Merritt Island’s lower trail was protected from the wind and cold compared to the earlier trek along the upper trail. The walk late this morning with outdoors lover Ron Lemon was enhanced by the hues of late fall, graciously painting fallen, wind blown leaves strewn across the (can I use this word?) iconic trail along the Welland River. Empty tree limbs, gloomy in their nakedness, and occasional dustings of snow atop the fallen leaves reminded us of what’s ahead, when cold winds howl and slate gray skies signal seasonal intrusions of countless flakes, soon to blanket the trail walker’s urban getaway, escapism at its enriching best./ Words, photos by Joe Barkovich.
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16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence
November 25, 2021 – December 10, 2021
I invite you to join me on November 25 and wear a white ribbon as we kick off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual world-wide campaign that begins on November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and culminates on December 10 (World Human Rights Day).
I would also like to recognize December 6 the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. On this day we honour the memory of the 14 women who lost their lives during the tragic mass shooting at Polytechnique Montréal on December 6, 1989.
To mark our support and commitment to reducing gender-based violence, the City of Welland will raise the Wrapped in Courage Flag on November 25. As well, Red Dresses will hang in Chippawa Park to acknowledge and honour the many murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. Gender-based violence impacts us all and goes against everything we stand for as human beings. We all must play a role in recognizing and preventing violence against women and girls.
We all deserve to live in a safe environment – let us unite and break the cycle of violence against women, children, and LGBTQ2 individuals in our community, across Canada, and the world.
Captions: Clockwise from top left, 6th Station, Veronica Wipes The Face of Jesus; 7th Station, Jesus Falls A Second Time; 8th Station, Jesus Speaks To The Women Of Jerusalem; 10th Station, Jesus Is Stripped Of His Garments; 11th Station, Artist Aldo Parrotta pauses and ponders Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross; 12th Station, Jesus Dies On The Cross.
By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
Aldo Parrotta’s name came into local prominence the summer just gone by. He was the impetus behind the Bell Box Mural Project, which turned 17 Bell Canada utility boxes in Welland into “canvasses” for some very talented artists, providing opportunity to publicly showcase their work.
But Parrotta has left his mark on other art as well. One is Stations of the Cross at a Catholic shrine, Our Lady of the Rosary Shrine/Le Sanctuaire du Rosaire, a rustic property on Miller Road, Port Colborne.
After dropping in on the grounds Thanksgiving weekend and viewing two of the stations (there are 14), I later reached out to Parrotta hoping he would be interested in talking about them. We chose a date to visit the site, where he guided me on a tour.
The stations are not among his recent work as an artist. Truth be told, they were done in 2009. But now, all these years later, I felt it compelling to share his artistry in photos and some words, the latter both his and mine. Impressed by what he had accomplished, I wanted an interview now rather than Lent, when it would be more timely — that is when the stations become a popular form of public and personal devotion for the faithful.
Parrotta is soft spoken, at times his voice is barely louder than a whisper. I see that as complementing his gentle nature and persona. I also found he has deep-seated reverence for spirituality and religious art, I share both with him. He is comfortably at home with the sacred. His reverence came through as we walked the grounds, with the artist commenting on the Marian grotto, the shrine’s chapel, the serenity of the sacred space.
It was a free-wheeling conversation. Parotta talked about why he took on the work, what went into it, and how it impacted him. He told me he wanted something other than Renaissance-era painted figures for his stations. He recalled that a shrine in New York State had etched glass stations, and that appealed to him.
I later provided a few questions for him to ponder, assuring verbatim use of the answers. I guessed his responses would have an artistry of their own. I wasn’t wrong.
Why did you choose an art style so different from what can be considered typical for Stations of the Cross?
I chose a style of art that I felt could speak to a diverse group of people, a universal style that seemed iconic and classic yet transparent in a way that would move and speak to people doing the stations or just going to see outdoor art, so to speak.
I was hoping the visual representation of each station would speak to the viewer. I like to think of it as a bit Byzantine, two-dimensional but the etching would give some sense of how rough and brutal the way of the cross can be.
Do you think your stations challenge a viewer to look closer at what each represents?
I do think the art challenges a viewer to look deeper as they recite the stations. For myself when I look at the representation and recite the station it is difficult at times to see what is happening but that’s what I wanted, I wanted people to understand this is different, it’s not an easy path or journey – just like the art it may not come to you and soon with the negative space created by the glass and etching with the light shining through.…it may come to them then.
When you look at the images what jumps out at you, personally?
When I look at the images, I think back to how the project all started – from my wife coming home that night and telling me the story of how the stations need to be restored – and how I could help with my art background, to the hours of research and design work, to selecting the glass and delivering it to be etched and to the framework being built and then finally seeing them on the property.
And I thank God on how it all came together – it was fun to be creative in this way to share the art and make sure people had outdoor stations for our faith journey.
What do you hope they give to people?
I hope the stations give people a sense that they too are outside, just like Jesus, feeling the elements. You never know when the sun will shine through a station and give you light to see through it all and then, you may feel a bit chilly from the wind out there. I guess a connection to the stations and the art and elements and Jesus all in one – that’s what I get.
Postscript: Not long after our visit to the shrine, its annual fall clean-up was held and the stations were taken down and placed in storage for the winter. They will be put back before Good Friday, April 15, 2022. A return here next spring is merited, there is much more to be shared about this sacred space. Oh, but before then: it is essential to say Parrotta got his wish: his Stations do “speak” to viewers, I can attest to that.
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Sermon’s Theme Today, Christ The King Sunday, At Holy Trinity — Caring For The Homeless: The Values Of A Christian Community Following Jesus.
By Rev. Thomas Vaughan
Here at Holy Trinity within this beautiful church lies a community that has been here for a really long time. Longer than Canada if you can believe that. Here in Welland, Holy Trinity has been gathering to follow Jesus and serve the community for that long. So many have called this community home over the years and now many more are engaging and finding a new home in our community of faith, friendship, and loving service to our neighbour.
In these last number of weeks I have been so blessed to be getting to know people who have been praying with us online and starting to come in person to our services. Through coffees in person, telephone calls, email exchanges, and yes, texting, I have been hearing from a wide array of people.
These times have been filled with wonder for me because I am seeing and hearing things that help me understand more deeply what God is doing here at Holy Trinity. These conversations have helped me see and understand more deeply the values present here.
I am going to quote some of those people here today but will not give you away. This is simply a collection of the things that I have heard from people who are newer here than some. We are blessed to have people here who have been learning to follow Jesus with each other for a long time and those who were looking for a community whose values lined up with theirs.
These are some of those things:
“ I have found a community that reflects our values.”
“ What a special place, the people are amazing.”
“ The Bible is held up in all its love and challenge to live as people trying to figure this life out.”
“ This is a place that gets the work done that all people should be connected to.”
“ My time with you on the recorded service is my time with God and learning about my new community.”
And now for those of you newer here, there are a few things I have heard from our folks who have been praying here awhile. For example:
“ You can live as Jesus did here serving people in need.”
“That’s my church,” someone else said, “doing the work of helping one person at a time.”
And herein lie some of these deeper Christian values that are present here and that people are being drawn to in our community. So thank you for all the sharing that you have done with me as you continue to connect here. It’s really important today because of what is going on.
Well, one of the things that has been happening over the years here is a growing sense of living as Jesus did and serving as he did especially the most vulnerable.
For a number of years now at Holy Trinity, Mark McGill has been training and forming to be a Deacon in the church. This is one of the ordained historic orders of the Anglican Church with a particular emphasis on serving the poor, the vulnerable, and those society has forgotten. A journey that has been a part of Mark’s heart as a long and winding road nearly his whole life.
These two things have come together — a community living more the servant heart of Jesus and a humble servant of God ready to serve. It’s powerful, and it’s something that so many are sensing about our community right now.
Now why is this important?
The problem, diagnose it: The world does not live that way. The world teaches you that you succeed at your own merit and to leave people behind. Fierce competition reigns in many workplaces and professions.
It’s important to “be” the church and to practice the upside down kingdom.
Remember when your mom or dad would turn you upside down as a kid, the world was, well, upside down. That’s what the Kingdom of Jesus looks like to the world sometimes.
Here, you will see the hungry fed, and not just any meal. It is the heart of the people here that the meals from the kitchen be the equivalent of anything served at our dinner tables because that’s what Jesus would want us to do.
The church all around the world is gathered to celebrate Jesus Christ as our King this Sunday, some call it the Reign of Christ. It’s a day to look at how that should make a difference in the lives of those who follow him. What values are found in our communities where people who follow him are? To find these, we have to look in the Bible and spend time with Jesus the one we follow.
As Jesus remarked to Judas Iscariot, ‘You always have the poor with you’ (John 12:8).
Looking around at the city of Welland, we might say out of sadness ‘we always have the homeless with us.’ In fact we might say we have even more of those who are homeless coming out of this pandemic. Jesus had some powerful things to say about the situation of the homeless, and did many things for them. He was also a homeless person himself. You might be quite surprised to hear that.
Jesus did not start life with a home. Jesus was born in a stable surrounded by noisy animals. That’s how his life began, as a homeless baby, born to parents who were sleeping and waking outside. In fact in the story we learn there was no room for them.
As a baby his parents fled for Egypt, the refugee experience that so many today have.
We observe this soon at our Christmas services 7:00 p.m. Christmas Eve and 9:30 a.m. Christmas morning, the birth of Jesus, at 77 Division Street.
During the years when he was growing up in Nazareth, Jesus lived in a home for a time as many homeless people have. But, once he was baptized by John and began his public ministry, he became again a homeless person. God knew homelessness. This is significant for us to sit with.
Jesus says this: ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58).
What is Jesus saying here? He is telling us unlike foxes and birds he had no safety, he was exposed to the elements and dangers of the night. This is the same experience homeless people have.
Jesus’ treatment as a homeless person was horrific. He was struck and beaten, arrested, tried and convicted. He died largely alone, and as a criminal. He suffered horribly. This is often the narrative of the homeless where life on the streets is brutal in all kinds of ways.
Have you ever thought of it this way before?
Jesus repeatedly showed his practical concern for homeless people. In keeping with the Old Testament teaching of caring for the poor, the widow, and the orphan all of whom were often homeless, Jesus shows us God’s intended care for them.
Let me mention only two of many examples:
Mark’s Gospel tells at length the story of a man in serious distress. We can see this walking down the streets of Welland today. Someone yelling, in deep emotional and spiritual pain, dislocated with untreated mental health and addiction.
This man was scaring others in this story. He lived among the tombs according to the reading (Mark 5:1-20) and lived as an outcast from society in a cemetery.
This was a man suffering tremendously and Jesus healed him and restored him to community. From cemetery living in great distress scaring others, to a life restored.
In two very challenging stories in the Bible, Jesus puts the homeless experience as a measuring stick of values integrity.
In the parable of the well known Good Samaritan story (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus told the story of a traveller who had been robbed and was left beaten in a ditch at the side of the road.
In a second parable, that of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus presents with a homeless person in terrible need. The rich man ignores a homeless person in need right in front of him.
This is a hard story to read and yet it is repeated in Welland and around the world in towns and cities all the time.
Lazarus is suffering outside the gate. No one does anything for him, no hot meal to show basic human decency. At the end of the story in death we learn Lazarus is taken away by angels and is comforted while the rich man is left buried. It makes you think.
The whole Bible shows the care for homelessness as a way to our true humanity and a way to bring the ways of heaven here to earth while we are here with the gift of the life we have to offer.
These values are being shared by a wider community of people in Welland who are joining us in all kinds of ways. From the over two hundred volunteers that make up the daily breakfast program, to the people who have been here a long time, to those who have just arrived we welcome you in this community that cares for the homeless, where the values are lining up with so many of God’s people in Welland and beyond. A values system that comes from our example this day our King Jesus who reigns not with power and might and royal corruption that most kingdoms bring. This king reigns with a crown of thorns, who identified himself with the homeless, who lived as a homeless person despised and abused and in need of a meal himself.
Our growing community of people of faith, friendship, and loving service gather at Holy Trinity Welland at 77 Division Street in a variety of ways. On Sunday at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. and live-streamed at Holy Trinity Welland Facebook available for all in the public domain. Then it’s December 1st with the start of the daily community breakfast and every day thereafter.
There is a growing group of people who care for the homeless, whose values line up with our own as we continue to be people just figuring out how best to follow Jesus. Amen.
(Rev. Thomas Vaughan is rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 77 Division St., Welland. The text was his sermon at today’s Christ the King Sunday services, provided to the blog in response to a request.)
By Wayne Campbell
It started out as a simple fundraiser.
A homeowner wanted to donate furniture and other items from the sale of her home to a local cause before the end of November. She asked the Central Station Education Initiative, a not-for-profit group restoring Welland’s Central Fire Station, for its help.
It arranged for a “fire sale at the fire hall” event in the Central Fire Station at Division Street and Hellems Avenue. It will be from 8 a.m. to noon, this Saturday, November 20.
Once the word got out, other people added donations to the garage sale and fine furniture event including hand crafted items, Christmas decorations and a painting. Money raised during the sale will go toward restoring the century-old Central Station, Welland’s main fire hall until 2006.
Central Station Education Initiative (CSEI) plans to set up a firefighting heritage display on the first floor of the historic three-storey building. It will rent out the upper floors to sustain the preservation project, which has so far received a federal heritage grant and local support. Work has begun on the building.
Donations can be made through the CSEI website http://www.centralfirehall.ca.
(Wayne Campbell is a retired journalist and a member of the Central Station Education Initiative board of directors.)
By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
A remembrance never-ending is inscribed in the cold granite of the Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park:
“At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember Them,” are Brit poet Laurence Binyon’s words from his 1914 Ode of Remembrance.
You won’t know they are there unless you train your eyes on the front base of the monument, where they stretch from beginning to end.
Ken Cassavoy, a co-organizer of Thursday’s Remembrance Day Community Commemoration honed in on remembrance in his remarks to onlookers.
“We are gathered here today to remember and honour, in particular, the 207 service members from Welland and Crowland who lost their lives in the two World Wars and Korea. The 207 names are all inscribed on the other side of this monument, ” he said.
But remembrance must also extend to “all the others” who in one way or another served or sacrificed for their country. This includes the two world wars, Afghanistan and UN Peacekeeping duties in many countries, Cassavoy said.
“I’m sure each of you will have some of your own personal thoughts and memories at this time.”
Cassavoy said the community commemoration was started by Wellander Jean-Luc Clin who was in the park one November 11. He was struck by the fact nothing was going on and, on this day of all days, the monument was alone.
“He designed the service so that it would be kept very simple, with no speeches, just a thoughtful gathering of friends, family and the public…a few moments of Remembrance.”
Mr. Clin passed in 2018 but before he did, asked Betsy Warrankie to keep it going, which she has done. Then Cassavoy joined in and working together the two have ensured that “our magnificent Welland-Crowland War Memorial is never left alone and abandoned on Remembrance Day.”
A highlight of the service is joining CBC Radio for the live Remembrance Day broadcast from the National War Memorial in Ottawa, followed by co-organizer Warankie’s reading of In Flanders Fields.
Cassavoy said Welland Museum has a First World War and Second World War exhibit featuring artifacts and other information from the wars. The museum will be re-opening Dec. 4 for its Christmas Open House.
He also referred to Friends of the Cenotaph, a group whose sole objective is the service’s continuance. Those interested in joining could sign up.
“There are no meetings, no formal activities, the Friends just help to make sure there is always a service here at our magnificent Cenotaph every November 11th.”
Cassavoy said about 250 people attended the service, a record.
Welland Branch 4, Royal Canadian Legion, held its Remembrance Day service at the legion on Morningstar Avenue also Thursday morning.
A Remembrance Day Community Commemoration, paused last year because of pandemic protocols, returned to Chippawa Park Thursday morning. It featured the live CBC Radio broadcast from the National Cenotaph in Ottawa, with a local live reading of In Flanders Fields by service co-organizer Betsy Warankie shown in photos with co-organizer Ken Cassavoy. When Cassavoy, at the end of the service, invited spectators to approach the storied Welland-Crowland War Memorial and affix their poppies to the monument, dozens of people did so. It made for a fitting personal act of respect and remembrance. The service dates back to 1997 when it was started by Wellander Jean Luc Clin. Story, additional photo to follow. /Photos by Joe Barkovich.
THANK YOU Wellanders! $55,000 + tons of food donated to the 2021 Welland Food Drive
By Monique Finley
The Welland Food Drive 2021 has officially come to a close. We couldn’t physically come together as a community to donate, collect and distribute generous food gifts but we did, nevertheless, ‘come together’.
This year was a hybrid model for the Welland Food Drive. Some people donated money ($55,000+) and some people donated food (10,000+ pounds). Generous money donations started coming in to wellandfooddrive.com at the beginning of October. Additionally, hundreds of people drove their own donations and food collected from their family, friends and neighbours to Auberge Richelieu, on Food Drive Day, the first Saturday in November. A small group of volunteers safely took donations from vehicles and packed the Charities’ trucks. The food will be sorted and distributed to the hungry in the weeks and months to come.
$55,000 + goes so very far towards feeding the hungry of Welland. The buying power of our three charities, Open Arms Mission (Marty Misener), Hope Centre (Jon Braithwaite and Marceli Munari) and The Salvation Army (Carrie McComb and Cheryl Moore) allows them to purchase significant amounts of food as is needed. For every dollar you donated the charities can buy $3-4 worth of food and feed the hungry of Welland. You made a difference to so many lives. The Food Drive Committee (Shirley Perron, Alain Breton, Jocelyn Clutterbuck, Carissa Gilmore, Leslie Bellingham, the Wayne/Cathy Martin Family and David Webb) and all those who worked on this virtual food drive are so very grateful.
The three charities will warmly accept any donations. You can still mail cheques payable to one of the Charities involved or you can bring food donations directly to the charities. They have safe systems in place to receive all donations.
Hope Center 57 King Street Welland, Ontario L3B 3L2
Open Arms Mission – 22 Fifth Street Welland, Ontario L3B 4Z3
Salvation Army – 800 Niagara Street Upper Level Seaway Mall Unit JJ, Welland, Ontario L3C 4Z4
We hope and pray that next year brings back some normalcy to all our lives and coming together as a community that first Saturday in November will be something we at the Welland Food Drive will look forward to. Or even better yet, we can dream of a day when food drives are not a necessity, but until that day comes, we will continue to extend a hand towards our fellow man and make a difference in our corner of the world.
Thank you and may you be blessed and healthy!
Monique Finley, Co-ordinator