When I am in the Holy Land, I love stopping in at the Church of the Dormition of Mary, on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It’s a beautiful church, run by German Benedictine priests, that is a nice place for quiet meditation. It’s built on one of the sites where tradition says that Our Lady’s life on earth ended, and she was assumed into heaven. Just down the hill, in the Kidron Valley outside the Garden of Gethsemane, is another church, staffed by Orthodox priests. They say that that is the spot where Mary breathed her last on this earth and was then assumed into heaven. Then, in Ephesus, where tradition says that the apostle John went to live with the Virgin after Jesus’ death and resurrection, is another site where tradition tells us that the her life on this earth reached its end and she was assumed into heaven. Just where it actually happened is not important; the reality it expresses is, however. Even though it was not declared dogma until 1950 by Pope Pius XII, for centuries the church has believed that at the end of her earthly life, the Blessed Virgin Mary received the fullness of salvation. It is something that all of us hope to receive. Thus, Jesus can point to our true home in this weekend’s gospel passage and remind us that where our treasure is, our heart will be also.
Thus it is appropriate that in 1767 the Church in Canada chose the name of Our Lady of the Assumption for a new parish, established from what was originally a mission of Sainte Anne’s, only serving the Huron peoples of this area. Here, in this land just south of Detroit, the parish born from her was dedicated to Anne’s daughter Mary. And now, every parish in Windsor/Essex can trace its origins to that humble beginning. Mary, Anne’s daughter, was the mother of Jesus, and is the mother of the Church in this area. I find it such a privilege to be part of this history. It is no wonder that the Diocese of London decided not to give a new name to the parish formed by the four parishes coming together over these past few years. If you go all the way back, Holy Name of Mary, St. Patrick, and Blessed Sacrament were all outgrowths of that original parish.
It is fitting, then, that we celebrate our Patronal Feast. This coming weekend, the Masses will be that of the Assumption of Mary. On Sunday, August 14, we will have a picnic on the grounds of Holy Name of Mary church after the 11 o’clock Mass. On that day Assumption Church will be open from 2-5 PM, and again on the Solemnity itself, August 15, from noon-6 PM. I encourage you to celebrate our heritage and honour Our Lady.