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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: 1 year 6 days ago

Saskatchewan court sides with Catholic school division in funding dispute

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 23:00

Canadian Catholic News report with files from Catholic Saskatoon News and Grandin Media

The Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association (SCSBA)  is “relieved, reassured and grateful” in the wake of the unanimous decision March 25, 2020 to overturn a 2017 court ruling saying that the province could not fund non-Catholic students attending Catholic schools.

“This ruling confirms what we have said and believed all along: parents know what is best for their children and they should be able to choose Catholic, faith-based education if that is what they want – no matter their reasons, faith backgrounds or traditions,” said Tom Fortosky, Executive Director of the SCSBA in a statement the about the resolution to the Theodore court case.

The ruling by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal overturns the previous decision made by Judge Donald Layh, which held that the province did not have the legal right to provide funding for non-Catholic students at Catholic schools.

Background information on the Theodore case can be found at OpenCatholicEducation.ca

“I am sure you are as relieved by and grateful for this decision as I am,” Diane Boyko, board chair of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, wrote to parents after the unanimous decision was announced. “A significant amount of time and money has been spent on this court case, and we are hopeful that we can all refocus our energy and resources on our students and families to build upon the exemplary model of education we have in this province.”

At the same time, Boyko noted that Good Spirit (Public) School Division does have an option to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to consider an appeal of this most recent decision.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Serena Shaw, president of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association which had intervenor status in the case, as Alberta has similar constitutional legislation as Saskatchewan when it comes to separate schools. “It’s really good news for the Saskatchewan school board and the Saskatchewan government…. they’ll get to continue educating they way they were and being funded for the students they are educating, regardless of their faith.”

The court case dates back to 2005 when the York School Division (now Good Spirit) filed a complaint against what is now Christ the Teacher School Division.

The Catholic division was created after the public school was closed in the town of Theodore in central Saskatchewan. due to a lack of enrolment. Its 42 students were to be bused 17 kilometres to a school in Springside until local parents rallied to save the school by making it part of the Catholic system, renaming it St. Theodore Roman Catholic School.

The public board argued Catholics make up a small proportion of the school population and that the mandate of Catholic education should be limited to educating only Catholic students.

The case was heard in a Yorkton courtroom in 2015, pitting the public board against its Catholic counterpart and the provincial government. After Layh’s decision in favour of the public board, the Saskatchewan Party government of then-Premier Brad Wall sided with the Catholic board, and the province invoked the notwithstanding clause, which allows the status quo to stand for five years.

An appeal on Layh’s decision was heard in 2019, with the unanimous decision in favour of the Catholic school board position delivered this week.

Saskatchewan is one of only three provinces where Catholic education rights are enshrined in the constitution, along with Ontario and Alberta.

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Vatican updates guidelines for Holy Week liturgies during coronavirus pandemic

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 18:47

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – After dioceses throughout the world suspended public Masses in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Congregation for Divine Worship has updated its decree on Holy Week liturgies.

The Congregation for Eastern Churches issued a similar decree.

“Given that the date of Easter cannot be transferred, in the countries which have been struck by the disease and where restrictions around the assembly and movement of people have been imposed, bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of the people and in a suitable place, avoiding concelebration and omitting the sign of peace,” states the updated decree issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship March 25.

The document recommends that parishes and dioceses inform Catholics of times of Easter Sunday Mass and other Holy Week liturgies, so that “they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes” via live broadcast or streaming, if possible.

“In any event, it remains important to dedicate an adequate time to prayer, giving importance above all to the Liturgia Horarum.”

The Congregation for Eastern Churches also issued recommendations March 25, while calling on the heads of all Eastern Catholic Churches to issue norms sui iuris in accordance with the measures established by civil authorities for containment of the contagion. The recommendations for Eastern Catholic rites include maintaining feast days on the liturgical calendar by live broadcast, limiting participation of the choir, and encouraging prayer at home.

“Any baptisms scheduled for Easter are postponed to another date,” the letter signed by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the congregation, states.

The updated decree by the Congregation for Divine Worship reiterates the guidelines issued earlier (see article below) for the liturgies of Holy Week in areas where there are restrictions on public gatherings from civil and Church authorities:

Palm Sunday – The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within sacred buildings; in Cathedral churches the second form given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted; in parish churches and in other places the third form is to be used.

The Chrism Mass – Evaluating the concrete situation in different countries, the Episcopal Conferences will be able to give indications about a possible transfer to another date.

Holy Thursday – The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted. At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the procession is also omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle. On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests.

Good Friday – In the Universal Prayer, Bishops will arrange to have a special intention prepared for those who find themselves in distress, the sick, the dead, (cf. Missale Romanum). The adoration of the Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant.

The Easter Vigil – Is to be celebrated only in Cathedral and parish churches. For the “Baptismal Liturgy” only the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” is maintained (cf. Missale Romanum).

“The Episcopal Conferences and individual dioceses will see to it that resources are provided to support family and personal prayer,” the decree states.

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Vatican: Easter date can not be changed, despite coronavirus, according to decree published March 20 

By Hannah Brockhaus, Canadian Catholic News

[Vatican City – CNA] – The Vatican department for liturgy published guidelines March 20, 2020 for bishops and priests on the celebration of Holy Week, the Triduum, and Easter liturgies during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The document recommends that bishops postpone those liturgies which may be postponed. It also indicates how priests and bishops can offer those celebrations which cannot be moved – such as Easter – in places where public liturgies are suspended.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published the “general indications” after receiving inquiries from several bishops.

The decree was signed by the congregation’s prefect Cardinal Robert Sarah and Secretary Archbishop Arthur Roche and authorized “by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff, for the year 2020 only,” meaning that the recommendations cannot be used in future years.

“Easter is the heart of the entire liturgical year and is not simply one feast among others,” the document states, and that the Easter Triduum “cannot be transferred to another time.”

The congregation’ document also says that the bishop has faculties to postpone the Chrism Mass of Holy Week.

The Paschal Triduum is the three days leading up to and including Easter Sunday. It begins at sundown Holy Thursday and ends on sundown Easter Sunday.

The decree orders that, in the places where there are restrictions from civil and Church authorities, the bishop, in agreement with the bishops’ conference, may offer the liturgies of the Easter Triduum in the cathedral, and priests of the diocese may offer the liturgies in their parishes, without the physical presence of the faithful.

“The faithful should be informed of the times of the celebration so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes,” it indicates, adding that live television or internet broadcasts are helpful in this situation.

Dioceses and bishops’ conferences should provide resources to support families and individuals in personal prayer, it adds.

The document also provides several suggestions for the offering of the particular liturgies by priests and bishops.

All priests may offer Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a suitable place, without the public, it says, but the washing of the feet, which is already optional, should be omitted.

The procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the place of repose at the end of Mass should also be omitted and the Blessed Sacrament should remain in the tabernacle.

Good Friday’s service of the Passion of the Lord may be celebrated in cathedrals and parish churches, the congregation said, and the universal prayers should include an intention for the sick, the dead, and those who feel lost and dismayed.

The guidelines indicate that the Easter Vigil may only be offered in cathedrals and parish churches, “where, and in the measure that there is a real possibility of doing so, established by the one responsible.”

The preparing and lighting of the fire during the “Solemn Beginning of the Vigil or Lucenarium” is omitted, it says. The Paschal Candle is lit, the procession is omitted, and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) follows.

The Mass proceeds as usual, apart from the “Baptismal Liturgy,” where “the renewal of baptismal promises alone is necessary,” it explains.

The document states that “those who have absolutely no possibility of uniting themselves to the Paschal Vigil celebrated in a church should pray the Office of Readings for Easter Sunday.”

Processions and other devotions of popular piety that usually take place during Holy Week and the Easter Triduum can be transferred by the diocesan bishop to other days during the year, such as September 14 and 15, it states.

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Share Lent collection for Development and Peace derailed by COVID-19 shutdown: virtual campaign launched

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 11:43

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The suspension of public celebrations of Mass to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also means a suspension of Sunday collections in parishes across the country — including on Solidarity Sunday, when a major collection happens each year for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace / Caritas Canada.

Marked annually on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Solidarity Sunday includes the Share Lent collection, which is vital to the work of Development and Peace / Caritas Canada. In an effort to provide Canadians with a way to continue to support Share Lent, a “virtual collection” will be held this year, with more information and links found online at www.devp.org  (website)

“Although we are working to find a new date for the Solidarity Sunday, we would like to make this coming weekend a virtual giving Solidarity Sunday (online or by phone to 1-888-664-3387),” said Priva Hang’andu, Saskatchewan Regional Animator for Development and Peace/ Caritas Canada.

Donations can also be sent by mail to: Development and Peace, 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd. West, 3rd Floor, Montreal (Quebec) H3G 1T7.

Development and Peace / Caritas Canada is also asking Canadians to consider sharing year-round through a monthly giving program. By signing up as a Share Year-Round donor, supporters give Development and Peace the ability to respond to needs as they arise. It is expected that Development and Peace’s partner organizations around the world will need support more than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen has written a letter of support for the Development and Peace /Caritas Canada Share Lent collection, but the chance to share with congregations via verbal announcements or parish bulletins has also disappeared this year with the COVID-19 shutdown of Sunday gatherings.

Bishop Hagemoen’s letter about Share Lent is posted on the diocesan website: Link to Letter of Support.

For over 50 years, Development and Peace has supported 15,200 local initiatives in fields such as agriculture, education, community action as well as the consolidation of peace and advocacy for human rights in 70 countries. With human dignity at its centre, a holistic approach to development founded on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching is what Pope Paul VI called “authentic development.”

The 2020 Share Lent focus is in solidarity with the Indigenous and traditional communities of the Amazon, and calls on Canadians to again act to support and protect “Our Common Home” — in particular the vital ecosystems of the Amazon and the vulnerable people who live there.

Development and Peace‘s For our Common Home campaign, which was launched in the fall of 2019 and continues over the Lenten season, responds to Pope Francis’s call in the encyclical, Laudato Si’, to care for the Earth and its peoples

“At this Lenten time, we turn our prayers and action toward supporting our sisters and brothers in the Global South who protect the forests, lands, air and water, and as such are preserving our common home for present and future generations. We invite all people of good will to give with their hearts to support Development and Peace‘s programs in Canada and in the Global South, and to act in solidarity with the most vulnerable people,” says Serge Langlois, Executive Director of Development and Peace / Caritas Canada.

A variety of materials exploring the Share Lent theme can be found online: LINK to RESOURCES, including videos:

 

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Pope Francis: Beware the ‘poison’ of laziness, complaining; prays for health care workers, those who have died from coronavirus

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 10:28

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Pope Francis March 24 warned Christians to avoid living in a “fog” of sadness, sloth, and complaining, instead of rejoicing in the spiritual healing they have received from Christ.

There are “many Christians who live this state of sloth, unable to do anything but complain about everything,” the pope said at Mass in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse.

“Sloth is a poison, it is a fog that surrounds the soul and does not let it live,” he continued. “It’s also a drug, because if you taste it often, you like it. And you end up a ‘sad-addict,’ a ‘sloth-addict.’”

Francis added that sloth is a “fairly usual sin among us,” one which the devil “can use to annihilate our spiritual life as well as our life as people.”

He urged people to reflect on the healing water of their baptism, through which Christ gave them new life, and through which they find salvation.

The pope is offering his daily morning Mass for those affected by COVID-19. The Masses are being livestreamed throughout the coronavirus emergency.

On March 24, Francis prayed particularly for the doctors and priests who have died from the coronavirus after treating or visiting the sick.

“I have heard that some doctors, priests have passed away in recent days, I don’t know if [there are] any nurses [who have died],” the pope said.

“We pray for them, for their families, and I thank God for the example of heroism they give us in treating the sick,” he added.

In his homily, Pope Francis gave a reflection on the story of Jesus’ healing of a man who had been ill for 38 years, as told in St. John’s Gospel.

When Jesus asks the sick man if he wants to be well, he responds by complaining about others and about his situation, the pope said.

“It makes us think, the attitude of this man,” Francis stated. He may have been paralyzed, but he was also “sick in the heart, sick in the soul, sick with pessimism, sick with sadness, sick with sloth.”

The answer to Jesus’ question should be: “Yes, I want to be healed!” the pope underlined.

Francis explained that the man’s illness was not his sin; his sin was “complaining about the lives of others: the sin of sadness that is the seed of the devil, of that inability to make a decision about one’s life.”

“Yes, to look at the lives of others to complain. Not to criticize them: to complain. ‘They go first, I am a victim of this life,’” he said.

Pope Francis noted that the blind man healed by Jesus in last Sunday’s Gospel responded in a different way: he responded with “much joy.”

He recommended that people read chapter 5 of the Gospel of John to see what spiritual disease they may being falling into.

“Jesus healed me: do you not see the reaction of others who have recovered, who take the stretcher and dance, sing, give thanks, saying it to the whole world?” he said.

END

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Catholics sharing in “spiritual communion” of online Masses celebrated by priests in diocese during COVID-19 shutdown

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 09:23

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon are among those around the continent who are turning to live-streaming video technology to share their celebration of the Eucharist with the faithful, as public celebration of Mass is suspended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.

Fr. Darryl Millette of Holy Spirit Parish in Saskatoon – who has been using technology as part of his ministry and outreach for many years  – has created a central website for streaming of Masses and other online resources created by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon: saskatoonmass.com.

Prominently placed near the top of the website, is the “Act of Spiritual Communion” prayer that Catholics are invited to use when they are unable to celebrate the Eucharist in person.

“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. Since I can not now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You were already there, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You; permit not that I should ever be separated from You. Amen.” – Act of Spiritual Communion

The saskatoonmass.com website on the Fourth Sunday of Lent included a 9:00 a.m. live-streamed Mass from the Queen of Peace Chapel at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, with Bishop Mark Hagemoen presiding. Three members of the Dale family provided music ministry and proclaimed readings at the celebration. The only other person present at the celebration was videographer Tim Yaworski.

Other priests in the diocese also live-streamed their celebrations of Sunday Mass on March 22 — either alone or in the company of only one or two others, including:

  • St. Anne, Saskatoon (Fr. Matthew Ramsay)
  • Holy Spirit, Saskatoon (Fr. Darryl Millette and Fr. John Abban-Bonsu)
  • Our Lady of Lourdes, Saskatoon (Fr. Geoffrey Young)
  • St. Paul Co-Cathedral, Saskatoon (Fr. Stefano Penna)
  • St. Mary, Lanigan (Fr. Greg Smith-Windsor)
  • Our Lady of the Assumption, Kerrobert (Fr. Daniel Yasinski).

St. Augustine Parish in Saskatoon (led by pastor Fr. Kevin McGee with Parish Life Director Brigid Fuller) has also been among the local parishes live-streaming daily Mass and other devotions, such as Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Audio files of homilies by some priests in the diocese are also featured at saskatoonmass.com.

Lights and camera set up for recording of Mass in the Queen of Peace Chapel — to be live-streamed every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. during the COVID-19 shutdown. (Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

In his homily March 22 from the Queen of Peace Chapel, Saskatoon’s bishop spoke words of hope and encouragement to hundreds who tuned in live on the new website and on Facebook.

“Brothers and sisters: let us not be overwhelmed and fearful by what we face,” Bishop Mark Hagemoen said, encouraging his listeners to persevere in personal prayer and devotion to Jesus Christ in these difficult days. “This will assist us in bringing to bear our faith, love and – perhaps most challenging – our hope to all things, as we seek God’s inspiration about how to seek the Lord in all things, and serve our brother and sisters. We need to help and otherwise be a support to each other, and others need to know we are there for them.”

The bishop reported that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, every diocese in Canada has now cancelled the public celebration of Mass and every bishop has dispensed the faithful from their duty to attend Sunday Mass.

“We are doing this to cooperate with what health care officials are urgently telling us about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implications of not proceeding as they direct,” he said.

Local measures continue to evolve, with more directives from the bishop expected in the near future.

“On Friday I had an extraordinary meeting with all of my priests of the diocese of Saskatoon – most of whom attended via video conference. We discussed in our short time together very practical issues that we all are suddenly dealing with,  in what seem to be unprecedented circumstances. And, there will be many more issues that I will have to deal with,” Bishop Hagemoen said.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen connected with priests across the diocese (most attended via video conference) to discuss practical issues around COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo by Heather Fiolleau, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Reflecting on the scriptures for the “Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday” of Lent, including the Gospel about the healing of the man born blind, Bishop Hagemoen said: “I am inspired and challenged by the metaphors of our Scriptures today – especially how God helps us to truly gain sight and vision, and (as St. Paul emphasizes in Ephesians) – the call to be children of the Light – who allow the light of Christ to infuse any darkness that is outside or within us.”

Article: Bishop Hagemoen issues directives March 17 in response to COVID-19

Post: Bishop Hagemoen’s Directives March 17, 2020 (including cancellation of public celebrations of Mass)

PDF: Bishop Hagemoen’s Updated Directive about Day of Reconciliation on March 25

PDF: Saskatchewan Public Health Order of March 20 2020

In addition to being found on the saskatoonmass.com website, videos of Mass and other prayer resources and reflections are also regularly shared on the home page of the diocesan website at rcdos.ca, while other postings are found on various parish Facebook pages and YouTube channels, echoing a move across North America to make Mass available to those who are now isolated and home-bound.

In addition to online postings, depending on particular cable and satellite services, Mass is also broadcast on television — scheduling information about the broadcast of Mass in Canada can be found at DailyTVmass.com, (including Salt+Light Catholic Network and Vision TV) with the American channel EWTN also broadcasting daily Mass.

Parishes are also finding other creative ways to stay in touch with parishioners, including “phoning trees” and Zoom meetings.

In his live-streamed homily, Bishop Mark Hagemoen also assured the faithful of the ongoing support of the Church. In particular, he addressed the seniors who are most adversely affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus: “Please take great care to be even more mindful of heeding the cautions and safeguards that our medical authorities are giving us. If you need help or support whatsoever, please reach out and ask our assistance!”

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COVID-19 resources, statements, information:

Archdiocese of Toronto Resources related to Spiritual Communion

Infographic from Archdiocese of Toronto

CCCB statement on Coronavirus COVID-19 – EN

CCCB statement on Coronavirus COVID-19 – FR

When to call the 811 Hotline / Self assessment

COVID-19 symptoms and treatment: Government of Canada page

Saskatchewan Coronavirus Information (English)

Saskatchewan Coronavirus Information (French)

PHAC-infographic-about-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

ASPC-a-propos-maladie-coronavirus-covid-19

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March for Life national event under review in light of COVID-19

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 08:01

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – There will be a national March for Life event on May 14, but whether there will be an actual march through the streets of the nation’s capital and a rally of thousands of pro-life Canadians at Parliament Hill on that day is still to be determined.

Organizers of the largest pro-life event in Canada each year have cancelled indoor events surrounding the March for Life, and are making plans to hold an online event in case the actual rally and march planned for May 14 have to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, public health officials are pleading with Canadians not to gather in large groups to help stop the spread of the deadly virus.

“There will be a March for Life on May 14 no matter what happens,” said Debbie Duval, national capital organizer for the Campaign Life Coalition. “Whether it will be like past years or not, we don’t know yet. We are monitoring the situation.”

Duval said if the rally and march in Ottawa are called off for public safety reasons, the national March for Life could become an online event.

“We still have the event booked,” Duval said. “We are keeping our eyes and ears open to what is happening with other outdoor events at that time in Ottawa and what the health authorities are saying. We are working on a possible online solution if the march has to be put off.”

The Ontario provincial government has declared a state of emergency to try and slow the spread of COVID-19, which has killed thousands of people around the globe.

The Ontario government’s emergency declaration, which prohibits all organized public events of more than 50 people in the province, is in effect until March 31 at this point but can be extended for an additional 14 days. If after such a two week extension the province wants to maintain emergency measures in place, it could be extended further through a vote in the provincial legislature.

All provincial governments and the federal government say they will do whatever is necessary to slow the spread of the virus in Canada, and have taken measures to shutdown public events across the country.

“We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province,” said Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“We know these measures will affect people’s everyday lives, but they are necessary to ensure that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our people,” she said.

The Campaign Life Coalition has been organizing the national March for Life in Ottawa since 1998, and when the 2020 event was first set for May 14 a press release stated that “pro-lifers will rally in front of our Parliament building and march through downtown Ottawa, demanding that our political representatives fight for the right to life of every human being.”

But a statement released by the Campaign Life Coalition on March 19 said that organizers are heeding public health warnings and were cancelling a number of indoor events associated with the March for Life gathering in Ottawa. That means that a candlelight vigil for victims of abortion that was slated for May 13, a rose dinner and youth banquet set for May 14 and a youth conference on May 15 have been called off.

According to the Campaign Life Coalition, last year more than 31,000 Canadians participated in the national and associated provincial March for Life rallies.

The Coalition’s Duval said rescheduling the event until the fall would be difficult because a lot of those who attend the event are students bused to the rally from the Greater Toronto Area.

She said with school closures associated with COVID-19 and students already having missed a lot of classes because of strike actions in the education sector in Ontario this year, asking teachers and students to attend a rally next September or October would be difficult.

Duval said that at this time there is no set date for when a decision on cancelling the march and rally in Ottawa must be made, although she said a decision would likely be announced by the middle of April. Duval said if the march and rally in Ottawa are cancelled it will be announced on March for Life and Campaign Life Coalition websites, and she urged those who were planning to attend to monitor those sites for updates on the march’s status.

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Friendship Inn adapting services to feed neighbours in need during COVID-19 shutdown

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 13:48

By Saskatoon Friendship Inn

Compassion for our neighbours in need spurred an immediate desire to help guests of the Friendship Inn as COVID 19 reached Saskatchewan.

“Individuals of all ages will always get food from us,” says Executive Director Sandra Kary.

“Donations from individuals and businesses enabled the Inn to quickly move to take-away, from its usual sit down meals, and will continue to be crucial as our service evolves.”

While the Inn initially sought food and other items necessary to prepare bagged lunches, cash donations are now preferred.

“Funds will give us the ability to move quickly, to buy the resources we need, to be safe and efficient, and keep folks out of the grocery stores if they don’t need to be there,” says Sandra Kary.

As numerous organizations collaborate on a community response to the virus, the Inn is preparing to meet a demand that could potentially surpass the 1,000 meals per day served before the outbreak.

More people are expected to require support from community organizations like the Inn, because they lacked the financial resources to stockpile groceries or have been laid off.

At the same time, grocers overwhelmed by a surge in customer purchases are unlikely to have surplus food to donate to the Inn and its employees are working without their usual valued volunteer teams.

To make up for the decrease in donated food and simplify employees’ workload, the Inn will begin purchasing food in bulk based on planned menus.

People wishing to contribute funds towards these additional expenses are invited to donate online (friendshipinn.ca) or by mail (619 20th Street West, Saskatoon, S7M 0X8).

Every donation counts as meals typically cost $5 per plate to provide.

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In Exile – A column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI: “Love in the Time of COVID-19”

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 06:25
Love in the Time of COVID-19

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI

In 1985, Nobel Prize winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, published a novel entitled, Love in the Time of Cholera. It tells a colorful story of how life can still be generative, despite an epidemic.

Well what’s besetting our world right now is not cholera but the coronavirus, COVID-19.  Nothing in my lifetime has ever affected the whole world as radically as this virus. Whole countries have shut down, virtually all schools and colleges have sent their students home and are offering classes online, we’re discouraged from going out of our houses and from inviting others into them, and we’ve been asked not to touch each other and to practice “social distancing”. Ordinary, normal, time has stopped.

We’re in a season that no generation, perhaps since the flu of 1918, has had to undergo. Furthermore, we don’t foresee an end soon to this situation. No one, neither our government leaders nor our doctors, have an exit strategy. No one knows when this will end or how. Hence, like the inhabitants on Noah’s Ark, we’re locked in and don’t know when the flood waters will recede and let us return to our normal lives.

How should we live in this extraordinary time? Well, I had a private tutorial on this some nine years ago. In the summer of 2011, I was diagnosed with colon cancer, underwent surgery for a resection, and then was subjected to 24 weeks of chemotherapy. Facing the uncertainty of what the chemotherapy would be doing to my body I was understandably scared. Moreover, 24 weeks is basically half a year and contemplating the length of time that I would be undergoing this “abnormal” season in my life, I was also impatient. I wanted this over with, quickly.  So I faced it like I face most setbacks in my life, stoically, with the attitude: “I’ll get through this! I’ll endure it!”

I keep what might euphemistically be termed a journal, though it’s really more a Daybook that simply chronicles what I do each day and who and what enters my life on a given day. Well, when I stoically began my first chemotherapy session I began checking off days in my journal: Day one, followed the next day by: Day two. I had done the math and knew that it would take 168 days to get through the twelve chemo sessions, spaced two weeks apart.  It went on like this for the first 70 days or so, with me checking off a number each day, holding my life and my breath, everything on hold until I could finally write, Day 168.

Then one day, about half way through the 24weeks, I had an awakening. I don’t know what specifically triggered it, a grace from above, a gesture of friendship from someone, the feel of the sun on my body, the wonderful feel of a cold drink, perhaps all of these things, but I woke up, I woke up to the fact that I was putting my life on hold, that I wasn’t really living but only enduring each day in order check it off and eventually reach that magical 168th day when I could start living again. I realized that I was wasting a season of my life. Moreover, I realized that what I was living through was sometimes rich precisely because of the impact of chemotherapy in my life. That realization remains one of the special graces in my life.  My spirits lifted radically even as the chemotherapy continued to do the same brutal things to my body.

I began to welcome each day for its freshness, its richness, for what it brought into my life. I look back on that now and see those three last months (before day 168) as one of richest seasons of my life. I made some lifelong friends, I learned some lessons in patience that I still try to cling to, and, not least, I learned some long-overdue lessons in gratitude and appreciation, in not taking life, health, friendship, and work for granted. It was a special joy to return to a normal life after those 168 days of conscripted “sabbatical”; but those “sabbatical” days were special too, albeit in a very different way.

The coronavirus has put us all, in effect, on a conscripted sabbatical and it’s subjecting those who have contracted it to their own type of chemotherapy. And the danger is that we will put our lives on hold as we go through this extraordinary time and will just endure rather than let ourselves be graced by what lies within this uninvited season.

Yes, there will be frustration and pain in living this through, but that’s not incompatible with happiness. Paul Tournier, after he’d lost his wife, did some deep grieving but then integrated that grief into a new life in a way that allowed him to write:  “I can truly say that I have a great grief and that I am a happy man.”  Words to ponder as we struggle with this coronavirus.

 

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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  www.ronrolheiser.com.

Now on Facebook www.facebook.com/ronrolheiser

Find Fr. Rolheiser’s past columns online, along with an explanation for the column’s title “In Exile”: RonRolheiser.com/ARCHIVE

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St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation raising funds for urgently needed ventilators; responding to COVID-19 in other ways

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 16:55

By Lecina Hicke, CEO, St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation

We are living in unprecedented times.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently described the urgent need for ventilators to support our health care providers in response to Covid-19. It is out of sheer coincidence, perhaps even  the grace of a higher power, that our Foundation has been working to raise funds to purchase two urgently needed portable ventilators for our Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. This means that we are now in the position to accept your online donations  in support of ventilators. And thanks to a caring couple who share your dedication to support the best patient care possible at our Hospital, your donation will be eligible for a matching gift from Terry and Denis Sirois. They believe so strongly in helping patients that they have committed $25,000 to match your gift in support of ventilators.

We began raising funds for these ventilators before the term “COVID-19” meant anything to anyone. Now, the need is greater than ever before. While our original goal was to purchase two ventilators, we will allocate each and every dollar we receive for this initiative to purchase as many ventilators as we possibly can.

I know that at times like this, people look for a sense of control and ownership when it comes to feeling as if they can make a difference. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that your gift is one way you can make a difference locally that will have a direct and positive impact on our community, and on the brave and selfless health care providers who are caring for those most vulnerable.

Now, more than ever, we need each other. Each gesture of compassion and every effort you are making to care for yourself, your families and your community is greatly appreciated.

Together, we truly are stronger, and together we will get through this. 

Out of respect for the health and safety of patients and employees at St. Paul’s Hospital, we have temporarily closed our Gift Shop and Foundation Office on Monday, March 16, and postponed our Annual General Meeting (originally scheduled for April 23 at 12 noon). However, we do have staff working remotely.

You can learn more about our Seeds of Hope campaign in support of ventilators here.

We encourage you to make a donation from the comfort of your home. You can make an online donation here,  You can download our form to print and mail in with a cheque or simply leave a message on our voicemail at 306-655-5821 and a staff person will return your call.

Please be safe and do what you can to care for one another.

Wash your hands, practice self-isolation, call your friends and family, and stay up to date on the latest information at www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus.

Thank you for your patience and support as we work to advance our Hospital’s vision for a community of health, hope and compassion for all.

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Pandemic puts a squeeze on those serving poor, impacts those who are homeless

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 14:48

By Andrew Ehrkamp, Grandin Media

[Edmonton – Canadian Catholic News] – As coronavirus restrictions deepen for everyone, so does the strain on those providing for the poor.

Catholic agencies and churches that provide hot meals and clothing those in need are having to make changes to what they can provide and how they do it while they practise physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And they are reiterating an appeal for donations of food and clothing.

The Marian Centre in Edmonton’s inner city normally serves hot meals four days a week and on Fridays, it opens up its clothing room to the homeless. As of March 17, the centre was instead handing out bagged lunches and allowing only volunteers into the clothing room to pick up requested items.

It’s no small adjustment for homeless people served by the centre.

“It’s a big change, because they don’t have places where they can come in, and have that personal contact with someone, and they want a place to come in and warm up,” said Hugo Isaza, director of the Marian Centre. “Many shelters are doing the same. So it’s a big sacrifice.”

“We don’t have a way of screening for symptoms at the door, if a person has a fever or not, so we can’t let anyone into the building,” Isaza explained. “It’s also to protect our staff and volunteers and the ‘Christopher brothers.’ We don’t call them homeless.”

St. Christopher is the patron saint of travellers and, in particular during COVID-19, is among 14 saints known as the Holy Helpers whose intercession is particularly effective against disease.

At Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples in downtown Edmonton, donations from the Salvation Army and Cobbs Bread have been postponed until further notice. As many as three days a week, a truck filled with donations of bread, baking, vegetables, fruits and other grocery items had pulled up in front of the church, where 50-60 people waited for them.

Sacred Heart is still putting some donated items into individual food hampers, but the donations will soon run out. A planned garage sale of clothing and other items, with most items priced at 25 cents, was scheduled for the March 21-22 weekend. That has been postponed.

“We continue to serve people with food hampers from what we have in stock,” said Rev. Susai Jesu, the pastor of Sacred Heart. “It’s ongoing challenge, but now it’s going to be harder for people … It’s a very troubling situation.”

The virus has caused a worldwide pandemic with 846 cases in Canada and more than 250,000 worldwide.

In Edmonton, those living on the streets – like Cindy Mandin – are grateful for what they’ve received.

“It’s still nice to have something when you look at it that way,” said Mandin, who has been living on the streets for three years, lining up for free meals when she can and sleeping at the Hope Mission at night.

Mandin has been homeless after she was laid off for her job after 25 years in computer graphics. Since then, she’s been waiting to qualify for social welfare. Now, life on the streets has become a lot tougher since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Public places and food courts where Mandin and other homeless and vulnerable people could warm up and have a coffee are no longer open.

The Edmonton Expo Centre will be used as an overflow homeless shelter to help manage the spread of COVID-19, Premier Jason Kenney said in the legislature March 20.

Speaking from experience, Mandin said that she expects more people will find themselves homeless as they struggle to maintain a job, finances, a home and lifestyle under the COVID-19 outbreak restrictions.

“That’s going to hurt more,” she said. “A lot of places are closed down now.”

For Mandin, recommendations on physical distancing to avoid COVID-19 are moot.

“To me it doesn’t really mean much,” she laughed. “In a situation like this, you go where you can and you don’t actually want to be around that many people anyway.”

Father Jesu said physical distancing is a challenge for Sacred Heart parish. He is following crowd restrictions on funerals and wakes, for example, following limits set by the Archdiocese of Edmonton and government. Still, it’s hard for family and relatives to accept.

At the Marian Centre, a ministry of the Madonna House apostolate, some volunteers have had to cancel, in part due to coronavirus concerns, while others are working double shifts, Isaza said.

“I’m young but we have a few people who are very elderly and vulnerable to the virus,” said Mark Olszewski, who lives at Madonna House. “We have to kind of strike up a balance of being available to the people we are serving in the neighbourhood and, on the other hand, making sure that we’re not exposing our brothers and sisters who live here to the virus.”

Olszewski is concerned, but not worried. “God’s in charge and I really do think he’s taking care of us.”

Going forward, churches and relief agencies are trying to accommodate rapid changes to protect against COVID-19 in a situation that can best be described as fluid.
“It’s week by week and day by day,” Isaza said.

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Fourth Sunday of Lent: The Light and the Joy of Christ

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 14:15

By Fr. Emmanuel Olusola, Pastor at parishes in Allan, Viscount and Colonsay,

Dear people of God, As we all pray for God to heal our land in the face of this COVID-19 pandemic, I bring you a brief reflection for the 4th Sunday of Lent.

First Reading: 1st Samuel 16:1b,6-7,10-13a

Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14

Gospel: John 9:1-41

The Gospel today talks of the healing of the man born blind. The holy season of Lent is one in which God opens our eyes so that we may see clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.

Blindness in the time of Jesus, like other diseases, had little or no cure. Such diseases brought untold hardship on the one who suffered from them. Blindness brought about social separation and sometimes rejection, even by one’s family.

Mass being live-streamed by priests in our diocese during COVID-19 shutdown:  SaskatoonMass.com

This is evident in the situation of the man healed by Jesus. Even his parents, out of fear of the Pharisees, when asked how their son came to see again, simply said, “He is of age. Let him speak for himself.” Sickness in those days was seen as a result of sinfulness, and the parents were afraid to accept that their boy’s blindness was on account of their own sinfulness or acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah. Either of these options could have unleashed the wrath of the religious leaders upon them. So they distanced themselves from their son.

Jesus is ever present in every aspect of life, but we feel his presence more when things are darkest around us. This is in fulfilment of his mission statement when he proclaimed that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him, to bring the Good News to the poor, set prisoners free, give sight to the blind, etc. (Lk. 4:18). Our world is thrown into some forms of darkness with the present COVID-19 pandemic. Things are turning around in ways never experienced before, for many families and individuals. In the midst of this confusion, many may begin to question, where is God when it hurts?

God surely listens to the cries of his people and he always comes to our aid. The first reading today recounts the time in Israel when King Saul sinned against God and there was a need to replace the king. In the choice of Saul’s replacement, the prophet Samuel was told not to look at physical appearance, since humans only see the physical, while God sees beyond our imagination.

This period of Lent invites us, therefore, to examine ourselves before God. Many of us are not blind physically but we are blind spiritually, emotionally and in many other aspects. We live in a fast-paced world and in this situation we are oftentimes blind to the needs of people around us or even blind to seeing the blessings of God in our lives.

The present pandemic has forced us to slow down, take a break, sit at home and just relax. We are being forced through this pandemic to spend more time with our immediate families, to listen to one another and to see things in ways our fast world never allowed us to see before now.

In the context of the present pandemic, the second reading begins by saying we were once in darkness but now we are the light in the Lord. Notice that Paul did not say we are IN the light, but that we ARE THE light. Christ has made us in baptism, to be like him, The Light, and through the sacraments, we draw closer to Jesus.

Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is called Laetare Sunday, which means REJOICE. We are told to rejoice because our salvation is nearer than we can imagine.  Therefore, no matter how bad things may be around us, God always has a way of pulling us through. Sometimes, it takes the way of plagues such as we currently are facing to lead humanity back to God and to one another.

As we go through this desert experience when malls, offices and even churches are closed, let us remember that God’s presence is always with us.

The theology of the Catholic Church teaches that the home is the domestic church. Let us use this period to strengthen this domestic Church by staying closer to our immediate families. Let us make a better domestic Church the foundation of our parish Church. Let this time be a call for us to return more than ever before to Christ who is ever lifted up for us in the Holy Eucharist.

Although we may not be able to receive him sacramentally at this time, but we sure can receive him spiritually. As taught by St. Thomas Aquinas and one of the Patron Saints in our trinity of parishes, St. Alphonsus Liguori, we can make “spiritual communion” in our homes using the following prayer:

“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Blessed Sacrament.  I love You love all things and I desire You in my soul.  Since I can not now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.  As though You were already there, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You; permit not that I should ever be separated from You.  Amen”

God bless you all!

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Hospital chaplaincy continues in midst of COVID-19 restrictions

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 16:02

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

All spiritual care volunteers are now barred from visiting patients in Saskatoon hospitals, as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.

However, patients can still receive pastoral visits from designated denominational chaplains, including Fr. Rhéal Bussière and Jackie Saretsky of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon Hospital Chaplaincy program.

“They are trying to limit the community clergy or chaplaincy personnel to those who have the most experience and are designated for that role,” said Jackie Saretsky, who coordinates Hospital Chaplaincy in the diocese.

As a result, Saretsky and Bussière are now focusing on patient requests, emergencies and end-of-life situations – which fall  under the health authority rules that the only visitors allowed are those who are there for “compassionate reasons.”

New directives in diocese of Saskatoon responding to COVID-19 include cancellation of Masses: ARTICLE

Other than the sacramental anointing of the sick by Fr. Rheal Bussière, the chaplains are offering “no-touch spiritual care.”

This means that the Eucharist (holy communion) will not be offered to patients “unless they absolutely desire it” in cases of dire need, said Saretsky, noting the effort to limit hand-to-hand contact. All health guidelines with respect to hand washing and hygiene are being diligently observed.

“I would encourage people at this difficult time, that the Catholic chaplaincy presence continues in hospitals,” she said. To request a visit contact Jackie Saretsky at 306-292-5531 or Fr. Rhéal Bussière at 306-371-7125.

She noted that spiritual care for compassionate reasons is presently happening in both Royal University Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital. The issue is still under discussion at Saskatoon City Hospital, where all volunteers, including community clergy, are not allowed at this time.

 

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Pentecost 2020 event planned for May 31 in Saskatoon will be postponed because of coronavirus concerns

Wed, 03/18/2020 - 16:35

Media Release, Pentecost 2020 committee

In light of recent developments regarding COVID-19, the executive organizing team for Pentecost 2020 has chosen to postpone the May 31, 2020 gathering at Sasktel Centre. The leadership and infrastructure will remain in place, as the team discerns plans and details for the future service.

Father Jakob Palm, project lead for Pentecost 2020, expressed regret about the necessary decision. “It is with a heavy heart we choose to postpone Pentecost 2020. We were looking forward to meeting under one roof to worship Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit,” he said.

“It is particularly difficult because the churches in Saskatoon all desire to be of service to all, but in particular to the ones who are isolated, sick, brokenhearted and in need of help. To be church is to be of service to others and the nature of this virus makes it harder to serve. We want to encourage each church to discern how they best can help our city and its citizens at this point in time, ” he said.

“Even though our ability to gather has been limited at this time, we encourage people to reach out to each other via phone, computer or other forms of digital messaging. We wanted to come together, we still need to, just in a different way for now. We encourage people to continue to pray for our city, our province, our country and the world, although it might be from home.”

To date, about 50 churches were planning to be involved in the May 31 service in some way, and a broad representation of leaders from the city-wide church was expected.

Fr. Jakob adds: “We believe that the body of Christ – the church – extends beyond time and space. As such, the church remains present regardless of what is happening in the world. As different churches, we will continue to serve as best as we are able in the contexts we find ourselves in. At this time, we have to reschedule this gathering out of care and concern for our neighbour. The church is one in the Holy Spirit, but we will have to wait for the physical expression of that.”

The webpage www.pentecost2020vision.com as well as @pentecost2020sk will continue to operate and will be updated continuously with information as it becomes available. “It is our hope that people can visit our different online platforms and feel encouraged by the content that will be posted and that there will be a sense of belonging and connection during this time of increased time at home.” says Daria Malin, coordinator of communication and marketing.  

“A silver lining in this, is that it gives us more time for more connections with churches and people to be involved in the future Pentecost gathering. We are so grateful to all partners. A special thanks to Sasktel Centre, Five Stones Films, Boost Strategic Coaching, @islandandthepraries and our web developers. They have all been nothing short of stellar to work with. It is our hope that everyone involved will continue their partnership with us.” concludes fr. Jakob Palm.“

Anyone interested in learning more, or in being involved, is invited to e-mail fr. Jakob Palm at: pentecost2020vision@gmail.com

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Public celebration of Mass cancelled in diocese of Saskatoon because of COVID-19 concerns

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 16:38
Mass will be live-streamed on new website: SaskatoonMass.com

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

All public Masses in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon will be suspended until further notice in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, especially among the most vulnerable.

In a letter to the faithful March 17, 2020, Bishop Mark Hagemoen announced a number of further restrictions as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, particularly among those most vulnerable to serious complications.

“The spread of the virus in our province and around the world is a matter of grave concern for all of us,” said the bishop. “Given the extraordinary circumstances we face at this time – especially that place significant risks on certain members of our congregations (especially our elders and those who are infirm) – taking dramatic action is necessary as it might save lives!”

The new directives for Catholics in the diocese of Saskatoon came on the heels of many other cancellations and measures in the province, including the closing of schools effective March 20, the suspending of classes at universities and colleges, early end to the formation year for students of St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, and the cancellation of many community and faith events, including Pentecost 2020 — a large gathering of Christians being planned for Pentecost Sunday, May 31.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen has released a number of new directives  in light of concerns about the spread of COVID-19. (File photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

All weekend and weekday Mass celebrations are cancelled in the diocese immediately, until further notice according to the directives released by Saskatoon’s Roman Catholic Bishop on St. Patrick’s Day. For the duration of this period, Bishop Mark Hagemoen has granted to all the Catholic faithful dispensation from their Sunday obligation to celebrate Mass.

“The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is the very heart of our Catholic life, and I realize that this directive will be a cause of great suffering. However, we observe this as our civic duty at this time, and offer this moment in sacrifice to God for the sake of all who are ill from the COVID-19 virus,” he said.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen’s message to the faithful: LINK

He encouraged the faithful to tune in to Mass broadcast on Salt+Light Catholic Media Network, on Vision TV or online at dailytvmass.com (daily and Sunday Mass). As well the diocese of Saskatoon will begin live-streaming Sunday Mass from the Cathedral of the Holy Family, with a link to be provided on the diocesan website.

With respect to Holy Week liturgies, “further directions will be forthcoming in due course” as will more information about cancellation of diocesan events.

Other measures that take effect immediately in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon include the cancellation of all public gatherings for Lenten parish missions, as well as all Lenten penitential celebrations. General parish gatherings are also cancelled, with only necessary activities for the care of the Church allowed, or those that can fulfill the Chief Medical Authority criteria.  A separate directive will be forthcoming about other diocesan events with the diocese of Saskatoon seeking “to be in full compliance with directives from the government health authorities.”

Individual celebration of confessions can continue, “but need to fulfill the requirements to assure confidentiality and to allow the medically requisite distancing between priest and penitent.” Under those same conditions, a Day of Confessions planned for March 25 in many parishes can continue.

All celebration of initiation sacraments — baptism, confirmation, first communion — are postponed until the Chief Medical Officer advises that it is safe to resume larger gatherings. “This directive applies likewise to the celebration of initiation into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.”

Sacramental Preparation classes are also cancelled, with catechists instructed to provide parents with  necessary resources to continue instruction at home.

Funerals will continue to be celebrated in churches across the diocese. “In consultation with the relatives of the deceased, the priest celebrant will determine if participation needs to be limited to immediate family members to follow prevailing medical directives. Public receptions following the funeral liturgy should not take place.”

Marriages: ought to be postponed, according to the new directives. “However, if this is not possible, the priest will consult with the couple to determine the following: the limitation of attendees to not exceed the official guidelines for group gatherings as well as following any other medical directives proscribed. Marriage preparation courses have been cancelled until further notice. Pastors will work with couples to fulfill the requirement for such preparation individually.”

Parishes that normally keep their churches open during the day will retain this practice, under the new directives. “Especially in this uncertain and extraordinary time, we want to offer access to our churches to assure that the Church remains close to you and ready to accompany you through this or any difficulty,” wrote Bishop Mark Hagemoen. As well, he encourages longer periods of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Guidelines for ministry to the sick and to those who are shut-in will be circulated in a separate directive in the near future, along with guidelines related to financial support to parishes.

The directives also address community caring: “we encourage our parish communities to be mindful of the need to support fellow parishioners and other community members, especially elders, the sick, and those who might be otherwise home-bound. This will require local coordination to assure compliance with the Chief Medical Officer directives.”

The bishop also asked for prayers for a rapid end to the COVID-19 virus. “May God grant healing to those who are ill, and eternal rest to those who have died. May the Lord’s blessing come upon our medical professionals and civic authorities, who continue to strive with enormous effort and expertise to keep all of us safe. Finally, in these unusual and distressing times, let us remember the words of Christ: ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ (Mark 6:50)”

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“Into the Breach” men’s spiritual enrichment conference held in Saskatoon

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 11:30

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Some 150 men of all ages gathered March 13-14 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon for a Catholic men’s spiritual enrichment event.

Dubbed “Into the Breach 2,” the men’s event continued a focus from last year on themes taken from an apostolic exhortation to Catholic men written by Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead of the Diocese of Phoenix: Into the Breach.

Speakers at the 2020 conference included André Regnier, co-founder of Catholic Christian Outreach, and Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

André Regnier and Bishop Mark at the conference opening March 13. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

The event included talks, opportunities for prayer, for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and celebration of the Eucharist to conclude the event March 14.

After Mass a Knights of Columbus exemplification to initiate more than 20 new members was also held, using a new, public form of the ceremony.

 

PHOTOS:

(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)

 

(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

 

(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

(Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

 

(Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

New members of the Knights of Columbus were welcomed during an exemplification celebration after Mass. (Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

 

 

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Faith communities join the fight against spread of COVID-19

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 11:16

By Bryan Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CNN) – Faith communities in Canada are being asked to make sacrifices in how they practice their faith in the national battle to control the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, and for the most part they are willingly making the necessary adjustments such as cancelling large masses and closing mosques to help in the national effort.

The Catholic Church in Canada, through the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has issued a statement calling on Catholics to heed public health directives when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and Catholic and other faith communities in the country have been making adjustments to how they practice their faith in light of public health officials asking Canadians not to attend large public gatherings.

That request has seen many faith communities curtail activities within churches and mosques and other religious spaces. In Ontario, where the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded, public masses on Sunday, March 15, at Catholic churches in the two largest dioceses in the province (Toronto and Ottawa) were cancelled after the provincial health officer asked that all gatherings of more than 250 people in the province not be held.

Philip Horgan, an Ontario-based lawyer and president of the Catholic Civil Rights League, said that these are unprecedented times as countries across the globe try to staunch the spread of COVID-19 and that it is only natural that faith communities such as the Catholic Church in Canada would play its part in helping snuff out the spread of the virus.

“In the current environment all of the intentions of the limits on large gatherings is to decrease the increasing onslaught of disease,” Horgan said, adding concerns about religious freedom in light of government and public health requests that Canadians don’t attend large gatherings are not warranted at this time.

“There are other ways that people can practice their faith and churches will have to adjust as this situation goes on,” he said.

“Cities have fire regulations about how many people can be in a building and churches of course follow those regulations,” Horgan said. “This is not some effort on the part of government to deny people their right to worship.”

While Horgan is hopeful that calling on Canadians to practice “social distancing” and not to gather in large numbers will be a short-lived inconvenience for Catholics and other Canadian faith communities, he suggests that this may be the new normal in the daily lives of Canadians for months to come.

“I have a suspicion that we are going to be facing this issue for six to 12 months. This is not something that you do for a couple of weeks and then the virus goes away,” he said.

Although governments, at the federal and provincial levels, have not instituted punitive measures to ensure Canadians do not gather in public like some other countries such as Italy and Spain have in Europe, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Canadians to work together and make sacrifices for the common good at a press conference in front of his home in Ottawa on March 16, where he has been in isolation ever since his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was tested and found to have COVID-19.

“All Canadians, as much as possible, should stay at home,” Trudeau said as he announced further measures being taken by the federal government to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Those new measures include a new ban on all non-Canadians except for Americans from entering Canada at this time. He did not rule out Americans being banned from entering the country in the future if the spread of COVID-19 in Canada continues at a rapid pace.

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said during a press conference on March 15 that all Canadians must make changes to how they behave and interact in public if the country is going to suppress the spread of COVID-19, which has killed thousands across the globe and is especially dangerous to the health of the elderly and people with ongoing existing health issues.

While the number of cases confirmed in Canada is relatively low compared to many countries in Europe, China and Iran, the areas of the world hardest hit by COVID-19 so far, Dr. Tam said the number of cases in Canada is “rapidly increasing” and “our window to flatten the curve of the epidemic is narrow.”

“COVID-19 is a serious public health threat,” she said.

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Letter-writing campaign hopes to stop expansion of euthanasia

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 11:09

By Kyle Greenham, Grandin Media

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith is urging Catholics to join him in writing their MPs to stop plans to make it easier to access assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Bill C-7, which has passed second reading and being debated this month in the House of Commons, would expand assisted death to people without life-threatening illnesses, including those with disabilities and those no longer capable of making the decision themselves. It also removed the 10-day reflection period and the requirement of two witnesses to confirm a person’s consent to be euthanized.

“Were this to be adopted into law, our country would be in the position of giving legal permission to medical practitioners not only to hasten the death of the dying but also to terminate the life of the living,” Smith said in his own letter to MPs who represent ridings in his archdiocese. “This is unacceptable.”

Instead, Canada should be investing more in palliative care.

“In the face of suffering endured by our fellow citizens, fundamental respect for their inherent dignity demands that we not respond by promoting and hastening their death but by affirming and nurturing their life,” Archbishop Smith said.

The Edmonton Archdiocese has created a webpage with information on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, as well as a sample letter that can be sent to MPs. The bishops of Calgary and Toronto have launched similar letter-writing campaigns.

So-called “Medical Assistance in Dying” — medically assisted sucide and euthanasia — has been legal in Canada since 2016. Since then, more than 13,000 Canadians have been euthanized. Ontario has the highest number of assisted suicide at 1,211 during that time period. A key criteria in that law has been that a person’s death must be reasonably foreseeable for them to qualify for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Bill C-7 was tabled last month. It comes after the Quebec Superior Court struck down as unconstitutional that part of the original MAiD law, which prevented two Quebec residents with severe, but not life-threatening, physical disabilities from being legally euthanized. The court ruled in the Truchon decision that euthanasia should have been available even if their deaths were not “reasonably foreseeable.”

Dr. Mary Ellen Haggerty, president of the St. Luke’s Physicians’ Guild of Alberta, argues Bill C-7 could have grave consequences for patients with disabilities in particular. The guild represents Catholic physicians in the province.

“When you think your own life has no value, that has an effect on the value of everyone else’s life,” said Haggerty, a family physician in Edmonton.

“Many are not seeking euthanasia because they’re in endless pain, but because they feel the dignity and value of their lives would be lost if they were disabled or had to be dependent on other people.

“If we have people seeking euthanasia for reasons like that, it will affect everyone who is disabled. They may see their lives as invaluable or disposable.”

In his letter, Smith also criticized the bill’s lack of conscience rights protections for medical professionals who object to providing medical assistance in dying.

“A glaring omission in Bill C-7 is the recognition of conscience rights,” said Smith. “The Parliament of Canada must uphold and protect this Charter-recognized right, which in practice is being seriously and alarmingly eroded.”

Already, the conscience rights of health care providers are under direct attack.

The B.C. government announced it will pull all funding from Vancouver’s Delta Hospice Society by 2021 because the hospice refuses to allow assisted suicide on site, and the newly opened Nipissing Serenity Hospice in North Bay, Ont., has also received backlash for not providing the procedure.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, hopes the letter-writing campaigns put enough political pressure on MPs to vote against Bill C-7.

“We have to create a big enough reaction,” Schadenberg said. “This is a minority government but it has the backing of the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP on this issue. The only way to slow this down is if some Bloc, NDP, or backbench Liberals get cold feet about the bill. This is the most effective way we can stand up for what we believe in.

“We need to have a two-pronged approached and ensure that palliative care not only expands, but is not pressured to provide euthanasia,” Schadenberg added. “It may seem like only a B.C. issue right now,  but other countries have experienced it too. We really need to pressure our representatives on that issue.”

Garnett Genuis, the Conservative MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, has called for the protection of two safeguards that Bill C-7 would eliminate – the 10-day reflection period and the requirement of two witnesses before a person can consent – if it became law.

Genuis has circulated a petition among his constituents asking the federal government to keep these safeguards in place.

The federal Department of Justice would not directly comment on the letter campaign launched by Catholic dioceses. MPs can share the views of their constituents when Bill C-7 is debated in the House of Commons, a department spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Haggerty hopes the letter-writing campaigns not only stop Bill C-7, but provide more information to Canadians on the issue.

“My feeling is a lot of people are not concerned because they are not aware of the situation. I hope this will bring that needed change. Even the term ‘Medical Assistance in Dying’ is essentially a euphemism, and some people might think it’s somehow different from euthanasia. But it’s not.”

 

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Covenant between McClure United and Holy Spirit Catholic churches marks 20th anniversary

Wed, 03/11/2020 - 16:01

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

An ecumenical Covenant committing two Christian churches in southeast Saskatoon to walk together and to engage in ongoing joint action was highlighted and celebrated at a 20th anniversary celebration March 8, 2020.

The relationship between McClure United Church and Holy Spirit Catholic Church started soon after the two churches were established in the Lakeview neighbourhood some 55 years ago. That relationship was formalized through the development of a Covenant entered into by the two faith communities in March 2000, and has been lived out in a myriad of ways over the past 20 years.

The history of the covenant, its impact and meaning, and next steps forward were highlighted during the Sunday afternoon prayer service hosted by McClure United Church.

“In the name and Spirit of Jesus you have walked together on this road,  learned from one another, and been teachers to all of us.” – Rev. Ron McConnell

In attendance were current leaders and members of both congregations, including several original members of the Covenant planning committee. Former pastors Fr. Bernard de Margerie and Rev. Ron McConnell, who were serving the two communities at the time of the covenant development and launch, were also in attendance. Each provided a reflection during the prayer service.

Beginning with an acknowledgment of treaty relationships on land we share, the prayer service included a call to prayer by Rev. Debra Berg of McClure United Church and a prayer of confession and of assurance by Fr. Darryl Millette, pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

Rev. Debra Berg of McClure United Church and Fr. Darryl Millette of Holy Spirit Catholic Church lead prayers at the 20th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Scripture readings were proclaimed by Fr. John Abban-Bonsu of Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-6) and by Rev. Laura Fouhse (John 17:20-23) followed by sermon reflections by Fr. Bernard de Margerie and Rev. Ron McConnell.

Fr. Bernard de Margerie reflected on the history of the Covenant. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

 

Retired diocesan priest de Margerie announced his reflection theme as “remember, so as to recommit,” beginning by recalling the history of the covenant and acknowledging the work of the joint Holy Spirit – McClure United joint coordinating committee.

“Some of you were certainly part of it back then, and trekked publicly in the snow in procession from Holy Spirit to McClure,” de Margerie said, recalling the Covenant’s inauguration day in March 2000. “Ron and I were also there, and were there happily, partaking in such a pioneering and intentional statement advancing Christian reconciliation and unity.”

The solemn signing of the Covenant charter 20 years ago between a Protestant reformed and a Catholic Church “followed the impulse provided by our larger jurisdictions, by the United Church of Canada and its chair of presbytery …and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon under its bishop, in the trail on the Catholic side blazed by a big meeting of all Catholic bishops in the 1960s that we call Vatican II,” de Margerie described.

“We remember how as the years passed by, the numerous trust building, worship, educational, social initiatives that stemmed from the Covenant,” he added. “There has been lots of effort, with some disappointments along the way, but with much joy and hope.”

Echoing the first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, de Margerie said: “I pray that as a result of today’s prayer service we will be strengthened in our inner being, with power, in the Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith as you are being rooted and grounded in love.”

The primary issue on the path of Christian reconciliation and unity is to respond in Christ to God’s love and to become his faithful loving people, stressed de Margerie. “Institutional things come after.”

He added: “Friends, what a weight of grace is revealed here – grace to become the Body of Christ.”

De Margerie also reflected on the current ecumenical situation. “The commitment of the churches at the present time to healing the wounded unity of the Body of Christ is ebbing low, both worldwide and locally. From what I can see there are no substantial new initiatives, no conspicuous new energy surging,” he said, noting that churches are more intently concerned about their own denominational survival and mission than about committing vision, energy and resources to Christian reconciliation and unity.

He also pointed to exceptions, including a statement being developed provincially among the Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic denominations, and an upcoming Pentecost 2020 ecumenical worship service planned for May 31 at Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon.

To conclude, de Margerie offered “some advice from an old Christian unity warrior” stressing the crucial roles of both ordained and lay leadership. “Start again to break open the Word of God about unity, No spiritual energy in our people – no spiritual energy for Christian reconciliation and unity — will surge, if the Word of God about it is not preached, strategically and with conviction.”

As his final prayer, de Margerie quoted words from Vatican II: “The global church places its hope entirely in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured forth in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Music ministry was provided by the “Sacred Sounds” group. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Former McClure United Church pastor Rev. Ron McConnell (who is presently serving in Outlook, SK) also reflected on the Covenant between the two churches, and how it has been lived out over the past 20 years.

“The support and prayers of the wider church – Catholic and United – and the ongoing commitment and support and prayers of the wider church and the wider church leaders remains vital in strengthening and deepening the Covenant relationship,” he said.

“I see in my mind’s eye and hold in my heart all those who were among the first members of the joint Holy Spirit and McClure ecumenical steering committee. I remember their detailed faithful service in crafting the words of this Covenant and I remember each person who has served on this committee over all the years. You have witnessed to the love of God and Jesus Christ which calls us to reconciliation and unity as being a labour of love. I know it has provided you with much hard work and many happy memories, great joy and no small frustrations, breakthroughs and boredom, the need for confession and the opportunity to forgive. In the name and Spirit of Jesus you have walked together on this road,  learned from one another, and been teachers to all of us.”

Support for this Covenant has become “part of our shared identity,” McConnell noted, pointing out that all position descriptions for McClure United Church ministers include a requirement to support the Covenant and the relationship with Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

“During 19 years of ministry here at McClure, the great gift of the covenant for me was to fell part of and to feel the love and support of two church families,” he said. “My fondest memories include marriage and baptism services at Holy Spirit, when I was invited by the priests to support pastorally our families with both Catholic and United Church members.”

McConnell also recalled powerful joint studies held by the two congregations of reports produced by the national Roman Catholic/United Church dialogue groups, on topics such as the baptismal formula, the role of authority and the role of Mary.

“For me the most profound experience of this covenant has occurred when worshipping and preaching at Holy Spirit. As we all know, we cannot yet receive together the Eucharist – and indeed, this Covenant that we hold dear commits us in our practise to respect the teachings, the directives of our own and one another’s churches. Still, the times that I have felt closest to my Catholic brothers and sisters — especially with presiding priests —  is when I have seen the pain reflected in their faces …. that far deeper pain which we all share together for the brokenness of Christ’s body, the brokenness of Christ’s church,” said McConnell.

“It is not ours to whitewash this brokenness and it is not ours to heal this wound lightly. Rather this is a wound, that if we truly love one another and love the church of Christ, we will continue to bear with – and for – one another, We will do this together until, God willing, we need bear this pain no more… We pray for the healing that only Christ can give.”

As for moving forward, McConnell quoted the Princeton proposal for Christian unity: “The call to serve the unity of the church is not premised on the likelihood of success  — that is in God’s hands. Our present unity, however broken by our habits and traditions of division, already exists as a gift from God. Thus the unity that we seek will not be simply a human work. This is good news. For we can trust the promises of the gospel. Any true steps towards unity will be a manifestation of new life in Christ as he reconciles us in one body through the cross.”

Following their joint sermon, Fr. Bernard de Margerie and Rev. Ron McConnell went to the altar, and together they lit one candle from two flames.

Fr. Bernard de Margerie and Rev. Ron McConnell together light a single candle during the 20th anniversary celebration of the Covenant between Holy Spirit Catholic Church and McClure United Church. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

 

The service continued with the praying of the Apostles’ Creed, a sign of peace, and a collection of a gift offering for the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, which was acknowledged by PCE chair Mary Nordick, who brought greetings from the centre.

Mary Nordick, chair of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism brought greetings. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Mona Eremondi of McClure and Joanne Steckler of Holy Spirit then led prayers of intention, before the community prayed together the Lord’s Prayer.

Members of the original covenant committee, Heather Desalutels and Carol Pek (l-r) read the covenant during the anniversary celebration. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Heather Desautels of McClure and Carol Pek of Holy Spirit — two original members of the original joint committee together read the Covenant out loud, as follows:

The Covenant reads as follows:

“In the name of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, we the people and clergy of McClure United Church and Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Parish, in response to the call of Jesus ‘that they may all be one and so that the world may believe that you have sent me,’ (Jn 17:21-23) join in a covenant of Christian love, understanding and faithfulness to the Gospel.

“In witness to the wider church and to the world: We acknowledge the fractured Body of Christ and the need for healing.

“We rejoice in the gift of unity that Jesus Christ gives us and we celebrate the real, though imperfect, communion that we share.

“We recognize the value of our respective traditions and pledge to encourage one another to grow in them in a manner that unites rather than divides.

“In joyful thanksgiving and with prayerful deliberation, we commit ourselves to live out and grow in the unity that Christ wills for us and we pledge to:

  1. Engage in regular public prayer for each other and for the unity of all Christians.
  2. Come together from time to time for shared prayer.
  3. Invite members of either faith community as welcome guests at the worship services of others, with participation according to the current discipline of each denomination.
  4. Engage in an exchange of preaching, music or other worship ministry at least once every six months.
  5. Enhance communication by sharing Sunday bulletin, newsletter and bulletin board materials.
  6. Plan joint educational activities to broaden our understanding of the theology of the church, including our respective beliefs and traditions.
  7. Share in joint social justice action on an ongoing basis.
  8. Promote and celebrate fellowship through social gatherings.
  9. Support and encourage the joint steering committee of our two faith communities in proposing creative ways to further enrich our common life and faith and in facilitating the review and renewal of this Covenant.
  10. Reflect on and celebrate this covenant on each anniversary.”

The entire assembly then proclaimed together: “Our prayer and vision is that this Covenant will serve the full communion of the Church as willed by Jesus Christ, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We ask for God’s blessing on this solemn agreement between Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Parish and McClure United Church. May we be faithful to the Covenant to the honour and glory of God.”

The original members of the Covenant committee were acknowledged by Kenton Peterson, chair of Holy Spirit Parish Pastoral Council.

Those who served on the covenant committee 20 years ago were recognized during the celebration. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Bishop Mark Hagemoen addressed the gathering, before leading the praying of the Covenant Prayer. “May we continue to realize the fullness of what it means to profess that one Creed together,” he said. “The prophetic witness of unity among Christian churches is more needed than ever.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon led the Covenant Prayer. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

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Opposition to euthanasia continues in Canada, with concern about expanding eligibility and “bullying” of those who refuse to participate

Wed, 03/11/2020 - 12:16

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA – Opponents of medically-assisted suicide and euthanasia  in Canada are continuing to urge like-minded Canadians to speak out against legalized medically-provided death, while the House of Commons grapples with proposed changes to who qualifies for euthanasia.

While rolling back legally-sanctioned suicide and euthanasia in Canada no longer seems possible, critics of  the so-called “MAiD system” are hoping to at least block the further expansion of who can access medically-assisted death by focusing on two key issues –  better and more accessible palliative care  and protection of conscience rights for health workers who refuse to participate.

The federal government’s proposed Bill C-7 – introduced in the House of Commons in February – proposes changes in the wake of a Quebec court decision in 2019 that struck down a requirement that a person’s death must be reasonably foreseeable in order to qualify for medically-assisted suicide or euthanasia.

The new federal bill would also would allow a waiver of final consent for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable but “who may who may lose capacity to consent before MAID can be provided.” The bill specifically states that it excludes “eligibility for individuals suffering solely from mental illness.” However, the government also concedes that future changes to the assisted death system in Canada could include the mentally-ill following a mandated five-year review that will start this summer.

“Other important questions relating to MAiD in Canada — such as advance requests for persons newly diagnosed with a condition that could affect their decision-making capacity in the future, eligibility for persons suffering solely from mental illness and eligibility for mature minors — could be considered during a broader parliamentary review of MAiD legislation expected to begin by June 2020,” said a statement from the Ministry of Justice.

The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) said in a recent statement to Canadians that “it is imperative that you reach out to your MP to tell them that you oppose the removal of safeguards and the expansion of eligibility.”

“Although we now know the content of the new proposed law, the content of the final law is still very much in question,” the ARPS statement said.

“There is division within each party around how the issues this bill raises should be resolved,” according to ARPA. “In short, this legislation on assisted suicide could change significantly in the next few months. Proposed amendments by other parties or the Senate could further remove safeguards and expand eligibility, or proposed amendments could strengthen safeguards and restrict eligibility.”

Ray Penning, executive director of the faith-based organization Cardus, points to the lack of guidelines and safeguards to protect people from feeling pressured into going through with a medically-assisted death and the lack of real conscience rights protections for health workers.

“The federal government has a responsibility to protect all Canadians’ Charter rights – including the rights of medical professionals not to participate in MAiD in any way  — and the rights of hospices and other institutions not to cause the deaths of people in their care,” Pennings said.

The issue of pressure, on both patients and health care workers, has become a rallying cry for critics of the legalized system of medically-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The recent removal of provincial government funding for a Delta Hospice Society in B.C.  because it refuses to allow euthanasia and a recent statement from a group that represents doctors against euthanasia that refers to the bullying of health workers pressuring them to participate in assisted suicide and euthanasia continue to draw attention.

The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia released a statement March 9, 2020 that said some physicians are afraid to speak out publicly about what they consider to be pressure on health care workers.

“The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia has received reports that unwilling physicians are being pressured and bullied to participate in Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD),” the organization said in a press release.

“The pressure has been intense for many physicians, especially amongst palliative specialists, some leaving their profession even before this latest development. Descriptions were made of toxic practice environments and fear of discipline by medical regulators.”

The alliance quotes an unnamed former palliative care worker who said: “The anxiety, fear, and sadness surrounding my work bled into my family life, and I ultimately felt that I could not manage practicing palliative care at this stage of my life.”

“The reports we are hearing from distressed physicians describe deliberate disruption of arrangements that were previously working satisfactorily and that had permitted patients to have access to MAiD while still allowing for conscience objectors to not be involved in facilitating the patient’s death,” the alliance’s press release said.

“This bullying and betrayal of collegial relationships can poison practice environments and compromise patient care. Such behavior should not be tolerated by health care administrators in Canada.”

The alliance is calling on “Canadian physicians having similar stories of bullying” to share their experiences by emailing the alliance  at info@collectifmedecins.org.

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Common communion cup, holy water, and shaking hands are on hold in the diocese of Saskatoon in response to COVID-19

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 15:56

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

(UPDATED DIRECTIVES MARCH 17 – including cancellation of public celebrations of Mass until further notice – BISHOP LETTER.)

[Saskatoon – March 10, 2020] – In response to growing concern about the spread of COVID-19 – also known as “coronavirus” – Bishop Mark Hagemoen March 10 announced a number of temporary restrictions to liturgical practice in parishes across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

Effective immediately, all parishes are directed to observe the following:

  • Personal contact such as the shaking of hands at the Sign of Peace during the celebration of Mass is to be discontinued. A bow and spoken word of peace may serve as a replacement.
  • Holy Communion is to be distributed under the species of bread alone (discontinuing the common cup).
  • Pastors, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are to wash their hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based sanitizer, before and after distributing communion.
  • Where visits to the sick for sacramental and/ or pastoral care are made, good sanitary practices are to be maintained at all times. Any minister choosing to make such visits should make use of hand sanitizers, if possible washing with soap and water immediately before and immediately after the visit.
  • Holy water is to be removed from church fonts.

These are similar to steps taken in 2009 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon in response to H1N1.

“We have been coordinating with the Archdiocese of Regina to monitor the situation regularly,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in his March 10, 2020 letter to priests, parish leaders and the lay faithful about the diocese’s COVID-19 response. “If necessary, further directives may be required. However, we hope and pray that these temporary directives will not be needed for too long.”

Bishop Hagemoen also asked for continued prayers for those affected by COVID-19 and for the health care workers and other service providers who assist those who are affected by the health-care crisis.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen released directives for celebrating Mass in light of concerns about the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Health authorities and the Government of Canada’s outbreak update website continue to say the risk to Canadians from COVID-19 is low, while acknowledging that the situation could change rapidly. The federal website states that the Public Health Agency of Canada, along with provincial, territorial and community partners, “continues to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.”

Catholic dioceses across the country are also monitoring the situation and a number have now implemented changes to liturgical practise in an effort to minimize risk of spreading the virus, including the Saskatchewan dioceses of Saskatoon and Regina. At the time of their announced changes to liturgical changes on March 10, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.

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