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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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Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against Surrey, B.C., parish

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 19:27

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will hear a case involving the White Rock Pride Society and Star of the Sea Parish after the society filed a human rights complaint alleging the parish discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.

In 2018, White Rock Pride Society president Ernie Klassen called the parish to inquire about renting the Star of the Sea Community Centre for an event the following year. After providing information about the intended fundraising event for the non-profit organization PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), his rental application was denied. Klassen filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

“The parish damaged the inherent dignity, feelings, and self-respect of the pride society’s members, who identify as part of and support the LGBTQ+ community,” he said in his complaint filed in 2019.

The parish’s rental agreement states use of the private centre must be in accordance with Catholic values. James Borkowski, speaking on behalf of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, told media at the time that the parish reviews all rental applications “to ensure that the proposed use of the parish centre would not be contrary to the teachings on faith and morals of the Catholic Church.”

“We regret that this will inevitably disappoint some people.”

Borkowski added the White Rock Pride Society was provided letters of clarification and offered help to find another location for their event.

Star of the Sea Parish applied to have the human rights complaint dismissed, but that request was denied on May 26 of this year. In the tribunal’s decision, member Kathleen Smith wrote, “I agree with the [White Rock Pride Society] that this case requires the benefit of a full hearing. There are significant facts and issues in dispute,” said Smith.

For example, Smith wrote, a tribunal case in 2005 found the Knights of Columbus could refuse to rent a hall for events that could undermine their relationship with the Catholic Church or their mission. Smith wrote there needs to be more discussion about “whether and how” the tribunal could apply those findings in this situation.

In addition, Smith wrote, “The parish asks the tribunal to apply the protections of the [Human Rights Code] in a way that proportionately balances the religious freedoms of the parish with the rights of the society members to be free from discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

A date for the hearing has not yet been set.


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Safe Third Country Agreement violates rights, says court

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 19:19

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – Canada’s federal court has ruled the country’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by sending refugees who arrive at Canada’s land borders back to detention in the United States.

It is the second time a federal judge has struck down the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement on constitutional grounds.

For Catholic refugee advocates, the ruling is a victory, said Norbert Piché, Jesuit Refugee Service country director for Canada.

“If we’re going to be saying that we are Christians, that we believe in what Christ tells us, then we have to believe in welcoming the stranger,” Piché said. “The stranger is the refugee claimant, the person who is fleeing persecution. If we are truly, bona fide Christians we will stand up for these people.”

“We can continue being Canada — a fair country and a country that protects refugees,” said Loly Rico, co-director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, a shelter sponsored by the Faithful Companions of Jesus.

The case brought in 2017 on behalf of three women by the Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Council for Refugees was largely a reprise of a challenge the same parties brought to court a decade earlier. In 2007 a federal judge struck down the agreement on constitutional grounds, only to have the decision later overturned by an appeals court that ruled the three organizations did not have standing to argue on behalf of refugees before the court.

In the 2007 ruling against the Safe Third Country Agreement, Justice Michael Phelan found it is unreasonable to conclude that the U.S. complies with its obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and the Convention against Torture.

In the July 22 ruling Justice Ann Marie McDonald found “the evidence clearly demonstrates that those returned to the U.S. by Canadian officials are detained as a penalty.”

Both judges ruled that the Safe Third Country Agreement violates section seven of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees “life, liberty and security of the person.”

McDonald gave the government six months to either appeal her decision or exit the agreement with the U.S.

“I think we can expect that it will be appealed,” Canadian Council of Churches general secretary Peter Noteboom told The Catholic Register.

Along with Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees, Noteboom urges the government not to appeal.

For nearly two decades Canada’s churches have been fighting the Safe Third Country Agreement, ever since it was first agreed in 2002 and entered into force in 2004. Fighting for a fair and open welcome for refugees isn’t something churches can back away from, Noteboom said.

“It’s not something extra. It’s not some sort of marginal or external thing to churches and faith communities in Canada. It’s part of how they see themselves,” he said. “For decades already, the whole initiative, the whole movement of caring for refugees, of working with refugees and immigrants coming to Canada has been in the genetic code of faith communities and churches.”

Harvard law professor Deborah Anker called the Canadian ruling “a very important decision.”

“It’s a human rights judgment against the United States for its asylum policy by a credible allied nation,” she told The Catholic Register. “It’s tremendously significant. It will get cited in litigation (in the U.S.) I’m sure and in policy documents. … If there’s a (Joe) Biden administration that takes office at the end of January, it will make a difference that a Canadian court so held.”

While the case was before the court in Canada, conditions in U.S. immigration detention centres have gotten worse, said Anker, who was an expert witness in the case.

“Conditions in detention are dangerous now because of COVID-19, more dangerous,” she said.

Even if many of the issues and individual cases at issue in the decision predate the Trump administration, the ruling highlights the deterioration of the U.S. refugee system in the last three years, said lawyer Don Kerwin, executive director of the Scalabrini Fathers’ Centre for Migrant Studies.

“The United States has an administration in place right now that is doing its level best to eviscerate the U.S. asylum system,” Kerwin said. “It’s part of a broader effort to decimate all U.S. refugee protection programs.”

Kerwin called the Canadian court’s judgment on U.S. treatment of refugees “understandable” and “really lamentable.”

“What the Canadian court is pointing out is how badly the United States now treats refugees and asylum seekers, and how precipitously it has fallen in terms of its response to people in great need,” he said.


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Vatican publishes instructions on parish reform and diocesan restructuring

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 09:18

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy recently published instructions on reforming parishes and restructuring dioceses to better serve their “singular mission of evangelization.”

The 24-page document, published July 20, 2o2o, is entitled:  “The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church” and seeks to “foster a greater co-responsibility and collaboration among all the baptized,” according to Mgr. Andrea Ripa, the under-secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy.

The under-secretary described the instructional document as an “instrument with which to support and accompany the various projects of parish reform and diocesan restructuring.”

“One could say that the essence of the present Instruction is to recall that in the Church ‘there is a place for all and all can find their place,’ with respect to each one’s vocation,” Ripa said in an introduction to the document July 20.

The instruction, which does not introduce anything new to Church law, sets out provisions of the existing law and guidelines to preserve “the faithful from certain possible extremes, such as the clericalization of the laity and the secularization of the clergy, or from regarding permanent deacons as ‘half-priests’ or a ‘super laymen,’” the under-secretary wrote.

Signed by Pope Francis June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the instruction promotes greater cooperation among different parish communities, emphasizing the need for the parish to be inclusive, evangelizing, and attentive to the poor.

“Pastoral activity needs to go beyond merely the territorial limits of the parish, to make ecclesial communion more clearly transparent by means of the synergy between ministers and diverse charisms, structuring itself as a ‘pastoral care for all’, at the service of the diocese and of its mission,” the document states.

To achieve this goal, the document recommends the establishment of “pastoral regions or units” entrusted to the oversight of an episcopal vicar appointed by the bishop.

“At the heart of a process of renewal, instead of passively undergoing change by supporting and going along with it, there exists today the need to individuate new structures that will incite all those who make up the Christian community to fulfil their vocation to evangelize, with a view to a more effective pastoral care of the People of God, the ‘key factor’ of which is proximity,” it states.

Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, underlined that societal changes, including increased mobility and the “scarcity of priests” in the West, point to the need to look “beyond the idea of the traditional parish.”

“Today people move and attend church wherever they find themselves,” Stella explained in an interview with Vatican News after the new instruction was released.

“Therefore many projects for the reform of parish communities and diocesan restructuring are already underway,” he said, adding that the document seeks to guide these reforms within the ecclesiastical norms of the Church, rather than reforms “dictated only by personal taste.”

The document builds on the 2002 instruction from the Congregation of Clergy, “The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community,” and the Vatican inter-dicasterial instruction “Ecclesia de Mysterio,” on the collaboration of laity in the ministry of priests.

It includes instructions on the suppression or merging of parishes, ways of assigning pastoral ministry within the parish, the pastoral council, the sacraments, and the renewal or “conversion” of parish and diocesan structures.

“The historical parish institution (must) not remain a prisoner of immobility or of a worrisome pastoral repetition, but rather, it should put into action that ‘outgoing dynamism’ that, through collaboration among different parish communities and a reinforced communion among clergy and laity, will orient it effectively toward an evangelizing mission, the task of the entire People of God, that walks through history as the ‘family of God’ and that, in the synergy of its diverse members, labours for the growth of the entire ecclesial body,” it states.

Cardinal Stella said that “the parish perhaps has been treated so far almost like a palace, a castle to be guarded, to be protected.”

“It seems to me that we have to remove the keys, open the doors, air out the room, and go outside,” he said. “Here, this outgoing dynamism, which the pope has spoken of many times, means looking outward, seeing who needs faith: the whole world of youth, the whole world of those who need God but do not know which way to go.”

This story has been updated with the addition of comments from Cardinal Beniamino Stella.


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God supplies a multitude of seeds for us to sow

Sat, 07/18/2020 - 17:17

By Fr. Edward Gibney, Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus Deputy Chaplain

Our duty as Knights of Columbus and as Christians is to contribute to God’s stated desire that His Word goes out to all the world and not return empty. God’s Word is like a seed, in the bin, that needs to be planted, and like any farmer, he desires that it bring forth a successful crop.

Fr. Ed Gibney, Deputy Chaplain, Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus

And so God has given that seed to us, to plant that seed, to tend that seed, and to pray for that seed, not just at the time of planting, but right up to the moment of the harvest.

God’s seed is the scripture that he has supplied us with to share with the rest of our community and the rest of the world. It is the knowledge of God’s love and His faithfulness to His covenants, given to us through the Old Testament. It is the warnings of the prophets and the guidance of the Psalms. It is the message of God’s mercy and forgiveness expressed through Jesus and his disciples. But it is also the greatest of all prayers, the simple words of the Our Father. God has supplied a multitude of seeds for us to sow.

And that is why it is important for us to pray and to teach the message of God in simple words, and perhaps even with no words at all. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Go out and spread the Word of the Gospel, and if you have to, use words.”

Living our faith, following scripture and those simple words of the Our Father, will do more to spread God’s Word then all the sermons ever said in the history of the world, could ever do. If we all live our faith and encourage others to do the same, we will be ensuring that God’s words do not come back to him empty.

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Order is calling us to go out and “Leave No Neighbour Behind.”  This Knights of Columbus program intends to care for our neighbours and brother Knights by keeping in contact with them, helping them when needed, supporting our parishes and our communities, and by feeding the hungry.

In living these principles we can show the world the goodness of our God and the trueness of our faith. We may not be skilled in speaking God’s words, but in living the teachings that the scripture gives us, we are planting the seed of God’s Word, working toward the great harvest.




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Canadian Catholic bishops urge better care of elderly and vulnerable in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

Fri, 07/17/2020 - 10:17

(Updated July 27, 2020)

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the “heartbreaking” neglect that many elderly Canadians and other vulnerable people have been facing in modern Canadian society, but that exposure can also be an opportunity for Catholics and other Canadians to reassess our “values and lifestyle” in a meaningful way, say Canada’s Catholic bishops in a statement released on July 14.

“As we slowly return to a more normal way of life, let us not forget the elderly among us who still have so much wisdom to impart, faith to share, stories to tell and joys to offer,” the statement by the executive committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said.

“Let us create space in our hearts, homes, families and communities to honour them and truly care for them in their weakness and their many needs. Let us welcome their unique giftedness in building a world which is more human, loving, generous, forgiving, and radiant with God’s grace,” said the pastoral message from the CCCB entitled “They Still Bring Forth Fruit in Old Age: A Lesson on Caring in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Canada’s Catholic bishops noted that the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a massive disruption of everyday life in Canada since March when most public spaces, including churches, were shuttered to the public, has exposed cracks within the social fabric of Canadian society.

The bishops’ statement says the global pandemic has caused “great suffering and enormous difficulties” for many vulnerable Canadians, but it is the “horrific” way in which many elderly Canadians, isolated in understaffed and under-resourced long-term care facilities, that is perhaps most disturbing.

Citing Pope Francis’ warning about modern “throwaway culture,” Canada’s bishops say that it is the elderly who are “more often than not the primary victims of this culture of discarding.”

According to a study released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information in June, 81 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada as of May 25, 2020, were in long-term care and nursing home facilities for the elderly.

“That many elderly endured weeks practically in solitude to avoid contracting the virus even from caregivers, and that many died without either the presence of family members or the comfort and strength of the Church’s Sacraments and pastoral care is heartbreaking,” Canada’s bishops said.

“Most upsetting and what has come to light is the admission that this situation already existed long before COVID-19 appeared on the horizon,” the bishops said of the level of care that many Canadian seniors have been living with well before the devastation of the pandemic exposed the situation.

But the bishops say there is hope for change if the pandemic serves “as an important reminder of the inherent dignity of human life, its meaning and what should be most important in life.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a renewed discussion about important changes needed in order to address both the present and future challenges facing our elderly who are already frail and compromised by the conditions in which they are forced to live,” says the CCCB statement.

“Our hope is that Canadians will gain greater awareness as to how our culture prioritizes the freedom, desires and choice of individuals, and regrettably also tends to neglect the rights and responsibilities that promote the common good of society and the dignity of every person, especially the elderly,” say the bishops, adding that the impact of the global pandemic on the vulnerable in Canada “weighs heavily upon the collective conscience of both our country and Church.”

The pastoral message from Canada’s bishops calls for Canadians and Catholics “to renew our sense of authentic solidarity and community by considering and treating others, especially the most vulnerable, the sick, and the elderly as valued and precious members of our communities.”

“May Jesus Christ, the Lord of all mercy and goodness, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of families and Comforter of the afflicted, enlighten, inspire and protect us. May we be graced with a new awareness and appreciation of the gift which the elderly are to us all.”

Bishops call on Canadians to learn from pandemic to build a more caring society

By Catholic News Agency staff

[Ottawa – CNA] Canada’s bishops have issued a pastoral letter expressing concern for vulnerable persons, especially senior citizens who receive inadequate institutional care, a situation that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“They Still Bring Forth Fruit in Old Age: A Lesson on Caring in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which bears the date July 1, 2020, was released by the executive committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) July 14.

In the letter, the bishops recognized the difficulties faced by many elderly persons during the pandemic, especially isolation and neglect. However, they said this pandemic has also provided a valuable lesson on human dignity.

“The pandemic can, in many ways and for many people, serve as an important reminder of the inherent dignity of human life, its meaning and what should be most important in life. No matter the degree of isolation and privation each of us may have experienced so far in this crisis, there are lessons to be learned about the need for courage, determination, hope and steadfastness,” the bishops said.

“One of these important lessons, especially for the younger generation, is that well before COVID-19, the elderly and the disabled were frequently excluded or forgotten, not only by society in general, but in many cases by their faith communities and even by their loved ones.”

The bishops said the elderly have faced a deficiency of mental and physical health as well as a  disregard to their emotional, spiritual, and relational needs. Disturbingly, they said, these situations had existed prior to COVID-19.

“What emerged at the beginning of the pandemic were the conditions in long-term care facilities and similar institutions that were particularly disturbing, as government and healthcare authorities began to acknowledge,” they said.

“That many elderly endured weeks practically in solitude to avoid contracting the virus even from caregivers, and that many died without either the presence of family members or the comfort and strength of the Church’s Sacraments and pastoral care is heartbreaking.”

According to reports by caregivers and military personnel providing military assistance, the bishops said, there have been numerous accounts of neglected bedside care and feeding, unattended hygienic needs, and insufficient living spaces.

They also said the problem is worsened by inadequate staffing, including too few employees, poor training, unsatisfactory compensation, and “many of whom were working in multiple institutions.”

They pointed to the words of Pope Francis, who has warned against a “throwaway culture.” They said, more often than not, elderly people are discarded. They emphasized the crucial role of the Church to care for the vulnerable, sick, and elderly.

As people have found creative ways to share the burden of the pandemic, the bishops said this troubling time has also been a source of hope and new opportunity. They said it has brought a fresh awareness of society’s limitations and perspectives on the needs of humanity.

“Our hope is that Canadians will gain greater awareness as to how our culture prioritizes the freedom, desires and choice of individuals, and regrettably also tends to neglect the rights and responsibilities that promote the common good of society and the dignity of every person, especially the elderly,” they said.

“This begins with respecting and protecting, in peace and justice, the fundamental and inalienable rights of each human person, as well as their authentic development and social well-being in the entire community.”

Assured of God’s presence, Catholics “can move forward in confidence, generosity, gratitude and prudence as our governments and healthcare authorities ease the Coronavirus ‘lockdown’,” the bishops said. “This will entail reassessing our priorities, taking an honest look at our values and lifestyle. We must let ourselves be challenged by the Lord’s calling and the present needs of our brothers and sisters.”

“As we slowly return to a more normal way of life, let us not forget the elderly among us who still have so much wisdom to impart, faith to share, stories to tell and joys to offer. Let us create space in our hearts, homes, families and communities to honour them and truly care for them in their weakness and their many needs. Let us welcome their unique giftedness in building a world which is more human, loving, generous, forgiving, and radiant with God’s grace.”


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COVID-19 crisis could increase refugee backlog say Canadian advocates

Wed, 07/15/2020 - 12:58

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – COVID-19 has almost completely choked off the flow of refugees to Canada, which has refugee sponsors worried about the backlog building up as they wait for travel restrictions to ease so they can start again helping new arrivals ease into jobs, apartments and communities.

Between March 18 and July 2 of 2020, only 316 privately sponsored refugees — emergency cases — arrived in Canada. That compares with 2,712 that arrived between New Year’s and March 17.

Related update: Work of the Migration office in the diocese of Saskatoon continues in the midst of the ongoing impact of COVID-19

Under normal circumstances, the Archdiocese of Toronto alone would have resettled more refugees over the last four months than the entire country has welcomed since the COVID lockdown.

“In a normal year we (the Toronto archdiocese) would have welcomed somewhere between 100 and 300 refugee families (between 225 and 650 people) during the March to July period. This year it is zero,” said Office of Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto director Deacon Rudy Ovcjak in an email.

The COVID-19 squeeze on refugee arrivals has hit just as it seemed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) was making progress on clearing an enormous backlog of applications to sponsor refugees.

Since 2012 official Sponsorship Agreement Holders — most of them churches or other faith groups (including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon) — have had to accept limits on how many applications they could submit. Ottawa said it needed to slow the pace of new applications so it could dig out from a mountain of unprocessed applications.

When Ahmed Hussen was Minister of Immigration before the last election, he promised that after clearing the backlog the government would get average refugee processing times under 12 months.

Deacon Rudy Ovccjak, Office of Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto (Photo by Michael Swan, The Catholic Register – CCN)

“Sadly, this will erase much of the recent progress that Immigration Canada has made in reducing the backlog of privately-sponsored refugee cases,” said Ovcjak.

Through the COVID-19 period, sponsors have been free to submit applications and in-Canada processing of those applications has continued. But the process stops there. The final stage in which the applications are sent to overseas visa posts, where interviews with refugees are arranged, is suspended.

The two United Nations agencies that work with Canada on refugee resettlement, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Refugee Agency, have recently announced they will restart refugee travel. But “refugee resettlement will only fully resume once conditions allow,” said a spokesperson for IRCC.

When arrivals do restart, sponsors are going to have to figure out how to handle the 14-day quarantine.

“The department will send a travel resumption letter to each sponsor to ensure they have appropriate measures in place to support the refugees upon arrival,” said IRCC media relations officer Rémi Lariviére in an email. “This includes the requirement for sponsors to have a quarantine plan to enable the refugees to self-isolate during their first 14-days in Canada, in compliance with the Quarantine Act.”

That’s no small thing, said Ovcjak.

“The quarantine will likely affect not only the newcomers but their sponsor who will greet them at the airport. Many of these sponsors are newly-arrived immigrants themselves who cannot afford to take two weeks away from work,” Ovcjak said.

“This will also present a serious challenge for our parish refugee committees, whose members are skewed toward an older demographic.”

The sponsorship community is worried by backlogs that never did go away.

“The backlogs are still there,” said Citizens for Public Justice refugee expert Stephen Kaduuli. “Although they have made some slight improvement through technology and additions to the personnel and various visa posts — some small improvement — the complaints are still there.”

In a recent report on the health of the private sponsorship system, Kaduuli reveals that as of July 31, 2019, the actual wait time for a refugee sponsored through a Sponsorship Agreement Holder was well over two years (27 months). For other parts of the private sponsorship system the wait times are nearly as long — 23 months for community sponsors and 19 months for “Group of Five” sponsors.

The backlog and the wait times are more than an annoyance, said Canadian Council for Refugees executive director Janet Dench.

“It’s a big problem,” she said. “There are huge concerns for sponsors about people they have been sponsoring, sometimes for years in the process, who haven’t arrived. That’s a problem that precedes COVID-19.”

Given the ongoing pandemic, Canada won’t hit its overall immigration target of 341,000 in 2020. Dench would like to see Ottawa fill some of that gap by expediting travel for already-approved refugees. Many sponsored refugees had already been issued visas before the COVID-19 travel restrictions came down.

“Refugees coming in are part of what Canada needs,” said Kaduuli. “We have an aging population. We need labour. We need to boost our economy through work, through more income, through more jobs.”

Many refugees have found work on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, Kaduuli said.

“We should recognize them for that. We should encourage immigration because we see the positive things it has done during this time of crisis,” he said.

Less than 15 per cent of the 1.1 million immigrants the Canadian government was planning to welcome between 2020 and 2022 are refugees. Almost two-thirds (63.4 per cent) of sponsored refugees arriving in Canada in 2019 were privately sponsored.


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FacetoFace Ministries adapts Ignite youth camps to fit COVID-19 terrain

Wed, 07/15/2020 - 12:25

By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

[Saskatoon – Canadian Catholic News] – Learning about God’s profound love in seminars and small groups, experiencing Christ during eucharistic adoration and dancing to worship tunes are among the joys traditionally experienced at an Ignite camp.

Each summer hundreds of Grade 9-12 students in western Canada have attended these faith gatherings organized by FacetoFace Ministries, based in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

FacetoFace was poised to run a 2020 slate featuring events in Bruno, SK., Bonnyville, AB., and Prince George, BC, but then COVID-19 struck and turned the world upside down.

Hosting no Ignite camps in 2020 was never an option considered by the ministry team when it held Zoom meetings to figure out a path forward.

“We wanted to ensure that whatever plan we came up with would be of the Lord, and to provide an experience that defines what Ignite is,” said Jon Courchene, the executive director of FacetoFace Ministries.

Instead of the traditional overnight camp experience for five days, there will be four four-day camps — three in-person and one virtually — running in early August. All on-site functions will be hosted in Saskatchewan, the hub province for FacetoFace Ministries.

From Aug. 4-7, 2020, Ignite will run concurrently at Christ the King Parish in Regina and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Saskatoon. Both camps sold out quickly as there is only capacity for 30 people — 23 youth, six event leaders and one priest — to abide by the Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 regulations.

These sellouts inspired organizers to add another camp, again at Our Lady of Lourdes, Aug. 11-14, 2020. The first online event runs Aug. 18-20.

Courchene and his team set the three touchstones of what Ignite strives for: to ensure youth are offered opportunities to encounter God in the sacraments, wisdom on attaining practical faith growth and a forum to build Christ-centred bonds with other young disciples.

While the ongoing pandemic will undoubtedly be mentioned during presentations and homilies, Courchene does not envision COVID-19 altering the thematic content in a significant fashion.

“The message of the Gospel has not changed. What God has done for us and how He wants us to live a life of virtue has not changed.”

Courchene said planning for the 2020 events has been invigorating. “This year will be distinct and different and there will be an opportunity for a huge encounter with the Lord,” he said.

For information, see

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Muenster parish bids farewell to pastor

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 13:43

By Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, St. Peter’s Abbey

The Muenster parish held a farewell celebration for Fr. Paul Paproski, OSB, on Sunday afternoon July 12 at Saint Peter’s Abbey. Fr. Paul Paproski has been pastor at the St. Peter’s parish in Muenster for five years.  Fr. Demetrius Wasylyniuk, OSB, was recently appointed the new pastor.

The celebration honouring Fr. Paul included a ride to the parish for morning Mass in a special convertible car and a come-and-go tea in the afternoon. The car was manufactured in 1963, the same year that Fr. Paul was born.

A come-and-go tea was part of a parish farewell for pastor Fr. Paul Paproski, OSB, on July 12 in Muenster. (Submitted photo)


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Brother Denys begins year-long novitiate at St. Peter’s Abbey, Muenster

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 13:32

By Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, St. Peter’s Abbey

Robert Janiga from the Toronto area was invested as a novice for St. Peter’s Abbey on July 11.

He was given the name Brother Denys and will make a year long novitiate.

July 11 is the feast day of Saint Benedict, the patriarch of Western Europe, founder of the monastery of Monte Cassino, and author of the Rule of St. Benedict.


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Saskatchewan Catholic bishops’ letter addresses the scourge of racism

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 12:51

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan issued a joint statement regarding racism July 13, calling for a renewed spirit of respect and caring.

Expressing “great concern regarding racial injustices,” the message from the five bishops expresses support for those in the community responding to “the scandal of how people treat one another.”

Signed by Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-LePas, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon, and Bishop Albert Thévenot of Prince Albert, the message cites a number of recent events in the United States and Canada.

“The protests that began over the tragic death of George Floyd in the United States have expanded as protesters raise awareness of widespread injustice,” note the bishops.

“In our own provincial context, people across the province are calling on government, businesses, and all institutions to address inequality and injustices caused by systemic racism. In our context, such systemic racism continues to impact Indigenous Peoples, and those of African and Asian descent, including most recently anti-Asian assaults and offenses in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the bishops write. “We also continue to hear of incidents here in Saskatchewan and in other parts of Canada that are of grave concern.”

Banner on display during a 2015 event in Ottawa, marking the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process and the release of the Calls to Action. (Photo by Bishop Mark Hagemoen)

In the face of a “deterioration of human respect and kindness,” the bishops affirm the intrinsic dignity of every human being.

They also call for “respectful and constructive ways to solve problems and differences, versus spiraling into increasing disrespect and violence.”

Related links:

Saskatchewan Catholic bishops’ joint statement regarding racism

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) statement on racism

STM College President’s statement of commitment to Indigenous Peoples

Citing the Catholic Christian tradition, and beginning with the creation of all people in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), the bishops note that “With the privilege of being created fully human comes the responsibility to live and act towards others as God acts towards us.“

The bishops cite St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2: 1-5)

The Saskatchewan bishops’ message continues: “The privilege of our humanity carries with it the great responsibility of the preferential care of our brothers and sisters – especially those who deal with obstacles, injustices, or other barriers to their human flourishing.”

Banner on display at the 2019 Walk for Reconciliation in Saskatoon. (Catholic Saskatoon News file photo)

Systemic racism that affects our culture in many ways – and which can be aggravated by times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic – “will tear apart human solidarity as it corrupts our minds and hearts,” the bishops write.

They call for an end to the scourge of racism and intolerance, and encourage respectful dialogue to address obstacles to human dignity, and to bring about constructive growth and change – something which the bishops say must first involve personal ongoing conversion.

“’Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!’ (Ezekiel 18:31) We can work constructively for systemic change and growth when we are open to this in our own lives,” says the message.

“Such change also needs to address how we engage and dialogue about difficult topics and issues. In all ways – the Christian community and all people of good will need to hold the bar high in how we behave ourselves and as we seek constructive and respectful dialogue versus the way of destructive confrontation or melancholic disengagement.”

The Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan quote Pope Francis – “If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. We are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society. The culture of dialogue entails a true apprenticeship and a discipline that enables us to view others as valid dialogue partners, to respect the foreigner, the immigrant and people from different cultures as worthy of being listened to. Today we urgently need to engage all the members of society in building a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter and in creating a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society.” (Pope Francis, — Address upon receiving the Charlemagne Prize, May 6, 2016)

The Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan also stress the ongoing work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “We have only just begun to carry out its vision for achieving reconciliation,” they note.

“The circumstances that we face highlighting racism, injustice and violence in our world remind us that we are at an important threshold. May we choose wisely and walk courageously as we, ‘… act justly, love kindly, and walk humbly with our God’ (Micah 6:8).”

Banner on display at the 2019 Walk for Reconciliation in Saskatoon. (Catholic Saskatoon News file photo)


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Parishes gather to celebrate Reward pilgrimage in unique circumstances of COVID-19

Sun, 07/12/2020 - 21:00

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Abiding by measures required for gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, parishioners from across St. Joseph’s Colony gathered July 12 for their annual pilgrimage to the historic Holy Rosary Church and shrine site south of Reward, SK, one of the few pilgrimages across the province to go ahead in 2020.

Household and family groups sat together, physically distancing from each other on the hillside before the outdoor altar, with numbers limited according to government and health authority rules. As with other church celebrations, distribution of communion took place at the conclusion of Mass, with extra sanitizing and other protective steps.

Those gathered for the annual pilgrimage prayed the rosary together under sunny Sunday skies, before the start of the late afternoon outdoor Mass, with the rain staying away until the end of the celebration.

Many summer pilgrimages in Saskatchewan cancelled this year: ARTICLE

A traditional procession of parish banners was again part of the Reward pilgrimage, which started 88 years ago in the area known as St. Joseph’s Colony.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided at Mass, joined by pastors from the area: Fr. Edward Gibney (Biggar, Landis); Fr. Binu Rathappillil, VC, (Macklin, Denzil, St. Donatus); Fr. Gregory Roth (Unity, Tramping Lake); Fr. Santhosh Thekkekulam, VC, (Wilkie, Leipzig, Handel); and Fr. Daniel Yasinski (Kerrobert, Major, Dodsland, Luseland).

View a gallery of photos: Video of Reward pilgrimage Mass:



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Culture is about ‘creating, not destroying’ says sculptor

Sun, 07/12/2020 - 16:54

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency

[Washington, D.C. – CNA] – Tired and heartbroken at seeing statues get pulled down and vandalized, Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz wracked his brain to come up with a compromise that would both preserve the artwork, and acknowledge the flawed nature of many historical figures.

Schmalz has been a sculptor for 30 years and is perhaps best known for his “Homeless Jesus” sculpture and the “Angels Unaware” statue dedicated to migrants in St. Peter’s square. He told CNA that he believes sculpture is a unique and powerful method of preaching.

He said it made him upset “beyond belief” watching the news and seeing statues of figures such as Christopher Columbus and St. Junipero Serra be torn down.

“I know the amount of time that is spent working on each sculpture and a lot of these sculptures were done a century ago and the skill level, the time that it’s been put into that–just on a simple work ethic and good craftsmanship and time and love that is put into it,” he said.

“To see that being pulled down and destroyed just really breaks my heart,” Schmalz added.

Sculpture, he said, is different from other art forms, as unlike a play or a piece of music, it is intended to be permanent.

“Its basic presence is that of time enduring,” he said. He told CNA that seeing what he called “a random mob” destroy statue after statue felt like watching “wanton violence against our culture.”

The statues, Schmalz said, are  works of art being used as scapegoats for the country’s perceived historical sins.

“They’re visual ambassadors of that history, and to destroy it–[its] absolute arrogance.”

Instead of destruction, Schmalz is advocating for more creation.

“I’m a sculptor, I’m a creative, I create, I do not destroy, and I wish more people would follow the role model of creating rather than destroying,” he said.

Creation, Schmalz explained, is far more difficult than destruction. Some of the statues that were destroyed took years to make, “and they’re toppled in 15 minutes.”

“I want to be in a culture that is one of creating, not one of destroying. And, and what I say is that if you have a problem with that sculpture, let’s create more sculptures, let’s create more stuff.”

And creating “more stuff” is just what Schmalz is doing.

He sculpted what he has dubbed the “Monument of Oppression”–a sculpture of two arms extending outward behind a barred window–which he says he hopes could be installed as a “supplementary sculpture” beside controversial works of art, offering it as a compromise that could save more works of art from destruction.

The Monument of Oppression would be “a layer of art on top of a layer of art,” and would serve as a reminder that there is a complicated history behind many notable persons which should be marked.

As a sculptor, and as one who concentrates on religious-inspired art, Schmalz rejected the idea that statues of a European-styled Jesus should be taken down, but did say that there should be a wider embrace of images of Christ as various ethnicities, saying he has himself made many African-styled images of Christ and the Holy Family, including an African-American crucifix for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

“Jesus does not have a color. Jesus doesn’t necessarily care,” he said. “Artwork is a bridge for people. And so if I have the opportunity to make a Jesus for a European place, fine. And an African-American Corpus should be in Atlanta, Georgia, because there’s so many people of African descent there.”

The depiction of Jesus as various ethnicities “has nothing to do with anything, but making artwork that fits the audience and you have the painters doing the same,” he said, noting that Jesus was often depicted in the clothing of the Middle Ages or Renaissance, and that the actual Last Supper “probably wouldn’t have had a European table and chairs.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said.

“Artwork is a communication, and that has to be spoken in a language that people could understand.”


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Vancouver archbishop appeals to Prime Minister on behalf of temporary farm workers

Sun, 07/12/2020 - 14:42

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver, BC- Canadian Catholic News] – The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed “cracks” in how Canada treats its migrant farm workers, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, says in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In a June 26, 2020 letter to the prime minister, the Vancouver archbishop said migrant farm workers, who often come from Mexico or Guatemala to work on local farms, are “very often taken advantage of” during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least three have died in Canada and many more have become infected with the virus.

“Throughout the country, these workers are frightened as they continue to work in hothouses and fields, while living in cramped quarters that preclude safe physical distancing,” the archbishop wrote.

He asked the prime minister to respond by putting new rules in place that could give farm workers the opportunity to seek permanent residency, which would “ensure their safety, protect their rights, and shift power away from those recruiters and employers who take advantage of them to keep their farms operating.”

Existing programs offer people in other lines of work an opportunity to become permanent residents and eventually Canadian citizens, wrote Archbishop Miller. He asked that the same benefit be extended to temporary farm workers, who during this pandemic have been deemed “essential” workers.

Other voices have made the same appeal to Trudeau. The Migrant Rights Network, a Canadian organization, has held rallies and spoken up in favour of extending immigration status to non-permanent residents in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Canada’s corporations profit off the intentional temporariness caused by a two-tiered immigration system,” said Migrant Rights Network spokesperson Sarom Rho, the Vancouver Sun reported. “Without access to emergency income supports, migrants have been working through the crisis without basic labour rights or health and safety precautions.”

Rho’s group calls for access to paid emergency leave, food banks, emergency shelters, and other supports that Canadians enjoy.

The Dignidad Migrante Society has also written to Trudeau and to B.C. Premier John Horgan, asking for more rights for migrant workers: 14 paid sick days a year, overtime and statutory holiday pay, two weeks of paid holiday time, and random workplace inspections to make sure living and working conditions are safe.

The number of temporary foreign workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 is rising in Ontario. On June 29, the province reported 257 new cases of the virus; 177 of those infected were migrant farm workers and all but two were linked to a single farm.

An advocacy group called Justice for Migrant Workers has said more than 1,000 workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Ontario, and three have died, since the start of the pandemic.

In B.C., the situation has not been as dire. An outbreak at a Kelowna nursery in March (which infected at least 19 workers) led to a provincially funded plan that had migrant workers arriving in B.C. housed in hotels and receiving meals, health care, and wages while they waited out the two-week quarantine period imposed on all travellers from outside the country.

Twenty-eight farm workers tested positive for COVID-19 while in isolation in B.C., which meant the prevention of that many potential outbreaks, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry June 25.

Fr. Richard Zanotti, CS, coordinator of the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s Hispanic ministry, also signed the letter from Archbishop Miller. His ministry works closely with migrant farm workers in the Lower Mainland and he hopes changes made during the pandemic will improve living and working conditions for farm workers in Canada.

“I hope that all of this coming up with the coronavirus will create some long-range changes, for instance, in housing and how the workers are treated, in terms of salaries and other benefits, like overtime and sick leave,” he said.

Currently, housing situations for farm workers can be cramped, he said, with four people on bunk beds in a single shared room and as many as 20 people sharing the same house and kitchen. “It’s like a petri dish for the virus.”

It can be hard for temporary workers to access health care, he added, and those who think they might be sick can be fearful of testing positive for COVID-19 and losing their wages or being sent back to their home countries.

Zanotti said many farm workers have come to the archdiocese’s migrant ministry for counselling due to high anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, since the start of the pandemic he has been unable to meet with them in person for conversation or to celebrate Mass, offer confession, or share a meal. That leaves many of them feeling isolated and distraught, with he and his volunteers striving to do their best to stay in touch over phone calls and Whats App.

“We want to do direct ministry with them, but we also feel that advocacy on their behalf is also very important,” said Zanotti.

“The social teaching of the Church tells us we have to advocate on behalf of the oppressed, the poor, and
the vulnerable. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Archbishop Miller said he hopes Trudeau will display the same concern for temporary farm workers, who “contribute so much to the wellbeing of all Canadians,” as he has for Canadian citizens during the pandemic.


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Bishop Hagemoen announces another round of clergy appointments and pastoral changes

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 17:49

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Following up on a first round of clergy updates June 18, 2020, Bishop Mark Hagemoen announced further pastoral assignments and clergy changes in a letter to the faithful July 10.

Most of the changes take effect Aug. 1, 2020, unless otherwise indicated. The bishop also notes that there are still a few outstanding assignments to be announced in the days ahead.

Click here to read the July 10 update from Bishop Hagemoen: LINK

Click here for news of first round of appointments June 18: LINK

“Again, I take this opportunity to thank all of these priests for their ministry in our diocese and we ask God’s blessings on their priesthood as they move forward to new assignments,” said Bishop Hagemoen. “Let us commit to remembering them in prayer.”



Fr. John Abban-Bonsu

Fr. John Abban-Bonsu, will now serve as pastor at St. Joseph, Kindersley; Sacred Heart, Eston; Sacred Heart, Marengo; and St. Joseph, Eatonia. He has served as Associate Pastor at Holy Spirit Parish, Saskatoon, since his arrival from Ghana in 2018.


Fr. Richard Philiposki, S. Chr.

Fr. Richard Philiposki S.Chr., will serve as Pastor at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, Saskatoon. Fr. Philiposki is a priest of the Society of Christ, a religious order that has an apostolate ministry to serve Polish Catholic immigrants and their descendants outside of Poland around the world.

He will be ordained 41 years this coming September and has served as pastor at several parishes in Canada and the United States. He will begin his ministry in Saskatoon as of Aug. 15.


Associate Pastors:

Fr. Phong Pham

Fr. Phong Pham, will serve as Associate Pastor at Holy Spirit Parish, Saskatoon. Fr. Pham is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and has served in multiple assignments, most recently as Chaplain at St. George’s Chapel, CFB, Dundurn.


Chaplain / Clergy Moderator:

Fr. Geoffrey Young

Fr. Geoffrey Young, is appointed as Chaplain and Moderator of the Sacred Heart Latin Community, Saskatoon. Fr. Young continues to serve as Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, Saskatoon, where he has been serving since returning from studies in Rome in 2019.

He will be the first assigned “moderator-chaplain” of the newly decreed “Sacred Heart Latin Community Public Association of Christ’s Faithful” (created according to Code of Canon Law #312-320). Previously worshiping out of our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, Saskatoon, the Sacred Heart Latin Community will now be celebrating liturgies out of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Saskatoon.


Fr. Emmanuel Mbah

Fr. Emmanuel Mbah, is appointed as Hospital Chaplain in Saskatoon. Fr. Mbah is returning to the diocese after having completed studies in the United States, which commenced in 2018. Fr. Emmanuel previously served as Pastor in Rosetown, Elrose and Beechy starting in 2012.


Clergy updates:

Fr. Rhéal Bussière

Fr. Rhéal Bussière will be taking an assignment in hospital chaplaincy in Toronto, Ontario. He is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and has served in various assignments since his ordination in 1995, most recently as a full-time hospital chaplain since 2011.


Seminarian / Religious updates:

Br. Andrew Wing, LC

Br. Andrew Wing, LC, from St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon made his religious profession with the Legionaries of Christ on Sept. 5, 2015, and completed his Philosophy studies in Rome, Italy in June 2020. He will now be living with the Legionaries of Christ community in Calgary, Alberta working with youth



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Canadians invited to show solidarity with victims of flooding in Ukraine

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 09:48

By Catholic Near East Welfare Association

(Note: CNEWA collects funds for religious organizations providing humanitarian relief services, as well as pastoral care, throughout Western Ukraine)

[Ottawa – July 9, 2020] – Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) is inviting Canadians to remember victims of the worst floods to hit Western Ukraine since 2008.

On June 30, 2020, just a few days after the floods submerged more than 300 towns and villages in the region, CNEWA began accepting donations that will go to deliver food, fresh water, shelter and spiritual support to those most in need.

“These are excruciatingly difficult times for the people of Western Ukraine,” said Carl Hétu, national director of CNEWA Canada.

“First an economic crisis accentuated by war and conflict and now the pandemic and floods. Families and the elderly are especially suffering. We’ve been working with the Ukrainian Catholic Church for more than 28 years and we are confident they will reach those most in need. We invite all those who can to contribute, and everyone to join in prayers for the many who have lost everything.”

In 2008 CNEWA collected $85,000 to help people devastated by a similar flood in Western Ukraine.

On June 26, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, launched a global appeal asking members of his church to rally support for the victims of the disaster.

“I appeal to all communities of our Church in Ukraine and throughout the world to support those who are now deprived of their home and have come face-to-face with misfortune,” said Shevchuk. “I direct my request to the world community and to international humanitarian organizations: be open to respond to the needs of those who have become victims of the disaster that has afflicted regions in Western Ukraine.”

With rivers rising as much as three meters above normal levels, the floods have devastated thousands of families as well as roads, bridges, dams and property.

Environmental experts have joined a chorus of local residents in laying at least part of the blame for the floods on excessive logging and deforestation.

According to a BBC article, there has been a threefold increase in logging on mountain peaks in the Carpathians since 2001. Worse of all, up to a third of all logging in Ukraine is believed to be unreported and outside of government regulations.

Donations can be made online at, selecting Ukraine as the recipient region for the gift, or by phone at 1-866-322-4441.

Cheques can be mailed to CNEWA Canada at 1247 Kilborn Place, Ottawa, ON K1H 6K9, marked “Ukraine floods”. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of $10 or more.


An agency of the Holy See, CNEWA works for, through and with the Eastern churches throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Ukraine Founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA provides pastoral and humanitarian support to the churches and people of the East.

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Celebration of sacred liturgy addressed in bishop’s letter

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 16:52

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Posture during celebration of the Eucharist, use of bells at the consecration, and mandating of extraordinary ministers of communion were among the matters addressed in a recent letter to the faithful from Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

The Saskatoon bishop’s July 8, 2020 letter on celebration of the Sacred Liturgy begins by noting that one of the goals of the diocesan Pastoral Plan to Proclaim Christ and the Kingdom of God Today is to promote excellent liturgy, with “full and active participation.”

“This goal cites Sacrosanctum Concilium, which is the foundational document from the Second Vatican Council that has guided the Church’s liturgical teaching over the last 50 years,” noted Bishop Hagemoen.

“In order to better celebrate the Sacred Liturgy in our diocese, I have consulted the six deaneries of our diocese, and have deliberated with our Liturgy Commission over the last year. As a result of the consultation and reflection, and guided by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM, Canada 2011) I am updating the following liturgical directives for our diocese, effective August 2, 2020,” he said.

Concerning postures during the liturgy of the Eucharist, the faithful are now asked to kneel immediately following the Sanctus (Holy, Holy) until the Mysterium Fidei (“Mystery of Faith” memorial acclamation.)

The faithful can receive on the tongue or in the hand. “For the sake of appropriate efficiency and order, it is recommended that communion be received standing, although one may choose to receive while kneeling. Holy Communion should be always received with reverence and respect, and without the faithful feeling hurried.”

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not explicitly mention posture after one receives Holy Communion, the bishop noted. “Given this fact, and also that there is a great variety of practice on this point throughout the diocese – which represents the legitimate diversity of devotional attitudes upon receiving Holy Communion – there will be no directive given regarding posture following receiving Holy Communion. Time for a short period of ‘sacred silence’ after all of the faithful have received should be observed.”

Bells may be used at the elevation of the host and chalice during the Eucharistic ccellebration. “A single ring may also be used at the invocation of the Holy Spirit when the priest’s hands are placed with palms down over the Eucharistic bread and wine.”

The bishop’s letter also addressed tabernacle security, the mandating of extraordinary ministers of communion, the decommissioning of churches and the storage of liturgical furnishings and vestments when a church closes.

Regarding use of technology at Masses, the bishop refers leaders to the guidelines released by the Liturgy Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, saying “While such technologies may seem to enhance participation, they can – if not properly employed or if overly used – detract from the sacredness of the church and the liturgy itself.”

The bishop also clarified that two forms of the one Roman Rite of the Mass are celebrated within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon: the Ordinary Form, the Novus Ordo of the 1970 Missal; and the Extraordinary Form, the 1962 Missal (the traditional Latin Mass last revised under Pope John XXIII).

“On this point, I highlight Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who stated in his introduction of the moto proprio, “Summorum Pontificum: On The Use Of The Roman Liturgy Prior To The Reform Of 1970” – which permitted formally the use of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal –that we should think of the two forms as forms of a single Roman rite – and not as two separate rites or two separate Masses,” said Bishop Hagemoen.

“Let us recall Benedict XVI’s call to unity as we celebrate throughout our diocese in our common single liturgical worship the one, Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass. This will be one of two forms – but is always the single rite – in which we have the privilege of celebrating Jesus Christ who becomes present to us – in Word and Sacrament – as the source and summit of the Christian life.”

The bishop concluded: “Let us hold firm to the hope in the life, mission, and ministry of Jesus Christ through the celebration of all of the Sacraments of Christ and His Church, and especially through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which draws the faithful together from across our diocese and beyond on a daily and weekly basis.


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Bishop Hagemoen changes age of Confirmation to Grade 6 for children in diocese of Saskatoon

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 16:18

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Beginning in 2021, children in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation in Grade 6, rather than before their First Holy Communion in Grade 2.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen announced the change of the normative age for Confirmation to Grade 6 (11 years) in a letter to the faithful released July 8. The age for celebration of First Holy Communion and First Reconciliation (Confession) will continue to be Grade 2 (7 years).

“I hope that this shift will not only present new and ongoing opportunities for effective faith-formation of youth and their families in preparing for all of the sacraments but may also be the opportunity to foster new initiatives and creativity regarding ongoing faith-formation and youth activities for the young people and their families of the parishes of our diocese,” Bishop Hagemoen said in his message to the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of the diocese.

Since 2006, Confirmation in the diocese of Saskatoon has been celebrated by children in Grade 2, immediately prior to receiving First Holy Communion (at the same celebration). Saskatoon’s Bishop at the time, Most Rev. Albert LeGatt, initiated the practice of celebrating together the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist – and also First Reconciliation – at Grade 2 or age 7, in the order modelled by the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Over the past year, Bishop Mark Hagemoen has undertaken a consultation about the age of Confirmation, led by a recently-established diocesan Sacraments Committee, and including the diocese’s six deaneries and pastors, and gathering “feedback from lay parishioners, especially parents and catechists,” as well as consulting with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

“This (consultation) was in large part due to many clergy and laity – especially parents – approaching me about concerns regarding the current age of Confirmation, and the ability of young children at the age of seven to fully comprehend and appreciate all of the catechetical formation in preparation for this and two other Sacraments: Holy Communion and Reconciliation,” Hagemoen explained.

The bishop noted that the consultation generated the following points:

  • preparation for three sacraments in one year was overwhelming for children, parents and catechists;
  • delaying Confirmation provides a greater opportunity for further family catechesis between sacraments;
  • preparing for Confirmation alone at a later age presents a better opportunity for service projects and retreats;
  • more emphasis should be placed on forming disciples and intentional accompaniment of families.

Confirmation and other sacraments are covered at several stages of the religious formation provided in Catholic schools, and changing the age of Confirmation does affect their religious curriculum, noted the bishop. Sacramental preparation will continue to be the primary responsibility of parishes and parents.

A number of Confirmations that were delayed this year because of COVID-19 restrictions may still involve younger candidates. “If there are any outstanding confirmations that were delayed this past spring-summer 2020, I would be pleased to receive a request from any pastor to celebrate those Confirmations in 2021. Otherwise, I direct our parishes to plan for future preparation and formation programs for Confirmation at Grade 6.”

The diocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis will outline appropriate Confirmation preparation programs in light of this change beginning this fall, the bishop announced.

“We will be meeting with deaneries to have conversations around making the transition as seamless as possible,” said Marilyn Jackson, Director of Pastoral Ministries for the diocese of Saskatoon. “I see this change as an opportunity to do something new rather than trying to do something old in a new way. The focus must be on intentional accompaniment of families and on making disciples.”

In his letter, Bishop Hagemoen also reflected on how the Sacrament of Confirmation enriches those who are baptized “with a special strength of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1285).

“The sacraments are occasions of the reception of God’s gift of grace, which actually brings about ongoing conversion of life and heart in us,” said Bishop Hagemoen. “The hope is that the decision to change the confirmation age will encourage more young people to receive the sacrament at a time in their ongoing faith formation to better strengthen them spiritually and enrich the entire Body of Christ.”


A 2019 confirmation celebration at Saint Anne parish in Saskatoon. (File photo by Blake Sittler)

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Pope Francis calls on Christians to recognize the face of Christ in migrants

Wed, 07/08/2020 - 11:02

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Pope Francis offered Mass July 8, asking the Virgin Mary to help Christians recognize the face of Christ in each migrant and refugee.

“As we undertake to seek the face of the Lord, we may recognize Him in the face of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, and the foreigners whom God places on our way. And this encounter becomes for us a time of grace and salvation, as it bestows on us the same mission entrusted to the Apostles,” Pope Francis said in the Casa Santa Marta chapel July 8.

“May the Virgin Mary, Solacium migrantium, ‘Solace or Comfort of Migrants,’ help us discover the face of Her Son in all our brothers and sisters who are forced to flee from their homeland because of the many injustices that still afflict our world today,” the pope said in his homily.

Invoking the new Marian title added to the Litany of Loretto in June, Pope Francis prayed for the migrants who are in detention camps in Libya and elsewhere who are often subject to abuse and violence.

The Holy Father recommended words of Christ that can be used as a part of one’s daily examination of conscience: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

The pope said: “The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ. He himself told us. It is He who knocks on our door, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, seeking an encounter with us and requesting our assistance.”

Pope Francis offered Mass at his residence to mark the seventh anniversary of his 2013 visit to Italy’s island of Lampedusa (a migrant landing spot in the Mediterranean).

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only the staff of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Department for Promoting Integral Human Development were in attendance at the anniversary Mass in Vatican City July 8, 2020.

“Today’s responsorial Psalm urges us always to seek the Lord’s face: ‘Rely on the mighty Lord, constantly seek His face,’” Pope Francis said. “This quest is a fundamental attitude in the life of all the faithful, who have come to realize that the ultimate goal of their existence is the encounter with God.”

During his homily, the pope told the story of his encounter with an Ethiopian migrant during his visit to Lampedusa in 2013, recalling that he later found out that his translator at the time had “distilled” the migrant’s story because of the intensity of the suffering recounted.

“This happens today with Libya,” he said. “They give us a ‘distilled’ version. The war is bad, we know it, but you cannot imagine the hell they live through there in those detention camps. And these people only came with hope to cross the sea.”

Pope Francis has frequently spoken out about the plight of migrants detained in Libya this year. On June 14 the pope called on the international community to “take their plight to heart” and to identify pathways and means to provide migrants with the protection that they need for a dignified condition, adding that the health situation with the coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the migrants’ already precarious conditions.

Lampedusa, the southernmost part of Italy, is located 160 nautical miles from the Libyan capital of Tripoli. It is a primary destination for migrants from Africa seeking entry to Europe.

Pope Francis visited the Mediterranean island on July 8, 2013. The trip, his first pastoral visit outside Rome, signaled that concern for migrants would be at the center of his pontificate.

The pope quoted part of his Lampedusa homily in the livestreamed Mass. He said: “The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference.”

“In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business.”

The pope then responded with a reflection on how the Apostles’ lives were transformed by their encounter with Christ.

“The personal encounter with the Lord, a time of grace and salvation, immediately entails a mission: ‘As you go, Jesus tells them, make this proclamation: The kingdom of heaven is at hand,’” he said. “Encounter and mission cannot be separated.”


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Vatican cardinal: peace is threatened as health and economic crises continue in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 11:28

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – A Vatican cardinal has said that the world is facing a “tsunami” of humanitarian crises caused by the coronavirus emergency, conflict, and decreased security around the globe.

Echoing Pope Francis, Cardinal Peter Turkson called July 7 for a global ceasefire during the pandemic so that assistance can safely be provided to those in need, especially in countries with ongoing conflict such as Yemen and Venezuela.

Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, also noted a critical need for disarmament, proposing that money used to finance arms be redirected toward supporting healthcare systems instead.

The global health emergency, economic recession, and ongoing climate crisis mean “diminishing access to water, diminishing access to food, increasing social unrest, violence, breakdown of law and order, and unfortunately, the normalization of insecurity, distrust, and uncertainty,” the cardinal said.

“The confluence of all of these crises has engendered a veritable tsunami of humanitarian crises,” he continued, “which has spread and spared no human life [or] institution from its disruptive consequences especially its impact on harmony and peace.”

Turkson spoke during a press conference about the Vatican’s COVID-19 Commission, which he leads. In particular, the cardinal addressed the focus of the commission’s second working group, which is security.

On the subject of a global ceasefire, he said that he supported appeals made by Pope Francis and by the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. There are countries already suffering from conflict now with additional grave needs due to the coronavirus crisis, he said, but “intervention itself is rendered difficult by the violence.”

Turkson said that strategies the commission is using to appeal for a ceasefire include the advocacy of local peace and justice commissions, along with calls for reconciliation and global solidarity, and creating a “redefinition of peace,” following the example of St. Pope John XXIII in the 1963 encyclical Pacem in terris, framing peace in terms such as “food security,” “solidarity,” and an “inclusive public health system.”

Other steps he said the commission was taking include working with on-the-ground groups such as Caritas Internationalis and Sant’Egidio to help find peaceful resolutions to conflicts.

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, a member of the COVID-19 commission and an economics professor, noted in her presentation Pope Francis’ request “to prepare the future and not only be prepared for the future.”

The global economic recession is expected to displace billions of jobs, she said, noting that “the pandemic knows no borders. Then, we need solutions without borders.”

She said that the economic taskforce of the commission had been meeting weekly to think about and discuss different economic issues connected to the pandemic.

The religious sister added that she was not a fan of the word “recovery” in reference to the economy, but preferred to say “regenerate the economy,” because of its focus on doing something new.

Alessio Pecorario, another commission member, called the security taskforce, which he coordinates, the “network of the network.”

Pecorario said that members were working to bring together different experts and Catholic non-violence groups to bring together concrete proposals on the issue of peace and security.


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Testimony: “Why Do I Pray?”

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 09:40

By Garth McCutcheon, Christ the King Parish, Foam Lake, SK

Approximately four years ago, I started to pray daily.

I owe the inspiration for this change in my life, primarily, to Matthew Kelly and the Dynamic Catholic Organization. I found the book “Rediscover Catholicism” in a church library and started reading it. The book inspired me to read other books by Matthew Kelly, which in turn inspired me to make some changes in my life.

One of the changes was to make daily prayer a habit. I am Catholic but I believe that my experience with prayer applies to all. We are all God’s people.

I have always prayed some, ever since I was young, but I never knew how to pray. I would pray when I needed something and then stop when the need went away or was fulfilled.

When I decided to pray daily, I did not know how to start or what to say. So, I started with the Rosary.

Over time, while I continued to pray the Rosary every day, I added a prayer of my own composition. It is comprised of bits and pieces that I picked up from other sources and some of my own ideas. It evolves regularly as world circumstances change. My daily prayer has four themes: Love, Humility, Gratitude and Intercession.

My intercession prayed before and after the Rosary goes like this: “Lord God Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Saviour and Redeemer, Holy Spirit Mentor and Guide. I come to You today to pray for a deep personal relationship with Jesus my Saviour and Redeemer, and for a pure heart and a healthy mind and body and I ask for these same blessings for my wife and for our family and friends and for all who seek you with a sincere heart, that through the intercession of our Holy Mother Mary and the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we might come ever closer to You, Lord God Heavenly Father, in love and humility, and to Your Holy Church on earth. Amen.”

Starting in January of this year, I instead prayed the 15 Prayers of St Bridget of Sweden and included the same intercession before and after. (Thank you to Ken and Janelle Yasinski of for introducing me to the 15 prayers of St Bridget.)

A few weeks ago, during the season of Lent, I found that I was missing the daily Rosary and I also became aware of the need to pray daily for the souls in purgatory so I again began praying the Rosary daily with the same intercession.

I also added a new intercession before and after the 15 prayers of St Bridget: “Lord God Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Saviour and Redeemer, Holy Spirit Mentor and Guide I come to You today to pray for all the souls in purgatory, that You might look upon them with love, compassion and mercy. Amen.”

Also, starting on June 1, 2020, I added an intention to my pre-Rosary prayer for our Holy Father Pope Francis, Bishop Mark Hagemoen, and our priest Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu, as well as for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the health, safety and well-being of those who are caring for the sick and for those who are providing for our daily needs.

I pray my own prayer on my knees which takes about 10 minutes.

Part of my prayer time is also combined with my exercise time, so that as I pray, I am exercising on my elliptical machine. Therefore one good habit reinforces the other, and helps me to not miss a day.

At the present time, my daily prayer including the Rosary and the 15 prayers of St Bridget take about 45 to 50 minutes. They are the best minutes of my day!

Why do I pray daily?

Now the obvious question is “Why do I pray daily?”

The answer is that I (like everyone) have bad habits. In order for me to become the best version of myself, I need to get rid of bad habits and replace them with good habits.

Daily prayer is a good habit and like many habits both good and bad, once you do it every day for a period of time, it becomes part of your day that you cannot do without. At least as important, daily prayer has changed me and changed my life.

A couple of years ago, I was praying about my future. I received a clear answer to pick up my guitar. So, I did – and within a few months, I had learned our current Mass parts and enough hymns that I was able to lead our parish in the music for our Mass and take my turn once a month or so, thus lightening the load for our other musicians. This has been a great blessing for me and I sincerely hope that my parish feels the same. I have also become kinder, more thoughtful, less opinionated, more faithful, more patient, more generous and more forgiving.

This spring, for the first time in many years, I have not experienced a significant bout of depression which has been a fixture of springtime for me for many years. This may not sound like much to you, but to me, it is an answer to my prayer! (At the same time, I do want to clarify that while my depression has been better as a result of daily prayer, I would not ever recommend that anyone stop their depression treatment when they start to pray. I continue to work with my family doctor to monitor my condition.)

In addition, I had an absolutely amazing but frightening experience a couple of weeks ago which only confirmed my faith that God is looking out for me. I was out on our neighbour’s dock in a very high wind, trying to rescue a piece of the dock that was threatening to blow away. When I picked it up, a strong gust of wind picked me and the dock piece up and tossed me into the water head first. My recollection is of my head hitting the bottom softly in sand or gravel. I was very shaken but managed to get out with my wife’s help and got inside and warmed up. When the wind had died down, we went and looked at the place I fell in, and there is nothing there but solid rock. There is no sand or gravel for my head to have landed in, yet I didn’t even have a bruise!

In these unusual times, we have all had the opportunity to look death in the eye (on the television screen) on a regular basis. Prayer is helping me to face these difficult circumstances with a calm mind and a hopeful heart. I know that the purpose of my life is to reach heaven and to help others to do the same. To do this, I am striving to become a ”prayer warrior” and my sword and my shield are prayer.

Why am I writing this?

The final question is: “Why am I writing this?”

One answer is that Jesus tells us in the Gospels to spread the good news and so I am seeking to share the solace, comfort and peace that can (and will) come from the habit of daily prayer. At least as importantly, this is an answer to my prayer about what I need to be doing in my life.

Over the years, when asked to pray for someone or for something, I would say “yes”, but then do nothing. Now, when I say that I will pray for you or for a needed change in the world, I actually do it every day!

Am I a saint? Certainly not! I am just a person who believes what Jesus told us about prayer and the way to eternal life. I know that there are lots of other people, more devout and more committed than I am. I encourage them to also share their experience with prayer for the good of all.



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