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These six priorities for our Church’s life and mission are: Evangelization,Ongoing Faith Formation, Liturgy and Worship, Building and Sustaining Community, Justice and Peace and Strengthening the Unity of our Diocese.

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Why the Church won’t tell Catholics who to vote for

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 13:23

By Dr. Brett Salkeld, Archdiocesan Theologian, Archdiocese of Regina

As we approach the upcoming federal election, Catholics are forced to answer the question, “How does my faith inform my politics?”

As citizens, we have the right to vote based on our values, and as Catholics we have the duty to do so.  Any suggestion that we should refrain from “imposing” our Catholic values on a pluralistic society is non-sense.  Those who do refrain from voting according to their own values simply let others “impose” their values on the rest of us unchallenged.

Simply put, politics is about imposing our values on society.  And democracy, while imperfect, is more or less the best way we’ve figured out how to go about imposing our values on each other peacefully.  The principles of both democracy and Catholicism insist that we vote our values.

But, if this is the case, wouldn’t it be easier if the Church did the calculus for us?  The Church is, after all, the expert on Catholic values.  Isn’t it?

Well, yes.  Which is why the Church can tell us how to vote.  I am using the term “how” in a very specific way.  By it, I do not mean the Church can tell us which party deserves our vote. But the Church can help us to make a decision informed by our faith by making clear which issues are of utmost importance, and how we might make a faithful discernment when such issues are not dealt with in a satisfactory way by any one party or candidate.

Now, even Catholics who think that the choice of which party a Catholic should vote for in the next election is obvious tend to agree that the Church cannot pronounce that choice from the pulpit (or any other organ of the Church, such as a website).  On this, all seem agreed, though we might do well to consider why this should be the case.

If, for example, the only reason the Church should not make such pronouncements is because it could get in trouble with the state (e.g., by losing charitable status), one solution that presents itself is to provide an endorsement of the preferred party in ways that are clear enough for any Catholic who is paying attention to know what is being suggested, but ambiguous enough to be able to avoid the charge of having directly endorsed that party.  Such a solution asks a priest, bishop, or diocese to walk a tightrope.  Too far one way and the faithful might vote for the wrong party.  Too far the other way and legal troubles await.

Within this construal, the only thing preventing the Church from making the desired pronouncement is fear of running afoul of the authorities.  But there are other even more important reasons why the Church will not tell us who to vote for.

Consider the following situation.  A given party fully supports Catholic teaching on an issue of utmost importance, but has an ambiguous relationship with many other elements of Catholic teaching.  The Church endorses that party because none of the other issues rise to the level of importance as the one on which the party and the Church are in full agreement.  Catholics vote en masse for the party and it forms the next government.  That government then fails to keep its policy promises on the issue of utmost importance while governing in a way that is objectionable according to many other Catholic values.

In such a situation, what happens to the Church’s credibility?  How likely are the faithful to pay attention the next time the Church tells them how to vote?  Or how to do or think about anything else?  And what does the party (and the other parties) learn from the experience?

Not only is the Church’s credibility harmed in this situation.  Parties simply love issues on which they can reliably get votes without ever having to follow through in terms of policy.  They may even benefit from leaving the issue unaddressed in order to get the same votes next time around.

Do not misunderstand me.  None of this is to say that any Catholic who voted for the party in question voted poorly.  That party may well have been the best option available to an informed Catholic conscience.  The point here is that, even if it was the best option available to an informed Catholic conscience, it is still not helpful for the Church to offer an endorsement.  An individual who votes for what ends up being a bad government can say, “I did my best with the information I had, and I did not and do not will for things to turn out as they have.”  The Church does not have that luxury.

Nor does any of this mean that the issue of utmost importance is any less important.  It remains essential for Catholics to pursue justice and good public policy on such an issue with fervor and commitment.  And in so doing, they should enjoy the full support of the Church.  Just because the Church can’t pronounce on parties does not mean she cannot pronounce on issues, or even policies.

But beyond the legal and even prudential reasons we have already discussed, there is another, perhaps even more fundamental, reason why the Church cannot and will not tell Catholics who to vote for.

Scripture is quite clear that we are not, as the Psalmist says, to put our trust in princes.  In the Old Testament (1 Samuel 8), God is loathe to give Israel a king like the other nations and warns them of what life under a king will be like.  And in the New Testament (Matthew 22) Jesus famously tells us to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

This latter passage is often, and correctly enough, interpreted to mean that Christians should pay taxes, obey any just laws, participate in civic life, and other such things that make one a good citizen.  That is not wrong.  But there is a subtext here that is easy to miss.  Implied in Jesus’s phrasing is that there are things that do notbelong to Caesar.  This is actually of some importance.

There is a temptation as old as politics itself to see in politics the mechanism for the salvation of the world.  One of Caesar’s titles was “soter” – savior.  One thing Jesus would not have us give to Caesar is that title.  That one belongs to God.

We see this temptation constantly in contemporary political culture.  Every election, it seems, it the most important in living memory.  Every election will decide the destiny of the nation.  This issue, this candidate, this party, this year.  These things are painted in almost apocalyptic terms.

It can become so bad that we begin to see all of life through the lens of politics.  It becomes our chief organizing principle.  And when it is, Christ isn’t.  The biblical term for this is idolatry.

In 1925, Pope Pius XI established the Feast of Christ the King.  In a time when nationalism, communism, and secularism increasingly threatened many of the world’s most powerful nations, the Church reminded us that the powers of this world are ephemeral.  Christ is the King, not only of our hearts, but of the world and of history.

It is the role of the Church to remain above politics.  To remind us that politics is not our final end and that no politician, party, platform, or policy is our savior.  This does not mean that Catholics do not participate in politics.  It does not mean they should not work diligently on political campaigns that they are convinced in conscience will contribute to the common good, or that they should not pursue justice for the unborn, the elderly, the foreigner, the poor, the widow and the orphan through political means.  Rather, it means that they are free to do so without the burden of having to save the world through that necessary but imperfect mechanism.  And free to live well in a world that is so much more than a political battlefield.

Politicians and elections and issues come and go.  They are important.  But they are not the most important.  If the Church does not remind us of that, who will?


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Annual diocesan Administration Day includes updates, information and a new Pastoral Plan

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 13:07

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Pastors, Parish Life Directors, ministry leaders and parish representatives from across the diocese recently gathered with Bishop Mark Hagemoen Sept, 20 at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon to launch another ministry year.

The annual diocesan Administration Day opened with celebration of the Eucharist, followed by a presentations that included introducing new clergy who have recently arrived in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, as well as new lay staff at parishes across the diocese and at the Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen and priests from across the diocese presided at Mass to open the annual Administration Day. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

This year’s annual diocesan Administration Day included the launch of a new three-year Pastoral Plan focused on the mission “Proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom,” with six priorities identified for particular focus: drawing people into a deepening intimacy with Jesus Christ; focusing on Sunday celebrations (“Make Every Sunday Matter”); discerning God’s call to each person to share in the mission and life of the Lord (“Embrace Your Priesthood”); building and supporting family and community; promoting healing (growth, service, ongoing conversion); and “Moving from Maintenance to Mission” through sound financial and administrative practices.

More details at: Mission and Goals

An image of the new Pastoral Plan’s mission and goals presented by Bishop Mark Hagemoen at Administration Day 2019.

MC for the day was Marilyn Jackson, the newly-named Director of Ministry Services for the diocese. Jackson’s new role, and that of Director of Operations Theresa Campbell were described during another Administration Day session.

Director of Operations Theresa Campbell (left) and Director of Ministry Services Marilyn Jackson explained their areas of responsibility in the diocese.

Tasks previously part of a single position have been split, expanded and redefined with their appointments this summer, the two directors explained.

As Director of Ministry Services, Jackson continues to oversee Evangelization and Catechesis in the diocese (a role she previously filled in the diocese), as well as the offices of Restorative (Prison) Ministry, Hospital Chaplaincy, Youth Ministry, Adult Faith Enrichment (previously known as Lay Formation), Justice and Peace, and the JOY (Justice and Outreach) Program. She also provides connections for family and life services and ministry partners in the diocese.

As Director of Operations, Campbell oversees the offices of Communications and Migration (Refugee Sponsorship) and the Msgr. Michael J. Koch Resource Library, as well as coordinating the work of administrative staff that includes the Executive Assistant to the Curia, an administrative assistant, and the receptionist at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. Campbell also serves as the Diocesan Coordinator of Care (who implements diocesan safeguarding policies and training), as well as providing oversight of policy, technology (IT) and web services in the diocese, and facilities management for the Catholic Pastoral Centre.

HR Manager Patrick Clarke spoke about navigating different conflict styles.

Administration Day also included a presentation on navigating conflict styles by Human Resources Manager Patrick Clarke, an introduction to the Development and Peace/Caritas Canada Fall Action Campaign on “care for our common home” with a focus on the Amazon, and an update on revisions to the diocese’s Covenant of Care safeguarding policies.

Diocesan Development and Peace representative Bernice Daratha and Saskatchewan Development and Peace Animator Priva Hang’andu spoke about the upcoming Fall Action Campaign.

Financial administrator Tanya Clarke presented information about “The Finance Five” in the form of a game show played by St. Augustine, Saskatoon Pastor Fr. Kevin McGee, Parish Life Director Brigid Fuller, and Parish Pastoral Council Chair Celeste Woloschuk on the topics of clergy moves, insurance, clergy benefits, charities and politics, and charity law and best practices.

Financial information for pastors and parishes was highlighted by Financial Administrator Tanya Clarke at Administration Day, presented in an engaging after-lunch “game show format.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen and Theresa Campbell reviewed the most recent updates to the safeguarding and safe environment policies in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, highlighting the most recent changes, and plans for future training.

Covenant of Care, Allegations of Serious Misconduct Protocol, and Code of Conduct: CLICK HERE

Bishop Mark Hagemoen and Director of Operations Theresa Campbell spoke on updates to the diocesan safeguarding policies.

Administration Day also included updates from Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard, who is the new diocesan coordinator of the diocesan Office of Migration (refugee sponsorship); as well as from Jennifer and Blair Carruthers, coordinators of the Adult Faith Enrichment Program (previously known as Lay Formation); and from Vocations Director Fr. Daniel Yasinski and Director of Seminarians Fr. Colin Roy.




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New diocesan Pastoral Plan focuses on evangelization

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 12:04

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

At an annual diocesan Administration Day Sept. 20, Bishop Mark Hagemoen unveiled a Pastoral Plan for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon focused on the mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ.

“Evangelization must permeate everything we do — everything we do proclaims Christ and God’s Kingdom,” said Bishop Hagemoen, announcing the promulgation and rolling out of the new Pastoral Plan.

The bishop challenged Pastors, Parish Life Directors, ministry leaders and parish representatives from across the diocese of Saskatoon to use the proposed three-year plan as a way to reflect upon strengths, gaps, and new directions.

The mission statement “Proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom” is identified in the Pastoral Plan, along with six priorities — beginning first and foremost with: “Draw People into a Deepening Intimacy with the Lord.

“Whether it is a parish of five families, or 15,000, the task and the mission of Christ is fundamentally the same,” he said. “Ultimately, everything must involve  the call to evangelization.”



Greg Chatlain, Director of Education for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, was one of the facilitators for the eight-month planning process undertaken by the Diocesan Pastoral Council (which includes representatives from parishes of all sizes from across the diocese, as well as pastors, religious, and other leaders).

“What you are seeing today is the result of many hours of wrestling and discussion, and of challenging each other to come up with those things that we all need to work on together,” Chatlain said at the Administration Day launch.

Reason for developing a Pastoral Plan

Bishop Hagemoen described why the first task that he gave to the newly-formed Diocesan Pastoral Council was to discern the needs and challenges facing the Church, and to produce a Pastoral Plan for the diocese and its parishes.

“As I travelled the diocese I was hearing different expressions from the parishes that we have in the diocese of Saskatoon — dreams, hopes, concerns — as you can probably guess, some of the concerns especially in the rural area were around issues of viability,” explained the bishop.

“At the same time, Saskatoon has had the highest growth rate of any city in Canada, which has an impact on our parishes and communities, so there is need for planning for growth.”

In both cases, one cannot just plan for improving viability or for growth, without a vision, goals and priorities, he said. “Especially in the Church, especially in ministry, if it doesn’t come from the mission of Christ and the Church, then all we would be doing is enlarging our maintenance.”

Bishop Hagemoen cited the insight he heard from a Parish Pastoral Council chair at a small rural parish: “Bishop Mark, we love our church, we put a lot of work into our church and we will continue to do that, but we are exceedingly concerned that we are putting 95 per cent of our effort into maintaining our building and very little into the mission,. We know that if we keep doing that, we won’t last, we will die… we want to, and we need to, engage in mission.”

The six priorities/ goals

Click on each goal for more detail

  1. Draw People into a Deepening Intimacy with the Lord!  –  Supporting a deepening friendship and intimacy with Jesus Christ
  2. Make Every Sunday Matter  – Focusing on our Sunday celebrations
  3. “Embrace Your Priesthood”  –  Discerning God’s call to each person to share in the mission and life of the Lord
  4. Build and Support Family and Community  – Strengthening and supporting families and marriages, vocations support
  5. Promote the Healing Journey in the Lord – Healing, growth, serving, ongoing conversion
  6. Move from Maintenance to Mission. – Helping parishes proclaim Christ in everything

“We are only beginning — the coming months will see the rolling out of this,” Bishop Hagemoen said of the Pastoral Plan. “This is not meant to be a quick fix or a quick experience, check off a couple of things — that is not what it is meant to be.”

He added that he takes his responsibility as bishop seriously, and that he sees the plan as a way to move forward and deepen engagement with the mission of proclaiming Christ and the Kingdom of God, “I am building on the faith life of a great diocese,” he said.

At the diocesan level, the Pastoral Plan will assist in moving forward in ministries and programs to assist parishes and provide resources. As next steps for parishes, the bishop proposed the following:

  • Personally and prayerfully review and consider the Pastoral Plan, the mission and goals
  • Review and discussion at parish level
  • Review by parish and finance councils; parish ministry people; general parishioners
  • Possible discussion at deanery level
  • Determine parish priorities/tasks given strengths and gaps
  • Seek supports and resources

Working poster outlining the Pastoral Plan’s mission and goals: PDF of poster



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2019 Bishop’s Annual Appeal begins: “Resources Support the Mission”

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 13:07

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The need to provide resources to support the mission of the church in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon was the focus of a Bishop’s Annual Appeal Orientation and Training Day Sept. 11 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal Orientation and Training Day started with celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Representatives from across the diocese gathered for the morning-only session, which included celebration of the Eucharist with Bishop Mark Hagemoen, and presentations about the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, including best practices, statistics and an overview of materials, such as this year’s “Our Faith in Action” video, which highlights a few of the many ministries and services funded by the Appeal.

“The mission comes first and it orients everything, but the resources are important,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in his homily. “The resources support the mission… we need to bring all of our resource to bear in support of that mission.”

In visiting a number of rural parishes across the diocese in recent months, Bishop Hagemoen reported that he has heard a similar message from parishioners who have said: ““Bishop, we love our churches, but we don’t just want to maintain our buildings. If that’s all we do, we will die. We have to engage in the mission of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen thanked parishes, pastors, volunteers and donors for their participation in the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is about bringing to bear the needed resources to support the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ through his Church, said Hagemoen.

Gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal support catechesis and sacramental preparation and support, vocations promotion, youth retreats and mission experiences, RCIA evangelization, and Adult Faith Enrichment, as well as funding seminarian education for future priests, and orientation for international missionary priests.

Other ministries supported by donations to the Annual Appeal ensure a voice for the most vulnerable through justice and peace advocacy, addressing such issues as abortion, human trafficking, poverty, truth and reconciliation, euthanasia, and conscience rights.

The impact of the Appeal is also experienced in such healing ministries as Retrouvaille (help for marriages in trouble), Transitions (ministry to the divorced and separated), Miscarriage Awareness ministry, Mourning to Dawn grief ministry, healing circles and parenting programs at the prison, and visits to the sick, the dying and the bereaved through hospital chaplaincy.

“This is very practical work – but I do say this as well: this is holy work,” the bishop said of the efforts that volunteers, parish leaders and pastors put in to the Annual Appeal.

During the morning event, Bishop Hagemoen expressed his appreciation to all those who assist with the Appeal and his hope that all might participate. “The issue is not about how much we give. The issue is that we all participate. Every gift has value.”

“The Lord calls us to bring our lives to bear on this: the mission is as important as ever,” he said. Three new areas of support introduced last year continue, noted the bishop, namely a fund to help support the building of new churches, a fund to support the renovation of existing church buildings, and assistance for the northern Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.

Don Gorsalitz, Director of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation, announced the 2019 goal for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal: $1.405 million. He also described how revamped goals last year meant that double the number of parishes achieved their BAA goals in 2018.

Both Gorsalitz and the bishop noted the willingness and generosity of parishes in the city to increase their Appeal goals last year, in an effort to offset a reduction in the goals of struggling rural parishes. “Rural parishes expressed great appreciation for that,” added Hagemoen.

Priests, parish staff, ministry leaders and Bishop’s Annual Appeal volunteers from across the diocese attended the Sept. 11 orientation day. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Gorsalitz, along with Bishop’s Annual Appeal Manager Cathy Gilje, and Stewardship Coordinator Jocelyne Hamoline, reviewed the factors that ensure a successful Appeal, such as follow up, personal story telling, and home visits. They also provided practical information about the BAA materials, the Appeal database and the eight-week schedule and process that parishes are asked to follow.

Several speakers described ministries that are supported by gifts to the BAA: Marilyn Jackson, Director of Ministry Services in the diocese and coordinator of Evangelization and Catechesis; Jennifer and Blair Carruthers, coordinators of the Adult Faith Enrichment Program (previously known as Lay Formation; and Jackie Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy.

Jackson described work underway to assist parishes in finding effective catechetical resources for sacramental preparation, including a pilot project in one parish to implement a new program.

Jennifer and Blair Carruthers spoke about the impact of the newly-named Adult Faith Enrichment Program.

Blair and Jennifer Carruthers gave a report about the recent first weekend of the newly-renamed Adult Faith Enrichment Program (previously known as Lay Formation) and the impact it is already having upon participants. The coordinators stressed that there is still time for interested adult Catholics to enrol in the program, offered one weekend a month from September to May over two years. Those interested can contact Blair or Jennifer Carruthers at (306) 659-5846 or

Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator Jacqueline Saretsky described how the hospital chaplains and volunteers make it a priority to visit patients from out of town who may not have local support when they are admitted to Royal University of Saskatoon City Hospitals. In addition to ministry in hospital, Saretsky described administrative tasks, such as recruiting and training volunteers, increasing awareness about hospital chaplaincy in parishes, and offering the Dying Healed workshop developed by Life Canada to empower participants to recognize the impact their caring has on the lives of those who are ill, suffering, or dying. The Dying Healed program is available to parish communities by contacting Jackie Saretsky at  or (306) 659-5839.

Stewardship Coordinator Jocelyne Hamoline shared the story of her best friend, who was in hospital a year and a half before her death, and described the vitally important role of Hospital Chaplaincy, funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Hospital chaplains and chaplaincy volunteers regularly visited, brought Holy Communion, and “lifted her up in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so she could have a peaceful passing.”

This was also a powerful witness to members of the patient’s family, who did not attend church, added Hamoline. “That is evangelization…. When we support the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, we are supporting evangelization. We are meeting people where they are at, and we are there for them as a faith community.”

In the past, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal orientation session has been part of a broader Administration Day in the diocese – this year, the two events are separate. Administration Day, which will include the launch of a new Pastoral Plan for the diocese, will be held Friday, Sept. 20 at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon.

Watch this year’s Our Faith in Action video:




Resources for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal 2019 were distributed Sept. 11. The Annual Appeal will begin in parishes later this month. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

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Join the Conversation – Anglican/Roman Catholic Dialogue

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 21:40

By Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier

The National Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue, coined ARC Canada, has begun exploring a new document entitled Walking Together on the Way – Learning to Be Church Local, Regional, Global.

ARC Canada’s mandate is to bring the Agreements and Study documents produced by ARCIC (Anglican—Roman Catholic International Commission) to our Canadian context and find ways to share the gifts and insights in these texts with the people in our parishes as well as our local pastoral leadership. ARC Canada’s most recent project, completed last year, was an innovative collection of stories featuring lived Anglican/Roman Catholic  experiences in Canada which was published online at

The new document Walking Together is unique in at least a couple of ways.

One, it is the longest, most substantial text ARCIC has produced in its 50-plus years of work. It also tackles the most complex and most contentious questions between our two traditions, i.e. the governance and authority structures in our two communions, with its respective processes of decision-making.

There is much that we agree on in matters of faith. The most visible and salient differences between Anglicans and RC’s reside in the governance and authority structures. Delicate and challenging as it was, ARCIC III has done incredibly important work in this new text which merits our utmost attention and engagement.

Two, Walking Together is the first ecumenical document that applies the methodology of Receptive Ecumenism, a concept that originated with the Roman Catholic theologian Paul Murray. Whereas traditional ecumenical dialogues would engage from a place of “this is what we do best in our church and you need this in yours.” Receptive Ecumenism reverses the question: “What are we lacking in our tradition that is much better developed/done in yours and that we can learn from?” Walking Together is illustrating how radically this can change the tone and direction of the conversation, providing new avenues for engagement.

In order to bring this significant document to the prairies, a modest study group has been formed of ecumenically-minded Anglicans and Roman Catholics in Saskatchewan.

The 20-plus participants come from Regina, Saskatoon, Fort Qu’Appelle, Humboldt, Muenster, North Battleford, Rosthern, and Kenaston.

The group is equally divided between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, including both clergy and lay representatives. The group calls itself SaskARC and was formed at the personal initiative of the two Anglican ARC Canada members from the prairies, Rev. Dr. Iain Luke and Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier.

At a recent meeting the group elected Abbot Peter Novecosky as its Roman Catholic co-chair. All Saskatchewan bishops (Anglican, Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic) have been informed of the group’s existence and have been invited to contribute input, prayers and direction.

To date the SaskARC group has met three times. Meetings include learning about the history of Anglican—Roman Catholic relations and dialogue, and beginning to explore Walking Together.

The large membership is deliberate, in order to accommodate life’s interruptions which can prevent attendance while still having a good group composition for each meeting. Participation via video-conferencing is a possible future avenue, and written reflections/responses are also welcomed.

The document Walking Together can be accessed online at

The SaskARC group remains open to new participants. Those who are interested are asked to e-mail Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier at

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Upcoming Amazon synod raises questions for Canadians says Archbishop Bolen

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 20:33

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

CCN – The Amazon Synod of Bishops in Rome next month challenges Canada regarding her own relationship with Indigenous Peoples and the environment says Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina.

In Canada, “there’s been a great deal of focus on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Archbishop Bolen said. “What I’m focusing on these days are the societal indicators of health and well-being.”

“Indigenous peoples are systematically on the losing end of access to health facilities, clean water, and education,” he said. They are on the losing end of “incarceration rates, addiction rates and unemployment rates.”

“We have a problem and it’s not an Indigenous problem, it’s a Canadian problem,” he said. “We need to find a new way of walking together.”

“I’ve come to realize we have much to learn from Indigenous Peoples on living on the land in a healthy and sustainable way,” the archbishop said.

The upcoming synod offers an opportunity for Canadians to consider the relationship between Canada and the pan-Amazonian region, Bolen said in a recent interview.

Archbishop Donald Bolen also addressed the connections between Canada and the Amazon in a keynote address Sept. 14 at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon: “What is happening in the Amazon – both to the environment and to Indigenous People – what is happening to the Amazon rain forest is of vital importance to all of us.”

“How are we affected by the current crisis in the Amazon? That invites us to look at the environmental impact and degradation of one of the big lungs of the earth, as the Amazon is on fire right now.”

It invites Canadians to consider the question, “How are we implicated?” said the Archbishop of Regina, who pointed specifically to Canadian mining companies operating in the Amazon region.

These lead to questions on “what can we do as a church, societally, in our communities, our families, our personal lifestyle,” he said.

In Canada, the boreal forest covers 40 per cent of the country’s land mass and is home to many Indigenous Peoples which have their own economies, Bolen said.

Though no Canadian bishops have been invited to participate in the Amazon synod, Bolen is part of a delegation organized by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States (JCCU) to attend a parallel event in Rome entitled ‘La Tienda de la Casa Comun.’

‘La Tienda de al Casa Comun’ is organized by the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) along with religious congregations, and institutions. It will offer conferences, vigils, prayer, testimonies and artistic presentations as well as chances for participants to interact with the synod fathers from the nine countries encompassing the Amazon region.

Joining Archbishop Bolen from Canada will be Sr. Priscilla Solomon, CSJ, an Ojibway from Sault Ste. Marie and a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Cecila Calvo of the JCCU Office of Justice Ecology will lead the delegation that will also include Rodney Bordeaux, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in Rosebud, ND, and Richard Coll, a staff member of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. They will be in Rome from Oct. 15-21.

This will not be Bolen’s first experience with REPAM, a Pan-Amazonian group of church organizations. He had been invited to participate in a conference REPAM organized last March in Washington, D.C. organized by REPAM, that brought together representatives from four or five biomes or ecological areas from around the world.

“The pan-Amazon region is a biome; the Canadian boreal forest is a biome,” Bolen said. There were others from the Congo Basin, from Southeast Asia and others from Europe and North America. Also attending were Indigenous leaders from the Amazon.

Out of that conference, a number of questions surfaced. “What is happening in the Amazon, to the environment and to Indigenous Peoples?”

“We took the lead from Laudato Si’ to listen to the suffering of the earth and the suffering of the poor,” Bolen said, noting the environmental degradation in the region.

“We did hear powerful presentations about the way if deterioration in the Amazon continues at the current pace, it’s going to have a massive impact,” he said. “Scientists are concerned the Amazon is coming to a tipping point, creating conditions so hot and dry, the forests cannot regenerate.”

They also heard presentations from Indigenous peoples who are being marginalized, moved off their land, and experiencing human rights abuses, he said. “New political leaders are not responding to the needs of the people.”

Indigenous communities are affected by the building of dams to generate power for mines that disrupt the flow of rivers, and affect both aquatic and human life, he said. “The region is suffering from the insatiable demand for oil and minerals.”

The conference also asked them to reflect on whether there are parallel challenges in their own biomes. In Rome, Bolen and the JCCU delegation will continue these reflection in the parallel event “La Tienda” to the Amazon synod in October.


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“Extravaganza” held to launch Development and Peace fall awareness campaign on crisis in Amazon and “Care For Our Common Home”

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 20:23
Regina’s Archbishop Bolen provides keynote address

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

At a recent Development and Peace gathering in Saskatoon, Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina provided background and context about an  upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon. He also challenged his listeners to consider how the ecological crisis in the Amazon has similarities and connections to what is happening in Canada.

CCN Interview with Archbishop Bolen about the upcoming Synod on the Amazon: Synod Raises Questions for Canadians

The Sept. 14 “Campaign Extravaganza” event at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon was held to launch the Development and Peace Fall Action Campaign “Care for Our Common Home,” which focuses on raising awareness about the impact of commercial activities in the Amazon rain forest on Indigenous Peoples and on the global ecosystem.  The annual awareness campaign includes reflections related to Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, (Care of Our Common Home), and the 2019 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.

“What do we need to be paying attention to? What are the parallel issues in Canada?” Bolen asked the crowd during his keynote address about the issues to be addressed at the upcoming Synod. Responses included: threats from mining, carbon emissions, climate change, forest fires and the issues affecting our Indigenous Peoples.

Judging by any or all of our societal indicators of health and well being, our Indigenous Peoples are “on the losing end,” stressed Bolen. “We are a society that has an embedded racism.” Canada is being challenged to face that sad reality and to work to overcome it, he said.

As with the Synod on the Amazon, part of our response to ecological challenges facing Canada and the globe in part has to be to learn from the wisdom of Indigenous brothers and sisters, he added. “They have had a healthy way of living with the land that we do not.”

Describing the ecological crisis facing the Amazon, and the impact globally of threats to creation, Bolen echoed Laudato Si’ when he stressed that when there is a “price to pay” for ecological exploitation and degradation that benefit wealthier nations and corporations, it is almost always the poor who end up paying that price.

However, “Laudato Si’ does not invite us to despair,” asserted Bolen. “It invites us as people of faith to trust that God is at work, and also to be mindful that God calls us in solidarity to walk with others who are suffering.”

The land is a gift from God that must be protected for ourselves and for future generations, he added, stressing the importance of the prophetic work of Development and Peace in raising awareness about ecological crises facing “Our Common Home.”

Bolen also pointed to those who have observed that the post-Synod period will in the long run be far more important than the pre-Synod preparations. “How are we going to live that experience deeply and well?”

Other features of the Sept. 14 “Campaign Extravaganza” at STM, organized by the Development and Peace/Caritas Canada Saskatchewan-Keewatin Le Pas region, included speakers Chris Hrynkow, Norm Lipinski, and Priva Hang’andu (a new regional animator for Development and Peace/Caritas Canada); displays; a dinner; and an evening coffee house.



Upcoming Workshops:

Related to the Development and Peace/ Caritas Canada Fall Action Campaign, two information workshops are planned in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. Facilitator of the workshops will be Priva Hang’andu, Regional Development and Peace/Caritas Canada animator.

Workshops will be held at:

  • SASKATOON– 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at St. Anne Parish, 217 Lenore Drive, Saskatoon, SK. To RSVP or for more information contact Betty at or Joanne at or call 1-888-234-8533.


  • BRUNO– 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20 at St. Bruno Parish, 700 Kirby St., Bruno, SK. To RSVP or for more information contact Victor and Lucille Granger at luci.gran@hotmail.comor Priva at or call 1-888-234-8533.


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Quebec court decision striking down euthanasia safeguards “terrible news” say opponents

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 20:43

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA (CCN)—Euthanasia opponents and disability rights activists have expressed horror at the Sept. 11 Superior Court decision striking down key safeguards in Canada’s and Quebec’s euthanasia laws.

“It’s absolutely terrible,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

“What it does is it takes away the one little protection that existed for people with psychiatric conditions. They could get it only if their natural death was reasonably foreseeable and it did prevent people with psychiatric conditions from dying with euthanasia.”

“It’s terrible news,” said Dr. Catherine Ferrier, president of the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia. “I do geriatrics,” the Montreal-based family physician said. “All my people would be eligible.”

“It’s open season on the disabled,” said Ferrier. “Anyone disabled can now ask for euthanasia.”

Quebec Superior Court Judge Christine Baudouin struck down the federal law’s requirement that death be “reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for euthanasia, as well as a similar clause in Quebec’s euthanasia law requiring the person be terminally ill in order to qualify.

Ruling the law infringed the plaintiffs’ fundamental rights,” the judge allowed Jean Truchon, 51 and Nicole Gladu, 73, to request to have a doctor end their lives. Neither are terminally ill but suffer from incurable and painful medical conditions. The judge also gave the federal and Quebec governments six months to amend their laws.

Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet (TVNDY), a project of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, blasted the decision as a “discriminatory double standard that limits access to suicide prevention for people with disabilities.”

TVNDY said the court applied the “presumption of competence” to the plaintiff’s request for euthanasia, when the wish to die made by a non-disabled person is “proof of suicidality, if not incompetence.”

The court also failed to ask why the plaintiffs’ pain management was ineffective, nor did the court address the availability of good palliative care, TVNDY said. The organization also pointed out the lack of choices a disabled person faces in where and how they live.

“The judge’s description of the plaintiff’s situation invoked pity, but ignored the role of discriminatory public policy in depriving M. Truchon and Mme. Gladu of choice in where and how they live,” said TVNDY director Amy Hasbrouck in a news release. “The court erroneously blames M. Truchon’s lack of independence on his disability. But the fact is that he could live independently but for policies that favour institutional care over consumer-directed community-based services.”

“Better dead than disabled: that’s the message of this ruling,” said Ferrier.

“This is a country where disabled people don’t have the health care, housing, employment and transportation they need. We don’t offer them all of these other things that they need but we offer them death.”

Disabled people don’t see their lives as “totally unbearable” and “not worth living,” but “it’s hard to fight that if that’s how everyone else sees them,” Ferrier said.

Schadenberg pointed out the federal government had planned a five-year review by June of 2020. “What’s the purpose of a review if courts think it is their purview to strike down portions of the law?” he said.

Opening euthanasia up to those with psychiatric conditions alone was among the three areas under consideration, but now the court has effectively paved the way for this by removing the requirement death be reasonably foreseeable, Schadenberg said.

The safeguard requiring that those receiving euthanasia be 18 or older is probably the next one to fall to a constitutional challenge, he said. The third area under consideration is that of advance directives that would allow patients with a dementia diagnosis to request euthanasia once they are no longer competent.

On the same day as the Quebec decision, a Dutch court cleared a doctor of any wrongdoing in the euthanasia of dementia patient against her will three years ago. In this case, the family members had to hold the woman down so the doctor could administer the lethal dose.

Euthanasia for psychiatric reasons continues to grow in Belgium and the Netherlands, Schadenberg said.

Both Ferrier and Schadenberg have repeatedly warned against opening the door to euthanasia and assisted suicide at all.

“We knew this was going to happen,” said Ferrier. “The safeguards have been a bit of a joke from the beginning.”

Not only has the euthanasia lobby been pushing for euthanasia on demand, people in the Quebec government promised to “improve” the law once they had put it in place, she said.

Ferrier said she believes the safeguards were added, “otherwise they never would have got the law passed.”

“I have no doubt from the beginning this was the plan,” she said. “Get the law in place and then start removing the safeguards.”


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Saskatoon couple gives $650,000 to campaign to build Saskatoon’s first hospice

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 21:29
The most recent gift announcement for the Close to Home campaign included a reflection on the impact of  music therapy 

“I have witnessed individuals living their last days and weeks from a place of power. Even while they are confined to a bed, their strength diminishing, they are living their lives, making things rights with each other, with others, sharing words of love and forgiveness, challenging others to live lives of deep meaning – and dreaming still.” – Ruth Eliason, Music Therapist

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The impact of holistic care and the healing power of music provided a touching context for a recent gift announcement for the Close to Home campaign to build Saskatoon’s first stand-alone hospice.

The latest gift to the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation’s $20 million Close to Home campaign was announced at a media event Sept. 10: $650,000 from local philanthropists Gord and Jill Rawlinson, owners of Rawlco Radio.

Left to right: Lecina Hicke, CEO St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation; Pam Leyland, President of Rawlco Radio; Karen Barber, Executive Director of St. Paul’s Hospital; Ruth Eliason, St. Paul’s Hospital Music Therapist; and Todd Rosenberg, Volunteer Close to Home Campaign Co-Chair, unveil the donation from Gordon and Jill Rawlinson. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Funds raised in the Close to Home campaign will help to build the Hospice at Glengarda now under construction in southeast Saskatoon – as well as to renovate the existing palliative care ward at St. Paul’s Hospital, and to establish endowment funds that will strengthen palliative care education and holistic services available to those facing end-of-life.

“Hospice care and holistic care are an incredibly important facet of end-of-life care services,” said Close to Home campaign co-chair Todd Rosenberg. “Holistic care means that we will provide such services as spiritual care, bereavement care, art therapy, the healing arts program – all very necessary ingredients in dealing with the whole person, not just their specific end-of-life medical symptoms.”

One aspect of that holistic care is music therapy.

Ruth Eliason, a music therapist working with Palliative Care Services at St. Paul’s Hospital, opened the media event by singing her composition “Where the Heart Is” to showcase the type of music she creates with patients and families. Later in the program, she described the role of music in holistic care.

“I have had the privilege to walk with many patients and family members, using music to ease their experience at end-of-life,” she said. “When patients come into our care, we honour and acknowledge that they do so as a whole person: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.”

Music is a wonderful way to integrate that holistic approach, because for many, music is an important facet of life, and is easily adapted to varying energy levels, abilities and situations, Eliason explained.

Probably the most common way to use music therapy is in reminiscence, she said.

Ruth Eliason, Music Therapist

“Music has a powerful way of bringing back memories. Whether it is a song from the summer of 1956, or the lullabies we remember or a child, or the first dance song at one’s wedding – hearing familiar music can transport people and help them re-visit a positive memory or recall a time or place in their history.”

Music therapy can also aid in relaxation, with gentle music and visualization exercises providing patients with tools to be able to reduce anxiety. “Often images that patients choose for a visualization exercise are a special place at home, a favourite spot or a vacation spot. For many in hospital it may have been weeks or maybe months since they were able to visit their home, so being able to visualize a familiar place can be very comforting,” described Eliason, saying music can facilitate that visualization.

“Music is also accessed to tap spiritual strength. Music touches our spirit and can be a familiar expression of one’s faith,” she said. “To be able to choose a meaningful spiritual song to be shared among family can support that expression of faith, and remind people of the strengths that are already there, waiting to be accessed.”

Music is also used as a tool for “life review,” Eliason continued. “I believe that part of coming to the end of one’s life in a healthy way does involve making sense out of – and reviewing – the events of the past that have shaped one’s life. Music is a powerful way to do this, either through pre-composed music, or through song writing.”

Music is also important in what Eliason described as “legacy work” – answering the deep need for a person to know that they have made a difference in the world, and that they will be remembered.

“One of the most touching things I have had the privilege to do was to record the heartbeat of a patient, and then to record a song to accompany that heartbeat,” she said. “This is a tremendously moving and personal gift that a patient can give and share with their family and it can be a really wonderful and vibrant reminder of who that individual is.”

Music is also part of rituals and services that are part of life for those in hospital or palliative care – including such things as weddings or memorials held at the hospital. “Music is intertwined into some of those very special markers in one’s life.

Holistic palliative care strives to ensure that those facing the end-of-life are able to experience what matters most, she said. “I have witnessed individuals living their last days and weeks from a place of power. Even while they are confined to a bed, their strength diminishing, they are living their lives, making things right with each other, with others, sharing words of love and forgiveness, challenging others to live lives of deep meaning – and dreaming still.”

“Often, as individuals nearing the end of their lives, the little things become big things – the important things – like holding the hand of someone you love, or hearing a grandchild’s laugh, having a few bites of a favourite dessert, listening to a beautiful piece of music, celebrating a Rider’s win, watching the birds outside the window. If you think about where our heart is, It is wrapped up in these many small moments that make up the life that we love.”

Eliason concluded by speaking on behalf of the patients and families that she works with, and on behalf of countless individuals who will use the Hospice at Glengarda after it opens: “I would thank donors for their generous gift from the heart… this generosity will make a tremendous difference for so many in our community, helping provide patients and their families with a welcoming and safe place at the end of life.”

Chris Boychuk, past board chair of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, also recognized all that is made possible because of the commitment of those in the community.

“As part of the Foundation’s work we have had the privilege of helping to realize the mission, vision and values of the founders of St. Paul’s Hospital, the Grey Nuns. Since 1982, the Foundation has raised close to $69 million to help continue the mission, vision and values of those sisters,” he said.

“We have been consistently humbled by the generosity of the community in supporting this campaign,” Boychuk added, thanking all those contributing to the Close to Home campaign and acknowledging the passion and dedication of volunteer campaign chairs Todd Rosenberg and Dr. Vivian Walker, and of honorary campaign chairs Gene and Adele Dupuis.

Newly-appointed CEO of St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, Lecina Hicke , also thanked all those who are so passionate about the cause of strengthening palliative care and constructing Saskatchewan’s first free-standing hospice, including donors, as well as the campaign chairs, the St. Paul’s Hospital board, the Foundation, hospital leadership and “our many partners and all wonderful staff, care givers, patient advocates and community members who have lent their time and talents to this project.”

Hospital Executive Director Karen Barber said she was deeply moved by the generosity of donors such as Gordon and Jill Rawlinson, noting that “St. Paul’s has a long history of compassionately caring for the most vulnerable in our midst. The Rawlinson’s gift to our Close To Home campaign will help us to support Saskatchewan residents in their time of need, and will help people live their lives to the fullest, as they journey toward end of life.”

Left to right: Karen Barber – Executive Director of St. Paul’s Hospital, Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU, of the Ursulines of Prelate, and Lecina Hicke, CEO St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, at the most recent gift announcement for the Close to Home campaign for the Hospice at Glengarda. Saskatchewan’s first stand alone hospice is being constructed at the site of the former Ursuline Sisters’ residence on Hilliard and Melrose street, across from St. Francis Xavier parish. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Construction on the Hospice at Glengarda began in May of this year. Close to Home Campaign Co-Chair Todd Rosenberg says fundraising is progressing very well with more than $18.5 million in community support raised to date.

To make a donation, or learn more about the Close to Home campaign, contact St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation at 306-655-5821 or visit


Where the Heart Is

Composed and performed by Music Therapist Ruth Eliason, 2019

Standing on the dock, looking at the stars

See the sky light up with Northern lights

I always feel at home, whenever I am here

My roots run deep –


Walk into the room, streamers in the air

Blow the candles out, hear the young ones cheer

I look into the eyes of the family that I love

My heart fills up, and all at once I know –


I’m grateful for these moments and the life I share with you

I’m grateful for this province and the land, the people too

I’m grateful for my family, the people I call friends

I’m grateful for the chance to give – to make a difference

You ask me where my heart is – it’s here.


Give more than you take, momma told me once

The table’s big enough for everyone,

It doesn’t cost a thing to be compassionate

My life gives back, and all at once I know –


I’m grateful for these moments and the life I share with you

I’m grateful for this province and the land, the people too

I’m grateful for my family, the people I call friends

I’m grateful for the chance to give – to make a difference

You ask me where my heart is – it’s here.


Construction of the Hospice at Glengarda started this summer. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

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In Exile – Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI: “Some Counsels on Faith and Religion for Our Present Generation”

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 06:50
Some Counsels on Faith and Religion for Our Present Generation

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI

It’s no secret that today we’re witnessing a massive decline in church attendance and, seemingly, a parallel loss of interest in religion. The former mindset – within which we worried, sometimes obsessively, about sin, church-going, and heaven and hell – no longer holds sway for millions of people. As one parent, worried about the religious state of his children, shared with me recently, “our old religious concerns never ever darken their minds.”  What’s to be said in the face of this?

Admittedly, I may not be the person best-suited to offer that advice. I’m over 70 years old, a spiritual writer whose main focus of research and teaching right now is on the spirituality of aging, and I’m a Roman Catholic priest, a religious insider, who can be perceived as simply a salesman for religion and the churches.

But, despite that, here are some counsels on faith and religion for today’s generation.

First: Search honestly. God’s first concern is not whether you’re going to church or not, but whether you are staying honest in your search for truth and meaning. When the Apostle Thomas, doubts the reality of the resurrection, Jesus doesn’t scold him, but simply asks him to stretch out his hand and continuing searching, trusting that if he searches honestly he will eventually find the truth. The same is true for us. All we have to do is be honest, to not lie, to acknowledge truth as it meets us. In John’s Gospel, Jesus sets out only one condition to come to God: Be honest and never refuse to acknowledge what’s true, no matter how inconvenient. But the key is to be honest! If we’re honest we will eventually find meaning and that will lead us where we need to go – perhaps even to a church door somewhere. But even if it doesn’t, God will find us. The mystery of Christ is bigger than we imagine.

Second: Listen to what’s deepest inside you. Soul is a precious commodity. Make sure you honour yours. Honour the voice inside your soul. Deeper than the many enticing voices you hear in world inviting you in every direction is a voice inside you which, like an insatiable thirst, reminds you always of the truth of this prayer from Saint Augustine: You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Stay in touch with that voice. You will hear it in your restlessness and it will, in the words of Karl Rahner, teach you something that’s initially is hard to bear but eventually sets you free: In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable, we eventually learn that here in this life there is no finished symphony.

Third: Beware the crowd! In the Gospels the word “crowd” is almost always pejorative. For good reason: Crowds don’t have a mind and the energy of a crowd is often dangerous. So beware of what Milan Kundera calls “the great march”, namely, the propensity to be led by ideology, group-think, the latest trend, the popular person or thing, the false feeling of being right because the majority of people feel that way, and the social pressures coming from both the right and the left. Be true to yourself. Be the lonely prophet who’s not afraid to be alone on the outside. Dream. Be idealistic. Protect your soul. Don’t give it away cheaply.

Fourth: Don’t confuse faith with the churches – but don’t write off the churches too quickly. When they ask those without religious affiliation today why they aren’t religious invariably their answer is: “I just don’t believe it anymore.” But what’s the “it” which they no longer believe? What they don’t believe anymore isn’t in fact the truth about God, faith, and religion, but rather what they’ve heard about God, faith, and religion. Sort that out and you will find that you do have faith. Moreover, don’t write off the churches too quickly. They have real faults; you’re not wrong about that, but they’re still the best GPS available to help you find your way to meaning. They’re a roadmap drawn up by millions of explorers who have walked the road before you. You can ignore them, but then be alert to God’s gentle voice often saying: “Recalculating”. God will get you home, but the churches can help.

Fifth: Don’t forget about the poor. When you touch the poor, you’re touching God and, as Jesus says, at the judgment day we will be judged by how we served the poor. Give yourself away in some form of altruism, knowing, as Jesus puts it, that it’s not those who say Lord, Lord, who go to heaven but those who serve others.  In your search, you need to get a letter of reference from the poor.

Sixth: Look among your contemporaries for a patron to inspire you. Jean Vanier, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Simone Weil, Etty Hillesum, and Dag Hammarskjold, among others – they’ve all navigated your issues.


Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher, and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX. He can be contacted through his website

Now on Facebook

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Search for God should be ‘first apostolate’, Pope Francis tells Augustinians

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 15:07

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Pope Francis told members of a men’s religious order Sept. 13 that the first goal personally and in their apostolates should be an orientation of their hearts toward God, who is Love.

“Your hearts always reaching out to God. Always! Each member of the community should be oriented, as the first ‘holy purpose’ of every day, to the search for God,” the pope told about 150 members of the Order of Saint Augustine.

Order of Saint Augustine logo. (Catholic News Agency – CNA)

“This ‘direction’ should be declared, confessed, witnessed among you without false modesty,” he continued.

“The search for God cannot be obscured by other purposes, although generous and apostolic. Because that is your first apostolate. We are here – you should be able to say among yourselves every day – because we walk towards God. And because God is Love, we walk towards Him in love.”

Members of the Order of Saint Augustine, also referred to as Augustinians, live as mendicants directed by the Rule of St. Augustine. The order was gathered in Rome for its general chapter.

In the order’s audience with Pope Francis, he noted a writing of Fr. Agostino Trapè, now deceased, who was prior general of the Augustinians from 1965 to 1971.

Fr. Trapè wrote that according to the Rule of St. Augustine, “charity is not only the end and means of religious life, but it is also its center: from charity it must proceed and charity must be oriented, with a perennial movement of circular causality, every thought, every affection, every attitude, every action.”

Pope Francis advised thinking on a meditation St. Augustine once gave on the Church as “‘mater charitas,’ a mother who cries for the division of children and calls and calls for unity of charity.”

St. Augustine wrote to St. Jerome about the experience of charity in community, the pope noted. St. Augustine said he finds it “very natural to abandon myself entirely to the affection of such people, especially when I am oppressed by the scandals of the world: in their hearts I find rest free of concern, being convinced that there is God in it.”

“Dear brothers, this is also the challenge and responsibility for you today,” the pope urged, “to live in your communities in such a way as to make the experience of God together and be able to show it alive to the world!”

He explained that this is a big responsibility and asked them to focus on living their community life well, so that they can show God to the outside world “in a clear, courageous way, without compromise or hesitation.”

“You Augustinians have been called to bear witness to that warm, living, visible, contagious charity of the Church, through a life of community that clearly shows the presence of the Risen One and his Spirit,” he said.

He quoted his 2018 apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world, Gaudete et exsultate, saying, “Community life … is made up of many small daily details … The community that preserves the small details of love, where the members take care of each other and constitute an open and evangelizing space, is the place of the presence of the Risen One who is sanctifying it according to the plan of the Father.”

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Religious freedom and evangelization top agenda for CCCB plenary

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 14:51

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

[OTTAWA – CCN] – When Canada’s Catholic bishops meet for their annual plenary Sept. 23-27, 2019, religious freedom and overseas missions will top the agenda on the first days of their assembly in Cornwall, Ontario.

Missing from this year’s public agenda is any discussion of the clerical abuse crisis that continues to dog dioceses around the world.

Last year, the sexual abuse crisis loomed high on the agenda of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) plenary in the wake of the McCarrick scandal in the United States, the unprecedented open letter of Archbishop Viganò, the former Nuncio to the United States, and the release Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on historical sexual abuse in dioceses in that state.

At its September 2018 plenary, the CCCB published the long-awaited document entitled Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation that had been in the works since 2011 and which built upon the Canadian bishops 1992 document From Pain to Hope. That 1992 document was among the first of its kind to deal with the clerical sexual abuse crisis that was first emerging at that time.

The new document deals with the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults and focuses on care of victims.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, who chaired a three-day summit on clerical sexual abuse in the Vatican last Feb. 21-24, described the new Canadian document as an example for other episcopal conferences.

Religious Freedom and Freedom of Conscience

This year, the CCCB plenary will address current challenges to religious freedom and freedom of conscience through an interfaith and ecumenical panel of Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu representatives.

Evangelization and Overseas Missions

Evangelization and overseas missions will also figure prominently in this year’s plenary, gathering of about 80 bishops and eparchs from across Canada.

Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, is the keynote speaker.

The Pontifical Mission Societies represent the Catholic Church’s official overseas missions in evangelization and charitable works and are under the direct supervision of the Pope.

Archbishop Dal Toso will speak on the theme “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on a Mission in the World” adopted for the Extraordinary Mission Month of October 2019.

Update on Development and Peace review

The Canadian bishops’ own overseas development arm, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace/Caritas Canada (CCODP), has been undergoing a joint study with the CCCB of 52 of its overseas partners. A number of dioceses and the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) suspended contributions to CCODP in early 2018, because some projects funded by CCODP were being carried out by partners that were also advocating for abortion or engaging in activities contrary to Catholic teaching.

Though none of the projects were found to be problematic, funding to those 52 agencies, CCODP has ceased funding projects through those partners while the study is ongoing.

Last year, the bishops received a preliminary report on the study, following which those dioceses withholding monies and the CWL released funds to CCODP.

On Sept. 9, CCODP said in a news release that two phases of the joint study begun in Mid-May 2019 have been completed.

“As had been agreed by the CCCB and CCODP, the review is being conducted by the firm Deloitte with the objective of providing recommendations to ensure greater alignment between CCODP and the CCCB and to identify potential solutions,” the release said.

Deloitte Canada, a consulting and accounting firm, is preparing its final report and recommendations and will present it to representatives of the CCCB and CCODP at the end of September, the release said.

Northern Dioceses / Indigenous Peoples / Youth Day

The CCCB plenary will include a discussion of Canada’s northern dioceses that only recently moved to being normal dioceses under the Congregation for Bishops from a status as missionary dioceses.

Also, on the agenda, ongoing efforts for reconciliation with and pastoral care of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

The bishops will receive reports on the 2019 World Youth Day in Panama last Jan. and on the 2019 International Youth Forum Sept. 14-15 in Chennai, India.

CCCB leadership

Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil will chair his final plenary as he wraps up a two-year term as president. Traditionally, the presidency alternates between a French language speaker and an English-language speaker and if the pattern follows previous years, the current vice-president, Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg, will assume the role of president for the next two years.

Though the bishops are free to depart from the previous pattern, if it holds, the French-language co-treasurer Archbishop Luc Cyr of Sherbrooke will move into the position of vice-president. The other co-treasurer is Bishop Terrence McGrattan of Calgary. There will be an election during the plenary of a new co-treasurer.

The bishops will also approve a budget for the CCCB secretariat that helps them engage in their common activities. The CCCB secretariat is a registered charity under the name Concacan Inc. In 2018, it reported a total revenue of $8,243,506 in revenue, including more than $3 million as gifts from other registered charities – the contributions the various dioceses make to support the secretariat. Concacon spent more than $5 million carrying out charitable purposes, including the advancement of the Roman Catholic religion. It reported spending $1.3 million in management and administration.

Guests and Media Coverage

About 20 guests, including ecumenical and interfaith partners, and heads of various Catholic associations have been invited to the public session on Monday Sept. 23 to noon on Sept. 24. Accredited media will also be present.

For the first time, Salt and Light TV will be live-streaming the public sessions on the internet via and via its Facebook page. Salt and Light will also broadcast the daily Masses and Evening Prayer (Vespers) and a daily media briefing in both English and French.



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Attacks on religious beliefs “disreputable” says former religious freedom ambassador

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 13:52

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA (CCN)—Attacks on the religious beliefs of any political candidate are unacceptable says Canada’s former ambassador religious freedom.

“I think it’s thoroughly disreputable that any party would attack anybody for what they hold to be true, whether moral beliefs, or religious beliefs,” said Andrew Bennett, the director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute and Canada’s former Ambassador of Religious Freedom. “If we are going to enjoy a genuine common life as Canadians we have to be willing to recognize deep differences in our society and people are going to believe different things.”

“Not only that, but we need, if we truly believe in religious freedom, we need to expect that our public figures, our political leaders have as much right as anyone else to live both publicly and privately according to their deepest-held beliefs.”

Recently, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has come under attack for his Catholic faith, particularly on the issues of abortion and traditional marriage. Premier Jason Kenney faced similar attacks during the Alberta election.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale unearthed a 2005 video of Scheer opposing the redefinition of marriage, released it on Twitter, asking” “To be a leader for all Canadians, the Conservative Party leader should now end his lifelong boycott of Pride events and explain whether he would still deny same-sex couples the right to marry, as he said in Parliament.”

“Scratch the criticisms slightly, and it exposes a far more distressing concern that anti-Catholicism is alive and well in Canada,” said Phil Horgan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League. “The fact that the media continues to advance these arguments further discloses that the truly acceptable prejudice in Canada remains anti-Catholicism.”

But Bennett sees the attacks on Scheer of a piece with Quebec’s secularism law banning the wearing of religious symbols in public by public servants, police officers, teachers, judges and other representatives of the state. In a recent campaign appearance in the province, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, a baptized Sikh, was shown without his turban.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, is a baptized Sikh.

“The law on secularism in Quebec is an absolute affront not only to religious freedom but also to the promotion and development of our common life,” said Bennett. “In the upcoming election, one thing we have to be very clear on in this debate on what is acceptable in terms of open expressions of faith is that the Quebec approach is the wrong approach, because it marginalizes people of deep religious conviction, and it enforces this closed secularist view as the only acceptable belief system is secularism. And secularism is not neutral.”

“We have to remind people that our faith is not simply a private matter,” said Bennett. “As Catholics, through our baptism, we have an understanding that our faith is public.”

“We’re called to live out our faith in the public square,” he said. “In living out our faith in the public square, we have to be willing to take stands on our faith that are difficult and uphold that which is good and true.”

Horgan said attacks on Scheer and other prominent politicians seem to “suggest that the underlying message is that ‘Catholics or others need not apply for high public office,’ or perhaps that ‘Catholics need not apply for any public office,’ or that ‘Catholics or others should check their religiously formed beliefs based on natural law principles at the door of the public square, in order to participate in public debate.’”

“Is the new normal that even in circumstances where a politician’s public position is made known, that his private faith adherence excludes him from office?” Horgan asked. “Are we excluding people of faith from public life?”

“It’s interesting how history repeats itself,” said Bennett. “Look at what John F. Kennedy had to suffer in the United States in the 1960s: this anti-Catholicism and the idea that if he was elected president he would somehow do the pope’s bidding.”

“We’re seeing a version of that in attacks on Andrew Scheer’s Catholicism, because he may or may not hold certain views that are commensurate with his Catholic faith that somehow that is a threat to peace, order and good government,” Bennett said.

“They’re not attacking Jagmeet Singh for being Sikh,” said Alissa Golob, co-founder of It Starts Right Now. “That would be considered racist, bigotry. But it’s perfectly acceptable to attack Andrew’s Catholic beliefs, just because he’s a practicing Catholic and doesn’t have positions that are contrary to the Catholic faith that we’re used with Justin Trudeau.”

Jack Fonseca, director of political operations for Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), sees a tactical motivation for the attacks on Scheer, as a voter suppression tactic to demoralize the Conservative base and get them to stay home or vote for a fringe party.

“Scheer did exactly what they hoped he would do,” said Fonseca. “He distanced himself from his own beliefs and his own socially-conservative base.”

Fonseca said he was alarmed by a recent interview in which Scheer said he will “oppose” any measures to reopen the abortion debate. “That implies he will order his caucus to vote against it, too.”

Alissa Golob, co-founder of It Starts Right Now, disagrees, arguing Scheer has consistently supported the rights of backbench MPs to bring forward private members’ legislation and for free votes on conscience matters.

When Scheer says his government will not reopen the abortion debate, “that means the 30 or so cabinet ministers and not back bench MPs,” she said, noting Scheer has defended the right to free expression in his caucus.

Bennett notes most of the party leaders — including Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May – have at times expressed religious beliefs.

“We have to be willing to recognize deep differences in our society, and people are going to believe different things,” Bennett said. “If we truly believe in religious freedom, we need to expect that our public figures, our political leaders have as much right as anyone else to live both publicly and privately according to their deepest held beliefs.”


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Climate change and oil/gas production identified as election issues

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 13:37

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA (CCN)—A recent Angus Reid Institute poll reveals Canadians want to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to preventing climate change and producing oil and gas.

In a Sept. 5 poll, Angus Reid revealed nearly 70 per cent of Canadians see dealing with climate change as a top priority in the upcoming federal election Oct. 21, 2019. Yet that same poll shows 58 per cent place a top priority on oil and gas development.

“While different Canadians may lean further to one side of the ‘economy-versus¬-environment’ discussion, in most cases this does not mean they’d ignore the other side completely,” said Angus Reid’s website.

“Among those who said the next federal government should prioritize climate change efforts, three-quarters (75%) want at least some investment in the oil and gas sector. And among those who say the energy industry should have the next government’s main focus, four-in-five (80%) would still wish to see at least some investment in climate change efforts.”

The poll revealed 25 per cent view the Conservative Party as the best to lead on the climate issue, while an almost similar number 23 per cent said the Green Party would be best. Eighteen per cent of respondents named the governing Liberals while 10 per cent chose the NDP.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops justice and peace commission releases election guide reflecting on key ethical and moral issues for voters to consider:

2019 Federal Election Guide (English)

Guide des élections fédérales de 2019 (French)

“One of the most unfortunate things about the upcoming election is we may see another big divide in the country,” said Joe Gunn, executive director of the Oblate Centre at St. Paul University. In speaking with Oblates from Saskatchewan and Alberta, Gunn said he has heard about the hardship families are experiencing after job losses in the oil and gas sector.

“Places like Saskatchewan and Alberta are concerned about fossil fuel development,” Gunn said. “I would be surprised if Liberals win a seat in either of those provinces.”

“We’ve had these kinds of divisions in Canada in the past, and they make it a hard country to govern,” he said. Gunn said the Oblate Centre will also be keeping an eye on issues such as the welcoming of refugees and migrants; poverty reduction; and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

While Canadians are divided over the Liberal government’s new carbon tax, with opposition highest among those who plan to vote conservative, 54 per cent of Canadians say Canada should do more to meet the targets agreed to in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Canada remains unlikely to meet these targets set by the previous Harper Conservative government.

Polls show the election race tightening, with the Liberals gaining on the Conservatives after dipping in the polls in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal that led to the resignation of former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould over pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to grant the company a deferred prosecution on corruption charges.

While life issues such as abortion and euthanasia may not be top of mind for national pollsters, for Catholics like Alissa Golob, co-founder of It Starts Right Now, ensuring pro-life candidates are elected is a key priority.

Alissa Golob, co-founder of It Starts Right Now. (Photo: Canadian Catholic News – CCN)

“It’s going to be a very tight election,” Golob said. “The polls have the Conservatives and Liberals neck and neck. Catholic voters should first and foremost, not only vote for, but also volunteer for the pro-life candidates who have the greatest chance of winning, so we can tip the scale in their favour.”

While the Liberal and the NDP parties do not allow prolife candidates or free votes on life issues, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, while pro-choice herself, has said she would not prevent a Green Party MP from re-opening the abortion debate. Peoples Party Leader Maxime Bernier has said he would allow free votes, but also that he supports abortion until the last trimester.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has disappointed some pro-life advocates because he has promised his government will not bring forward legislation on abortion.

“The government means the 30 or so cabinet ministers and not back bench MPs,” said Golob, noting Scheer has defended “freedom of expression, and the right to bring forward bills that are important to them as well as free votes.”

Golob said she recognizes that no party has a majority of pro-life MPs, so consequently no Prime Minister could bring in legislation to defend life. “That’s why it’s important to elect as many prolife MPs as possible.”

“The Liberals did have a free vote policy but if Justin Trudeau is defeated, hopefully that policy will return,” Golob said. Prior to 2016, the Liberal Party had a minority of pro-life MPs who traditionally were allowed to vote their consciences on non-government bills.

Right Now has identified 50 swing ridings where they are actively supporting pro-life candidates.
“A lot of people are nervous, and excited, but know it’s crunch time, because how we act in the next 40 days will impact the results of the election,” Golob said.

Another Angus Reid poll conducted at the end of August, revealed 52 per cent of respondents were uncommitted to voting for any particular party. Some of those uncommitted voters had supported the Liberals or other parties; others had not voted at all in the previous election.

“Chief among the core issues for uncommitted voters: improving health care access and the transparency and honesty that they expect from a federal government,” Angus Reid said on its website. “On both of these issues, seven-in-ten uncommitted voters allotted a score of six or seven on a seven-point scale.”

The Institute predicted both health care and ethics related to the SNC-Lavalin scandal will play a big role in the election, as will discussions of a proposed national pharmacare program.

The research organization Cardus Family will be watching for any party platforms calling for a national daycare program, an issue that has been raised by several political parties over the years.

“I haven’t seen it raised in a substantial way,” said Peter Jon Mitchell, acting director of Cardus Family. “It could emerge as an issue.”

A new study of Statistics Canada data shows Canadians rely on a variety of types of non-parental childcare: 51.9 per cent use daycare centres or pre-school; 25.6 have a relative look after their child; five per cent have a non-relative look after their child; and 20.4 per cent leave their child with a family child care home. Slightly more than nine per cent use before or after school programs and the rest find other arrangements.

Despite child care policy being a provincial arrangement, the federal government has allocated a $7.5 billion transfer over 11 years to the provinces to fund only one type of centre-based daycare.
“If you’re going to spend that money, put it in the hands of parents so they can choose the option that’s best for them,” Mitchell said. “We say that child care is the care of a child, no matter who does it. Our previous research has found most parents would prefer to have one parent care for their kids.”

Mitchell said he sees some advantages to the Liberals’ Canada Child Benefit that puts non-taxable money into the hands of parents to “spend as they see fit.”

“It’s been linked to a drop in child poverty,” Mitchell said. “When it was introduced in 2016, it was seen as a step away from universal daycare.”


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Bishop Mark Hagemoen Blog – Summer 2019 events across the diocese

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 21:28
Summer Spiritual Pilgrimages in the Diocese

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Diocese of Saskatoon

Spiritual pilgrimages are a great feature in the summer season in the Diocese of Saskatoon. They occur across the diocese and province as soon as schools close. They are opportunities for spiritual devotion and community celebration. They are also occasions when people from across different areas of the province and beyond can celebrate their common fellowship in our One Lord, and gain inspiration from the legacy of faith of persons who have gone before us, who have contributed through their lives of faith, service, and devotion – evident also in the presence of the various churches and pilgrimage sites.


The 87th Annual Pilgrimage to Reward featured a group of pilgrims who walked from Unity to Reward (above). The trip was roughly 34 kilometers, and featured times of prayer and petition, and remembering in solidarity those faithful from the area who have gone before us in faith, prayer, and life – as the faith was lived in this western area of the area known at St. Joseph’s Colony and the Saskatoon diocese.

The walking pilgrims departed from St. Peter’s Parish in Unity, SK, at 10 am on the Saturday, July 6 – the day before the Sunday gathering at Reward. The walk was about 8 hours in all.

Fr. Greg Roth behind the wheel of his Charger, providing support to the walking pilgrims.

Fr. Greg Roth led the pilgrims in his Charger through the country roads leading to the Reward church site. Fr. Greg would drive ahead every 2 kilometers for the entire 34 kilometer trip, to make sure traffic was aware of the walk, and to address any needs of the pilgrims along the way. Fr. Greg walked several kilometers himself – changing places with Matthew Witzany behind the wheel.

A model of Holy Rosary Church was on display this year at the Reward shrine site.


A scale replica of Holy Rosary Church was built by Roy Kappel. Originally on display at the heritage museum in Lloydminster, the model has now been donated back to the Holy Rosary pilgrimage site. Completing the detailed model involved about 1,500 hours of work.

Celebration of Sunday Eucharist July 7, 2019 at the Holy Rosary Shrine at Reward.

Blessing of the graves at the cemetery of Holy Rosary Church at Reward, after the pilgrimage Mass.

The annual pilgrimage at the Mount Carmel shrine, west of Humboldt, was held two weeks later, on July 21. Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, and several Benedictines from St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster were on hand for the celebration. Music ministry was provided from a choir from St. Scholastica Parish in Burr, SK.

Proclamation of the Word at Mount Carmel Mass July 21, 2019. 

Carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession to the top of the hill at Mount Carmel Shrine for the blessing of the fields.

Clergy “Sports Days” held at St. Peter’s Abbey, Muenster, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus of Saskatchewan

The annual “Clergy Sports Days” were again held at St. Peter’s Benedictine Abbey on July 15 and 16, 2019. There was a good turnout of clergy from the dioceses of Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert.

The clergy played a surprisingly intense and competitive series of sports, including soccer, volleyball, and basketball. The previous evening featured ping-pong and board games. The bishops tried to quell the competitiveness – but, alas – this effort was in vain.

Annual celebration at St. Ann Seniors Home

I again had the privilege of celebrating with the residents and community of St. Ann Seniors Home in Saskatoon on the Feast of St. Joachim and St. Ann – July 26, 2019.

Sisters Margaret Beaudette and Dianne Naud – Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada (below) – attended the Mass. Both have worked in the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, NWT, for decades, providing education, counselling, and ministerial support in several parish communities. They visited Saskatoon during the time of the St. Ann celebration.

Mass and Luncheon Celebration at Columbian Manor

Another of our Catholic senior facilities – Columbian Manor – was the site for a gathering and celebration this summer. The residents of Columbian Manor includes several priests and religious. The Manor has plans to expand. On Aug. 5, residents and community supporters came together for a mid-summer celebration of the Eucharist, and a community event.

Monsignor Stan Urbanoski and Monsignor Ray Senger concelebrated at the Mass, along with Fr. Michel Bedard. Celebration of the Eucharist was followed by a lunch-time banquet at Columbian Manor. There was a large turn-out at the annual event.

Blackstrap Youth Camp – operated by the Knights of Columbus

On July 25, 2019, I again had the opportunity to celebrate the Mass for the leaders and campers at Blackstrap Youth Camp, run by the Knights of Columbus at Blackstrap Lake, south of Saskatoon.

The Camp Coordinator, Julien Dale, led a capable team of councillors and youth leaders. Julien started his first year as a teacher with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools this September.

Several campers enjoy their ‘gourmet camp meals’ at Blackstrap. Meals feature a competition for who goes first – a very spirited and fierce competition!

Our Lady Queen of Peace Polish Catholic Church 100th Anniversary Celebration August 11, 2019

Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church (north of Prud’homme) was constructed in 1918-1919. Many former residents gathered for a centennial celebration at the church in August.

There was a very large turn-out and a festive mood as many recalled their days celebrating at the church. The views are stunning – as one looks south from the entrance of the Church one can see rolling prairie farm landscapes. The power and the blessing of the land is evident, and certainly contributed to the faith and spirit of the pioneers of the church community.

It was a pleasure to have Monsignor Stanley Urbanoski and Fr. Denis Phaneuf join regional pastor Fr. Colin Roy concelebrate at the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy.


Community members gathered for celebration of the Eucharist at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church. The interior of the church is in very good shape, and features most of the original liturgical elements.

Following the Mass, a procession to the cemetery adjacent to the followed, which featured blessing of the grave sites.

Bishop Bryan Bayda’s father, Joseph Michael Bayda, joined the celebration.

The cake was so large, we couldn’t finish it!

Dedication of Statue of St. Mother Theresa on the Feast Day of St. Mary Parish, Macklin The Nativity of Mary – the Mother of Jesus  – September 8, 2019

The weekend of Sept. 7-8 2019 was a time of special celebration for the parishes that make up the north-west region of the diocese. For St. Mary Parish in Macklin, the feast-day of the Parish was also the occasion to celebrate a significant ‘pro-life’ saint of the Church – St. Mother Teresa. The community is demonstratively pro-life.

The Mass and dedication of the statue was on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Health Care facility. The statue is located on the grounds where many religious sisters prayed the ‘Stations of the Cross’ as they lived and worked at St. Joseph’s facility. In attendance was Jean Morrison – President and Executive Director of Emmanuel Care.

Statue of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta holding a small child.


Fr. Binu Rathappillil, VC, addresses the congregation at the beginning of the Sunday Eucharistic celebration and dedication/ blessing of the statue of St. Mother Teresa.

The homily at the event celebrated St. Mother Teresa as an example of the power of one holy person’s “YES” to giving themselves to Christ and caring for the beloved little ones – especially those on the peripheries. It was also the occasion to invite the community to get ready to receive the upcoming “Diocesan Pastoral Plan” soon to be promulgated in the diocese.

Local musicians lead the celebration of the Mass for the Parish feast day.

Blessing of the statue at the beginning of the Eucharistic liturgy.

Applicants to the Permanent Diaconate Program

Paul Wheeler, Nicholas Blom, Ryan LeBlanc and their wives, Ely, Maureen, and  Monique gathered for an informal dinner at my residence on Sept. 5, 2019.

Receiving New Clergy in our Diocese to Serve our Parish Communities

The Diocese of Saskatoon continues to be blessed by the clergy who come to serve our Diocese. This summer several priests arrived from Ghana, Nigeria, and India to serve our parish communities.

A New Clergy Formation program was recently held for newly-arrived priests in the diocese of Saskatoon (left to right): Fr. Prosper Abotsi (Associate Pastor for Humboldt cluster); Fr. Santhosh Thekkekulam, VC, (Pastor for Wilkie cluster); Fr Jerome Ogunleye (pastor for Wadena cluster); Fr. Francis Appiah-Kubi (pastor for Fox Valley cluster); Bishop Mark Hagemoen; Fr. John Abban-Bonsu (Associate Pastor, Holy Spirit, Saskatoon); Fr. Habila Musa (Pastor for Rosetown cluster); Fr. Paul Oshin (Associate Pastor, St. Paul, Saskatoon); and Fr Clement Arthur (Pastor, St. Michael and St Peter the Apostle, Saskatoon). – Photo by Kiply Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News.



The spring and summer season was a time of experiencing an abundance of God’s blessings and the experience of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a striving and faithful People of God. ministry and blessing.

The Diocese of Saskatoon continues to reveal so many ways in which love and dedication to Christ and the Church is evident in the many activities and devotions of dedicated and zealous people.

I look forward to the upcoming Fall season as we introduce our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, and propose to our parish communities pastoral goals to help our communities and diocese continue to engage in the life, mission, and ministry of Jesus Christ.      

                                                                        In Christ,

+Mark Hagemoen











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Bishop Mark Hagemoen Blog – Deanery Visit July 2019

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 20:36
Visit to the Parish Communities of the Wadena Deanery

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon

From July 8 to 14, 2019, I visited the Parishes of the Deanery of Wadena. The deanery is located in the eastern-most area of the diocese, and has been a part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon for just over 20 years.

The first visit was to St. Theresa’s, Lintlaw. The community gathered from early evening Mass. A cemetery blessing followed.

Fr. Emmanuel Banahene at St. Theresa, Lintlaw, SK


St. Theresa Parish, Lintlaw, July 7.


Blessing the graves at St. Theresa cemetery, Lintlaw, SK.

Fr. Emmanuel Bahanene introduces the evening townhall meeting at St Joseph’s Parish in Kelvington:

Town Hall Meeting with the Bishop at St. Joseph Parish, Kelvington on July 9, 2019.

On Wednesday morning July 10, St. Mary’s Parish in Wadena gathered to celebrate morning Mass, followed by Eucharistic adoration – a regular event for the parish.

The community of Our Lady of Poland Parish in Fosston is very proud of their church. Following a visit to the Church and cemetary blessing, a community meeting was held at a local community hall.

Pastoral visit to Fosston, SK.


Community members gather for a picture at the blessing of graves held at the Fossten cemetery.


Blessing the graves at Fosston, SK.


Community of St. George Parish in Naicam gathered with their pastor Fr. Charles Nweze for a luncheon and meeting following the celebration of Mass.

St. Felix Parish, Archerwill:

Fr. Charles Nweze at St. Felix Catholic Church, Archerwill, SK


Visit to St. Felix, Archerwill in the Wadena deanery.

Rex Mundi / Christ the King Camp: 

The Rex Mundi Camp was another stop during this visit. The outdoor recreation facility and ‘camp’ is located north of Nobleville, and just within the Prince Albert diocese. It now operates as a rental facility for various church and community organizations who can offer their own family and youth programs.

Fr. Charles Nweze and Fr. Travis Myrheim of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert at the Christ the King / Rex Mundi Youth Camp chapel at Marean Lake, SK.

Fr. Travis Myrheim of Prince Albert diocese serves on the Rex Mundi board, and assists with some of the programs. 

A small chapel-church is a feature of Rex-Mundi, as well as an outdoor shrine to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Lawrence Parish in Nobleville:

There was a gathering of the community at St. Lawrence, Nobleville for evening Eucharist, followed by the blessing of the cemetery and a luscious pot-luck dinner. Many summer vacationers from areas cottages in the ‘lake country’ gather at the church for the celebration.

Parishioners at St. Lawrence, Nobleville, SK, prepared for the potluck dinner.

The blessing celebration at the adjacent cemetery followed the Mass. The evening was a blustery on this part of wild prairie. The weather and setting certainly gives a sense of the grandeur and immensity of God’s creation on the prairie.

The community gathered at Christ the King Parish in Rose Valley, where following Mass we had a wonderful pot-luck lunch. Following the lunch, we travelled to the Rose Valley parish cemetery for a blessing service.

Parishioners at Christ the King Parish in Rose Valley.

Parishioners of Christ the King Parish in Rose Valley join in prayers at the cemetery.

Following the lunch, we travelled to the Rose Valley parish cemetery for a blessing service.

Parish visits at Foam Lake, Wynyard, and Wishart:

Community at Christ the King Parish in Foam Lake gathers following morning Mass July 13.

Following the Mass we travelled to Sheho, where we visited the former site of the Church, and celebrated a cemetery blessing. A parish luncheon and meeting followed back in Foam Lake.

Prayers at Sacred Heart cemetery at Sheho, SK.

A cemetary blessing was also held at the Foam Lake cemetery with Pastor, Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu, Pastor of: St. Mary, Wynard; Christ the King, Foam Lake; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart.

A Town Hall Meeting with representatives of the three parishes was held at St. Mary Parish, Wynyard, after a Friday evening celebration of Mass.

Parishioners from St. Mary, Wynyard, Christ the King, Foam Lake and Immaculate Heart of Mary, WIshart , at celebration of the Eucharist on the evening of Friday, July 12 at St. Mary Catholic Church, Wynyard.


Parishioners from Foam Lake, Wishart and Wynyard participated in the Town Hall Meeting with the Bishop July 12 at St. Mary, Wynyard, SK.

The deanery visit concluded with the celebration of evening Mass with a pot-luck dinner and community meeting at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Wishart.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Wishart, SK.


The parish features an outdoor Stations of the Cross. This station is the “Death of Jesus on the Cross.”


Preceding Mass in Wishart was a blessing of the cemetery several kilometers outside of Wishart.


Gravesite of Fr. Richard Kunka, who served the parish in the late 1960’s, and who died in 1972.



Bishop Mark Hagemoen celebrated Eucharist with Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu and parishioners at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Wishart, SK.

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Bishop Mark Hagemoen Blog – Spring 2019

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 19:52
Visit to Yellowknife for Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council gathering in June 2019

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon

In early June 2019 I joined the members of the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council in Yellowknife for our annual meeting.

The Council was established in 1998 by the Catholic Bishops of Canada. It encourages Aboriginal leadership in Catholic Christian communities, supports healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and advises the Canadian Bishops on a variety of indigenous issues.

Flying into Yellowknife – still ice on Great Slave Lake on June 13!


This distinctive Cross sits above the “Trapper’s Lake Retreat Center” of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. The center was the site for our meetings.


Chief Ernest Betsina welcomed and greeted the members of the Council to Chief Drygeese territory of the Yellowknife Dene Nation.


View from “Trapper’s Lake Retreat Center”: the reteat house of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, located 10 kilometers outside Yellowknife, NWT.


Members of the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council are:

  • Fibbie Tatti, Yellowknife and Dettah, NWT (co-chair);
  • Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Diocese of Saskatoon (co-chair);
  • William Angalik, Arviat, Nunavut;
  • Bishop Jean-Pierre Blais, Diocese of Baie-Comeau, Quebec;
  • Bishop Marcel Damphousse, Diocese of Sault Ste.Marie, Ontario;
  • Gary Gagnon, Edmonton, Alberta;
  • Archbishop Peter Hundt, Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland;
  • Deacon Rennie Nahanee, Vancouver, BC;
  • Melanie O’Neil, Toronto, Ontario;
  • Paul Soucie, Ottawa, Ontario;
  • Dennis Whitford, Grand Prairie, Alberta.

Members of the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council in session.  


Staff from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops also attend the meeting: Kyle Ferguson and Tracy Blain.


Council members prepare to celebrate Holy Eucharist at St Kateri Tekawitha Church in Dettah, about 40 minutes from Yellowknife.


Deacon Rennie Nahanee of Squamish First Nation near Vancouver, BC., proclaims the Word of God.

Committee members had the opportunity to participate in “Aboriginal Days” celebrations, which began with Sunday Eucharist and a community meal at the Yellowknife River traditional site.


Pausing for a photo after Mass at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church, in Dettah – about 40 minutes from Yellowknife on Great Slave Lake.


Several of the bishops were available for Confessions before Mass.


This year’s Aboriginal Days was dedicated to the conclusion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Children, and its “Calls to Action” that were features of its concluding report.


Drummers from the Dettah community with Chief Edward Sangrese.



Members of the Dene community proclaimed the Word of God.  Bishop Marcelle Damphousse looks on as Cecilia Rabesca proclaims the 2nd Reading.


William Angalik is the first Inuit representative on the Council. He lives in Arviat, Nunavut.


The bishop celebrants are joined by Jim Lynn of Dettah. Jim works for the Diocese of Mackenzie – Fort Smith in its Chancery Office and Archives.

Anglophone Safeguarding Conference Irish Pontifical Institute, Vatican, July 1-5, 2019

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Diocese of Saskatoon

Bishop Robert Bourgoin (Diocese of Hearst-Mosonee) and I represented the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at this year’s conference, which aims to develop awareness and best practices for Catholic dioceses and organizations regarding ‘safeguaurding’ in relation to all ministries and activities run by Catholic organizations.

The aim of the conference is to improve all protocols in ensure the safety of young people of vulnerable adults, and to also facilitate dialogues amoungst dioceses and Bishops assemblies in anglophone dioceses about developing safegaudring ‘best practices.’

Some of the insights and learnings included the following:

  • Safeguarding of Children is becoming an increasingly complex and urgent issue, especially due to the expansion of technology;
  • Awareness of the need of initial on ongoing for clergy and religion on the topic of safeguarding. Formation and education is an ongoing feature in our education support, and will address the following themes
  1. Developing best practices re: safeguarding;
  2. Contextual challenges: living in a culture where abuse of women, children, and vulnerable adults continues to expand;
  3. Developing expertise regarding: a) dealing with the trauma of victims; and b) responding appropriately to those who are guilty of abuse.
  • The challenge of implementing and overseeing consistent ‘best practices’ amoung various diocesan and religious entities;
  • Being ‘victim-focussed’ when complainants come forward;
  • Review of “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” by Pope Francis.


Gathering for the celebration of Eucharist during the Conference at the chapel of the Irish Pontifical Institute.


Rock Your Roots: National Indigenous Day Walk for Reconciliation June 21, 2019

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Diocese of Saskatoon

On Friday June 21 organizations from across Saskatoon joined in the annual ‘Rock Your Roots’ walk in support of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

The event was very well attended. Thousands of people walked through downtown Saskatoon. The atmosphere was festive, while respectful.

I was very pleased to see so many of our Catholic schools well represented. Many church groups were also present.

Stopping for a picture at the gathering with Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark.

Celebrating Confirmation and First Eucharist across our diocese

June saw the conclusion of the celebrations of the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

These celebrations are truly an occasion of important celebration with the faith communities and parishes of our diocese.

The celebrations are also great opportunities for me in my role as bishop to share dreams and hopes for our diocese, as well as communicate to our young people how God calls them – and how our bishop and diocese needs them – to discover and share their God-given charisms and gifts in service of the life and mission of Jesus Christ.

Confirmation and First Holy Communion celebration at St. Patrick Parish in Saskatoon.

Confirmation and First Holy Communion celebrated at St. Mary Paish in Wynyard.         

Other photos from Confirmation/ First Eucharist celebrations in the diocese:


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Parish Feast Day celebration and dedication of Mother Teresa statue held at St. Joseph Park, Macklin

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 18:56

By Fran Stang, St. Mary Parish, Macklin 

Catholic Saskatoon News

The faith community of St. Mary Parish in Macklin, SK, welcomed Bishop Mark Hagemoen on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, as he joined the parish community at the grotto in St. Joseph’s Park to celebrate the feast day of their parish with Mass and a special ceremony to dedicate a new feature in the park.

St. Joseph’s Park has been in existence since the 1930s when the Sisters of St. Elizabeth built the former St. Joseph’s Hospital on the property and added the park as a place of respite and prayer for the Sisters. The grotto was built in 1932 with a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes (carved in Oberammergau, Germany) as the focal point.

Over time, as the number of Sisters living in St. Anthony’s Convent and nursing at St. Joseph’s declined, upkeep of the park was neglected. In 2009, a committee was formed to restore the park and make it available to the residents of St. Joseph’s Health Facility as well as the public.

Many hours of work have been spent in rejuvenating, enhancing and maintaining the park to make it a place of peace and serenity as once was the vision of the Sisters. There is a paved walkway along which are the Stations of the Cross. The thirteenth station is marked with a statue of the pieta.

The park committee in conjunction with Macklin-Denzil Pro-Life decided that a monument to St. Mother Teresa would be a fitting addition to the park. St. Mother Teresa was a great advocate for unborn children and the poorest of the poor. She said that the world’s greatest poverty was abortion. Generous support from donors enabled the successful completion of the project. A statue of St. Mother Teresa was commissioned and placed in the park.

The celebration Sept. 8 started with the unveiling and blessing of the statue of St. Mother Teresa by the bishop.  Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Hagemoen and Fr. Binu Rathappillil, VC,  followed by a barbecue and fellowship in the parish hall.



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Deacon begins new role as full-time Executive Director of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 15:53

Catholic Saskatoon News

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation recently announced that Fr. Deacon Shawn Panio joined the Foundation on Sept. 3, 2019 as full-time Executive Director/Director of Development.

Shawn comes to the GSCS Foundation with extensive education and work experience in business, counselling, advancement, Catholic ministry and Catholic education.

Shawn and his wife Sandra were born and raised in Saskatchewan then moved to Ontario for career opportunities. Shawn and his family are excited to return to their Saskatchewan roots.

Shawn Panio is a Bi-Ritual Deacon within the Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic churches. He has a degree in business, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He has completed diplomas in psychology, counselling and therapy-related areas. He has a diploma in Theology and is completing his Master’s of Divinity.

Shawn has worked in senior leadership roles in the banking and financial industry for many years and has worked for several non-profit organizations in advancement and executive leadership roles. Most recently Shawn worked in the Ontario Catholic School system as a School Chaplain.

Shawn says he is thrilled to bring his wealth of experience and his love of the Catholic faith and Catholic education to this position of leadership at the Foundation.


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Diaconate training and formation session held at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster for aspirants from Regina and Saskatoon dioceses

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 14:14

Formation is underway for three men from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon who are discerning a call to the Permanent Diaconate.

The three aspirants to the diaconate from the Saskatoon diocese — Paul Wheeler, Ryan LeBlanc and Nicholas Blom — recently attended a learning and training session with three aspirants from the Archdiocese of Regina — Rob Two, Ken Fahlman, and Martin Kondzielewski. The formation session was held at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster from Sept. 6 to 8, 2019.

Although a number of deacons from other dioceses have served here, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has never before ordained permanent Deacons.

A 1998 Vatican declaration about the Formation of Deacons states: “The permanent diaconate, restored by the Second Vatican Council, in complete continuity with ancient tradition and the specific decision of the Council of Trent, has flourished in these last decades in many parts of the Church — with promising results, especially for the urgent missionary work of new evangelization.”

As with other Holy Orders, the discernment process for Permanent Deacons involves both the candidate and the faith community. The permanent diaconate is open to married men 35 years or older, or to single men over 25 years of age.

The permanent diaconate is open to married men over 35 years of age, and single men over 25 years of age – but details about how permanent deacons are formed and how they function varies from diocese to diocese. After a  discernment process launched by then-Bishop Donald Bolen, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon began planning for a permanent diaconate program in 2015.

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