Sometimes you visit a place that just feels right. My recent visit to De Mazenod Farm was like that.
The Farm is a development of the De Mazenod Door program, which was started by Fathers Tony O’Dell and Jarek Pachoki, both Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It was named after Saint Eugene de Mazenod, a French artistocrat and priest who had to flee to Italy during the French Revolution. Saint de Mazenod put service to those in need at the heart of his ministry.
The De Mazenod Door program has run a kitchen in downtown Hamilton for many years. It is a place where people come to serve one another, cooking, preparing and serving food to those in need. It is a beautiful program that benefits all those involved.
The Farm came as a development of the Door program. Fr. Tony explained to me that the Catholic Church owned land in rural Hamilton and that he convinced the Church to allow him to start an organic community farm there. It is a beautiful, peaceful place, but also a hive of activity.
I visited the farm with Filomena Tassi, the member of parliament for the Ancaster area in which I live. She and I have worked together since 2015, when she first entered federal politics. She was there to visit students who were employed through the Canada Summer Jobs program of the Federal Government. I tagged along to see the Farm.
The De Mazenod Farm was a very cheerful place, where young people, educators in the Catholic system and newcomers to Canada are working to grow food to support the De Mazenod Door program. The young people I met there were so happy to be there, learning about agriculture, tending the chickens. Fr. Tony explained how they are looking forward to the arrival of baby goats and a donkey that was left to the Farm through someone’s estate.
For me, the De Mazenod Farm is an example of the beauty of Christian faith and life. It’s an expression of how the Catholic Church, though much maligned for the misdeeds of some of its members, is doing incredible work at the service of the community. Youth benefit from learning about farming, often youth who are not as comfortable in an academic environment. The needy benefit from the healthy, organic foods grown at the Farm through Fr. Tony and Fr. Jarek’s De Mazenod Door program.
The Farm and the Door are important reminders of the quiet work being done by Christians and Catholics all over our country.
I felt my faith affirmed during our visit to the Farm. I felt God’s love and divine presence there, as I do in nature everywhere. When we get away from artifice, performances and screens in favour of true 3D nature, plants, humans and other animals, we see what divinity really looks like. In something present in each of us and in all of nature.
I encourage you to think of the Good, the True and the Beautiful in your life. Those ideals are a deep source of value and inspiration for us.