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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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Updated: 32 weeks 6 days ago

Sport and Religion

6 hours 9 min ago
Saskatchewan Roughriders are one of the sports teams in the country with a “mythical mystique”

By Mickey Conlon, The Catholic Register

[Saskatchewan – Canadian Catholic News] – There’s a simple reason that life-long Saskatchewan Roughriders’ fan Fr. John Weckend won’t equate sport with religion.

“In religion we believe in life after death,” said the pastor of Regina’s St. Cecilia Parish, where the game-day roar of the crowd from Mosaic Stadium a few blocks away can be heard like it was right next door. “But if we lose the game on Sunday, there’s no life here.”

It was a tongue-in-cheek response, but probably close to the truth in Regina and across Saskatchewan on the Monday morning following the Riders’ loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Nov. 17 in the Canadian Football League Western Final, dashing the hopes of Canada’s most rabid football fans as their team’s pursuit of the Grey Cup came to an end.

In Canada, the Riders are one of two teams that have a mythical mystique surrounding them that borders on a religious fanaticism, along with hockey’s Montreal Canadiens. They stand out even in a sporting country where the teams in every game in the pro arena — basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer … you name it — can lay claim to having a zealous, faithful fan base that inspire religious analogies.

However, the passion of Montreal and Saskatchewan fans is unlike any other in the country, where the mood of the faithful can be reflected in how well — or how poorly — the team is faring.

“People coming together, in this case to support an athletic team, a football team, it kind of shows the power of something to unite people,” said Weckend, who was one of the 33,000 disappointed fans in the stands whose hearts stopped when quarterback Cody Fajardo’s last-second pass ricocheted off the upright to end the Riders’ quest for the Cup. “In that sense, there’s kind of an analogy with faith and religion that can attract people of all kinds of different backgrounds to a common cause.”

Chris Hrynkow was drawn to the religion-as-sport analogy through the sports pages, first growing up in Montreal at a time when the Canadiens were still winning Stanley Cups almost as if by God-given right. He sees it again in Saskatchewan, where since 2011 he has been an associate professor and now department head in the Department of Religion and Culture at St. Thomas More College, the Catholic college at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

“If you look at sports writing, it’s the most use of religious and theological language in the whole newspaper,” said Hrynkow. “They’ll talk about redemption, sacrifice, all these words. I think the reason that happens is because sport borders on the transcendent for both fans and athletics.”

Hrynkow has turned this fascination into a “Religion and Sport” course he teaches at St. Thomas More. Students look at the involvement of formal religion in sport, how sport can be understood in religious terms and at claims of sport as religion.

You don’t have to look far for the religious metaphors in sport. There’s the Hail Mary pass, perfected by Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal that helped defeat England and send Argentina on its way to the 1986 soccer World Cup, the “(place any sport) gods” who balance things out when one team is wronged by some irreverence to the sport and “The Immaculate Reception” by Pittsburgh Steelers’ Franco Harris, perhaps the greatest play in National Football League history that paved the path for the Steelers to the Super Bowl.

“I really see how that transfers through religious language,” said Hrynkow. “People feel moments of ecstasy when their team does well. … The involvement, participation of fans is really interesting. It’s a ritual-based perspective — like Catholicism.”

Canadiens’ legends of the past can attest to the team being likened to religion. On the walls of Serge Savard’s 1950s childhood home in Landrienne, more than 600 kilometres north of Montreal, were three pictures. Two of them were Pope Pius XII and Maurice (Rocket) Richard, with the third being then Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis.

When Richard died in 2000, the entire province of Quebec went into mourning and the team offered to hold his funeral at the Molson Centre (now the Bell Centre). The family chose to hold it at Notre-Dame Basilica. It was a similar story when the great Jean Beliveau died in 2014.

It can even be seen in the stadiums these teams play in. Hrynkow sees people from all over Saskatchewan making almost a pilgrimage to Mosaic Stadium. And there was no feeling in any rink like that of the old Montreal Forum, home to the Canadiens for 22 of their 24 Stanley Cup victories. Bobby Clarke of the Philadelphia Flyers once said you are already down 1-0 before the game even starts at the Forum because of the spirits in the rink. The Forum last hosted the Canadiens in 1996, and ever since the fans have been trying to recapture the spirit from hockey’s greatest “shrine.” It’s even been commercialized, said Hrynkow, noting a television commercial by the Sport Experts chain that shows paranormal experts trying to resurrect the ghosts of the Forum and move them to the Bell Centre, which the Canadiens now call home.

“It’s awfully funny, but serious at the same time,” he said.

The Archdiocese of Montreal has been known to link the faithful with their hockey team. In 2014 it launched a campaign encouraging Catholics to light digital prayer candles as the Canadiens prepared for the first round of the playoffs.

“We go to where everybody is right now and everybody is with the Habs, and cheering for their team,” archdiocesan spokesperson Jean-Nicolas Desjeunes told The Register at the time. “So, as Pope Francis said, we are going outside to the people and putting the message where it needs to go.”

This blending of sport and religion can be seen in the culture, and you need not look any further than French-Canadian author Roch Carrier’s beloved short story The Hockey Sweater, based on the real experience of his mother having ordered from Eaton’s a new hockey sweater to replace his cherished Richard sweater. It arrives, only instead of a Canadiens’ sweater emblazoned with The Rocket’s Number 9, it is the jersey of the hated Toronto Maple Leafs. His new look gets him a seat on the bench until another player is injured in the third period, giving him his chance to play, only to be whistled for a penalty by the referee/parish priest when he steps on the ice. He smashes his stick in protest and is ordered by the priest to go to church to pray for forgiveness. Instead, Carrier asks God to send “a hundred million moths” to eat his Leafs’ sweater.

It’s a blend that has made its way to the real world. In Saskatoon, the worship community at St. Thomas More sponsored a Syrian family escaping that nation’s civil war. It was a Muslim family, and “no one would have said we want to make you Catholic,” said Hrynkow. There was another way though, a safe way, to share their values, said Hrynkow.

“Many, many people tried to explain to him why he should be a Riders’ fan.”

This translates into the stands at Mosaic, and on the streets in Regina and Saskatoon, cities where there has been an influx of recent immigrants.

“It certainly does have a unifying factor,” said Weckend.

Weckend’s own priestly life is tied to the Riders, he says proudly. Born in Broadview along the rail corridor between Winnipeg and Regina and raised in the provincial capital from his earliest school days, Weckend said the bishop of Victoria tried to recruit him for the diocese when visiting his parents (who had moved to the west coast) while he was at Toronto’s St. Augustine’s Seminary.

“I said no way. I wouldn’t be able to get any to the Rider games from Victoria,” he laughed.



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United conference celebrates 20 years of FacetoFace Ministries

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 14:09


Ken Yasinski was keynote speaker at United held Nov. 16-17 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Hundreds of youth filled the Cathedral of the Holy Family for an annual United conference Nov. 16-17 to celebrate 20 years of evangelization by FacetoFace Ministries.

FacetoFace founder Ken Yasinski returned to provide the keynote address at United, which also included other talks, praise and worship music, small group discussion and prayer, as well as celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Eucharistic Adoration, as well as Mass Sunday morning Nov. 17 with the parish community and Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

Now engaged in independent full-time ministry, Ken Yasinski recalled the simple beginnings of FacetoFace with a small youth retreat that he and friends offered in 1999. “It is amazing what God will do, when people say yes,” he said in the opening session of the 2019 United conference.

More about the history of FacetoFace: HISTORY

Yasinski urged his young listeners to go beyond “knowing about” Jesus, to grow in a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ that is grounded in relationship, and not rules.

“Could there be more to your faith experience than what you are experiencing right now?” he challenged, urging an exploration of God’s purpose for our lives, which is an ocean of eternal joy beyond the “fish bowl” that we may perceive. “There is infititely more, because we have an infinite God.”

Dealing with our brokenness, acknowledging where we need God’s help to change, and calling upon the graces and gifts offered by the Catholic faith in this journey are part of a call to live with purpose, he said.

Just as Jesus wept when he arrived at the home of his friends to find that Lazarus had died, Jesus weeps with us in our suffering, Yasinski said.

Jesus will call us out of our tombs and unbind us, he said, urging youth to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which offers not only God’s forgiveness, but God’s healing.

Breakout sessions during United were also provided by Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Fr. Stephen Bill, Gloria Bater, Jacob Dusterhoft, Fr. Mick Fleming, Rebecca Skuban, Hudson Byblow, Mary McLane, and Fr. Darryl Millette.

Founded in 1999, FacetoFace Ministries is a Catholic evangelization ministry with a vision “that all people encounter Christ and embrace the call to be saints.”

In addition to United, FacetoFace programs include parish missions, youth retreats,school retreats Ignite summer camps, and an annual bus trip for youth.


(Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

(Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

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What people with intellectual disabilities can teach us about friendship

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 13:22

By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency

[South Bend, Indiana – CNA) – When Jean Vanier brought two men with intellectual disabilities to live with him in his home in France, he began from a sense of religious duty. But as time went on, he began to realize that what the men needed was not help, but friendship.

In the founding of his L’Arche (The Ark) homes for people with intellectual disabilities, friendship became the pillar of what those communities were and are all about.

“In short, Vanier had discovered they shared a common world,” Professor Stanely Hauerwas said in a keynote address Nov. 8 at the University of Notre Dame’s annual conference sponsored by the De Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture.

Hauerwas, a theologian and the Gilbert T. Rowe professor emeritus with joint appointments at Duke divinity school and Duke law school, was a personal friend of Vanier, who died at the age of 90 earlier this year.

“I don’t know where we would be without such witnesses today. It’s remarkable,” Hauerwas said of his friend.

In L’Arche homes, core members are permanent residents who have intellectual and other disabilities, while assistants are adults and trained caregivers who live in L’Arche communities with the core members, typically for a one-year commitment at a time.

As the L’Arche website states, being an assistant is primarily about being a friend.

“In the communities of L’Arche, we live and journey together, men and women with disabilities and those who feel called to share their lives with them,” Hauerwas said.

“We are all learning the pain and joy of community life where the weakest members open hearts to compassion and lead us into deeper union with Jesus. We are learning to befriend them, and through and with them to befriend Jesus.”

Friendship with people with disabilities is often hindered by fear and false perceptions on the part of non-disabled people, Hauerwas noted.

“We are fragile creatures whose vulnerabilities produce fears that make our being befriended by the disabled frightening,” Hauerwas said.

This is in large part because people with disabilities have the gift of honesty, Hauerwas said – they are unimpressed by accolades and accomplishments, and are only interested in you as yourself.

“Such fears do not go away, even if we have been befriended by the disabled. That is why, as I will suggest, that friendship must be communal because only a community who is made of those aware of their limits can create the peaceful space for all to flourish, disabled and abled alike.”

The false assumption that people with disabilities are suffering can hinder friendship, Hauerwas noted.

“As (Brian Brock, an author on disability) points out, ironically, those who are severely intellectually disabled do not struggle with their disability because they’re wondrously free from pondering what others suppose them to lack,” Hauerwas said.

“Brock is challenging the presumption that those who are labeled intellectually disabled suffer from being intellectually disabled. They suffer from the attitudes and behaviors of those who imagine how they would feel if they were intellectually disabled. In short, we project on the disabled how we think we would regard our lives if we were them,” he said. “But because people who are mentally disabled are not people other than who they are, they accordingly can and do enjoy who they are.”

Brock, whose own son Adam has Down syndrome and is autistic, notes in his writings that knowing Adam has led him to a deeper theological understanding of what it means to accept the gift of people with intellectual disabilities.

“(Brock) understands the Christian Gospel to offer a way of life that enables our ability to live as vulnerable beings who have made peace with our limits and are able to delight in the unexpected,” Hauerwas said.

“Such a way of life can be joyous and free because we seek no longer to be gods, but to be content, to be creatures whose flourishing does not mean we will not suffer, but as the stories of scriptures often make clear, it is through suffering and vulnerability that we discover our place in God’s story.”

Throughout his life, Vanier testified to the real friendships he had with his friends with disabilities. Hauerwas also provided several examples and stories of friendship between assistants and core members, or the family members of the disabled.

“Vanier’s friendships with the core members with whom he lived stands as a stark reminder that friendship between people who are intellectually disabled, and those that are not, is an actual reality,” Hauerwas said.

Hauerwas drew several examples from Patrick McInerney, an English anthropologist who lived for 15 months in a L’Arche home and wrote of his experiences in a paper entitled: “Receiving the gift of cognitive disabilities: recognizing agency in the limits of the rational subject.”

McInerney, not unlike Vanier at the beginning of his work, started at L’Arche presuming that the core members did not have agency like non-disabled people. “He encountered Rachel who was making random hand gestures; Sarah who was rolling herself around and around in her wheelchair; and Martha, who spoke constantly, but did not seem to make sense. McInerney assumed such women were incapable of active engagement with the world,” Hauerwas said.

But he eventually came to see the women in a different light, and realized that their agency comes from their own acknowledgment of their vulnerabilities and dependency on others.

In one example, Maria, a long-term assistant, told McInerney about an experience with core member Sarah, who could not communicate verbally. Maria was given the task of bathing Sarah, but was having difficulties.

“Maria confesses she did not know what she was doing. But she assumed that neither did Sarah know what she was doing. Finally, however, after some time, Maria figured how to help Sarah bathe herself. She (later said) to Sarah: ‘And you just sat there very patiently and quietly letting me make error after error. When I finally worked out what the right thing to do was, you looked at me dead in the eye and then you laughed at me,’” Hauerwas said.

“Through these exchanges, the core members’ gifts of the heart are discovered,” he added.

In another story of friendship and encounter, Hauerwas recalled Hilary, an assistant who watched a core member smiling and swaying and enjoying herself in front of a full-length mirror. Hilary said she realized that Sarah was not able to care whether other people might consider this behavior self-obsessed, and so she was free to love and enjoy herself.

“Sarah really loves herself and she helps me to start loving myself,” Hilary told McInerney.

The lessons learned from accepting one’s life as a gift, and accepting others’ lives – including those with disabilities – as a gift, leads to a system of ethics that stands in stark contrast to ethicists like Peter Singer, who believes that people with disabilities are of limited moral value to society, Hauerwas noted.

The lives of people with intellectual disabilities “have more in common with unruly saints of the Church, according to McInerney, than the rational agents such as Peter Singer assumes. Those who have learned to be their friends, friends with people like Sarah, value the way they transgress assumed norms of behavior and express the value of a liminal community.”

“I think that my own view is that if in a hundred years Christians are identified as those people who do not kill their children or their elderly, we’ll have done a pretty good job, but that’s the challenge,” Hauerwas said.

In one final example of friendship, Hauerwas recalled the friendship between a core member Eric and Vanier. Eric was blind, deaf and could not speak, but Vanier knew he could still communicate through touch.

“That is what they did day after day. They held and washed his body with respect and love. Slowly but surely they were able to communicate with him and he communicated with them,” he said.

Vanier reflected on this friendship “by suggesting what Jesus commands us to do is to be befriended by the weak those in need, the lonely.”

“For when the poor, the weak and the lonely claim us as friends, they prevent us from falling into the trap of power, especially the power to do good,” Hauerwas said. “To be befriended by the poor and the disabled saves us from the presumption we must save the savior and the church.”


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Witnesses better than initiatives in parish-based evangelization, Pope Francis says

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 13:07

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA) – Having a lot of parish initiatives is not the best way to reach people on a deeper level, Pope Francis said Nov. 18, 2019, adding that evangelization is about giving a witness to personal encounter with Christ.

“Our parishes are invaded by many initiatives, where often, however, it does not affect the lives of people in depth,” he said Nov. 18 in the Vatican’s Pope Paul VI hall.

Speaking to Catholics who take part in “parish cells,” small, neighborhood-based prayer and study groups in Italy, he said, “you too are entrusted with the task of reviving, especially in this period, the life of our parish communities.”

“This will be possible insofar as [parishes] become, above all, a place to listen to the Word of God and celebrate the mystery of his death and resurrection,” he explained. “Only from here can we think that the work of evangelization becomes effective and fruitful, capable of bearing fruit.”

He noted that many people, for different reasons, are no longer attending their parish, arguing that “it is therefore urgent that we recover the need for the encounter to reach people where they live and work.”

“If we have encountered Christ in our lives, then we cannot just keep it for ourselves. It is crucial that we share this experience also with others; this is the main road to evangelization,” he said. “When the encounter is the fruit of Christian love, it changes lives because it reaches the hearts of people and touches them in depth.”

Parish cells are a ministry begun by Msgr. Michael Eivers, an Irish priest who served as a missionary in Nigeria before becoming a parish priest in Miami. Eivers died in 2017 at the age of 87. Parish cells can now be found around the world.

The pope urged Catholics to “never tire of following the paths that the Spirit of the Risen Lord” puts before them, including initiatives which allow for a deep witness of Christian discipleship, but he warned against expecting to always see the fruits of one’s evangelical labors.

Though it is human to want to see positive outcomes and results, he reminded Catholics that there is no promise from the Lord they will see them.

“Jesus did not tell the disciples that they would see the fruits of their work. He only assured that the fruits would endure. This promise also applies to us,” he stated.

“Do not hold back any fear of the new, and do not slow down your steps [among] the difficulties that are inevitable in the way of evangelization,” he added.

“When one is a missionary disciple, then enthusiasm can never fail!”


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Respect for Indigenous cultures and respect for the earth are tied together, says Cardinal who helped organize Amazon synod

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 12:58

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CNN] – Respect for the earth, and respect for different cultures and Indigenous communities go hand-in-hand as the Catholic Church moves forward after an historic synod that focused on the Amazon region, said one of the key participants in the synod.

Speaking at Saint Paul University in Ottawa Nov. 12, Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Peru said Pope Francis, in calling the Amazon synod, “is inviting us to a new stage, a new chapter of walking together for our common home.”

Cardinal Barreto, who was one of three prelates chosen by Pope Francis to oversee the organization of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region that was held in Rome from Oct. 6 to 27, said humanity faces an ecological crisis, and there is much that can be learned from Indigenous communities and their interaction with the environment as “we listen to the cries of the earth.”
He said the synod was an opportunity for the church and those who participated to “listen, discern and act.”

“Science is showing us our common home is sick. Science is not wrong, two plus two is four in any part of the world,” Cardinal Barreto said, adding that climate change is being driven by human activities. “Science is important, but conscience is also very important. I am awake, therefore I am not indifferent.”

“We as the Catholic Church are not going to solve all the problems of the world,” he said, but by walking together with Indigenous communities and Jesus, the church can find a new path to respond to social and ecological crises.

“Pope Francis says we are turning the earth into another waste bin,” Cardinal Barreto said. “We cannot adequately fight this ecological degradation if we don’t pay attention to the causes that are directly related to this degradation which are human and social – a lack of an ethical compass which is a real problem for humanity today, a lack of principles and values.”

Media coverage of the Amazon synod has focused on internal Church infighting between between more conservative factions in the Church and Pope Francis’ push to engage with Indigenous communities to address climate change and a recommendation to allow for married priests to be ordained in the Amazon region.

Cardinal Barreto, who received an honorary doctorate from Saint Paul University at a ceremony earlier in the day, and who also met briefly met with Canada’s Environment Minster Catherine McKenna while in Ottawa, focused most of his comments at Saint Paul University on respecting Indigenous communities and the need to change the way we live to protect the environment.

“The synod is a listening experience, listening to others and listening to God,” Cardinal Barreto said. “From the diversity of cultures, of different experiences, we must work together and act together.”

After meeting with Cardinal Barreto, McKenna said it was an “inspiring and touching meeting.”
“We need to be working and caring for our common home, its beautiful biodiversity, and the Amazon together. We need to take care of this planet — because we only have the one.”

Justice demanded for Amazon martyrs

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CNN] – A Catholic university professor says the Catholic Church needs to speak out directly about the abuse of power in the Amazon region.

Rather than calling those killed while protecting the environment martyrs who are writing “a glorious chapter” in the struggle to preserve the Amazon , the Catholic Church must demand real justice for those killed and that those responsible be held those accountable for their crimes, said Saint Paul University professor and author Heather Eaton.

Eaton said she is heartened by the “the shift from dogma to ethics” and “the shift to taking seriously liberation theology, which has not been embraced by the institutional church,” that the recent Amazon synod signals. But she said the exploitation of the Amazon rainforest is done by mining companies, lumber companies and agri-business, and the Church must not only denounce abuses of power, but must confront that power directly as well.

“What does the synod say about this?” Eaton said. “What is the Catholic Church’s role in confronting these abuses of power?”

Eaton made her comments Nov. 12, during a panel discussion at Saint Paul University, a Catholic university in Ottawa, in the aftermath of the Amazon synod held in Rome in October.

At the start of the event, which also featured a speech by Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Peru who was one of the key organizers of the Amazon synod, a moment of silence was held for one of those recently killed: Paulo Paulino Guajajara of the Guajajara indigenous group living in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. According to the Reuters news service, he was murdered on Nov. 1 by a group of loggers working illegally in the area. Guajajara was a member of a group called Guardians of the Forest.

The panel discussion about the Amazon synod focused on Canada and Latin America working together after synod that has drawn praise in some liberal quarters of the Church but also blistering criticism from some more conservative Catholics.

When Pope Francis announced plans for the synod in 2017, he said that the Indigenous people of the Amazon region are “often forgotten.”

During her remarks. Eaton listed a number of activists who have been killed in the Amazon, especially since the election of President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 and said it is insulting to praise the martyrdom of those killed without doing more to champion their cause on a political level. “I expect the institutional Church to do more then denounce, but to confront and challenge abuse of power,” Eaton said.



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Sr. Nuala Kenny and her 30-year war to address sexual abuse crisis

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 11:43

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – When Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax-Yarmouth visits his old friend Sr. Nuala Kenny, he likes to find a chair and get comfortable.

“I will be sitting in a chair and she will be walking and talking. Nuala is a lecturer. She’s a person who speaks to an audience of one or an audience of 500, it doesn’t matter,” said Mancini. “She brings insights to the conversation. … She doesn’t have a lot of time for chit-chatting. You know, she never talks about the weather. I don’t think she even notices it.”

Mancini and Kenny worked together for years hashing out revised guidelines for Canada’s bishops on handling sexual abuse by priests. In fact they worked on Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation for far longer than Kenny would have liked.

“She said, ‘What the hell? Why is it taking so long?’ ” he recalled.

The committee’s work was done in the spring of 2017 and the document was in bishops’ hands in time for their fall plenary meetings. But the new Canadian guidelines didn’t resemble abuse policies in the United States or anywhere else in the world — which made some bishops nervous. They decided not to vote on them. By 2018, after the Pennsylvania grand jury report and Pope Francis’ Aug. 20 “Letter to the People of God,” Canada’s bishops had to act.

Kenny knows not all bishops want to hear what she has to say on sexual abuse. Not because they don’t care and not because they think she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. It’s because they’ve faced calls for radical, root-and-branch solutions from all quarters for 30 years. Root and branch is hard to do.

“They’re tired. We’re all tired,” Kenny told a small, largely academic audience that turned up for the Toronto launch of her new book on the abuse crisis, Still Unhealed: Treating the Pathology in the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis.

For 30 years — longer than anyone else — Kenny has been in the business of figuring out how and why a Church that claims to be founded on the radical compassion of Jesus could tolerate and even foster abuse.

She started in 1989 as a member of the Winter Commission looking into the explosion of allegations that followed from the Mount Cashel scandal in Newfoundland. It was a strange, new moment in the history of the Church, when suddenly it seemed every parish on The Rock had a story to tell about an entitled, privileged and protected abusive priest. This was the first full-blown, media-age abuse scandal to hit the Church anywhere in the world — a dozen years before the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team caught the attention of Americans.

She’s had parallel careers as a medical doctor, a pediatrician, a professor, a bioethicist, deputy minister of health for the government of Nova Scotia, an author and an advocate for better, deeper, community-based palliative care. These parallel tracks in Kenny’s life have allowed her to bring scientific training and an instinct for diagnosis to the theological problems of power, clericalism and abuse in the Church.

Her theology rests on what she calls “my medical metaphors.”

“The last chapter is called ‘The Jesus Prescription,’ ” she told The Catholic Register a month before she had to turn in the manuscript for Still Unhealed. “What I call, ‘reconstructive surgery.’ It’s reconstructive surgery. This is not cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery is necessary.”

She has suffered a wealth of contumely and scorn in theological circles for this kind of talk.

“I don’t write like a theologian. I’m too direct,” she concedes.

She brought in Irish-Canadian theologian David Deane of the Atlantic School of Theology to help smooth the theological kinks in the new book. But she knew all along she wasn’t really writing for theologians.

“There are so many Catholics who are saying, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ ” she said.

If that sort of talk seems a little salty for a 75-year-old nun who has survived cancer twice, she acknowledges her hard edges.

“I’m swearing. I shouldn’t be swearing. Sister shouldn’t be swearing. Don’t ever tell anyone,” she once said with a wink to this reporter.

Kenny is the New York City-born daughter of an Irish immigrant welder. She found herself — her vocation and her sense of purpose — as a smart, New Yorker Catholic school girl in the 1950s. She was taught by east coast Irish-immigrant nuns who happened to be Sisters of Charity of Halifax.

In 1962, the very month that Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council and glorying in the Catholic Camelot presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Kenny entered the Halifax novitiate, hoping to pick up the mantle of her teachers.

“I grew up in the ’50s in New York — Irish, Catholic, immigrant parents. The Church was everything,” she recalled. “I mean first communion, baptisms of new babies, going to weddings, confirmations, seeing the bishop, the Catholic school, graduation from Catholic school. Then I enter religious life in 1962, the year the Second Vatican Council starts. Wa-hoo! To be Catholic is big stuff.”

In joining this order, this particular 18-year-old was making an enormous sacrifice. She had the book-smarts, drive, work ethic and instinct for human suffering to be a doctor — and she knew it. But the Sisters of Charity were teachers. However she might want to be a doctor, she believed God had called her to be a Sister of Charity.

For a life jammed in between a blackboard and row upon row of kids, she was prepared to give up her dream.

By the end of Vatican II, Kenny – then known as Sr. Agnes Shaun –nhad an arts degree and sufficient education to take up her post at the blackboard. But by then, Mother Superior was rethinking her order’s narrow channel of roles available to sisters. She started asking sisters what they wanted to do.

Kenny didn’t understand the question.

“I said ‘Mother, you tell me what you need. I like everything. I like to learn,’ ” she recalled. “She said ‘I’m giving you a choice.’ This is 1966. This was very early on for choice.”

Though Kenny was incapable of actually saying she wanted to be a doctor, Mother Superior figured it out. She gave Kenny (“Me, this little 22-year-old twerp”) a year to complete all the science courses and write the MCAT.

“For me, it was a specification of my calling as a baptized Christian and then as a religious woman and then the calling to the healing and reconciling mission of Jesus Christ — which is what health care is all about,” she said.

She became a pediatrician. The sisters bought her a little station wagon and she went town to town through rural Nova Scotia (when Nova Scotia was so rural Anne of Green Gables would have been bored), checking up on babies and their mothers, sitting kids on kitchen tables to listen for irregular heart beats, watching for signs of developmental delay, diagnosing the dark monsters of cancer hiding in their tiny bodies.

“She’s still a kid’s doctor. When you see her with little kids, you know,” said Sr. Joan O’Keefe who has inherited the burdens of long-past Mothers’ Superior, now known as the Congregational Leader.

“What I see is that other part of her that still just has great joy in children, and has such fun with them. I think, sometimes she could use a little more of that.”

O’Keefe took vows the same year as Kenny. She marvels at the intellect, energy and will of the good doctor.

“She’s just so focused. Probably, I would do better if I was more like that. But we’re all different. That’s who we are,” O’Keefe said. “She’s achieved a great deal. I don’t think she is someone who rests on that. There’s something about her that’s driven.”

Driven enough that she went from her station wagon to a professorship at the University of Toronto and a post in Toronto’s internationally renowned Hospital for Sick Children. As she began forming the next generation of doctors, she noticed how as technology raced ahead and medical research deepened, medical ethics was becoming a separate specialty — separate from the doctors who actually make day-to-day health care decisions.

She went to the United States and studied with the founding fathers of medical bioethics. In 1993 there was a fellowship at Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics under Dr. Edmund Pellegrino. She debated principle-based decision-making with Tom Beauchamp and Jim Childress — philosophers who laid out the four pillars of autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence that underlie all modern bioethics. In 1996 she walked into the Dalhousie School of Medicine and made a deal with the dean, Jock Murray. She would give half her earnings to set up a department of bioethics inside the School of Medicine, and she would chair it.

The genius of the way Kenny went about teaching bioethics was that it never strayed from the actual practice of medicine, said Christine Simpson, who today heads up the department Kenny founded.

“From her physician perspective, she really saw the types of issues — the ethics issues — that come up in providing health care,” Simpson said. “The pediatrician wondering how you make difficult decisions about a child’s treatment, how do you work well with parents to make those decisions? I think Nuala always saw there was a need to be able to wrestle with those types of issues.”

Whether it be with her Church or with her profession, she’s still wrestling. She retired from the Dalhousie University job in 2004 with an Order of Canada medal pinned to her chest, then threw herself into the debate over assisted dying as bioethics advisor to the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada.

She wrote Healing the Church in 2012 in the hope that ordinary Catholics would take up the challenge of reform in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals.

In the spring of 2013 she was transfixed by the election of Pope Francis.

“When we saw him first come out on that balcony, something just happened that brought joy to my heart,” she said. “He showed the simplicity and the centrality of Jesus.”

Then, early in his papacy, Francis started talking about clericalism. Finally the Pope saw what Kenny saw in the abuse crisis. Power is the problem — how we exercise it and how we idolize it.

But like any good doctor, Kenny doesn’t just diagnose the problem and walk out of the room. She has a course of treatment ready.

“She’s a lot closer to what Pope Francis is calling for when he writes about accompaniment,” said Mancini. “You gotta be there. Otherwise, you don’t actually have an influence on anybody.”

For those she loves — her Church and the practice of medicine — the struggle is never over.
“She feels really, really like it’s her job to get to the end and the end isn’t in sight yet. It’s that driven personality,” said O’Keefe.



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Successful 6th annual Knights of Columbus Celebrity Dinner raises $50,000 for the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 10:57

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The massive effort of Knights of Columbus members, volunteers, sponsors and supporters once again came together in a Celebrity Dinner gala event at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, to raise funds for amenities at the much-needed Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.

“I would again rate our event as awesome, all the way through: spiritually, speaker-wise, the entertainment, and the food,” said Garry Maier, chair of the Knights of Columbus Celebrity Dinner organizing committee.

The Nov. 2 event was the sixth annual Celebrity Dinner organized by the local Knights of Columbus council in support of Saskatchewan’s children’s hospital, which has now officially opened as of September 2019.

Through previous celebrity dinners, the Knights of Columbus had already raised some $325,000 for furnishing a maternal care area.

This year’s event raised $50,000, including a $10,000 donation from event sponsors Les and Irene Dubé, long-time supporters of the children’s hospital and other health initiatives in the province. A $17,757.55 donation from the Knights of Columbus council at St. Peter parish in Unity, SK also contributed to the total raised this year for a comfort care room at the new hospital.

Representatives of the Knights of Columbus council at St. Peter, Unity, were on hand at the Saskatoon dinner to present a cheque to Maier. Unity Grand Knight Jeff Krupka described how his entire community (population about 2,600) pulled together to put on a gala dinner of their own last year to raise the funds. “There was as much community involvement as we could obtain,” said Krupka.

The 2019 Celebrity Dinner was emceed by Jeff Rogstad and Chantel Saunders of CTV, with entertainment provided by the St. Joseph Catholic high school choir, under the direction of teacher Shaun Bzdel, as well as by Kids of Note and the Notations, directed by Brenda Baker. Singer-songwriter Eileen Laverty joined the children in singing “Angels Among Us.”

Baker poignantly described her own family’s experiences with the health care system during her daughter Tori Slade’s short life. Born in 2003, Tori died of leukemia in 2008.  “Our family spent a lot of our life in the hospital,” Baker said, applauding the improvements that will come in care for children and much-needed support for parents and families with the opening of the new child- and family-centred hospital.

Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Champion Child Blake Wheeler, 13, also described the medical challenges that his family faced when he and his twin brother Noah were born 14 weeks premature. Noah did not survive, and Blake faced many medical challenges in the days and years that followed. Having a dedicated children’s hospital will make a huge difference to families living through such difficult times, he told the Knights of Columbus gathering. “On behalf of kids like me across our province: thank you.”

A number of special guests spoke and brought greetings, including Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark. “Saskatchewan and our city have so much to offer this country,” Clark said. “Through organization like the Knights of Columbus, through efforts like this to build a children’s hospital… people come together like nowhere else in the country.”

Saskatchewan MLA Eric Olauson described how moved he was during the grand-opening tour of the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital to see the Knights of Columbus plaque on the maternal care room. “It brought tears to my eyes. I am so proud and so humbled to be part of this,” he said. Thanks to government and community support – including the support of organizations like the Knights of Columbus, the children’s hospital has “176 new beds and the best technology that the world has to offer… enabling our Saskatchewan kids to get care right here.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen also brought greetings, and led grace before the meal. He noted that at the beginning of November we celebrate All Saints and All Souls days, an appropriate time to reflect on how such faithful efforts “build on the shoulders of giants” in a spirit of love and faith and generosity. He thanked the Knights of Columbus for undertaking such needed and important works of service.

Brynn Boback-Lane, President and CEO of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation also spoke, expressing her gratitude to the Knights of Columbus and Les and Irene Dubé for helping to make the new hospital a reality.

Throughout the evening, auctioneer Joe Sikora conducted live auctions of a range of donated items during the evening as part of the fun and the fund-raising.

Featured guest speakers were Todd and Sonja Burpo, whose three-year-old son Colton was deathly ill with a burst appendix when Todd was a pastor in Nebraska. The family’s experience is the subject of a best-selling book “Heaven is For Real,” which was made into a movie in 2010.

Todd described how Colton’s sickness tested his faith, and then strengthened it, as in the months that followed, his young son described leaving his body during surgery and going to heaven, meeting Jesus, as well as a grandfather he had never met, and an unborn sister miscarried by his mother before he was born.

The experience of seeing his son suffer brought Todd to his knees, anguished and angry with God. “I was mad, and I was yelling, but I was honest with God,” he said, calling it the most honest prayer of his life. Young Colton later related how he saw his father praying alone in the hospital room.

Sonja described the painful experience of Colton’s sickness and of previously losing a child to miscarriage. She shared with others who may have experienced miscarriage that “God is taking care of your child,” and urged those who are struggling to get the help they need, to find healing. “Don’t let your hurt keep you from helping others,” she said.

Their presentation included a video of teenage Colton singing a hymn assuring others of the love of Jesus, and a prayer session for all those present struggling with brokenness and hurt.

Gallery of photos

Photography by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News




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Mentors helping young people appreciate importance of matrimony in B.C.

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 08:54

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – Amid high divorce rates and low church attendance, it turns out what young couples need from the Catholic Church isn’t necessarily more teaching. They need good mentors.

That’s what Mary-Rose and Ryan Verret, founders of marriage mentorship program Witness to Love, found after interviewing more than 400 engaged couples over seven years.

Most marriage preparation programs “are presenting all this great information, but it’s not changing their hearts or strengthening their marriages,” said Mary-Rose.

Witness to Love is being introduced in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, the first in Canada to use the program.

Hundreds of engaged couples in the United States have attended conferences by the Verrets as part of mandatory preparation before saying “I do” in a Catholic church. But after looking around in the pews on Sundays and noticing those crowds of couples were nowhere in sight, Ryan and Mary-Rose realized even the most lively, informative lectures don’t reach soon-to-be-weds in the place that matters most.

“We were giving these great talks, and people were smiling and laughing … then running over each other in the parking lot because they couldn’t get out of there fast enough,” said Mary-Rose.

“Most of them didn’t want to be there, and for those who didn’t mind being there, if we got through to them, there was no way for us to follow through.”

That realization planted a seed. The Verrets began looking into how to give young couples a good start to their marriage and keep them coming back to Church. They found young couples were often missing good mentors.

“Mary-Rose and I grew up in the generation starting in the early 2000s that saw the breakdown of trust between young people, our peers, and the Church,” said Ryan.

Young people tend to “distrust hierarchical structures, higher authorities, and experts. What they are drawn to are witnesses, people sharing their lives, and authenticity.”

Engaged couples didn’t want just any mentor, either. Some had been paired with couples in their churches but had no real connection with them. The relationship fizzled as soon as marriage preparation requirements were fulfilled.

“Rules without relationships lead to rebellion,” said Ryan.

“Where there is a relationship first, it’s a lot easier to talk about things that are a bit more challenging or not culturally cool,” like Church teaching on divorce or birth control. “Evangelization today begins not with an argument, but with a witness.”

Their research and hard work eventually became Witness to Love, a program for engaged couples that involves talking about the real stuff of marriage with mentor couples they actually like (and choose for themselves) and will stick around for the long haul.

“A couple you admire can say really directly to you: ‘You need to appreciate each other more.’ Or, ‘Your children are turning out beautifully. Good job.’ They can be so direct and supportive and cut to the chase in a way no one else really can,” said Mary-Rose.

She said her parents were divorced and it wasn’t until she was studying at a Catholic college that she came to know adults in healthy relationships and realized, “Wow, I want a marriage like that.”

For those who don’t know any married Catholics well enough to choose them as mentors, Mary-Rose says churches should identify a few recommended couples the future brides and grooms can get to know and choose from.

The Verrets have been married for 10 years, have five children, and are excited about the enthusiasm in the Archdiocese of Vancouver for their marriage mentorship program. While various Canadian parishes have been using Witness to Love for years, they said Vancouver is the first Canadian diocese to implement the program across the board.

So far, a handful of parishes are participating in a pilot version of the program. The plan is to expand it so every couple married in a Catholic parish in the Lower Mainland can develop lasting relationships with each other, with their mentors, and with the Church.

“It’s healthy and productive for someone to walk the walk you’re going in and show you the tricks of the trade, per se,” said Ryan.

Mary-Rose added that mentor couples, who must be active Catholics married five years or more, benefit from participating in the program too.

“There are always going to be times when you feel like your tank is empty and you need community, friendship, witness, and support to fill your tank again,” she said.

“It forms a really powerful friendship when two couples are growing together.”

The Verrets will be in Vancouver Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 to offer two workshops for potential mentors and people hoping to improve marriage preparation in their parishes. Their visit marks the formal launch of Witness to Love in the archdiocese.

More information available at Archdiocese of Vancouver website.

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Diocesan update on safeguarding against sexual abuse and responding to allegations

Sat, 11/16/2019 - 14:32

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Video updates about the diocesan safe environment policies were recently released by leaders in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

In the three videos, Brenda Fitzgerald, chair of the Diocesan Committee for the Covenant of Care and Serious Misconduct Protocol, Diocesan Coordinator of Care Theresa Campbell, and Bishop Mark Hagemoen address various elements of the diocesan policies related to safeguarding minors and vulnerable persons, and responding to allegations of sexual abuse.

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is committed to providing safe and respectful church communities and to protecting people from abuse and harm the results from abuse,” said Fitzgerald, who chairs the Diocesan Committee established in 2018 to review and update diocesan safeguarding policies and response protocols.

“In June 2019, the advisory committee completed a comprehensive review of the diocese’s policies and protocols to ensure that they were current and more focused on creating safe church environments. Also, more emphasis was placed on creating sensitive processes to assist and support people coming forward with any allegation of serious misconduct. The policies were also reviewed to ensure that the recommendations from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops 2018 document on Protecting Minors From Sexual Abuse were incorporated,” Fitzgerald said.

The video message from Theresa Campbell focused on involvement of the laity, and upcoming training sessions being provided to clergy, lay staff and other lay volunteers, including the “Parish Coordinator of Care” that each parish is required to have in place.

These training sessions will be held Tuesday, Nov. 26 at St. Augustine Parish in Humboldt and Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, with an option to participate via web conference. Registration is required; contact the Catholic Pastoral Centre (306) 242-1500.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen began his video message by quoting Sister Nancy Brown of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax on the impact of the sexual abuse crisis and how the church must respond.

“The body of Christ has been broken by the scandal of clerical abuse. All members of the community have been affected by this grave injustice. During this time of intense pain and shame, all are called to show compassionate care, listening deeply to the pain, shame, anger, confusion, disbelief and questioning of faith. It is a time to listen unconditionally without judgement, rejecting all cover ups, revealing all secrets, calling perpetrators to accountability and walking with the survivors. Safeguarding within the church means working toward the elimination of violence and cultivating a culture of peace and harmony.” – Sr. Nancy Brown, speaking at diocesan Priests’ Study Days 2019.

“We need to listen to and support victims and survivors. This is the perspective from which all our efforts begin,” Hagemoen stressed.

The bishop provided an overview of recent work to improve how allegations are reported. “We aim to have a process of ‘intake’ that is clear and straightforward. Persons can report to either one of several people, which includes a lay person and a woman. We commit to an immediate response – a same-day acknowledgement.”


Addressing the need to support victims, Hagemoen said: “A dedicated and independent person will act as a ‘support person’ for complainants who come forward and need healing support, as well as provide updated information about the process going forward.”

The diocese has also initiated a review of diocesan historical records – independent of the bishop’s office and the Catholic Pastoral Centre – to “evaluate if past historical decisions were appropriate, and also what we can learn for future situations if and when they arise,” said the bishop.

Education and training for all clergy and lay employees, as well as volunteers working with children, youth or vulnerable adults, is another focus for the diocese, he added. “Training will be clear about the obligation to report all serious misconduct – both in terms of civil obligations and church requirements. In all of this, full cooperation with the police and civil authorities will continue to be fully and clearly emphasized,” he said.

“A key feature of training must address support for victims, including: crisis and trauma training for clergy, (and) diocesan employees who work with youth/ vulnerable people. We will also be seeking some of our clergy and laity to be designated as persons trained in trauma support and accompaniment.”

• Message from Bishop Mark Hagemoen about an episode of The Fifth Estate that aired on Nov. 17, 2019: UPDATE re: Covenant of Care and CBC program

• Nov. 8, 2019 survey response from the Diocese of Saskatoon to The Fifth Estate television program about historical review of cases, and publication of names of persons who are “credibly accused” of sexual abuse: Diocesan RESPONSE

• The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has also posted an update on how the bishops are implementing guidelines on protecting minors from sexual abuse. The statement also addresses the question of publishing names of persons who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse, but not criminally charged and/or convicted: PDF of the CCCB Statement

Covenant of Care: Responding to the Sexual Abuse Crisis – Brenda Fitzgerald:

Transcript – Brenda Fitzgerald: CLICK for PDF

Involvement of the Laity / Training – Theresa Campbell:

Transcript of Update from Theresa Campbell: CLICK for PDF

Update from Bishop Mark Hagemoen:

Transcript of Update from Bishop Mark Hagemoen: CLICK for PDF

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Compassion is a verb – SaskEthics reflection

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:29

By Dr. Mary Heilman, CHAS Bioethicist

Dr. Mary Heilman, PhD,
CHAS Bioethecist

[Reprint of SaskEthics, an Ethics Newsletter for Catholic Healthcare Organizations in Saskatchewan, November/December 2019]

This year’s annual convention of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS) provided an opportunity for networking, learning for the head, and learning for the heart.

This should come as no surprise to those of you who have attended a CHAS Convention before, but I thought it worth mentioning in case we start taking these opportunities for granted. There were many important takeaways from the convention, but the one that I think is most important for our understanding of ethics came from keynote presenter Dr. Shane Sinclair’s research into compassion. To summarize his work in short: Compassion is a verb.

Over the course of several studies, Dr. Sinclair and his team have interviewed patients and healthcare professionals to learn more about what the word ‘compassion’ means. They found that compassion is more than a feeling; it is an action that we take when we enter into the suffering of another person.

According to Sinclair’s research team, compassion can only exist in the space between two people. One person (usually the patient in a hospital setting), brings their suffering, while the other (e.g., the healthcare professional) brings a virtuous intent. In this context ‘virtuous’ does not just mean being nice or having a professional demeanor.

Dr. Sinclair stressed that the patients involved had amazing radar for distinguishing true compassion from superficial kindness. For them, a compassionate healthcare professional needed to be present to the person they were caring for. The two persons needed to come to know each other to find ways to alleviate suffering.

Consider for example, a food and nutrition staff member, Jake, who takes a tray of food to a patient, Sam. Jake could drop off the tray without saying a word, or he could open himself to the opportunity to engage with Sam. If Sam seems interested in talking, then Jake’s next action will be largely motivated by his personal values and his willingness to be present to Sam. Jake needs to begin here, with a desire to know Sam better before he can be compassionate. Once he learns about Sam’s likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, Jake will have the opportunity to be compassionate. This might mean heating up Sam’s water so his tea is more enjoyable, or helping him fill out his meals for the next day.

Unfortunately it is not always easy to act compassionately. What barriers to compassion exist for your team? What things help you to act compassionately? How can you help your team to find the time and space to alleviate the suffering of others?

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Bishop Bryan J. Bayda, CSsR, Appointed as Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of Toronto & Eastern Canada

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 16:18

By Chris Pidwerbeski, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon Communications

[Catholic Saskatoon News] – His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed the Most Reverend Bryan Bayda CSsR, as Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada while remaining Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy Saskatoon.

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Toronto of the Ukrainians, presented by Bishop Stephen Victor Chmilar D.D.

The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada has 55 parishes and missions, with a Catholic population of 23,700 served by 62 diocesan priests, three priests and 18 Sisters who are members of institutes of consecrated life, as well as 16 permanent deacons.

The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy Saskatoon has 69 parishes and missions, with a Catholic population of 5,800 served by 19 diocesan priests, seven priests and 15 Sisters who are members of institutes of consecrated life, as well as three permanent deacons.

In a letter to the clergy, religious and faithful of the Eparchy of Saskatoon Nov. 10, 2019, Bishop Bayda wrote:

“As you have already come to know, I have been given responsibilities in addition to being the Eparch of Saskatoon. I spent many hours on the phone yesterday responding to emails and prayers of support as I accepted the appointment from the Holy Father as Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada. I am humbled by this appointment and ask for everyone’s prayerful support for both Eparchies as some transitions take place, adjusting to serving the faithful, religious and clergy of both jurisdictions.

“Much has to be learned, one from the other, and I trust your patience and understanding will make this transition more sustainable in the future months.

“I certainly remain the Eparch of Saskatoon and will keep my residence and contact information here in Saskatoon, as well as other centres in Saskatchewan. However, as I learn of the needs in the Eparchy of Toronto, I will make decisions about how to address those needs which will place demands on my time and attention, likely spending significant periods of time in the east with a temporary residence as well as the west at St. Volodymyr’s Villa my primary residence. I hope to begin evaluating those needs as soon as this week with Emeritus of Toronto Bishop Stephen Chmilar and other clergy and staff in the Eparchy of Toronto.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding. Let us look with anticipation how both eparchies are a gift to each other from God.”

Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR, (left) with His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the Major Archbishop Patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. (File photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

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In Exile – Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI: “Saints for a New Situation”

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 15:50
Saints for a New Situation

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Everywhere in church circles today you hear a lament: Our churches are emptying. We’ve lost our youth. This generation no longer knows or understands the classical theological language. We need to announce Jesus again, as if for the first time, but how? The church is becoming evermore marginalized.

That’s the situation pretty much everywhere within the secularized world today. Why is this happening? Faith as a spent project? Secularity’s adolescent grandiosity before the parent who gave it birth, Judeo-Christianity?  The “buffered self” that Charles Taylor describes? Affluence? Or is the problem mainly with the churches themselves? Sexual abuse? Cover-up? Poor liturgies? Poor preaching? Churches too liberal? Churches too conservative?

I suspect it’s some combination of all of these, but single out one issue here to highlight, affluence. Jesus told us that it’s difficult (impossible, he says) for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. No doubt, that’s a huge part of our present struggle. We’re good at being Christians when we’re poor, less-educated, and on the margins of mainstream society. We’ve had centuries of practice at this. What we haven’t had any practice at, and aren’t any good at, is how to be Christians when we’re affluent, sophisticated, and constitute the cultural mainstream.

So, I’m suggesting that what we need today is not so much a new pastoral approach as a new kind of saint, an individual man or woman who can model for us practically what it means to live out the Gospel in a context of affluence and secularity.  Why this?

One of the lessons of history is that often genuine religious renewal, the type that actually reshapes the religious imagination, does not come from think-tanks, conferences, and church synods, but from graced individuals – saints, wild men and women who, like Saint Augustine, Saint Francis, Saint Clare, Saint Dominic, Saint Ignatius, or other such religious figures can reshape our religious imagination. They show us that the new lies elsewhere, that what needs fixing in the church will not be mended simply by patching the old. What’s needed is a new religious and ecclesial imagination. Charles Taylor, in his highly-respected study of secularity, suggests that what we’re undergoing today is not so much a crisis of faith as a crisis of imagination. No Christians before us have ever lived within this kind of world.

What will this new kind of saint, this new St. Francis, look like?  I honestly don’t know. Neither, it seems, does anyone else.  We have no answer yet, at least not one that’s been able to bear much fruit in the mainstream culture.  That’s not surprising. The type of imagination that reshapes history isn’t easily found. In the meantime we’ve come about as far as we can along the road that used to take us there, but which for many of our children no longer does.

Here’s our quandary: We’re better at knowing what to do once we get people into a church than we are at knowing how to get them there. Why? Our weakness, I believe, lies not in our theological imagination where we have rich theological and biblical insights aplenty. What we lack are saints on the ground, men and women who, in a passion and fidelity that’s at once radically faithful to God and fiercely empathic to our secular world, can incarnate their faith into a way of living that can show us, practically, how we can be poor and humble disciples of Jesus even as we walk in an affluent and highly secularized world.

And such new persons will appear. We’ve been at this spot before in history and have always found our way forward. Every time the world believes it has buried Christ, the stone rolls back from the tomb; every time the cultural ethos declares that the churches are on an irrevocable downward slide, the Spirit intervenes and there’s soon an about face; every time we despair, thinking that our age can now longer produce saints and prophets, some Augustine or Francis comes along and shows that our age, like times of old, can too produce its saints; and every time our imaginations run dry, as they have now, we find that our scriptures are still full of fresh insight. We may lack imagination, but we don’t lack hope.

Christ promised we will not be orphaned, and that promise is sure. God is still with us and our age will produce its own prophets and saints. What’s asked of us in the moment is biblical patience, to wait on God. Christianity may look tired, tried, and spent to a culture within which affluence and sophistication are its current gods, but hope is already beginning to show its face: As secularization, with its affluence and sophistication, marches unswervingly forward we’re already beginning to see a number of men and women who have found ways to become post-affluent and post-sophisticated. These will be the new religious leaders who will teach us, and our children, how to live as Christians in this new situation.


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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How do we go out and make disciples? Pete Burak offers five tips

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 07:22
Breaking open the diocesan Pastoral Plan: “Proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom Today”

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

It is time for Catholics to “get into the game” and actively proclaim the gospel as missionary disciples, Pete Burak of Renewal Ministries told a crowd gathered Nov. 7 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.

Too often Catholics are content to work on growing in faith, being fed, reading and studying, he said. But there is a universal call to mission as well as to holiness, Burak stressed, emphasizing the need to both “grow and go.”

“We need to give it away…  No believer is dispensed from this responsibility.”

Burak’s presentation at the diocesan event in Saskatoon followed his keynote presentations at a diocesan Priests’ Study Days earlier in the week at Elkridge, SK.

At both gatherings, the director of “i.d.9:16” – an evangelization initiative aimed at forming intentional disciples of Jesus Christ – was asked by Bishop Mark Hagemoen to speak on the new diocesan Pastoral Plan: “To proclaim Christ and the Kingdom of God Today.”

If this diocesan plan is actively lived out, “the kingdom will be built, the culture will be changed, the Church will be different,” Burak asserted, urging his listeners to trust in the Spirit and “do what He wants you to do… actually go out and make disciples.”

When we meet Jesus and fall in love with him, we must also find the motivation in that great treasure “to open our mouths and share him,” Burak said. “We can be very, very slow to check in, and very, very fast to check out,” he noted. “We seem to be perpetually waiting to be ready to enter into mission.”

“But what our Church needs right now is for people to get into the game. The mission of the Church is not for an elite few,” Burak stressed, describing the “two legs” of Christian life as “to grow and to go.”

“The more we grow, the more we give it away.”

Being a disciple “starts with the belief and the decision that Jesus is the Lord of our life. Have I met the Lord? Have I heard the Lord? Have I answered the Lord?” he challenged, saying first comes the “who and why” and then the “what and how.”

Burak quoted Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) #27: “I dream of a ‘missionary option,’ that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”

To help in modelling one’s life on that missionary impulse, Burak then offered five practical tips when proclaiming Christ to others:

1. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray… Burak stressed that “we cannot give away what we don’t have,” and emphasized the profound need to have a deep relationship with God, or our evangelization efforts will be rejected as hypocrisy. He urged his listeners to engage in specific, intentional prayer, and then get ready to “see God move.”

2. Ask questions (and listen) before starting to share your faith… Burak noted that when a person challenges faith, often there is a deeper wound that is not readily apparent. Rather than jumping in quickly to refute or to defend or share our faith, there is a need to slow down, to ask questions, and to really listen to that person’s experience, waiting to speak until they are ready to hear from you.

3. Lean in to suffering … Living as a missionary disciple means living with the love and concern of Jesus Christ for others, Burak stressed. There is a need to reach out, to stay with those who are suffering, to demonstrate love and caring in the midst of difficult situations — loneliness, sickness, depression, addiction, fear — “to sit with them in all that nastiness… so we can lead them out of it.”

4. Share your own story… Burak emphasized that “the best arrow in your quiver” is your own testimony, your own personal experience of Jesus Christ and the treasure you have in Christ, speaking not just from the head, but most of all from the heart.

5. Rely on the Holy Spirit and make room for the Holy Spirit… “There is no evangelization, there is no making of disciples, without the Holy Spirit,” Burak said, urging his listeners to trust, talk about Jesus, and then “leave room” and see how God will act.

The evening concluded with words of appreciation from Bishop Mark Hagemoen. “The most important thing that the Church does is proclaim Christ and proclaim the Kingdom of God,” he said. “Everything else is in addition.”


Nicole Laliberte gave a dramatic presentation of the “Woman at the Well” gospel from John: 4 to open the diocesan event. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)


Bishop Mark Hagemoen and Pete Burak (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)


A group of youth with Bishop Mark Hagemoen and guest speaker Pete Burak at the diocesan event Nov. 7. (Submitted photo)

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Training assists in the expansion of grieving and healing ministries

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 07:02

By Dianna Knaus

[Catholic Saskatoon News] – From Mourning to Dawn grief ministry for widows and widowers started in 2012 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, and it is continuing to expand to other communities.

This year, facilitator workshops were made available to volunteers from Denzil, Wilkie, Cudworth, Humboldt and Saskatoon.

Most volunteer facilitators are former participants or persons who have mentored with the From Mourning to Dawn group at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

The training – facilitated May 4, 2019 by Dr. Brian Chartier and Nov. 2, 2019 by Randy Robinson – better equipped and empowered both new and experienced facilitators to more confidently and effectively facilitate groups.

Grief sessions will be offered for these communities and the surrounding towns as required.

St. Augustine parish in Humboldt held a first session for bereaved spouses last fall and have now completed their second group. One session was held in Denzil in 2015.

Included in the training were facilitators from the “A Hand to Hold,” grief ministry for those experiencing miscarriage or infant loss, which has been established in Humboldt, as well as from the Sodalitas group for grieving persons that meets monthly at St. Mary parish in Saskatoon.

Funds from the Bishop James P. Mahoney Institute of the Family assisted in sponsoring the facilitator workshops, which were jointly organized by From Mourning to Dawn grief ministry for bereaved spouses, and the diocesan Transitions ministry for those who are separated and divorced.


Randy Robinson facilitated the grief ministry workshop held Nov. 2, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photo by Dianna Knaus)

Grief ministry workshop held Nov. 2, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photo by Dianna Knaus)

Facilitator Randy Robinson leads the grief ministry workshop held Nov. 2, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photo by Dianna Knaus)

Grief ministry workshop held Nov. 2, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photo by Dianna Knaus)

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Alberta MLA’s bill would protect physicians’ conscience rights

Sun, 11/10/2019 - 08:07

By Kyle Greenham, Grandin Media

[Edmonton – Canadian Catholic News] – An Alberta MLA is hoping to reaffirm the rights of health practitioners in the province who have moral objections to practices like euthanasia, medically assisted suicide, abortion and other contentious procedures.

Dan Williams, MLA for Peace River (UCP), introduced Bill 207, the Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, in the legislative assembly on Nov. 7, 2019.

Williams said the private member’s bill will ensure health practitioners — and organizations — can conscientiously decline a procedure without worry that they would be penalized or, at worst, lose their job.

“Individuals shouldn’t have to choose between their most deeply-held moral convictions on the one side and their job on the other,” he said. “This bill is about working together with colleges, employers, and conscientious objectors so we can protect conscience for all Albertans.”

Williams has spoken with doctors, nurses and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta in preparing the bill. He said there is an overall support for legislation that protects the rights of practitioners but also ensures access to services continue.

t’s an important issue for Williams, noting that he wrote the bill in part as a response to a Court of Appeals for Ontario decision that ruled doctors must provide referrals for medical procedures even when those procedures clash with their religious and moral beliefs.

Catholic doctors in Alberta have sounded the alarm that the Ontario court ruling will set a precedent across the country, forcing them, and all doctors, to provide medical referrals for assisted suicide against their conscience — rights which are protected under the Charter of Rights of Freedoms.
Medical assistance in dying has been legal in Canada since 2016.

The proposed legislation is needed to protect the basic rights of doctors and other health-care practitioners, said Mary Ellen Haggerty, president of the provincial St. Luke’s Physicians Guild which represents Catholic physicians in Alberta.

“This issue is being threatened in other provinces, and if it’s threatened there, it’s liable to be threatened here,” said Haggerty, a family physician in Edmonton. “So we need protection legislation. Otherwise, we’re going to lose our conscience rights. Losing that right doesn’t do anything to protect the public. If doctors are working without a conscience, then what protection is there?

“It certainly could mean that some doctors have to fold up their practices. This kind of legislation is really necessary.”

Williams, a Roman Catholic, said his proposed legislation seeks to “create certainty” that the Charter rights of health-care professionals and organizations are upheld. The first fundamental freedom listed in the Charter is the freedom of conscience and religion.

“When someone becomes a doctor or health care provider, they don’t lose their Canadian citizenship. They don’t lose their Charter rights,” Williams said.

“There are many physicians concerned about their positions. As I spoke to health care providers across the province, they told me how they were really concerned about a growing pressure on conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of religion in Alberta and in the country.

“It only seems fair to me that we can give those individuals who want to practice medicine the confidence to know they can do so with the defense of their mostly deeply held beliefs.”

The bill emphasizes that providers must be protected from any employment discrimination if they refuse to provide a health care service on religious or conscientious grounds.

The bill does not change the existing legal obligation of a physician who conscientiously objects to a procedure to inform patients of other options.

Covenant Health says the bill supports policies already in place to protect the rights of both patients and providers.

“While Bill 207 will not change the current service delivery model, it does provide a balanced framework for providers to exercise conscience without abandoning their patients,” Covenant Health said in a statement.

“We welcome legislation that aligns with the province’s current system and supports varied providers working collaboratively to ensure Albertans have access to the whole continuum of services.”

Williams expects critics will see his bill as an attempt to weaken access to controversial medical procedures, but that’s not the intent of the proposed legislation.

“This bill doesn’t in anyway limit access to any of these contentious services,” he said. “If it’s a service that’s provided by the province, it will continue afterward. But we want to make sure that while those services are being provided, we also respect those Charter rights of those providing health care to all of us.”

As a private member’s bill, Williams expects there will be a free vote in the legislature and he hopes there will be opposition support.

“I believe this is a non-partisan bill,” he said. “I don’t see this being something that is contentious or that reasonable Albertans would be against.”

However, that seems unlikely.

In question period, Janis Irwin, NDP critic for women’s and LGBTQ issues, said Williams’ bill is fundamentally about restricting access to abortion and that, if passed, it could potentially be used to deny health services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer patients.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro noted that laws in place already to protect all Albertans from discrimination.

A date for the second reading of the bill has yet to be determined.

In May, Saskatchewan Conservative MP David Anderson tabled a similar bill at the federal level to protect the conscience rights of health care professionals. The bill did not become law.



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Building a safeguarding culture within the church community

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 13:02

By Sr. Nancy Brown, SC

From a presentation Nov. 5, 2019 at Priests’ Study Days, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

How would you describe our world today?

Greta Thunberg and some scientists today are warning us that we have limited time to clean up our act with regard to the planet. Perhaps the same is true for the church – now is the moment for transforming any trace of violent behavior through compassion. The scandal of clerical abuse calls into question the credibility and relevance of the church. Now is the moment to act with wisdom, courage and fortitude to bring about transformation within the church structures and community.

Creating a safeguarding culture within the church community: SLIDES

The 2018 CCCB document, Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse, acknowledges that the clergy abuse scandal has become a stumbling block for many and that the church must regain its credibility by examining its own self-understanding. A shift towards greater responsibility, accountability and transparency is essential. Leadership needs to move beyond a reactive attitude to one that is proactive and pre-emptive. Safe environment policies need immediate implementation, but for the church to be relevant in today’s world more needs to be done.

What will it take to create a culture of safe environment within the church today in a world dominated by violence, fear and hatred?

United Nations documents reveal that every year, at least one billion children (half of the world’s children) experience violence. Three in every four children under the age of 5 experience violent discipline at the hands of caregivers. In contrast to this, our gospel calls us to be compassionate as our God is compassionate. Jesus demonstrated a special love for children, challenging the disciples to let the children come to him, exhorting them to become like little children and warning them not to harm, not to be a stumbling block to their faith.

Can the church community show leadership at this critical time? How can the church community use the energies of love to unite what is divided, to care for the broken, to resist any unjust power or control and to courageous build a more welcoming, hospitable church community? With greater alignment of personal behaviors, structures and polices with the mission of Jesus, cultural transformation will happen.

There are five areas within the church culture that need immediate attention:

  1. justice for all, especially those who have been harmed,
  2. transparency and openness,
  3. community of equals,
  4. non-violent stance and
  5. compassionate care.

The church community is called to reach out to the survivors and their families to demonstrate a sincere commitment for their spiritual and emotional well being, possibly including appropriate referrals to counselling, spiritual assistance, support groups etc. As the community owns its part in the harm done to survivors, survivors need to be assured that they are not responsible for the sexual abuse that was done to them. Many survivors live for years believing that they were the cause of the abuse thus increasing their sense of shame and guilt.

Silence, cover ups, threats of secrecy have no place within the church community. Abuse is wrong but adding a level of secrecy is doubly wrong and causes further damage to the person. There is an extra layer of abuse when the perpetrator is a man of God, in a position of authority. Not only does the victim endure psychological and physical harm but one’s faith, spirituality, image of God and Church is destroyed, filling the victim with shame, confusion and loss of community.

Safeguarding within the church means welcoming and respecting the dignity of all persons and recognizing the common call to holiness. It calls for the elimination of all judgements, any racism or biases. Lumen Gentium reminds us that the mission of the church belongs to all by virtue of one’s baptism. A “no” to abuse within the church community means “no” to clericalism. Whatever the cause of clericalism, and however it is manifested, it needs to be replaced by a community of equals. Pope Francis, in the 7 Pillars of Priesthood, states that the authority of priesthood is not a manifestation of power but is a ministry of service, especially to the care and protection of the poorest, weakest, the least important and the most easily forgotten.

Safeguarding within the church means working toward the elimination of violence and cultivating a culture of peace and harmony. All violence needs to be eliminated since all forms of violence are inter-related, destroying the dignity of the human person, treating the person as a commodity to be used, abused and thrown away. Without an intervention, violence will increase in frequency and intensity. It is always an imbalance of power with tactics of manipulation inhibiting the victim from leaving the abusive relationship.

Violence begets violence. Most prostituted women were victims of child abuse. Many abused children will likely become a bully, an abuser or victim in other relationships. Pornography, (8 years old is the average age of introduction to pornogtaphy) leads to normalizing violence and harm to women. Men who watch pornography are more likely to become involved in prostitution and human trafficking. The cycle needs to be stopped.

The body of Christ has been broken by the scandal of clerical abuse. All members of the community have been affected by this grave injustice. During this time of intense pain and shame, all are called to show compassionate care, listening deeply to the pain, shame, anger, confusion, disbelief and questioning of faith. It is a time to listen unconditionally without judgement, rejecting all cover ups, revealing all secrets, calling perpetrators to accountability and walking with the survivors.

Behind every scar, there is a story. Perpetrators must always be held accountable for any abusive behavior, but their personal dignity respected with an offering of conversion and healing.

In the words of Henri Nouwen, compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.




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Priests’ Study Days offers renewal and information

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 17:23

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Clergy from across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon travelled to Elkridge, outside of Prince Albert National Park, for Priests’ Study Days Nov. 4-7, 2019.

Study Days featured a focus on proclaiming Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, as identified in the new diocesan Pastoral Plan, with keynote speaker Pete Burak of Renewal Ministries. Burak also spoke at a public event Nov. 7 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.

Another emphasis at this year’s Priests’ Study Days was on creating a safeguarding culture in the church, presented by speaker Sr. Nancy Brown of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax, a former director of Covenant House, Vancouver, who presently advises the Archdiocese of Vancouver regarding their safe environment and abuse prevention policies.

“The body of Christ has been broken by the scandal of clerical abuse,” she said. “All members of the community have been affected by this grave injustice. During this time of intense pain and shame, all are called to show compassionate care, listening deeply to the pain, shame, anger, confusion, disbelief and questioning of faith. It is a time to listen unconditionally without judgement, rejecting all cover ups, revealing all secrets, calling perpetrators to accountability and walking with the survivors.”

Summary by Sr. Nancy Brown: ARTICLE and SLIDES

Other presentations were “Health and Fitness for Clergy” with Jacob Powell, who is a member of the University of Saskatchewan Huskie men’s soccer team; and a nutrition workshop with registered dietician Heather Chrunik of St. Ann’s Senior Citizens Village.

Fellowship, prayer and worship were also part of Study Days.




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Synod gives hope to Canada’s north

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 12:29

By Mickey Conlon, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – The recent Amazon synod gave voice to Indigenous worldwide and that can only bode well for northern Canadian dioceses with parallel realities, agreed Archbishop Murray Chatlain and Bishop Gary Gordon.

Subjects discussed at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon are similar to what Chatlain faces in Keewatin-Le Pas, what Gordon faces on Vancouver Island in the Diocese of Victoria and what other dioceses face across the vast Canadian north.

The areas are remote, largely populated by Indigenous peoples, have too few priests and their lands are rich in natural resources coveted by corporations.

Chatlain said the attention brought to the Amazon can only help conversations when the first world meets with the Indigenous peoples who have called these lands home since before the Europeans arrived.

“I think it’s a validation of Indigenous peoples across the world, that there are gifts and cultural values that are to be respected and listened to,” said Chatlain, archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas, which covers a vast swath of land across northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba into northwestern Ontario.

“I think that’s a good model for us to continue to work on in Canada. The Indigenous peoples of Canada have a very significant role and voice that we as Church continue to be able to hear.”

Gordon said the synod provided “a listening stance to the Indigenous populations in those regions.”
An issue long on the table in Canada has been the discussion of married priests in the North, though the northern bishops have not been pushing as strongly as they did in the late 20th century. The issue drew plenty of attention at the synod and synod fathers called for approval of ordaining married priests to serve remote Amazon regions, as well as giving women leadership roles in the Church. Whether Pope Francis approves changes remains unclear.

Gordon said “it just doesn’t cut it” in “radically rural territory” for a priest to be flying in for Mass once a year. The synod kickstarted the conversation needed for serving these territories and the Church needs to be “a little more creative” in how this works.

“If the celebration of the Eucharist is the source and summit, we may have to think of other ways that it might be able to happen without a 10-year seminary program,” said Gordon, who served nine years as bishop of Whitehorse in the Yukon and northern B.C.

Chatlain said his diocese is trying to address things “from a variety of perspectives.”

“We’re open to the Holy Spirit’s direction if a married clergy is a way forward. We’re praying for vocations (and) we’re also working on the permanent diaconate,” he said. “That was fairly strong a few years back and now we’re starting to resurface the development of permanent diaconate, especially from some of our Indigenous men.”

Chatlain said they’ve had “a gift” in the number of foreign priests who serve in Canada’s north. The key, though, is developing local leaders. “Our real goal is our lay leaders. We have worked hard over many years to call forth our local lay leaders, and most of them are grandmas,” he said.

The Whitehorse diocese has recently begun to seek new vocations from outside the diocese. It has only a handful of active priests and religious brothers and sisters serving 7,500 Catholics spread over 23 parishes and missions in a 725,000 square-kilometre area. The plan is to have these candidates study at one of the three Redemptoris Mater Seminaries in Canada (Toronto, Vancouver and Quebec City).

In the aftermath of the synod, it’s time to act on a host of issues, but it won’t be easy or quick, said Chatlain. “Trying to have reconciliation, to try to have a deeper understanding between groups, it’s not simple work or we would have done it a long time ago,” he said.

There’s no one solution and the bishops have been observing the efforts of the Anglicans in the North, and “they’re not hitting the ball out of the park,” said Chatlain. Their struggles are similar to those of the Catholic Church.

“I think the Amazonian reality may lend itself to something more creative because of the radical isolation,” said Gordon.

More on the northern context: A video produced by the Archdioceses of Keewatin Le Pas and Regina:


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Hearing the cry of persecuted Christians – new CCCB statement “In His Name” released in time for international Red Wednesday awareness day

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 12:53

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – Canadian Catholics are being called upon to offer spiritual and material support to other Christians being persecuted around the world.

The Conference of Canadian Catholic Bishops (CCCB), through its Peace and Justice Commission and in association with Aid to the Church in Need Canada, is raising awareness about the persecution of Christians globally, stating that the issue is of particular concern in areas where Christians are a clear minority.

Although persecution of Christians has always been an ongoing concern, the timing is right for the release of the latest CCCB statement – In His Name: Statement on the Persecution of Christians.

CCCB communications coordinator Lisa Gall said the CCCB statement comes just a few weeks before a special day dedicated to combating persecution of Christians.  “It is an issue that is always of concern and this statement is timed to correspond with Red Wednesday,” she said.

Red Wednesday is marked on Nov. 20, organized by Aid to the Church in Need Canada, which is calling on parishes to do what they can on that day to foster prayers and support for the more than 300-million people around the world who are “touched by persecution to varying degrees.”

“We suggest organizing a Mass, a vigil, a rosary, etc., to pray for persecuted Christians,” said an Aid to the Church in Need Canada announcement about Red Wednesday.

According to the CCCB-issued document, “In His Name: Statement on the persecution of Christians” issued on Nov. 4, “persecution is defined as ‘a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate people based on their membership in a religious, ethnic, social, or racial group.’”

“It would be tempting to imagine that such actions no longer occur today. However, sometimes a particular idea can push persons or groups to fanaticism, leading to campaigns to ‘exterminate, drive away, or subjugate’ those who do not share these ideals. This fanaticism can take on religious, political, or ethnic expressions,” the CCCB statement said.

“In the news today there is no shortage of such events. Faced with this exclusivist way of thinking, religious freedom is suppressed. This statement is addressed to the Catholic faithful in Canada who, owing to the relative lack of religious persecution in our country, may not be concerned with this phenomenon.”

According to the CCCB document, the persecution of Christians is more relevant than ever.

“The idea may conjure up in our minds images of Christians being thrown to the lions, and it is true that there have been persecutions from the very beginning of Christianity. Yet the pace of persecution has accelerated such that the 20th century saw more persecuted Christians and martyrs than the 19 preceding centuries combined. Today, no fewer than 327 million Christians live in countries marked by religious persecution,” stated the “In His Name” document.

Persecution of Christians can take many different forms, such as intolerance where Christians are portrayed negatively in the media and in social circles, discrimination in which Christians are treated differently than others and to the most extreme forms of persecution that can even lead to death.

“We see this when Christians are singled out for arrest or detention, sent to work camps, tortured, and even killed,” the CCCB document said. “In its most extreme form – where it is directed toward completely eradicating Christians from a region – we can even speak of genocide. According to Aid to the Church in Need, what took place in Iraq in 2014 was a genocide against Christians as well as Yazidis.”

There are three main culprits behind the persecution of Christians, according to the CCCB report: governments, other religious groups such as radical Islam, and ultra-nationalist movements which demand that their country be of only one religion.

But while millions of Christians around the globe face varying degrees of persecution for their perceived crime of having faith in Christ, there is also hope because “where there is persecution, there is often a strong and vigorous faith,” noted the CCCB report.

The document said that while the environment for Christians in Canada is a lot different than for others Christians around the globe, there are still issues to be addressed here, such as how Christian viewpoints are often marginalized when it comes to public debate. For example, issues that are important to many Christians were considered controversial in October’s federal election campaign.

“Being knowledgeable about the condition of persecuted Christians can help us to change their reality; we can become a voice for those who suffer in silence,” the CCCB statement concludes.

“We can make their cry heard, a cry that is also a call to solidarity with all people. Finally, our persecuted brothers and sisters count on our help in navigating their trials. In this regard, we can bring them pastoral and material assistance. Pastoral assistance is very important, since very often their faith is the source of their courage and is their only hope.

“Material assistance does not solve the problem of discrimination or persecution, but it allows persecuted Christians to survive.”



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Saskatoon Friendship Inn celebrates 50 years of outreach and friendship

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 11:12

By Heather Macdonald

[Catholic Saskatoon News] – Looking back on its 50-year history, the Saskatoon Friendship Inn’s name says it all.

In addition to extending a non-judgmental welcome to each person who walks through the door, the inn has evolved thanks to numerous nurturing relationships.

“With generous community support, the Friendship Inn was born and continues to provide essential meals, friendship, counselling and care in the heart of our busy city,” says former Board Chair Carson Heagy.

Want to celebrate the Inn’s 50th? How about joining with family, friends or co-workers to donate 50 unopened food items to stock the pantry shelves! Guests of all ages especially need dry cereal, fresh fruit, canned goods, pasta, peanut butter, jam and coffee. Donations may be dropped off at 619-20th Street West in Saskatoon, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. seven days a week.

Concern, especially within the Christian community, led a group of local residents to open the Inn in March 1969 to serve unemployed transient persons and older men without families.

These early efforts involved eager volunteers, the Inner City Church Council, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, and the Our Lady of the Prairies Foundation, founded by Jack Leier.

The diocese of Saskatoon’s initial support included renting the Inn its 20th Street location for $1 a year and other financial contributions. In 2010, when growing demand for the Inn’s services led to plans to renovate and expand its facility, the Roman Catholic diocese donated the building outright.

Another long-time relationship developed with the CWL Clothing Depot, located in the lower level of the building, a project of the Catholic Women’s League.

The Friendship Inn is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., every day of the year. Breakfast is served at 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. All meals are offered free of charge, with no questions asked. See the website: or call (306) 242-5122 for more information.

Along with servings of soup and coffee on cold winter mornings, the Inn’s services has grown over the years, with the addition of legal, dental and medical clinics.

Vulnerable children, youth, adults and seniors came to know the Friendship Inn as a place to obtain warm food served with a healthy portion of kindness and understanding.

After noting the varied benefits generated by the Friendship Inn, United Community Funds of Saskatoon and later the United Way offered support.

Support grew, with members of parishes and congregations reaching into their wallets to help. Contributions included Merlin Motors providing a van to pick up donated food; the Army and Navy Store giving 300 pairs of socks; and internationally-recognized Cree artist Allen Sapp donating a painting.

Over time many volunteers of all ages gave their time individually and in groups to enhance the lives of the children, youth, adults and senior citizens visiting the Friendship Inn.

The Inn’s impact spread, as it was instrumental in the establishment of the Saskatoon Legal Assistance Clinic and involved in early discussions related to the opening of the Saskatoon Food Bank.

Today, compassionate and respectful relationships remain central as people come to the Inn seeking food and friendship, counselling and such supports as guidance with their job search or parenting role.




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