Join us at St. Gerard's Catholic Christian Church, Bowen Island, B.C., for Christmas 2014—Advent, Christmas, New Year's Day!
Christmas Eve Mass* at
7:30 p.m., Dec. 24, 2014
*On Christmas Eve, December 24, 2014, we will welcome Fr. Jude Iloghalu of the Igbo people of Nigeria to celebrate the Nativity with us. Father Jude is visiting from the the Abakaliki Diocese. He resides at the Holy Rosary Cathedral rectory and is studying Pastoral Care at St. Paui’s Hospital. If you click on Igbo people, you may find you can listen to Igbo hymns as you read.
Welcome to the St. Gerard's Catholic Church Community!
Sunday Mass is at 10:30 a.m. St. Gerard's church is located at 1111 Miller Rd., Bowen Island, BC. It's on the corner of Melmore Rd. and Miller Rd., across the street from the park trail to Killarney Lake. From the Bowen Island ferry or the Snug Cove public wharf or marinas, St. Gerard's is just a 1 km walk or drive away. This St. Gerard's map shows the main route and scenic walking route. You'll find St. Gerard's in the northwest corner of this Lower Mainland parish map of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Online, we welcome the world, as shown by this map of Web visitors in a short period. Through Sister Jo, we share with Africa. Sister Jo was with us in January 2014 while dealing with a health issue for a few months. She is now in good health in Uganda. Recently she celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of her profession on a joyful occasion with many Uganda and Kenya sisters.
Sister Jo, rscj, of the St. Gerard's community is currently continuing her work in Uganda with the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We were sad to hear that one of her rscj sisters was on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, shot down over eastern Ukraine. The late Sister Philomene Tiernan of Australia was around Sister Jo's age and clearly a remarkable person, as we learn in this CNN video report.
Thank you to the Archdiocese of Vancouver, especially Makani Marquis, for hosting our website with great service at no charge to St. Gerard's. With Makani's help, we have just switched to a new server that will speed up access to this site.
On Sunday, July 21, 2013, the parishioners celebrated Fr. Rey Day to thank Fr.
Rey Usman for all his good work for St. Gerard's over the past two years. We
invited everyone to a potluck lunch, and a camera caught a few of the
Sister Jo, rscj, invites us to
visit the sisters' Uganda-Kenya website, as shown
The next work party at St. Gerard's is on Saturday morning, April 20, 2013, 9–Noon, for spring cleaning inside and out. As well, the ongoing St. Gerard's renovation currently includes stone tiling of the floors, with new stone tiling in the sanctuary and, in time, the whole church. Organ repairs (air pump motor) are also underway; since the motor was very hard to access, there will be a new shed for it (outside but still near the organ).
Here's the St. Gerard's family on Sunday, April 14, 2013:
After a full life, Sister Marion MacDonald, scic, died on Nov. 15, 2012, in St.John, NB. A long-time administrator of St. Vincent's Hospital in Vancouver, Sister MacDonald was a founding member of St. Gerard's Church. We were fortunate and honoured to have sister with us in September 2011, at almost 91 years of age, to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of our church community.
November 2012 update: Sister Jo Wright, rscj, was in Canada from Uganda and enjoyed visiting St. Gerard's on three Sundays in October 2012. She returned to her work in Uganda and Kenya in January 2013 after remedies for her declining vision and hearing. Because of other health issues, she continued her Uganda-Kenya work from Halifax.
We welcomed Archbishop Michael Miller to St. Gerard's and a potluck lunch again on Sunday, August 26, 2012. We enjoy having the archbishop with us, and he seems happy too.
We thank Fr. Tim McCarthy for serving St. Gerard's for the month of June 2012.
Father Beauregard Day: On Sunday, September 4, 2011, St. Gerard’s Church celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Opening Mass . The Mass and reception celebrated the early days and ongoing spirit of Saint Gerard’s, including hymns that founder Fr. Gerard Beauregard loved to sing. Another founder, Sr. Marion MacDonald, SCIC, 90, long-time administrator of St. Vincent's Hospital, was a special guest. The after-Mass gathering on the church lawn (shown at left) included good food and great welcoming camaraderie. Fr. Beauregard Day participants who have been part of St. Gerard's from before the Opening Mass included Rosemary Anderson, Eva Donnelly, Jen Howard, Sister MacDonald, Peter Schmidt, Eileen Sinkinson, Stephen Sothy, Jim Wright, Pat Wright, and Teresa Wright.
We're turning 40! The Opening Mass in our church took place on Sunday, Sept. 5, 1971, and Archbishop James Carney consecrated St. Gerard's Church on June 18, 1972. We hope to celebrate with a 2011-12 year of thanksgiving and renewal. On Aug. 14, 2011, we got together for brainstorming, starting with a "springboard" handout. Have a look at the results report, which includes a proposed September 2011 event focused on gratefulness in an ecumenical context. Members of the wide community of St. Gerard's, were invited to participate in a brief "St. Gerard's 40th" survey, and here on August 24 are the survey findings.
Archbishop Michael Miller celebrated Mass at St. Gerard's on Sunday, July 31, 2011. Afterward, he joined 32 members of the community in a potluck lunch, as shown below.
Coincidentally, that day was the 35th anniversary of the passing of a St. Gerard's founder, Harry Wright (on Bowen Island on July 31, 1976), as Archbishop Miller mentioned in his homily. It was his first visit to St. Gerard's, but it was evident that he already knew a lot about us.
On Sunday, July 10, 2011, St. Gerard's welcomed our new priest, Father Rey, more formally Father Reynaldo Usman. He quickly established a rapport with the people. Soon he was in the aisle for the homily, interacting with the congregation about the parable of the sower. An hour after Mass, he was still at the door, happily chatting.
Retreat: Father Ranjan d’Sa (top left), who formerly served St. Gerard’s each Sunday, flew from his current parish in London, Ontario, to facilitate the 2011 St. Gerard’s Retreat. It took place at Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen on the May 27–29 weekend, and the theme was “Our Father.” The St. Gerard’s community for the event included a core group from Bowen Island, several parishioners from our sister church in North Vancouver (Holy Trinity), and others from all over, like Powell River and Hastings, New Zealand.
New stained-glass windows: When the sanctuary wall of St. Gerard’s church had to be replaced, the need became an opportunity. Church members planned a simple kind of stained glass windows. The abstract design is rooted in our understanding as Christians of the great truths of the death and resurrection of Jesus as depicted by artists through the centuries.
The windows were inspired by a station of the cross in an ultra-modern church in Umbria and a stained glass window in a small chapel near Grenoble by a French artist known as Arcabas.
The centre-panel mosaic of coloured blocks suggests a hill—Golgotha, with the central cross of Jesus and the two smaller crosses of the thieves.
The strong line extending from the left panel to past the crossbar of the centre panel prompts thoughts of the reed that held a sponge filled with sour wine in response to Jesus' “I thirst,” the spear used to wound Jesus’ side to prove He was dead, and a ladder to take the body of Jesus down from the cross.
The dominant circular shape at the bottom of the centre and right panels anchors us in the reality of the empty tomb, the resurrection, and the eucharistic body of Christ.
The B.C. Catholic newspaper has published a
longer article about this. It is titled "New
windows let light shine through on Bowen Island."
When Bowen Island was a holiday resort, priests from
Holy Rosary Cathedral came to Bowen
Island each summer Sunday to say Mass. The venues included the school, a dance hall, and Union Steamships' Evergreen Hall. Around 1960,
Bowen Island Catholic Christians set out to build a church, with neighbourly help
from fellow islanders. In the early 1960s, Father
Gerard Beauregard, who lived with the destitute at
the Catholic Charities
and worked with the homeless in Downtown Vancouver, began serving the Bowen community. Father Beauregard was devout, ebullient,
brilliant, eccentric, and deeply good. He loved the island and the
islanders, and he was inspired by the project. After reaching Bowen by
bus and ferry, he would hike to Evergreen Hall with his backpack and
black bag, engaging in animated conversation with whomever he met.
Above, Fr. Beauregard pauses near the lagoon to chat with Ernie Peerless, a non-Catholic. Above centre, Fr. Beauregard approaches Evergreen Hall, ready to say Mass in the morning and then start clearing the lot on the corner of Miller and Melmore in the afternoon. Years later, above right, his smile still says it all.
just-visible figure near the top left corner of the first photo below is
Father Beauregard in logging gear, part way up an alder on the
St. Gerard's site. With him but out of sight, there's a small work party
he'd enlisted after Mass.
On June 18, 1972, Archbishop James Carney consecrated St. Gerard's church.
During the construction, Fr. Beauregard crafted the sturdy tabernacle from his hand-laminated wood. Meanwhile, Harry Wright spent hundreds of hours carving the crucifix entirely in one piece from a yellow cedar driftwood log from the shore of Deep Bay, Bowen Island. From another cedar log, Mr. Wright carved the original "St. Gerard's Catholic Church" sign, which is still there, nestled among the ferns near the church entrance and completing its cycle of life.
St. Gerard's member Camilla Roberts
noticed something that was missing: a Way of
the Cross. Mrs. Roberts,
who combined a mobility disability with artistic ability and commitment,
began painting the 14 Stations from her wheelchair. In June 1977,
she presented St. Gerard's with our unique Stations of the Cross.
Others contributed other talents. Years before the construction began, Alex Rankin, Sam Dumaresq, and John Mayberry had persuaded the Union Steamships' realty arm to "sell" us our corner lot for one dollar. Ellen Dorman, revered on Bowen Island as an angel of mercy, did much to earn wide support. Along with the islanders' good will, prodigious efforts by the St. Gerard's community made the annual Strawberry Tea at Collins Hall remarkably successful. One example of our "unsung heroes" was Mrs. Augusta (Gussie) Paterson, who baked a tableful of apple pies for each Strawberry Tea until past eighty. Others, like the maker of the evocative IHS cross above the church entrance, are anonymous. With dedication and generosity, St. Gerard's was soon able to take another step (above centre), adding our little rectory.
The written accounts of the early days are sketchy, and the pioneer leaders mentioned here have passed on, but much from their work remains.
Today, St. Gerard's remains a welcoming, vibrant Christian faith community of Bowen Islanders, seasonal residents, and visitors, plus relatives and friends.
Almost every Sunday, we have coffee after Mass, along with juice and cookies, in the gathering area at the back of the church. Everyone, especially visitors and newcomers, is very welcome to join in.
Fr. Ranjan d'Sa, who served us well, is now Pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in London, Ontario. Father Ranjan came to St. Gerard's on Sept. 26, 2010, to celebrate Sunday Mass and say goodbye.
On Saturday, September 18, 2010, we had a good turnout for a St. Gerard's work party (above). Laughing at the rain, we filled raised beds with soil and planted shrubs and grasses. The result is a new garden on the Miller Road side of the church and rectory and a renewed sense of community vitality.
Sister Jo visited the Vancouver area on her way back to her work in Uganda and Kenya and enjoyed seeing everyone when at St. Gerard's for Sunday Mass on August 29 and September 5. "I love this little community," she said.
On Feb. 18, 2010, Cecilia Sothy (1938–2010), a founding member of St. Gerard's, passed on, with Sister Jo, rscj, her older sister, at her side. The family has thanked St. Gerard's for support during Cecilia's cancer illness and at the prayer service and funeral. Fr. Jim Comey concelebrated the funeral Mass at Cecilia's Vancouver parish, Immaculate Conception, and at least five other St. Gerard's members attended.
In January 2010, St. Gerard's said goodbye to Eileen and John Richter, who have moved to New Westminster. Eileen, a long-time member of the church council, has contributed immensely to the St. Gerard's community. Eileen (at left, below) and the community were hosted by Judith McBride for a farewell potluck.
Thanks especially to Michel Paré, the St. Gerard's rectory has new siding.
The St. Gerard's Church community is delighted to welcome new members from all over. Susi and Gene Spiering of Vancouver came across us when they visited Bowen Island as boaters, and they were among our seasonal members. They liked our church community so much that they get a boating trip to Bowen and St. Gerard's most Sundays now. Susie (right) plays guitar and leads the singing at Mass.
After Mass on Aug. 23, 2009, thirty members of the St. Gerard's community accepted the invitation to a potluck lunch. The highlight was Sister Jo's slide-show presentation about the work of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Uganda and Kenya, which St. Gerard's supports. Below, Father Ranjan D'Sa (black shirt) and Sister Jo (East African garb), among others, look forward to their meal. In a conversation, Father Ranjan discussed connotations of the name "Ranjan." It seems that our new priest is called "entertaining agent of everlasting joy."
On Sunday, August 16, St. Gerard's celebrated the life of the late Agneta Wright on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of her birth. Her family presented a memento that will remain on the wall near her pew. (Details below.)
The St. Gerard's church community will sadly miss our faithful long-time member Pawel (Paul) Pogorzelec (1921-2009). Paul's funeral, a celebration of life, was held at Holy Trinity Church on August 5, 2009. Condolences to Paul's devoted wife Józefa (Josie) Pogorzelec and their loving family. In the announcement time at the end of Mass at St. Gerard's on August 9, Paul's grieving daughter spoke eloquently to express her appreciation to the church community for their support.
Mrs. M. Agneta Wright (1909-2009), a founder of St. Gerard's, passed peacefully from this life on Saturday, June 20, 2009, after receiving the sacrament of the sick the previous day. Agneta, a seasonal Bowen Islander who loved Bowen, had been an active member of the Catholic community here since 1958. Grandchild Maria Wright photographed Agneta (below) on her 99th birthday, Sunday, August 17, 2008. After Mass earlier that day, the people of St. Gerard's had presented Agneta with flowers and thanked her for everything she had done to help establish St. Gerard's and inspire its members. The photo shows only a contented Agneta, but there are actually about thirty of her family members celebrating with her. She is in her favourite spot in the sunroom with a southern outlook over Deep Bay and the entrance to Snug Cove, Bowen Island.
In a short ceremony at the end of Mass on Sunday, August 16, 2009, Agneta's family, with the whole congregation participating, presented a memento to the church council for the people of St. Gerard's on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Agneta's birth. It features an Apostolic Blessing, along with a BC Catholic story and Agneta's obituary. The memento was installed on the cedar wall beside her favourite pew near the front, as shown in the above photo.
Participants say the St. Gerard's annual retreats at Rivendell Retreat Centre, Bowen Island, are always a big success.
Maintenance and renovation of the church, rectory, and grounds are ongoing. Bob and Bev Lewis led the renovation of the rectory, or "annex." Michel Paré is currently very active in renovation of the church. Hugh Stark, who passed on near the end of 2008, provided strong leadership in recent years, and he is greatly missed by St. Gerard's and Bowen Island, as is the late Tom Donnelly. Many members of the St. Gerard's community volunteer for work parties, although there is no pressure to do so. (And no logging.)
Another large project was the installation in the church
loft of the set of organ pipes, made in 1901, for our "new" organ. It was
acquired from a Christian church in Vancouver but was originally used to
accompany silent films in a movie theatre. The
quality of the organ was evident in a sacred music recital by Darryl Nixon
(below right) of
United Church, Vancouver.
At the front of the loft, we have a stained glass window from an 1840s-built Church of England church in Coventry, UK. Former Bowen Islanders Eleanor & Iain Benson had managed to acquire it and install it in their home. When the Bensons decided to live near Lourdes, France, they removed the stained glass window from their Bowen house and contributed it to their church, St. Gerard's.
While we miss
Eleanor and Iain and their seven children, we're glad we received
window (below right). Beneath the image of a young priest holding a
small child for an infant baptism are the words "For such is the kingdom
of God." It is a quotation from
10:13-16 (King James version), a passage in which the disciples are impatient with the
little children but Jesus opens his arms to them.
Africa outreach with Sister Jo
We at St. Gerard's open our arms to children in need by supporting the work of Sister Jo Wright, RSCJ, in Africa. Sister Jo, who has a long association with us, is based near Kampala, Uganda. She travels widely to assist the sisters in many communities in Kenya and Uganda as a leadership team member.
St. Gerard's children have raised funds for the Sisters' Uganda-Kenya Solidarity Fund by selling lemonade and even eggs. When we asked Sister Jo for a photo for this website, she sent the above photo of children at St. Bernadette's Primary (Elementary) School, Nakibizzie, Uganda. She included this commentary:
St. Gerard's is affiliated with Holy Trinity Parish, North Vancouver, and we're delighted to share the parish clergy. Holy Trinity pastor Fr. Jim Comey (above left) joins us once a month. Fr. Jim Comey says "Our parish community is very dynamic and creative." He adds that "both our church and rectory look elegant and strong" and that he's pleased we're aiming to take the church renovation further with a new carpet and an enhanced entrance
Fr. Tom Smith (above right) was our priest until appointed as a parish pastor.
Fr. Reynaldo Usman, OM (Father Rey, left) is our current priest at St. Gerard's Church. Since the renovations of the rectory are essentially complete, he is looking forward to being able to stay overnight on Bowen Island when possible and spend some days off getting to know the island and the islanders.
Father Rey, who is from the Philippines, is currently a temporary member of the Vancouver Archdiocese. When Father Rey was away, Archbishop Michael Miller visited our church community, and he heard lots of parishioner requests to encourage Father Rey to make his stay a permanent one.
St. Gerard's contacts
St. Gerard's information: New to Bowen Island or St. Gerard's? Comments about this St. Gerard's Website? Other questions? Email StGerards@rcav.bc.ca. Please indicate your topic in your subject line.
Clergy and parish office: Phone 604.988.6304. Or visit the Holy Trinity office, which also serves St. Gerard's, for additional contact information.
The B.C. Catholic online: The B.C. Catholic, the Archdiocese of Vancouver's weekly paper, aims to serve the needs of the Catholic community in B.C.
Catholic calendar: Combine daily scripture readings with reflections.
Encyclicals: Papal Encyclicals Online is a guide to online papal and official documents of the Catholic Church.
Sisters' website: Sister Jo is a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart.
Zulu sculpture: Receive cross-cultural inspiration with the
Bowen churches: Besides St. Gerard's, Bowen Island Christian churches with web presence include Bowen Island United Church, Cates Hill Chapel, and Bowen Island Community Church. BowenOnline lista Bowen Island faith groups, including the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and Unitarians. One can visit Canadian Christianity online.
Good day to visit? Check the Bowen Island weather forecast. In any case, with a visit to Bowen and/or St. Gerard's, it can be a good day for you.
Our church community is officially called St. Gerard's Mission, the name on the newer of the two St. Gerard's signs in front of the church. People ask about it.
Many dioceses use the term mission for churches that are not full parishes. In that sense, St. Gerard's has always been a mission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver. The concept of mission also appealed to Fr. Gerard Beauregard, a founder who saw his role as that of a missionary, especially to the homeless of Downtown Vancouver.
mission has the same Latin root, miss-, as
Mass, which comes from the word missa in Ite missa est.
That phrase, the priest's final words in the traditional Latin Mass, is
an idiom that freely translates as "Go, you are sent." Since our
Christian community is called a mission, our name is a reminder
that we are sent to be witnesses to God's love, to carry on
We, the Christian community of Saint Gerard's Catholic Church, Bowen Island, invite you to our Bowen church. Share in our mission!
Thank you: Until the archdiocese took on the hosting of this website, it was hosted by Notre Dame Regional Secondary for years. We thank Notre Dame and especially teacher Peter Vogel for the work he contributed.
Copyright © 2014 St. Gerard's Mission, Bowen Island, Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Vancouver, BC, Canada.