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50 Avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris

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Trinity Sunday 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Few will forget the joy of last weekend as we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost. The Spirit of God could be seen in the eyes of the 43 girls and boys who received Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion on Saturday. They are a credit to their families and to CCD teachers. Their colourings of St Joseph on display on the ‘red wall’ were beautiful. Afterwards, they laughed, ate and drank in the garden.

That evening a parishioner was Confirmed with 440 other adults in church of St Sulpice. It was a privilege for me to concelebrate the Mass and witness the Holy Spirit coming on these adults.

At 11 a.m. Mass, on Sunday, Mgr. Pascal Gollnisch, of l’Oeuvre d’Orient, spoke movingly of the situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria. He expressed thanks for the great generosity of parishioners who donated €20,000 from the 2019 Lenten Project at St Joseph’s. His words on Pentecost Sunday linked us to our sisters and brothers suffering so greatly.

This led us, after Sunday morning Masses, to welcoming Mgr. Rambaud as delegate of Archbishop of Paris, + Michel Aupetit, to celebrate Confirmation for 32 Candidates from St Joseph’s CCD and Marymount School Paris. Mgr. Connolly and Fr Joe Delaney, Ireland, joined the concelebrated Mass and imposed hands over the Candidates. Along with their families and teachers, the Spirit revealed that the young have not given up on Jesus or on religious belief. They left me in awe at how active the Spirit is among them and how generous the young are in their response. The garden ‘party’ afterwards was superb, the centrepiece being a magnificent cake.

Evening Mass ended a weekend of blessings and manifestations that the Spirit truly comes to us at St Joseph’s in many and varied ways. Time was generously given by musicians, volunteers and families. The one language of many nationalities assembled was that of love and caring. We are truly blessed. There are few ‘ordinary’ weekends at St Joseph’s, but this past one was a bit special. The decoration of the Church with flowers beautifully arranged, created a setting to welcome the Spirit.

This is the 150th Year since the foundation of St Joseph’s on this site. The blessings of those years are not possible to calculate and are known only to God. Generations of believers from almost all nations on earth have found the peace of Christ here. Long before many parishes had a big laity participation, St Joseph’s was always a place where the input of laity, female and male, has been a characteristic of all that took place over a century and a half.

With this strong lay participation, in the past there was always a Passionist Community. St Joseph’s would not have been the same without Passionists at its heart. Passionist communities worldwide live the Passion of Jesus and minister to those going through their own passion today. The Crucified Christ heals the wounds of ‘crucified’ people. This is the prayer and life of all professed Passionists.

After almost 11 years at St Joseph’s, I am in no doubt that at avenue Hoche we have one of the finest parishes in the Catholic world. This is said speaking the truth in love. Where we find a better way of being God’s People, we learn and change. Reading in Acts of the Apostles of Paul going to Jerusalem to speak to Peter, I wondered if I should go to Rome and speak to Pope Francis about St Joseph’s!

You have always impressed me greatly by your love and loyalty to St Joseph’s and to the Passionists. You showed this during the three ‘Conversations’ requested by the Passionists. During these in December 2018, February and May 2019, you questioned how much longer having one Passionist assigned here will continue. You wrote to the Passionist superior asking that a community be restored at St Joseph’s. You sought a reply by 30th June.  I could not disagree with this in any way.

As regular parishioners, I greatly admire your patience and tolerance over the past ten months having me as the celebrant of whatever weekend Masses you attend. Some wonderful priests do come to assist with weekend Masses. Mgr. Connolly, Irish College, comes regularly to St Joseph’s for a weekend Mass. This is of great support. Ministry of priests is always with lay women, men and children as a foundation of our parish. This shows the Body of Christ in its diversity. By our Baptism we are missioned by God.

The celebrating of many weekend Masses at St Joseph’s, I have never felt as a ‘burden’, rather as a sheer joy. What a privilege it is to break the bread of God’s Word and share His Body with you. Mass is God’s powerful presence in our midst.

My prayer is for a new Pentecost soon at St Joseph’s when a Passionist Community is reinstated. The possibilities are infinite because the Holy Spirit will achieve great things through Lay/Passionist relationship. St Joseph’s will flourish as we celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the foundation of the Passionists by Saint Paul of the Cross.

At the Pastoral Council meeting on 24th June, I will set out a timetable for my departure from St Joseph’s. It must always be about St Joseph’s and never about me. St Joseph’s to continue welcoming people who come here from wherever, is our sacred mission. This retains all its validity and vitality. Last weekend shows how great is God’s power in our midst.

And what about me? All going well, in December 2020, I’ll be 50 years a priest. Any good associated with my name is God’s work, not mine. Early, I learnt that, “He must increase, and I must decrease”.

My motto always was and remains to this day: “So you, when you have done all that is commanded, you say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’.” {Luke 17:10} It may have been my duty, but what a privilege for me.

This being my final bulletin reflection, sincere thanks to all who have read the bulletin over the past 11 years. Special thanks to those who have faithfully read the weekly bulletin online. You then shared your comments with me which were a great encouragement and support over these years. God Bless one and all.

Aidan Troy, C.P., Trinity Sunday 2019.

Pentecost Sunday 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy

Pentecost started with fear – doors locked for fear of the same fate as Jesus. Locks on their hearts were also securely fastened. Jesus utters the unimaginable in these circumstances – ‘Peace be with you’. He then gives them the key to who He is – “showed them his hands and his side.”

Fear is dispelled and ‘the disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord.’ Then he missions them – ‘as the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ What a range of emotions and an amazing turnabout in their lives. The locks are off their hearts as well as from the tightly closed doors. Then ‘he breathed on them and said, ‘receive the Holy Spirit.’

It must have taken the Apostles and Mary some time to absorb what they had just come through. It’s wonderful what God can do. The key is that God always comes to us as we are and not as I might like to be. For the arrival of a visitor, I try to have all neat and tidy. God doesn’t wait for the tidying up.

At the first Pentecost, fear was the feature. How am I, how are we, this Pentecost? Where am I, where are we on the journey? These influence how we receive God’s Spirit as it did those first disciples. God finds me as I am, and this is how I will think of Him, and will influence how I love Him.

If rigid about the gender of God, we may squirm at any female traits attributed to God – such as God not forgetting us any more than a Mother would forget her child. Even if she should – God will not. On the other hand, for reasons of personal history or outlook, we may struggle with God being described as our ‘Father’.

Pentecost does something new. The issue is not the gender of God – but the Spirit of God. The Spirit is not so much for debate as for action. We have an Advocate, a Counsellor, a Paraclete, a giver of Gifts beyond anyone we could have imagined.  

Pentecost is the feast when we are shown God from inside the life of the Trinity. No longer do I stand outside looking in at God and wondering. Now, I am invited into the life of God and shown the intimate relationship between the Father and the Son that is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God comes to live and work in us.

When I was growing up, we had no Holy Spirit! We had a Holy Ghost. That had its problems because at that time ghost stories were popular; they still scared us long after childhood. The change to Spirit from Ghost helped me to grasp a little better that a heartbeat of God’s love is pounding inside me making me strong when I am weak and helping me to combat loneliness when I feel terribly alone. The Spirit isn’t a visitor when I am good; the Spirit is God in me always.

The Spirit besides being a personal presence, is also at the heart of all who gather in Jesus’ name. When we don’t know, it is the Spirit who guides and leads us to where Jesus wishes. Like the powerful wind from heaven at the first Pentecost, we never know where this wind will blow or will take us. That is why the Spirit does not have a statue in their honour. The lovely image of a dove that today will adorn those to receive Confirmation today is the nearest we get.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Alleluia!


7th Sunday of Easter 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy

A huge number of people in the world do not believe it was God who sent Jesus as Saviour. If God is all-powerful why does He not make sure that everyone does believe this truth? By any standards, this is important not just for a Church but for the World. This is astounding news and needs to be spread to all people everywhere.

Jesus agrees. But God does not work by force or compulsion. God works by invitation, involving anyone who will listen to Jesus and believe. In every era, God bestows the gift of Faith on some people, not as a prize to be protected and admired, but as a mission to be accomplished. God, for his own good reasons, has asked you and me to be the voices of faith and witnesses to love. That is His way.

To attract the attention of the world, Jesus provides a recipe:

“May they all be ONE.
Father, may they be ONE in us…..so that the World may believe it was YOU who sent me………..may they be so completely ONE that the world will realise that it was YOU who sent me and that I have loved them as much as I have loved YOU.”
[Words of Jesus to all for all time]

Often, I have been part of discussions to compose a ‘Mission Statement’ for a parish, a church group or for the Passionists. Nothing produced has been better than the Word of Jesus quoted above. The advantage is that they are the words of Jesus. The call to be ONE frightens me as I look into my own heart and as I look around the many churches called ‘Christian’.

It is not original for me to say that Unity or being One is not being the same or Uniformity. Like John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’, supposing all who claim to be followers of Jesus were determined to break down any barriers that separate and build on all that unites. A person who would see how these Christians love one another, might pause more readily and say, ‘I want to meet Jesus’.

Sadly, such is not the case. Years ago, I was walking with visitors in a town in Ireland. On one short road there were five church of different Christian denominations. The visitors asked why so many buildings all dedicated to the same God? What would you have replied? I don’t have a convincing explanation. I blush with personal shame when I hear the words of Jesus, “May they all be one”.

Now let me confess my failures in this regard. There is a wonderful group of people from all the churches in 8th arr. Seldom have I participated in their regular meetings. Mea culpa. If I cannot take part, and most of the participants are lay people, I have not asked you to be the presence and voice of St Joseph’s.

The answer to Jesus’ prayer that we be ONE will not come from Heaven. It will be born of the prayer, good-will and searching together with our sisters and brothers who weekly assemble to worship the same God as we do. As this would grow others will notice and the Spirit will lead them to seek Jesus. We can then welcome them and show He is present in our midst. It sounds like a dream, but it is the way laid out by Jesus.  

6th Sunday of Easter 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy

“You cannot be saved” in the first sentence of 1st Reading this Sunday insists on fulfilling the tradition of Moses about being circumcised. Later we read that the Church in Jerusalem did not insist on this teaching and regretted that it had disturbed the Gentiles and unsettled their minds.

To say ‘you cannot be saved’ is both sad and false. Jesus came that all people might be saved and come to knowledge of the truth. Jesus does not have “you cannot be saved” in His vocabulary. With God all things are possible. The 3rd Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs opens, “You are indeed Holy and to be glorified, O God, who love the human race and who always walks with us on the journey of life.” Yes, He is Emmanuel - God with us.

“You cannot be saved”, 1st Reading, “led to disagreement and Paul and Barnabas had a long argument with these men”. There was no immediate solution. So, it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas, with others, should go up to Jerusalem to bring this problem to the apostles and elders. Nowadays, an appeal would be made to Rome.

Jerusalem did two things – delegates accompanied Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch and brought with them a letter from Peter, the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem. Here is “conflict resolution” in action in the Church. A local issue is being decided by the Vicar of Christ after people on the ground have been heard.

Take the Vocations’ issue in parts of the world where the number of priests has fallen. A parish last week could not celebrate a parishioner’s Requiem Mass for 10 days. This was not ill-will, but there are not priests available.

A current issue for our Church is divided opinions about females being ordained as Deacons. It is not easy for Pope Francis to decide now on this.

In our parish of Saint Joseph’s, could you imagine if only males could be volunteers for all ministries and works. This amazing community could not function if we had only one lung – the males but not the females. We would be out of breath. The church is out of priests; recruitment of males in some countries is at a very low point, while elsewhere in the world, numbers entering the priesthood are good.

If we go back to Paul and Barnabas, would it not be good if we and other parishes were asked for our opinions about females being ordained as Deacons?  I don’t know whether as parishioners, you would favour having such a discussion that we could forward to Pope France. Some fear that this could lead to a demand for female priests as in other Christian communities. But that isn’t a reason not to address the question of Deacons. I know that Pope Francis must be the one to decide, just as Peter, the Apostles and Elders did.

The Holy Spirit is never absent. Jesus has promised that the Holy Spirt will be sent by God the Father. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit in his name, “will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.” This Divine gift breeds not disagreement, but peace. This is “a peace that the world cannot give.”  How wonderful.

When Peter met the delegation from Paul and Barnabas, he probably felt afraid about making a mistake. From his own bitter experience of denying Jesus, I suspect that Peter prayed a lot to get this one right. And He did.

5th Sunday of Easter 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy

The funeral of Jean Vanier took place on Thursday last. May he rest in peace. Numerous tributes have been paid to this wonderful human being who loved Christ in the vulnerable. His conviction was that all of us are crying out for what matters: love. He goes on to say that God hears our cry because in some way we respond to the cry of God, which is to give love.

A child of God inhales Love from God’s Spirit and gives Love recklessly. ‘Reckless’ is used because, loving in our lives is without limit. It does not follow a fool- proof plan. It takes place whenever we risk going beyond our safe zone to where the outcome is not known or sure. To love as Jesus loves is to be vulnerable.

Paul and Barnabas were ‘making it up as they went along’. They were ploughing a new furrow, just as Jesus had when He walked among us on this earth as the Incarnate Son of God.

St Luke pays them a great tribute – “they put fresh hearts into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith”. [1st Reading] There were times when these brave apostles and equally brave converts to Jesus, were in danger of becoming discouraged. All of us need love and support when the going is tough.

Paul and Barnabas explained to the first followers of Jesus, “we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the Kingdom of God”. At one time I thought that difficulties were not normal. I felt a failure when all was not going well. As students, we were reminded that we had chosen a life of perfection. I’m no longer striving for perfection by my own efforts. Only God is perfect.

The ideal doesn’t exist. Peace is the fruit of love and service to others. I’d like to tell people in communities, ‘Stop looking for peace. Give yourself where you are. Stop looking at yourselves, look instead at your brothers and sisters in need. Ask how you can better love your brothers and sisters. Then you will find peace’.” [Jean Vanier]

This is sound advice. Last Sunday the 3rd ‘conversation’ between Laity and the Passionist community, requested by the Passionist leadership, took place. The Provincial attended the second of these meetings in February. One Passionist is all that is at Saint Joseph’s since August 2018. Next parish meeting will be on 6 Oct. Like Paul or Barnabas, it is an honour for me to serve you over the past10 years.

The hope is that sooner rather than later, a Passionist community of three will be restored. It’s not that I can’t cope – there are great priests who help us out – but it’s not fair on you, to have just one face, one voice to preach, one approach most of the time. Further, though I am very happy, I entered Religious life to live in community.

This issue does not compare to the many blessings of 150 years of Passionists and Laity living the Gospel and spreading the Kingdom from here. St Joseph’s is holy ground. At Monday’s Pastoral Council Meeting, it was agreed that we should offer thanksgiving to God for the many graces and blessings bestowed here.

With this in mind, the following acts of thanksgiving have been arranged:

On Ascension Thursday, 30th May, Exposition of Blessed Sacrament after 11 a.m. Mass to 6.30 pm Mass.

First Communion Mass, 8 June, children will pray together a prayer specially prepared by and for them.

Confirmation Mass, 9 June, petition of Prayer of Faithful to offer Thanksgiving for 150 years.

Feast of Sacred Heart, 28th June, 7.30 p.m. Mass will be offered in Thanksgiving. Organ and choir.

Last word to Jean Vanier: “we must have long moments under the anaesthetic of quiet prayer, because Jesus can teach us certain things only if we are under an anaesthetic. He can show us our poverty, our misery, the gravity of what we have done; only if at the same time He can show us the depth of his merciful love.”


Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
33(0)1 42 27 28 56

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