Victoria Day in a Time of Sadness


How do we celebrate the May 24 long weekend when there are so many obstacles to getting together to celebrate?

I’m not so sure that Zoom or FaceTime or other video conferencing platforms have invented a really helpful way to celebrate what is usually seen as the unofficial start of summer and the time to open cottages, the time for fishing and fireworks, the time for BBQs and brews.

This Victoria Day holiday weekend will give us a taste of what our summer will look like in our not-yet-here new normal, in this year of the global pandemic.

I’m writing this post on the ninth day of May.  COVID-19 has made its way into our infirmary (across the driveway from my residence). Six Jesuits from the infirmary have died in the past eleven days and I pray that we have seen the end of this.

We have revealed ourselves to be in union with other long term care homes in so many regions of Canada, and certainly here in Southern Ontario. A sad solidarity! I’m selfishly relieved that the infirmary (Rene Goupil House) has been closed to visitors, including fellow Jesuits, for well over a month.

However, I am saddened that I didn’t have a chance for a last visit with those who have died, and I will likely miss that opportunity with others. How do we celebrate Victoria Day? I know in my head that we always have to find reasons for hope and celebration. But my heart is filled with incredible sadness.

I suppose that there is a glimmer of hope in the recognition that my pain unites me to the tremendous pain of so many in this country and throughout the world. That’s kind of an incidental consolation. Do I celebrate Victoria Day by walking around the exterior of Rene Goupil House with balloons?

I would like to offer a proposal that I shared in this spot, on this day a few years ago. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning British monarch. I wonder if we should change the name of the holiday to Elizabeth Day. She surpassed Queen Victoria on 15 September 2015 and has been on the throne since 06 February 1952. Source:

Perhaps we can find a way to convince our political leaders to make a change. Elizabeth is certainly one of the most loved and respected leaders in the world. Her serious great aunt would probably have a difficult time understanding the culture in which we live. Elizabeth understands it.

Her annual Christmas Day message generally invites us to reflect on and pray for the world and it includes references to specific events in the life of the world. This year she addressed us in a special way and then on Easter Sunday, reminding us to continue being strong and hopeful in the face of our new reality.

Elizabeth may be extremely discrete and she never wades into the controversies of our day, but she has a sense of humour and is not hesitant about allowing her popularity to be put to use to promote a good cause. Did you see the James Bond and Elizabeth II act at the opening of the London Olympics a few years ago?

Did you catch the video where she and Prince Harry mock Barack and Michelle Obama as a promotional piece for the Invictus Games?

Happy Elizabeth Day!

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 13:53h, 09 May Reply

    I join you in the sadness of losing so many companions in such a short span of time. Glad you are keeping safe.

    Happy Mother’s Day to our mothers, living or deceased, and to Mary, Mother of our Church…… Our Lady of Snows!!

  • Peter Bisson SJ
    Posted at 07:18h, 18 May Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • suzanne renaud
    Posted at 09:44h, 18 May Reply

    Thank you for the humorous videos at this very sad time.
    My sympathies to you and yours on the sad passing of your fellow Jesuits.
    This makes it a particularly hard time for all of you.
    Please know that you and yours are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Richard Grover
    Posted at 09:59h, 18 May Reply

    Generations of Canadian school kids used to sing “The 24th of May is the Queen’s birthday. If we don’t get a holiday we’ll all run away.”
    Queen Elizabeth Day is a good idea, Phil. My wife Elizabeth McCartin Grover also sends her approval and hopes that “…we’ll meet again some day”.

  • John Montague
    Posted at 10:38h, 18 May Reply

    Thanks Philip. Be well.

  • Maria Skarzynski
    Posted at 11:21h, 18 May Reply

    You’re absolutely right Father Philip – happy Elizabeth Day !! and may the Lord keep you healthy ,,

  • Peter Monty
    Posted at 11:49h, 18 May Reply

    Phil, we join your sadness as we miss the 6 who have gone before us, but lift our hearts as we prepare to celebrate the Ascension of the One who has gone before us.

  • Esther Buckley
    Posted at 17:37h, 18 May Reply

    Hello Fr.Shano
    I agree, it would be a good idea to change ‘Victoria Day’ to ‘Elizabeth Day ‘ .
    Queen Elizabeth 2nd will be remembered now more than Queen Victoria .
    Keep well and safe .
    Happy Elizabeth Day .

  • Esther Buckley
    Posted at 18:44h, 18 May Reply

    I would like to change the last part of my previous comment from
    ‘Happy Elizabeth Day ‘ to ‘ Happy Victoria Day ‘ as the name has not been
    Very sorry to hear of the deaths of six Jesuits and hope a cure and vaccine can be
    soon developed to prevent further recurrences of the dreadful Covid19. Lots of prayers needed
    Wishing you good health

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