Hello 129 | JIM FURLONG

I just returned from Ontario this week. I haven’t been there in a while. It is a beautiful time of year along the canals that run out from Ottawa. I was reminded of my last visit there a few years ago and I present humbly to you what I think is a wonderful story about a person I never actually met.

The last time I was in the Ottawa area I was there was to visit my son Michael and his significant other Chanelle. On that occasion I dropped in a couple of times to attend Mass at St. George’s Roman Catholic Church. It is a little parish church with a school, typical of many parishes. During my attendance I came across a little “offering” envelope. You know the type I am talking about. Catholics have them for donations sometimes and so do our Protestant friends. The envelopes are numbered so you can give to the church with the reasonable expectation that at the end of the year you will get a tax receipt that will help you deal with Ottawa. “The Lord moves in mysterious ways; His wonders to perform.” You might be surprised to know that the passage isn’t from the Bible but sounds like it should be. It is from a poem by William Cowper written in England in 1773.

That is neither here nor there, but it just puts some explanation and understanding to the idea that numbered and printed envelopes and computerized collections can be the vehicles for delivering money to those who do God’s work. It is a long ways from the manger, isn’t it?

On a pew at St. George’s Church in Ottawa, on a weekday morning, was an offering envelope. There was no money in it, but it had at one time been sealed. It was envelope number 129. That means in the parish there was donor number 129. The place for a name on the envelope was left blank. My guess is that he or she didn’t want everyone knowing they gave or how much. Now who was he or she? How much did they give and have recent events shaken their faith. I hope not but who knows these things. They are the burning questions. This was at least five years ago and my own parish church which was St. Patrick’s in the west end in St. John’s has closed since then and after a century and a half the building so important to the west end community has been sold to private interests. Maybe it will be a supermarket.

I hope St. George’s Church in Ottawa fared better that St. Patrick’s in St. John’s, or all the others around our province that were laid low by the sins of the fathers. I will never know the answer to that but I wish the owner of the envelope I have, he or she being parishioner 129, is well. I hope they continue to believe, and I hope they help make things better.

It is a marathon and not a sprint.

You can contact Jim Furlong at [email protected]