th.  Her previous presentation on the Doctrine of Discovery identified the attitudes and prejudices which have caused such injustice towards our Indigenous Peoples. And our group wanted to learn more.

The opening prayer on the theme of Genesis was picked up by Chris as she emphasized the need for we, settlers, to enter a new and right relationship with the Indigenous Peoples.  She quoted, Roberta Keesick, a trapper from Grassy Narrows who said, “Our culture is land based and when you destroy the land you destroy our culture.” Clear cut logging so damages the land and the whole eco-system that traditional trapping, fishing and gathering of berries and medicinal herbs is no longer possible.  These activities are integral to the culture.

In the province of Ontario 46 different treaties have been signed.  These solemn agreements brought both rights and responsibilities to both parties.  In no way did Indigenous Peoples have a concept of land ownership.  They saw themselves and the settlers as only stewards of creation which had been given to them by The Creator.

Chris had served in New Brunswick with other cpter’s at the invitation of the Mi’kmaq people in Elsipogtog and she showed us a short video of their confrontation with the RCMP.  This situation arose when the Mi’kmaq who have not ceded their land were protesting the proposed fracking project on their territory.  They had allies both in Francophone and Anglophone people who were also opposed to the damaging prospect. When dialogue alone failed, they blockaded the camp where the vehicles doing the exploratory work were being stored.  This protest throughout was peaceful until the morning when the RCMP moved in with force to remove the protestors.  Their numbers far exceeded that of the protestors who remained non-violent.  Some of the RCMP in the bushes and ditches were dressed in camouflage armed with rifles and dogs on leash.

During the ensuing comments from the sisters and their partners many remarked on the disparity in numbers and potential for violence between the two groups.

Chris then showed us a brief video entitled, “We are all Treaty People”.  This was produced by the government of Saskatchewan where they have a Treaty Commissioner who is responsible for honoring the rights granted by the treaties and fostering right and harmonious relationships with the Indigenous Peoples.

Treaties are living agreements which need to be monitored and adjusted to meet changing needs.  This of course implies respectful dialogue on all sides.  The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada only recently signed expresses it this way:  Indigenous Peoples have the right to free, prior and informed consent to any decisions impacting their way of life.

On our part we the settlers need to unlearn many of our colonial attitudes and thought patterns. Syed Hussan, a Toronto based activist cautions that “This decolonization requires a profound recentring on Indigenous worldviews” Yes! we’ve only just begun; but there is hope for a better future and a new Genesis.Sister Rosemary Willliamson,olm  

Partners With OLM Gathering

Partners With OLM Gathering

Christian Peacemaker Teams

Christian Peacemaker Teams

We Are All Treaty People

We Are All Treaty People

Diana Buttu

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Diana Buttu, a Canadian Human Rights Lawyer now based in Ramallah, Palestine and former advisor to the Palestinian peace negotiations team, was the guest speaker for a three city tour (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto) hosted by CJPME (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East).

On Friday March 21 Ms. Buttu spoke to a full lecture hall on the University of Toronto Campus. She spoke about the different expectations of Palestinians and Israelis for the peace process: that Israel wanted to take as much land as possible and be recognized as legitimate, while Palestine wanted freedom. She talked about the effect of the negotiations on Palestine, that International Law has been ignored and there has been no equality as a result.

In speaking about the future Ms. Buttu asserted that it is essential for people to learn and disseminate factual information about what is happening and that International law has to be followed.

Ms. Buttu also emphasised that it is not enough to hope for a peaceful future through the development of one state, but that it is important to focus on what is happening now and stop the “cancer of the settlements” (Illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers).

Sr. Frances Brady,olm


Further information about CJPME can be found at <>