Farewell for Father Steve At Holy Spirit Parish
Ottawa East News
17 June 2009
By John Curry
There were references to a shepherd and his flock. There were stories, both humourous and illustrative, told. There were two poems. There was even a reference to Winston Churchill. But most of all, there was a lot of thanks, a lot of appreciation and a lot of love shown at a farewell gathering for Rev. Steve Amesse at Holy Spirit Catholic Church last Sunday.
It all happened following the 10:30 p.m. mass when over 600 people heard a number of speakers praise and thank Father Amesse from a variety of perspectives, punctuated by a prolonged standing ovation, and followed by the presentation of a trio of gifts, a pledge of everlasting remembrance and a concluding reception in the adjacent parish hall.
“We are blessed to have been your flock and thank you for your shepherding,” former Sacred Heart Catholic High School principal Val McGillis concluded in her remarks at the gathering after telling about Father Amesse’s strong connection to the school communities in his parish and the endless time and support that he gave to the schools in Stittsville.
“Our school communities have been so blessed to have had him for all these years,” Ms. McGillis said about Father Steve’s nine year tenure at Holy Spirit Parish. She noted that his help extended to staff as well as students.
You will always be a part of Holy Spirit Parish.
Her remarks were echoed to some degree by Sacred Heart student Brendan Rowe who followed her at the podium, as he praised Father Steve for his interaction with students and his constant visits to the schools.
“We all just want to thank you, Father Steve, for being there for us,” he said, speaking on behalf of students.
Both John Curry, speaking on behalf of the community at large, and youngsters from the parish’s children’s liturgy program delivered poems in praise of Father Steve. Mr. Curry’s rhyming couplet poem was entitled “Nine years with Father Steve – Priceless!” while the youngsters presented a poem centred around the name “Fr. Steve”, holding up giant letters while explaining the significance of each letter such as “T” is for tireless and ending up displaying a giant heart as they recited in unison: “We promise you we will remember you and hold you in our hearts.”
John Bissonnette, speaking on behalf of the building committee which worked with Father Steve on planning and constructing the new multi-million dollar Holy Spirit Church on Shea Road, said that Father Steve was appointed to Holy Spirit Parish in Stittsville nine years ago with the goal of building a church but that he first concentrated on building a strong parish community which he did through spending time in the schools, at community events, in senior residences and at parishioners’ homes. But he also worked hard to make the new church a reality.
“We would not be in this church today if not for Father Steve,” Mr. Bissonnette said.
“Father Steve, this will always be your church.”
Those at the gathering also heard from speakers representing the parish’s pastoral council, its finance council and Knights of Columbus council, all of whom echoed the overwhelming sentiment of the event, namely the work, dedication, love and effort that Father Steve has put into his work as the parish priest at Holy Spirit for the past nine years.
MC Ryan Larose kept the agenda flowing, adding his own memories and thoughts about Father Steve’s years at Holy Spirit as he introduced each speaker.
Father Amesse, in his response at the gathering, said that the parish community can be proud of what has been accomplished over the past nine years. He said that building the church is not the greatest thing that has been accomplished.
“Our accomplishment rests with what is inside,” he told the parishioners, referring to the strong faith community that now exists at Holy Spirit Parish.
With regard to his work in the schools, he said that the young people there had taught him as much about the importance of a relationship with God as anything that he had been able to teach them.
“This has been for me, above all, a journey of faith,” he said of his time at Holy Spirit, noting that he will have served as parish priest at Holy Spirit for 3,316 days when he leaves at the end of July to take up his new appointment as parish priest at St. Patrick’s Parish in Fallowfield.
He used a quote from British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill in explaining the parish’s future.
“This is the end of the beginning,” he said, using Churchill’s words, noting that while Holy Spirit Parish has become a strong and vibrant parish family with a new church, there is still much work to be done such as welcoming new families, baptisms, confirmations, weddings and continued work in the schools.
“The future here is only as good as the people will make it with God’s support,” he advised.
Before the formal gathering concluded, Father Steve was presented with three gifts: a personal kit of everything needed when administering to the sick; a flat screen television on which to watch his beloved Ottawa Senators and Boston Red Sox; and a commitment voiced by presenter Mary Garvey that the parish will always pray for him.
“We will keep you in our prayers,” she said, adding that parishioners will always keep him in their hearts as well.
“You will always be a part of Holy Spirit Parish,” Ms. Garvey said.
The parish also formally presented a new plaque for the church on which will be listed the name of the parish’s pastors over the years.