Thursday, July 06, 2006

Calling Canadian Philanthropers with money to spend...

I went to school yesterday and made an appointment to see one of my advisors and that isn't till next week. I've been mulling over what this next piece was going to be about, that there was something sitting on the bubble of publishing for the past few days. So crank up the music and let's begin.

Thanks to Faerie princess I've been OBSESSED with the future. That future would be the fact that the word "Graduation" is sitting within reach of me mentally and physically. I've been in this "review" mode of my life over the past 4 years and I am trying to make heads or tails of my University experience so far, seeing that this is my LAST year in University as an Undergraduate. Once that ends, I will become a Graduate Student. I guess I am freaked over the fact that I have actully reached this point and I survived to see it to the end. These are what people like me call "moments of clarity."

I am sitting here trying to define what it is that I believe and what my truth has become? How have I changed since my arrival in this coutry of such wealth of tradition and truth of God. When I came here I met seven other people who were given the same sentance to start their journey by a certain leader of a certain religious institution. That sentance was:

Montreal is where it all began...

I guess one can believe that when you consider the religious aspect of this cities history. Religious history of Montreal begins back in the late 1600's into the 1700's where you have the Jesuits who came here to convert the "natives" who lived natural lives from the land and who believed in a spiritual path that was believed, to the Jesuits, to be evil. An evil that must be rooted out of them in opt for christianity. The divide and conquer method by christian priests, monks and brothers not to mention crusader soldiers and ministers does not lend well to adopting a welcoming attitude to christianity when you stop to consider the damamge that early christian men had done to this land we call Canada.

The one must consider what the Ursaline and Grey nuns had begin in Quebec and Montreal, spreading across Canada. What the men tried to destroy - the women tried to fix and rebuild. There was alot of damage done by furriers and traders in the 16th and 17th century here alone in Montreal. Since this is my area of study having genealogical connections to this very past, I can speak about this topic with certainty.

The saving grace of this city IS its religious communities. When the Grey Nuns began their ministry in the 1700's they began with 5 sisters led by one very brave woman named Marguerite D'Youville with guidance and support from the Ursalines and vertain religious men who supported their ministry, even when the King of France would not. New France was in its infancy and many changes would come over the years to follow.

Walking around our fair city gives one a perspective by the architechture and history that still stands amid the modern buildings of this city. I have seen excavations in Old Montreal that have shown us just what lies beneath the asphalt and concrete that overlays centuries of history. I dare to say that I think that we should excavate the areas of the Old Port and Old Montreal and see what is still down there. These brief views of what lies beneath are tantilizing sights of just what the town was like when Montreal looked like hundreds of years ago.

It will be of great interest to the generations of the future when they excavate this city - I don't know what they will say when removing dirt, mud and stone to reveal just what was there. This makes one wonder what If one was able to travel Into the Future and see if modernity lasts or not and what excavations take place here... that could be quite enlightening.

Being religiously connected to a city means more to me than being biologically connected to a family. The children in my family who were born in the late 60's and early 70's are the keepers of the family history. For today, I am the only son who has come back to this city to try and unravel the secrets of this bloodline that we are connected to. There is a rich christian thread in my family - that I don't think any of the other men and women who were children to the elders of the family really worry or think about.

I think that it was ordained that I would be the one to return and search out this path. This is another (aside) to the post I wrote earlier about my "presentation in the church" and my grandmothers "agreement" with God to consecrate me to God. I take this commitment very seriously, because I think this is going to lead me somewhere that I am not expecting. Each time I visit the Mother House I never expect anything, and on some visits I get another piece of the puzzle that I add to my little book of history that I keep.

In the 20's and 30's the consumption (the spanish flu) and the great depression took much from this area of North America. The spanish flu killed millions of people in Canada and the United States combined. My great gandparents were killed during this time period. That's when my grandmother (Maternally) was adopted into her cousins family in New Brunswick and later in Quebec when they lived here. Families combined forces then to take care of the children of the period. Many of those children ended up in religious institutions, I believe because they were safe and were eventual placements to guarantee the life and care of children inside the walls of the church.

Historically, one can see why the nuns of many orders in Canada had their work cut out for themselves taking care of the sick and dying. I guess this maternal "taking care" of others is in my blood, literally. I think this period of time in history can be seen as a twofold operation, that being taking care of the sick and dying and converting the "others" to christianity. It is my experience in studying the work of the Grey Nuns as one of pious service to the church and God, where the men of faith were hurredly trying to convert the natives and anyone else to the faith of Holy Mother Church.

Living in Montreal one cannot escape the reality of the power and strength and influence the Catholic church has in this city. It is also a well known fact that two entire generations of elder religious men and women who have been here for generations are in the last stages of their lives. The nuns and priests who are in their 80's like my great aunt will nt be around much longer, and once they are gone, the traditions and religous lives that helped build this city will be gone. Monasteries and Convents all over the city are being sold and annexed by teaching institutions. All of the major religious sites in the city and in outlying areas have been saved from demolition by the Heritage Foundation of Canada, so at least the architechture will survive - even if the interiors of those building have been re-utilized. This is why I am hell bent on making sure that as a remaining family member to one of those nuns, I take it upon myself to make sure that the chapel within the mother house is not stripped or reinvented, even if I have to chain myself to the altar when they take Margeurite out from beneath the altar.

We've seen many changes in our city and I have changed alot with it. It may only be 5 years now but I have seen enough to have an opinion and I have learned enough to have a perpsective. Religion is not what it used to be and the times have changed as social issues have risen to the fore oover the last 5 years here in Canada. The needs of the people have become problematic for an institution that relies on its connection to the past to inform its future.

"If one relies on the past to inform the present and forecast the future, what is left but to remain an automaton guided by old knowledge – not allowing for change and evolution?"

We have evolved religiously, socially and personally. With that evolution comes a problem. How do we appraoch the subject of religion and the social dilemma that we now face. There are so many things that need to be taken care of in our community - so many people sitting in the parks with no where to be or to go. Church attendence is dropping and God is becomming a subject that not many people want to talk about. Like I said, the religious service centers are loosing their servants, who will take up these responsibilites when they are gone. What are we going to do with those centers to try and keep some semblance of what they have been for so long in the changeoever to teaching institutions. How do we step in and say ok, I can do this and I am willing to do this so that your service to the community will not end and be forgotten.

I guess I am questioning my ability to step up and be counted, because let's face it standing up and being counted is a big deal. It is one thing to sit here and type my position out for you, it is easy to share my opinion with you and it is far too easy to sit here and pontificate about what I see is wrong - just in my own neighborhood and I am at a loss as to what I can do about that. There are BLOCKS of abandoned and empty buildings that need to be renovated - and utilized. The West end of Ste. Catherines Street is empty of viable buisiness besides the Forum and a few shops that still exist. We need a West End Renovation plan. I know the city of Montreal HAD promised that the West End renovation would happen... Those buildings are still EMPTY.

There was a 5 alarm fire on the corner just the other night and it burned another section of old buildings not 50 yards from my front door. You can still smell the smoky remnants of Fire every time you walk through that intersection. I wonder why these buildings are being burned down, it did not make the news, and the City needs to do something about it. We need a Team to come and assess the worth of reinventing the West End of the strip.

We need to stop the drug trade in our neighborhood. We need to stop the graffiti artists from tagging all the buildings on the strip and in the tunnels that the city spent Millions of dollars to renovate and update with new paving, lights and surfaces. Kids and punks have no grasp of responsibility or self worth or pride for their city. They sell their drugs and tag the buildings, they have gone so far as to climb the tower in my building and tagged the west face of the AC tower so that you can see it from the street. They need to update, renovate and clean out the dope heads from Tupper all along the way up to the Childrens Hospital, up the street from here.

Cabot Square needs to be cleaned - the Kiosk needs to NOT smell like PISS every time you walk through the park to get to the mall and metro. We need services for the natives and the Inuits that sit all along the sidewalks and in the park begging for money, food and alcohol. The West End of the strip is filthy. All these empty BOARDED up buildings is Unsightly and Unattractive to anyone who might be thinking of doing something on this end. If the city can spend millions to fill Pot Holes then it needs to spend some Much Needed Cash on the revitalization of the West End strip.

If we had more commerce and shops - maybe we could clean up the filthy elements that plague this end of the city.

They resurfaced Ste. Catherines street and it is really nice, now let's resurface the rest of the buildings. There is a huge space that used to be a theatre back in the day that could become something really great. If I had the money I'd buy that old building and turn it into a huge service center for people in need. I have my OWN idea of what needs to be done for my community (here where I live). I don't want to work for someone else, I want to work for me - doing what I think needs to be done on MY TERMS !!!

Advice is Cheap - Wisdom is Priceless

I think that I could offer alot to the community that I live in IF Only I could find a really RICH and BRAVE benefactor to back me in a venture to revitalize this end of the city. There are too many SEEDY elements in this city that prevent good people from doing good things. There is too much politicking going on the make a dent in the SCANDALOUS reputation of the people who sit at high levels of city government. The mob and all those people who intimidate and control many aspects of business in this city need to be weeded out.

There are so many ideas in my head as to what I could do in the next year, concerns that are important to me - things that I see need to happen in order to guarantee the longevity of the Mother House under the auspices of the University. I have certain talent that can be made useful and could be beneficial to communites that I am associated with. I want to open up a club room for AA that is manned and open 24 hours a day with meetings all throughout the day like we have in Miami. We don't have anything close to that in Montreal. So many meetings spread all over the city at certian set hours. And there is ALOT of SPACE that could be utilized on my end of the city to do that with. Find me a rich man or a rich company that has the CASH in the bank who can spend it doing something BENEFICIAL for this city. With the loss of the Mother House as a center for services to ALL of the people they serve, we need to build another center where these nuns can work and serve community. I know several locations on this end that could be utilized to do that. If the Grey Nuns leave the city for greener pastures on the South Shore we will loose a very important religious presence to this end of the strip.

There is so much that we can do -

and there is ample space to do it in....

I need a few MILLION dollars to do it correctly !!!

***************************************

Find me a RICH Philanthropic Person or Organization to help me do this. Calling all Philanthropers with money to burn Seeking serious men and women to help me find a way to open a project to renovate and revitalize the West end of Ste Catherines Street and replace the space that will be lost to the Maison Mere Grey Nuns when phase 3 Begins and they loose their space to Concordia University.

Are you GETTING ME???

A degree in Religion, 39 years of life, 13 years HIV +, and 5 years clean and sober, I have enough experience and knowledge to do this...


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