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

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Updated: 32 weeks 6 days ago

Update on refugee sponsorship in the diocese of Saskatoon

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 10:41

By Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard, Office of Migration

[Catholic Saskatoon News] – It is my privilege to be the new Migration Officer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, and I can tell you that there is never a dull moment in this work.

Since September 2019, through the goodness of God and the generosity of our parish groups, we have welcomed 15 new permanent residents to Saskatoon:

  • Holy Family welcomed Mrs. T and her 5 children from South Sudan via Uganda.
  • Holy Spirit welcomed Mr. and Mrs. B and their 4 children from Eritrea via Sudan
  • Our Lady of Lourdes welcomed young Mr. M, from Eritrea via Israel
  • St. Philip Neri made is possible for Mr. G to reunite with his bride Ms. L, from Eritrea via Ethiopia
  • The Petres family welcomed Mrs. M, an 83-year-old Catholic lady from Iraq, who had not seen her son for 10 years.

What does a Migration Office coordinator do?

Along with meeting new arrivals and overseeing their welfare for their first 12 months of settlement, my main job at is at the start of the process.

Consulting with my Operations Manager and Bishop Mark Hagemoen, I select who will get our precious government-allocated “spots,” then help prepare, finalize and submit the applications to the government (IRCC), as well as preparing and equipping the settlement teams in our parish and community groups so that they are ready to receive newcomer families with confidence and in compliance with the government’s standards.

Reaching refugees in great need: persecuted Christians

Jesus as a child was a refugee in Egypt, and one of the things He asks of his disciples is to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25). One group in great need of resettlement are Christians who face persecution because of their faith and witness.

The Christians of Pakistan are under great pressure from ex-  tremist mobs. Many have fled to Thailand, where they live pre-carious lives, always under threat of detention and deportation.

This summer, Catholic refugee coordinators, led by the Archdiocese of Toronto, made a mission trip to Bangkok to meet a pastor who works with these families.

The Toronto delegation interviewed and selected 65 cases, and put out the challenge to the Canadian dioceses to sponsor these persecuted Christians.

Read more about the plight of these Pakistani Christian families and the Archdiocese of Toronto mission trip and its outcome: ARTICLE

The Archdiocese of Toronto stepped up and took 18 cases, and now other dioceses are coming forward – and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is one of them.

With Bishop Mark Hagemoen’s blessing and leadership, we have committed to bringing one family to Saskatoon – and we need your help to do it.

Thailand does not recognize refugees, and staying there long-term is not an option. Pakistani Christian refugees struggle daily in Bangkok with poverty, precarious housing, and constant fear of arrest. They cannot go home – their opponents are well-networked and nowhere in Pakistan is safe for them. And they can’t stay where they are.

With your help we can give a family a new hope and a new future in Canada.

“What do you need? How can we help?”

A great refugee settlement needs money plus people.

Money is needed to support the family for up to 12 months (less if they find paid work during that first year). Assuming we can get donated furniture and household goods, plus some clothing, we would need about $31,000 to meet the government expectations for a small family.

People are needed to walk with the refugees, like close family members – to find and furnish a home, to help the new arrivals get registered for health cards, bank accounts, and bus passes; to give rides to appointments, to help practice English, to assist in looking for employment, and to provide social, emotional and educational support as these new neighbours learn to navigate life in a new culture.

People of every skill set and age can play a part in making a great settlement team. A team of five to 12 members gives stability and helps to share the work so it can be life-giving rather than draining.

Parishes can partner

Many city parishes already have substantial commitments to refugee ministry, while smaller and rural parishes may feel they cannot take on a full sponsorship themselves. This is where partnerships within the diocese could play a wonderful role.

Could your parish do a fundraiser or donate $3,000 towards helping this family? That would be about 10 percent of the needed funds. What if nine other parishes did the same?

Does your city parish have one or two people who would love to help out, but not 12? City parishes or other Catholic institutions (like a school or college) could team up to form a cross-parish settlement team.

To discuss these or other ideas, or for more info, contact me: Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard, or (306) 659-5842.

To donate online go to and click on the “Refugee Aid” button, or for more information about donating to the Office of Migration or Refugee Aid, contact: the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation: or (306) 659-5849.




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Diane Boyko re-elected as Catholic school board chair

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 16:10

By Derrick Kunz,

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools’ Board of Education held its annual organizational meeting Nov. 4, 2019.  Diane Boyko was re-elected chair of the board. Trustee Ron Boechler was re-elected vice-chair.

“It’s an honour to be entrusted to the position of chair for the last year in our mandate before the next election,” said Boyko.

“We have a good team to help ensure the message of Jesus Christ—a message of love, inclusion and service—is the model our schools use.”

With 50 schools and almost 20,000 students, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools is Saskatchewan’s largest Catholic school division, providing Catholic education from pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 in Saskatoon and area, Biggar, Humboldt, Martensville and Warman. Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools are “rooted in faith, growing in knowledge and reaching out to transform the world.”

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Refugee sponsorship: Do your fair share, government told

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 14:58

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – Churches and volunteer associations who sponsor refugees are calling on the federal government to shoulder a fairer share of the burden.

Under current plans, private sponsorship groups will resettle almost twice as many refugees as the federal government between now and 2021. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) projects that private sponsors will bring in 20,000 refugees per year in 2020 and 2021, while the federal government commits to taking in 10,700 per year. The 2019 Immigration Levels Plan calls for 19,000 privately-sponsored refugees versus 9,300 for government-assisted refugees.

“They’ve significantly reduced their refugee resettlement (relative to private sponsorship), which causes us concern,” Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) Council chair Libby Angel told The Catholic Register.

It’s a matter of Ottawa “doing its fair share,” said Canadian Council for Refugees executive director Janet Dench. “It’s not acceptable that the government bring down its commitment so much.”

From 1998 to 2004, Ottawa resettled 2.75 refugees for every one that came in through private sponsorship. From 2005 to 2014 the ratio of government assisted refugees to privately sponsored was down to 1.58 to one. Under the current government plans the ratio will have flipped to 1.28 privately sponsored for every one government assisted for the 2015 to 2021 period.

Special report about persecuted Christians from Pakistan who have fled to Thailand – Archdiocese of Toronto asks other Catholic dioceses in Canada to help with sponsorships: ARTICLE

Canada permanently resettled more refugees than any other country last year, following two years of dramatic cuts to refugee resettlement in the United States. The 2018 number for Canada was 28,100 out of a total 92,400 refugees who were spread between 25 countries that are part of the global resettlement system.

In the context of a global migration crisis with 25.4 million refugees, 40 million internally displaced people and another 3.1 million asylum seekers scattered across the globe, Canada needs to do more, said Dench.

“Canada is really being called, like other countries, to do its maximum in resettlement of refugees,” she said. “The need is greater than ever.”

Refugee advocates are calling on Canada to make a significant pledge in December when the Global Refugee Forum meets in Geneva. They want the government to match the private sponsorship efforts by pledging to sponsor 20,000 refugees.

“Twenty-thousand would be a good government-assisted level,” Dench said. “It’s absolutely within the capacity of the government and Canada in general. We’ve seen that with the Syrian movement.”

More than 40,000 Syrian refugees came to Canada from 2016 through 2017.

A dramatic increase announced in Geneva might inspire other countries to do more, she said.

But not all private sponsors want the government to expand the government-assisted refugee resettlement program.

“I would push that monies be directed to the private sponsorship of refugees, who have a much better record in terms of integration outcomes,” said Office of Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto director Deacon Rudy Ovcjak.

Ovcjak also suspects the government refugee program is systematically biased against Christian refugees because it relies on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to identify refugees for resettlement.

A 2016 U.S. study found that while approximately 10 per cent of the Syrian population was Christian, only half of one per cent of the UNHCR-identified Syrian refugees admitted to the United States were Christian. For years, Orthodox and Catholic bishops in the region have pointed out that Christians avoid the official UNHCR-sponsored camps because they are rife with violent Muslim nationalists who target Christians.

But the UNHCR doesn’t limit itself to refugee camps. It also registers refugees living in urban settings, said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Nancy Caron in an e-mail. “The UNHCR prioritizes cases based on vulnerability, not on nationality or religion,” she said.

A study of refugee outcomes published by Statistics Canada in March of this year points out that privately sponsored refugees earn more money and are more self reliant than government-assisted refugees, “at least in the initial years.” The earnings gap between privately-sponsored and government-assisted refugees disappears after 10 years in Canada, according to the study.

Most privately-sponsored refugees, even when the sponsorship is backed by a church or community association, are family reunifications. A 2016 study found that 62 per cent of privately-sponsored refugees had direct family ties to their sponsors. In most other cases there are deep ties within immigrant communities.

Whether it involves increases in private sponsorships or government-assisted refugees, Ovcjak does agree that overall numbers have to rise.

“We would be pushing for higher numbers,” he said.


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Helping the Catholic Church rediscover and protect Indigenous languages

Fri, 11/01/2019 - 08:46

Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle – a Canadian Catholic coalition of Indigenous people, bishops, clergy, members of lay movements and male and female institutes of consecrated life – recently released an open letter to all Canadians on the occasion of the United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages.

Video: 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages – Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle:

Church helps parishioners rediscover and protect Indigenous languages

By Kyle Greenham, Grandin Media

[Edmonton – Canadian Catholic News] – Rosella Kinoshameg has vivid childhood memories of being silenced when she tried to speak her native Ojibway at St. Joseph’s, a Catholic residential school near Sudbury, ON.

Now, years later, she’s helping the Catholic Church rediscover and protect Indigenous languages.

Rosella Kinoshameg is co-chair of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle (Photo by Kyle Greenham, Grandin Media – CCN)

Rosella Kinoshameg is a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle. It’s a national coalition of Indigenous people, Catholic clergy, women religious, and lay people dedicated to healing the relationship between the Church and Canada’s First Nations. Preserving language is also one of Calls to Action identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“For the Church today to become a way for people to access and relearn their language, it’s a huge step in reconciliation,” Kinoshameg said.

To that end, the Our Lady of the Guadalupe Circle published a letter and video on Oct. 28, 2019, acknowledging the injustices against Canada’s Indigenous people and the historic loss of their identity, language and cultural roots through the government’s residential schools, which were operated by a number of Catholic and other religious organizations.

Cover image on the Message of Support from Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle.

Read the message online: CCCB link

Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle members meet twice a year in Ottawa. However, for the release of the letter and video, members chose Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples in Edmonton as the venue.

The First Nations church is at the forefront of integrating Indigenous languages and practices with Catholic tradition. Mass, prayers, readings and hymns are often in Cree or Dene. A smudging – a sacred Indigenous practice of burning sweetgrass – is also offered before Mass.

“I think the Sacred Heart Church represents a really good integration of Catholic and Indigenous traditions, and it’s something the community is very proud of and grateful to have,” said Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas, a member of the Our Lady of Guadalupe working group.

“It seemed like an ideal place to launch this letter from.”

The release of the letter also coincides the United Nations’ 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages. The UN says 40 per cent of Indigenous languages worldwide are under serious threat of disappearing.

In Canada, Indigenous languages are on the decline. In 2011, only 14.5 per cent of Indigenous Canadians reported that their first language was their native language, according to Statistics Canada. In the 1996 census, it was twice that at 26 per cent.

Indigenous students were banned from speaking their native languages in many of the 44 residential schools run by Catholic operators starting in the 1820s until the mid-1990s.

Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas is co-chair of Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Archbishop Murray Chatlain says that he hopes the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle shows Canadians that the Church is hoping to correct the wrongs of this period. Since 2017, the group has been involved in efforts to promote languages like Cree, Dene, Ojibway, Mohawk and Squamish in Indigenous parishes across the country.

“In the residential schools we were part of an effort to strengthen English and French and discourage their own languages,” said Chatlain. “Today we are saying we recognize the importance of these languages and we’re doing what we can to encourage their promotion and preservation.”

However, that’s not easy.

A common challenge in Indigenous parishes is that many younger parishioners have little experience speaking in their native tongue, said Kinoshameg. Often it is up to the elders of the parish to help incorporate their language into the Mass.

The Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle is developing an online resource for translated prayers. Kinoshameg wrote Ojibway translations of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be prayers. They are also being translated into Squamish and Cree. Kinoshameg hopes the site can be an effective resource.

At her home parish of Holy Cross Church in on Manitoulin Island, Kinoshameg has taught the parish priest how to say the sign of the cross and the Lord’s Prayer in Ojibway.

Back at Sacred Heart, parishioners agree they are setting a strong example for renewed relations between the Church and Indigenous people.

“I think it’s wonderful. It’s important for us to know our own language,” said Cecilia Nepoose, who is originally from the Samson Cree Nation in central Alberta.

“My two elder boys spoke Cree when we lived with my parents, but when we moved to Edmonton we kind of lost it. So I think we should do more to preserve it, and this church has been so positive for the Native people who come here to pray.”

Now that the letter has been released, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle hopes the value of Indigenous language – and the need to preserve it ̶ will spread to parishes and First Nations across Canada.

“We hope this is an encouragement for Indigenous people young and old to make efforts in preserving their languages, and that the Church can be a place for learning it,” said Archbishop Chatlain, whose own First Nations parishes have embraced Indigenous language.

“In parishes where we’re singing and praying in Cree or Dene, both the younger Indigenous people and myself have had to learn many of these words for the first time.”

In drafting the letter and creating the video, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle sought insight from a variety of groups, including the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women’s League, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

“Language is a basis to culture; it’s a basis to identity,” said Graydon Nicholas, the Knights of Columbus representative on the Circle and a member of the Maliseet Nation in New Brunswick. “That was one of the great tragedies of the residential schools – the loss of language and identity. And it will take generations to recover that.”

While there are worrying signs, Nicholas says there is a positive shift happening across Canada to combat this potential loss of language.

“It’s been a long time coming, but the environment in our country is now one where there is a greater awareness of Indigenous issues,” he said. “The United Nations declaration on Indigenous language confirmed what a lot of us have been saying for decades, that Indigenous people need to protect our languages.

“I’m very glad to be a part of that process and be a participant. I think it’s great that so many Catholic entities are involved in this effort.”

In addition, the Circle is looking at ways to support efforts around missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops is working on a pastoral letter that will address reconciliation.

“It will take some time, but this is meant to be a real effort at healing,” said Archbishop Chatlain.

Above all, Chatlain hopes the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle promotes not only Indigenous culture, but also the role of the Holy Spirit in healing the relationship between the Church and First Nations.

“We must always keep God in our reconciliation work,” he said. “To really have forgiveness, understanding and reconciliation, God has to be invited to be a part of it.”


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Youth Leadership In Action award presented to St. Joseph High School students for Halloween food bank project

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 15:22

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools / Saskatoon Food Bank

At an annual academic awards ceremony on Oct. 29, students at St. Joseph High School were presented the inaugural Youth Leadership In Action award from the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre.

For the last 12 years, hundreds of student volunteers have forgone an annual opportunity for sackfuls of candy to collect boxes and bags full of non-perishable food items for the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre. They call the initiative Halloweening for Hunger.

Their efforts, under the guidance of teacher Rachelle Kelln, have helped refill shelves at the Food Bank after the busy Thanksgiving weekend. To date, over 120,000 pounds of food has been collected, including a record 24,000 pounds last year.

“It started small with just a handful of students and has grown into a project that students look forward to every year,” said Kelln. “The number of students, the time and effort they put in, and their desire to serve their community is quite impressive. It’s hard to believe this will be the thirteenth year.”

Deborah Hamp, Director of Operations and Engagement at the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre said: “We are delighted to see the continued support from these wonderful students and staff at St. Joe’s. Their initiative has led several schools to get involved in this significant food drive that raises phenomenal amounts of food to provide the much-needed support to our community. St. Joe’s influence goes beyond the school community, this food drive has motivated even companies like Rosenau Transport Ltd. to extend their long term support to this initiative as well by providing a 40′ truck for the food drive. We want to thank everyone who is involved in making Halloweening for Hunger a success.”

Several schools from across the city will be joining St. Joseph High School collecting non-perishable food items again this Halloween.


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Reflections on returning home to serve in Saskatoon

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 13:59

By Fr. Stefano Penna, St. Paul Co-Cathedral

[Catholic Saskatoon News] – Last year, Bishop Mark Hagemoen installed me as Rector and Pastor of St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon on Gaudete Sunday (“Joy Sunday” celebrated on the third Sunday of Advent), which was really appropriate because I must raise my voice in joy to God for leading me home to Saskatoon.

It has been 22 years since I exercised full-time ministry in Saskatoon. I went away to Yale University to study, while my childhood friend with whom I was ordained in 1986 – Fr. Les Paquin – went to the parish of Santa Maria Maddalena in Brazil. Fr. Les always insisted that it was easier to be a minister of the Gospel among the poorest of the poor with whom he lived, than for me amongst the richest of the rich in Connecticut.

In any case, I always tried to see the academic ministry in which Bishop James Mahoney invited me serve as being the complement of the ministry of Fr. Les. I have strived to keep the question – “What does this have to do with the poor?” – before me at all times (perhaps not that successfully).

When I finished up studies in 2002, a position at St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta in Edmonton was offered to me. Bishop Mahoney had told me: “I realize we might be giving you to the service of the Church beyond Saskatoon.” Those words from one of my role models of priesthood sustained me during the time I was “on loan” in the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

My 16 years in Edmonton were full ones indeed. Though my doctoral work was in philosophical theology and my license from Rome was in sacramental theology, I was invited to teach religious education. That began the intense and rewarding engagement of teaching and forming Catholic educators.

Twelve years ago I was invited by Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith to serve as the Dean of Theology at Newman Theological College as it transitioned to a new location  – an intense experience of loss and discovery. The blur of those years still leaves me kind of breathless. A particular privilege was being involved in the education of future priests at St. Joseph’s Seminary – including some from Saskatoon.

In 2018, a new invitation from the Lord came in the form of Bishop Mark asking me to come home. The prospect of being close to my parents and family – and of being back in the heart of the community for which the Lord called me – was exciting. Exciting and terrifying.

I have always lived in Catholic rectories, but until last year I was never a pastor of a parish. I returned home to find that many of my Holy Cross classmates are grandparents on the verge of retirement and here was I, confronted with a new “fatherhood” (or better, “step-fatherhood” for God is the Father) at the parish of St. Paul Co-Cathedral.

It has been such a blessing. I do not remember such happiness in my priesthood as I have found here as pastor. Why?

Ordained priesthood is essentially about being the minister of the Church’s sacraments. All the things that I was doing as an academic could have been done (and probably done better) by any other of Christ’s faithful. The priest, however, is not to be one launching a quest for self-fulfilment. “The priest is not his own”, as Venerable Fulton Sheen put it. I am given over to Christ by the community to be alter Christus especially in administering the sacraments in which Jesus the High Priest and Shepherd encounters His People. I have long known this completely unmerited grace, but what has been an eye-opening – heart-opening, soul-opening – gift has been meeting God’s people in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Pope Francis made the Sacrament of Reconciliation the cornerstone of the Year of Mercy. I have found it the cornerstone of my life as pastor.

What daily grace to sit in the confessional. What a humbling witness to Christian faith I receive from those who come simply to lay their sins before the Saviour. Their simple words blow away the eloquence of so many of the writers with whom I have spent hours. And I experience the joy of being present to the very moment when our Lord through His Church transforms sins from burden into blessing as they are returned as gifts labelled “forgiven!”

Yes, the Eucharistic celebration is the core of my life. To celebrate the Eucharist in the noble building that has stood as the spiritual heart of Saskatoon for 110 years is overwhelming. When I returned from some holidays this summer I knew that I had fallen in love with the people of St. Paul Co-Cathedral, because coming back was happier than heading out. Yet, the happiest homecoming was settling in the chair in our confessional.




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Multi-faith celebration held to bless Spiritual Reflection Room at new children’s hospital

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 09:42

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

A blessing celebration was held Oct. 23, 2019 for the new Spiritual Reflection Room at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, featuring multi-faith prayers for the sacred space, the new hospital, staff, chaplains and spiritual care providers.

Present for the celebration were representatives of the Cas and Marie Broda Family Foundation and members of the Broda family, who donated $1 million to the children’s hospital Foundation for the spiritual space.

Left to right: Brynn Boback-Lane (CEO of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation), with donors from the Broda family: Marie, Barb and Shannon Broda. The Cas & Marie Broda Family Foundation and individual members of the family donated $1 million for the spiritual space. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Rosine Garabedian, site lead for the children’s hospital, was MC for the ceremony, held in the new Spiritual Reflection Room on the main floor of the new facility.

She acknowledged that the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital stands on Treaty 6 territory and the homeland of the Métis. “Recognizing this history is important to our future and to our efforts to close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and I pay my respects to the land.”

Elder Ron Thompson, First Nations and Métis Relations with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, opened with a prayer in his language and in English: “We pray for the children, for the mothers who are coming to have their children here, for the people wo come to the emergency unit… help, bless, guide the doctors, nurses and staff.”

Brynn Boback-Lane, CEO of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation spoke about the history of the Spiritual Reflection Room in the new hospital, thanking donors, elders, educators, clergy, and the entire Saskatchewan Health Authority family for the support that led to the opening of the Spiritual Reflection Room.

“When we thought of the creation of a children’s hospital many, many years ago, for the province’s children and mothers to be, discussions were very, very clear on making sure that it was (a place of) diversity, inclusion and sensitivity to all peoples, all cultures and all situations,” Boback-Lane said.

She described how as planning went on for the new building, it became clear that regardless of the size of space to be dedicated, “we needed somewhere to reflect, to pause and to pray, where faith could be observed and carried out in our own ways, and that it was not a luxury, but a necessity, and was required in a facility that would promote healing and well being.” The resulting multi-faith space has been designed to be simple enough to permit each person, each child, and each family to bring in items, prayers and rituals that are symbolic and meaningful to them. “This space was created to capture one heart and one spirit and to welcome and support faith of every kind.”

Boback-Lane noted that there are plans to install stained glass in the large windows at the front of the room with imagery of sky, water, earth and air. “We hope it will fill your hearts,” she said, “and give an opportunity to leave burdens at the threshold of this very sacred space.”

Imam Illyas Sidyot of the Saskatchewan Islamic Association said a prayer to bless the Spiritual Reflection Room.

Imam Ilyas Sidyot of the Islamic Association of Saskatoon then blessed the Spiritual Reflection Room. “May God Almighty bless all of us, shower his choicest mercy upon each of us, accept our efforts, services, and make us among those who will become a source of benefit for all the people who are served here,” he said, before praying a verse from the Holy Quran.

Rosine Garabedian spoke about the work and cooperation of the various hospital chaplains who provide spiritual care in the hospital on behalf of their particular denominations and faith communities, and then addressing those in attendance for the blessing ceremony, who represented many different faith traditions.

“As leaders in your own faith communities, you generously support patients and their families at our hospital here the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital as well as at Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon City Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital,” she said. “When people get sick or suffer emergency medical conditions, they often need to address questions of faith and spirituality. And we are truly grateful that you respond to those calls. Your presence today is a sign of our work together to provide compassionate care…. You and many others who couldn’t be here today represent a great cloud of people who support the spiritual dimension of health.”

Lutheran pastor Rev. Ron Bestvater led a prayer for chaplains and spiritual care providers from many faith traditions. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

The chaplains and spiritual care providers present were then blessed by Rev. Ron Bestvater, who serves as a hospital chaplain on behalf of Lutheran Ministry in Hospitals, Saskatoon. He stepped in on behalf of Rabbi Claudio Jodorkovsky of Congregation Agudas Israel, who was unwell and could not attend.

Proclaiming Psalm 34 of the Hebrew scriptures, Bestvater read:  “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry…. The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

He continued: “Holy One, Almighty One: many are called to bring love, support, compassion to support the crushed spirit in the name of the One from whom the Spirit comes. Holy and Almighty One, we give you thanks for each of those servants that you have called into this place – for each chaplain, for each member of the clergy in the community, for every leader of every faith community in this area – and we ask that your many manifold eternal  blessing will be upon them and in their words and in their hearts and in their minds.”

The Executive Director of Children’s and Maternal Services for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Carrie Dornstauder, described the new building and its services, including many new and upcoming services, and the “hub and spoke” model of care to ensure that all communities in the province are part of the strategy to provide pediatric and maternal care.

“Our philosophy of care is changing. We didn’t just pick up services fromm one building and bring them over to a new building. We have a whole new philosophy of care that really respects the child and family-centred rights,” she said. “We are committed to improving the experience of all faiths and all families with specific focus on our new Canadian families and our Indigenous families.”

Rev. Cathy Coates of the United Church of Canada said a prayer of blessing for the new facility. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Rev. Cathy Coates of the United Church of Canada then blessed the building and its services, praying: “God of mystery, we find You in hands being held, we find You in hugs that we give. We find You in words spoken and in silence that is shared. We find You in moments of crisis and times of celebration, amid pain and comfort, release and renewal.”

She continued: “On this day, O God, we mark a new beginning. So, may this hospital be a source of hope and a beacon of health. May this building bring joy to new families and catch the tears of all who mourn. May this building be a tool to continue the good work of staff whose helping hands are held out to all ages. As we each work in our own area of expertise, may this building be a place filled with compassion and truth and love. May the halls be blessed with laughter and conversations. May each break room for staff be a place of rest and renewal. May each test centre be a place of discovery. And, O God, may each bed, from the tiniest bassinet to the pull-out couch be a place of healing.”

Fr. Rhéal Bussière of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon led a concluding prayer by those assembled for the blessing celebration. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Finally, Catholic Chaplain Fr. Rhéal Bussière, led a responsive prayer for patients, families and staff in attendance.

“Blessed is God who creates us varied and many, needing one another. Blessed are our traditions, varied and many, weaving a tapestry of compassion. Blessed is our work in this hospital – ritual, listening, compassion. Blessed is our common dream of offering spiritual support to children and all who love them. We leave blessed by our connections to one another – to the spirit of life. We leave this place of healing and hope. And may we bless one another and the world with our caring.”

A reception followed the celebration, organized by Jacqueline Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, a ministry supported through donations to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

Catholic Hospital Chaplaincy coordinator Jackie Saretsky (right) with Fr. Matthew Ramsay of St. Anne Catholic Church, Saskatoon, at the conclusion of the celebration. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)




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Farmland Legacies working to care for creation and feed the hungry

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 11:35

By Duane Guina, Farmland Legacies

Are you looking for ways to follow the Christian call to care for creation, and to feed the hungry? Have you heard about Farmland Legacies?

Farmland Legacies is a Saskatchewan charity whose mission is to help build a food system which meets the needs of farmers, of the land, and of the hungry in our community.

Meeting the needs of the hungry:

Farmland Legacies has a farm north of Wynyard, SK, where it raises grass-fed beef cattle. Since 2014, the organization has donated this beef to food banks and soup kitchens in the province, through the generosity of its supporters. Every $1 donated covers the cost of one serving of ground beef. Grass-fed beef is a high-quality, nutritious protein which enhances the nutrition that food banks are able to offer.

Last year 47,000 servings were donated and the target for this year is 60,000 servings. In the Saskatoon Diocese in 2018, Farmland Legacies gave beef to food banks in Saskatoon, Kindersley, Biggar, Rosetown, Outlook, Lanigan, and Wynyard, as well as Saskatoon’s Friendship Inn.

Meeting the needs of the land:

By raising its cattle herd on grass, and practicing holistic management Farmland Legacies is able to work with, rather than against nature to produce good quality local food. Two other initiatives to work with nature include incorporating leafcutter bees as pollinators to improve its pastures, and producing solar power to run a number of electric fences and water bowls. The organization also works on projects to educate about sustainable agriculture including speaking in churches and classrooms.

Meeting the needs of farmers:

Farmland Legacies is a land trust which acquires arable land through donation or bequest and leases that land to farmers who share the organization’s commitment to sustainable agricultural practices and who act as stewards of the land. Farmland Legacies works with leaseholders to ensure that the land is managed responsibly, with a focus on providing long-term, ecologically sound stewardship.

Farmland Legacies invites you to join in the mission of looking for new ways to care for our planet while creating a society that is life-giving for all.

How can you get involved?
  1. Visit our website at or our social media @farmlandlegacies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more.
  2. Donate to our current GoFundMe campaign called “Harvest for Hunger”
  3. Check out our Christmas gift catalogue in November through social media or our website for a meaningful gift option to give to someone special.
  4. Invite us to your church or school. Contact: Farmland Legacies, P.O. Box 1768, 100 Bosworth Street, Wynyard SK S0A 4T0; (306) 554-5263.


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Canadian bishops issue statement about poverty in Canada, focusing on need for affordable housing

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 10:14

By Bryan Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is calling on Canadians to treat people in need with respect and dignity, and to support them spiritually and emotionally as well as materially. The statement was released on Oct 23, 2019, ahead of the Nov. 17 third annual World Day of the Poor declared by Pope Francis.

“Poverty is not a purely economic deficiency. Persons in need may also require emotional and spiritual support, in addition to social and financial support,” a new CCCB statement on poverty and affordable housing in Canada states.

The statement, “Poverty in Canada: Ensuring safe, secure and affordable housing” issued through the Commission for Justice and Peace, offers a snapshot of poverty in Canada today and addresses the role that the lack of adequate housing has in perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

“As Christians, we see it as our duty to support safe, secure, and affordable housing which will in turn recognize the God-given dignity of each person and contribute to the building of a more just, fair, and healthy society as a whole.” – Poverty in Canada, CCCB

“Through this statement, the Catholic Bishops of Canada call for collaboration between charitable organizations, all levels of government, and dioceses/eparchies, as well as local parishes, to support individuals who are in need,” according to a posting on the CCCB website.

“Poverty in Canada” reports that between 3.8 million and 4.8 million Canadians are living in poverty, depending on which economic statistics are used.

“This is in part caused by an economic environment of precarious or part-time employment leading to unstable work and income. In an economy that perpetuates poverty, Canadians also face a social assistance system that can be difficult to access when in a position of poverty. These dangers are more prominent among women, as well as Indigenous people, of whom about one quarter currently live in poverty,” according to the CCCB statement.

“Despite the efforts of many charitable organizations, poverty in Canada continues to be an inescapable cycle for some people, and accessing safe, secure, and affordable housing is still a challenge for many Canadians,” notes the report. “Approximately five per cent of Canadians face a housing crisis, with their homes being inadequate or unaffordable. They struggle to provide shelter, food, and safety for themselves and their families.”

One of the issues highlighted in the CCCB statement is that Canadians who don’t have adequate housing – or any housing at all – often face barriers to access government and societal support. An estimated 25,000 Canadians are “chronically homeless.”

“These individuals become exiles within their own society, and social exclusion itself can be a form of poverty. Because they lack an address, the homeless are often unable to access social programs, send their children to school, or obtain gainful employment. This leads to them living hand-to-mouth or shelter-to-shelter,” says the CCCB statement, while acknowledging the federal government has recently developed a National Housing Strategy with a goal of providing stability to families.

“Access to safe, secure, and affordable housing can reduce stress on families, allowing them to devote time to strengthening their family life, growing spiritually, and participating in the life of the community,” said the document issued by Canada’s bishops.

“If the disciples of the Lord Jesus wish to be genuine evangelizers, they must sow tangible seeds of hope. I ask all Christian communities, and all those who feel impelled to offer hope and consolation to the poor, to help ensure that this World Day of the Poor will encourage more and more people to cooperate effectively so that no one will feel deprived of closeness and solidarity,” Pope Francis said in a statement from the Vatican in June.

The Pope’s call to action on the issue of the poor is echoed throughout the CCCB statement.

“As Christians we are called together to eliminate that globalization of indifference which today seems to reign supreme, while building a new civilization of love and solidarity,” said the Canadian statement, citing a Pope Francis address to the Patriarchal Church of St. George, Istanbul, in Nov. 2014.

“Human dignity is respected when we actively listen to those in need and respond generously. Denying people adequate housing, however, is a contradiction of their inherent dignity as children of God and members of the human family,” the CCCB said. “This is why affordable housing is so important. It allows Canadians to stand on their own two feet, to support their families, and to provide for those closest to them.”

“As Christians, we see it as our duty to support safe, secure, and affordable housing which will in turn recognize the God-given dignity of each person and contribute to the building of a more just, fair, and healthy society as a whole.”

And Canada’s bishops are calling on a spirit of cooperation between all people of faith and lay organizations to work together in addressing the causes of poverty in Canada.

“In order for the overall housing situation in Canada to improve, there must be collaboration between charitable organizations, local governments, parishes, and the individuals these programs target,” said the CCCB statement. “This will allow for initiatives to focus their efforts strategically while avoiding unnecessary overlap. Through collaboration and communication, the dignity of the human person can be recognized and promoted.”


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Cross-country ecumenical conversation marks 75th anniversary of Canadian Council of Churches

Sun, 10/27/2019 - 20:57
#75YearsTogether live-streamed event

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Council of Churches, a cross-country live-stream conversation was held Oct. 26, 2019. Using the hashtag #75yearsTogether, the live-stream broadcast took as its theme “Love never ends” – 1 Corinthians 13:8.

In Saskatoon, the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism and Holy Covenant Evangelical Orthodox Church hosted a gathering to participate in the Saturday afternoon dialogue event, which focused on the question “Where is the place of Christianity in Canada?”

Participants in the national live-streamed conversation included Pastor JoAnne Lam, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Eastern Synod; Pastor Mary Fontaine of the Presbyterian Church in Canada; Pastor Ken Shigematsu, of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Canada, Bishop Noël Simard of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Valleyfield, Quebec; and Dr. Marie Wilson, who served as a commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Computer technology and Internet connections permitted Christians across Canada to participate in the live-streamed event: including in Saskatoon, at a gathering organized by the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism and Holy Covenant Evangelical Orthodox Church. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Saskatoon Catholic News)

Link to the archived video of the live stream event:

What is the Place of Christianity in Canada

Posted by The Canadian Council of Churches/Le Conseil canadien des Églises on Saturday, October 26, 2019


Participants at the Saskatoon site for the live-stream broadcast.

More Information about the Canadian Council of Churches;

Mission statement of the organization: “The Canadian Council of Churches responds to Christ’s call for unity and peace, seeks Christ’s truth with affection for diversity, and acts in love through prayer, dialogue and witness to the gospel.”

An Overview of the Canadian Council of Churches on the website describes the history of the council:

“The Canadian Council of Churches is a community of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and also other churches which affirm the same faith but which do not make doctrinal confessions.

“One of the most significant developments in the 20th century in the experience of Christian churches has been the rise of an ecumenical movement, in which churches seek reconciliation, reunion and restoration of oneness; the hope is to reverse centuries of history marked by separation and withdrawal of churches from one another, a sad history of confronting, competing, and criticizing each other in a bitter rivalry that descended to name-calling, insult and even to internecine warfare. The ecumenical movement sought to change the goals and methods for churches to relate with each other, to seek an appropriate form of unity which would enable both an immediate common Christian work and an eschatological hope for the restoration of the broken unity of Christian believers, “that they may all be one” (John 17:21).

“An application for membership by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops was approved in May 1997. The Conference had held associate membership since 1985. In 1993 the Vatican issued a directory encouraging participation in ecumenism.

“Membership in The Canadian Council of Churches is important, said the Conference’s ecumenical director Sister Donna Geernaert, because it signals the commitment of the Roman Catholic Church to ecumenism. About 43 per cent of the Canadian population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, according to the 2001 census, and more than half of them are francophones.

“In 1997 Ms. Janet Somerville became the first Roman Catholic and the first lay person to serve as General Secretary of the Council. In 2004 for this work and other admirable contributions to the life of the country, she was named to the Order of Canada.

“For the first time, the Council represented the majority of Canada’s Christians. Some Canadian churches belong instead to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and six churches belong to both. Cooperative work goes on between the two bodies.”





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Bishop Mark Hagemoen visits parishes across the diocese to install new pastors

Sun, 10/27/2019 - 17:51

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Bishop Mark Hagemoen is visiting a number of parishes with newly-assigned pastors this fall, to celebrate Eucharist and an optional liturgy for the installation of a pastor.

The installation prayers are a chance to reflect prayerfully on the role of the pastor, highlighting his sacramental ministry through a series of prayers at different spots throughout the church building.

Upcoming celebrations to officially install pastors:
  • Fr. David Tumback: 10:30 am, Nov. 10, 2019 at St. Patrick, Saskatoon
  • Fr. Jerome Ogunleye: 11:00 am Nov 24, 2019 at St. Mary, Wadena (Pastor at Wadena, Kelvington, Lintlaw, Perigord and Fosston)
  • Fr. Francis Appiah-Kubi: 10:00 am Dec. 1, 2019 at St. Mary, Fox Valley (Pastor at Fox Valley, Burstall and Richmond)
  • Fr. Santhosh Thekkekulam, VC: 11:00 am Dec. 8, 2019 at St. James, Wilkie – (Pastor at Wilkie, Handel and Leipzig)
Gallery of photos at installations held to date: Fr. Hoang Nguyen – St. Francis Xavier and St. Joseph, Saskatoon – Sept. 15, 2019: Fr. Geoffrey Young – Our Lady of Lourdes, Saskatoon – Oct. 6, 2019: Fr. Mick Fleming, CSsR – St. Mary, Saskatoon – Oct. 13, 2019: Fr. Peter Olisa – St. Ann, Watrous, SK; St. Pius X, Imperial, SK; and St. Patrick, Young, SK – Oct. 27, 2019:

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At Amazon synod closing Mass, Pope Francis decries ‘predatory models of development’

Sun, 10/27/2019 - 16:23

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] –  In his homily at the Amazon synod closing Mass Oct. 27, 2019, Pope Francis denounced exploitation and “predatory models of development” that plunder the poor and wound “sister earth.”

“In this Synod we have had the grace of listening to the voices of the poor and reflecting on the precariousness of their lives, threatened by predatory models of development,” he said at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“The mistakes of the past were not enough to stop the plundering of other persons and the inflicting of wounds on our brothers and sisters and on our sister earth: we have seen it in the scarred face of the Amazon region,” the Holy Father said.

Pope Francis said that throughout history people who have considered themselves superior to others have “made other people feel rejected” by “considering them backward and of little worth.”

“They despise their traditions, erase their history, occupy their lands, and usurp their goods,” he said. “How much alleged superiority, transformed into oppression and exploitation, exists even today.”

The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica served as the official close of the Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region, which took place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. The synod final document approved by the 181 voting bishops Oct. 26 calls for the ordination of married men in the Amazon region, and an ecological conversion for the entire Church.

“How many times, even in the Church, have the voices of the poor not been heard and perhaps scoffed at or silenced because they are inconvenient,” the pope said.

A woman carried a plant in the opening procession as the choir sang St. Francis’ Canticle, “Laudato Si.” She later presented the plant to Pope Francis during the presentation of the gifts.

Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel from Luke in which a Pharisee’s prayer is “I thank you God that I am not like the rest of humanity,” while a tax collector prays for the mercy of God.

“The root of every spiritual error, as the ancient monks taught, is believing ourselves to be righteous,” Pope Francis warned.

The pope said that the pharisee was “brimming with self-assurance about his own ability to keep the commandments” and was focused only on himself, forgetting to love God and his neighbor.

“He stands in the temple of God, but the one he worships is himself,” Pope Francis said, adding, in a departure from his prepared remarks, that there are many “prestigious” Catholic groups who do the same.

“Worship of self carries on hypocritically with its rites and ‘prayers’ – many are Catholics, they profess themselves Catholic, but have forgotten they are Christians and human beings – forgetting the true worship of God which is always expressed in love of one’s neighbour. Even Christians who pray and go to Mass on Sunday are subject to this religion of the self,” he added.

Pope Francis said that the prayer of those who presume themselves righteous remains earthly, “crushed by the gravitational force of egoism,” while the prayer of the humble person rises directly to God.

“Let us pray for the grace not to consider ourselves superior, not to believe that we are alright, not to become cynical and scornful. Let us ask Jesus to heal us of speaking ill and complaining about others, of despising this or that person: these things are displeasing to God,” he said.

Catholic indigneous people from the Amazon were special guests at the Mass, as were members from the L’Arche community, an initiative that supports people with intellectual disabilities.

“Let us pray for the grace to be able to listen to the cry of the poor: this is the cry of hope of the Church. When we make their cry our own, our prayer too will reach to the clouds,” Pope Francis said.

Church must convert from cultural, ecological sins, Amazon synod concludes

By Courtney Mares and Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – The Amazon synod final document, published Oct. 26, laid out the need to define “ecological sins” while calling the Church to walk new paths of “integral conversion.”

“We propose to define ecological sins of commission or omission against God, one’s neighbor, the community and the environment,” paragraph 82 of the final document states. “They are sins against future generations and are manifest in acts and habits of pollution and destruction of the harmony of the environment.”

“No believer, no Catholic can live their life of faith without listening to the voice of the earth,” Bishop David Martínez de Aguirre Guinea, apostolic vicar of Puerto Maldonado, Peru explained at a press conference to present the final document Oct. 26.

“If we are going to face the problem, then we have to change,” added special secretary for the synod Cardinal Michael Czerny.

Czerny, who also serves as under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, warned that the “good news” will not necessarily reach people in the Amazon “if we continue doing what we have been doing.”

The final document for the Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazon region calls for a new four-fold expression of “integral conversion” for the Church in the Amazon: pastoral, cultural, synodal, and ecological. These are framed in terms of “new paths of conversion” in the chapter titles for each of the subjects.

“New paths” are a way of saying “change,” Czerny said. “Without conversions, we are repeating what we have done before …but there is no real change.”

“We have brought our tradition into play so that we can find a way forward,” he said. For the pope, the most important necessary change is “pastoral change.”

The 33-page document, was approved article by article by a two-thirds majority vote on Oct. 26. It is the result of a three-week meeting in Rome during which the synod’s 181 voting members, together with representatives from indigenous communities, religious orders, lay groups and charities, discussed a range of issues concerning the region, spread across nine countries.

In ordinary sessions of the Synod of Bishops, delegates are elected by the world’s bishops conferences. In the special session for the pan-Amazonian region, all attendees were by special invitation.

The document was drafted by a committee of experts and special secretaries, assisted by a drafting committee elected from among the synod fathers. The draft text was presented to the assembly on Friday night, and various amendments were proposed and debated during the approval process.

The final synodal document has no teaching or binding authority of its own.

Pope Francis said in his closing remarks in the synod hall Oct. 26 that he will write a post-synodal exhortation, to hopefully be published before the end of the year.

Ecological Conversion

In addition to the synod document’s proposal to change universal Church discipline on clerical celibacy and create new roles for women, it also contains strong exhortations on environmental issues and the rights of indigenous peoples.

On the topic of integral ecology and the environment, the document references the threat of exploitation of the Amazon and its peoples.

It also criticizes as “scandalous” the criminalization of Amazonian ethnic communities whose rights are threatened, it says, by public policies favoring the exploitation of natural resources.

These projects “exert pressure on ancestral indigenous territories” and are accompanied by “widespread impunity throughout regarding human rights violations.”

The document notes the Church’s teaching on the inviolability of the human person, which is created in the image and likeness of God.

The synod fathers propose giving support to “fair” sustainable development initiatives, though it does not name specific initiatives.

“The Amazon is in the hands of us all, but it depends mainly on immediately abandoning the current model that is destroying the forest, not bringing well-being and endangering this immense natural treasure and its guardians,” the report states.

It goes on to say it is “incumbent” on the Church to help protect the Amazon by being an “ally” of the local communities, “who know how to take care of the Amazon, how to love and protect it.”

The indigenous peoples are “asking the church to become their ally and the answer of the church is yes,” Czerny said.

“With the Amazon burning, many more people are realizing that things have to change. We cannot keep repeating old responses to urgent problems,” Czerny said. “The ecological crisis is so deep that if we don’t change we won’t make it.”

Czerny said that environmental scientists and other experts who audited the synod helped the bishops to understand “the planet suffering” because “they drove scientific facts home in a way that we can feel them.”

The Canadian cardinal said that people want “a plastic solution” that is not going to affect their lives and not require them to change, but he stressed that it does not exist and conversion is required.

The synod document also condemns the theft of the “traditional wisdom” of the Amazonian peoples as “biopiracy” and a “form of violence.”

“The Church chooses to defend life, the land and the native Amazon cultures,” including in the Amazon peoples’ “registration, processing and dissemination of data and information about their territories and their legal status,” it states.

The report says the Church must guard itself against “the power of neo-colonialism” and  “unlearn, learn and relearn” in order to overcome any tendency toward “colonizing models.”

The synod reaffirms a “commitment to defend life seamlessly from conception to natural death and the dignity of each and every person.”

Pastoral service to the indigenous, it says, “obliges us to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Kingdom of God.”

Pope Francis announced in his closing speech to the synod that he would create a new section in the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development dedicated to the Church in the Amazon.

The synod final document also called for a “socio-environmental and pastoral office” to work in alliance with the Latin American church organizations REPAM, CELAM, CLAR, and other non-ecclesial actors representing indigenous peoples.

Cultural Conversion

The synod document states that “inculturation is the incarnation of the Gospel in indigenous cultures… and at the same time the introduction of these cultures into the life of the Church.”

The Amazon culture and spirituality already have a rich “indigenous theology, Amazonian face of theology and popular piety,” it says, adding that they “reject a colonial style of evangelization.”

“The evangelization that we propose today for the Amazon is the inculturated proclamation that generates processes of interculturality, processes that promote the life of the Church with an Amazon identity and face,” the report states.

Czerny said that it is very important for the Church to learn how to be “interculturally respectful.”

“Not to assume that the way I am or the way we are is definitive, is the norm, is the way it has to be … differences have to be embraced,” he said.

“The church is not an inflexible structure in which your cultures and traditions will find no place … it is the opposite,” Bishop Guinea said.

“A Church with an Amazonian face,” the document states, “needs its communities to be infused with a synodal spirit, supported by organizational structures of this dynamic, as authentic organisms of ‘communion.’”

“The Church’s research and pastoral centres, in alliance with the indigenous peoples, should study, compile and systematize the traditions of the Amazon’s ethnic groups in order to favor an educational effort that starts from their identity and culture…”

Synodal Conversion

The synod document also calls for “new paths for synodal conversion.”

Cardinal Czerny said that this process involved “an unprecedented process of listening” before the Amazon synod.

“You know that synodality is working when you find yourself voting for something which you knew before the synod began that you disagreed with,” Czerny said.

When asked what was the working definition of “synodality” understood among the synod fathers, Czerny replied, “Everyone had a sense of what it meant because we were doing it. Whether everyone could explain it in words, I am not so sure, but I am not sure that that matters.”

A synod is a consultative assembly, convened by the pope or a bishop, to advise on a particular topic of interest to the local, regional, or universal Church.


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CHAS Convention held in Prince Albert

Sat, 10/26/2019 - 20:49

[Photos by Teresa Bodnar-Hiebert]

The annual convention of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS) was held Oct. 24-25 in Prince Albert, exploring the theme “Mission is Possible – The Journey of Grace-Filled Compassion.”

The two-day convention included an Annual General Meeting, opportunities for networking, and a banquet and awards ceremony, as well as celebration of the Eucharist and a blessing of leaders to conclude the gathering.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, and Bishop Albert Thévenot of the Diocese of Prince Albert (l-r) attended the annual convention Oct. 24-25 in Prince Albert. (Photos by Teresa Bodnar-Hiebert)

The first convention speaker was Dr. Shane Sinclair who presented “Compassion is in the Eye of the Beholder,” weaving together the voice of patients and healthcare providers He also presented “Don’t Believe Everything You See – Challenges to Compassion,” providing distinctions between routine care, sympathy and empathy.

Sinclair is an Associate Professor and Cancer Care Research Professor with the University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. His research focuses on psychosocial and spiritual issues within oncology and palliative care, including his nationally funded program of research on compassion—with his recent study on Sympathy, Empathy and Compassion being awarded ‘Paper of the Year,’ by Palliative Medicine a premiere palliative care journal.

Dr. Debra Parker-Oliver, a nationally-known researcher on hospice caregiving, and a professor at the University of Missouri, spoke about her personal journey facing her husband’s illness and death. Emerging from the experience of his diagnosis, cancer treatment, death and dying, they pursued a mission to educate others about the ups and downs of facing and encountering death. In the process of creating 28 YouTube videos they learned to find hope and conquer fear.

Daniel Lussier, CEO of the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba (CHCM) spoke about that organization’s Compassionate Project, launched over 10 years ago. With the Compassion Project, CHCM supports people in their journey toward a deeper sense of purpose, offering several initiatives that encourage spiritual and communal well-being.

Leah Perrault, author, speaker and Director of Mission at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon, was the final inspirational speaker for the annual convention speaking on “Mission in the Middle of the Mess.”

More photos: Video coverage of closing celebration of Mass at CHAS Convention: 

Closing Mass & Leaders’ Blessing at the 76th Annual Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan Convention, ‘Mission is Possible’ – Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Celebrant & Homilist Bishop Albert Thevenot, Bishop Mark Hagemoen & Bishop Bryan Bayda & other clergy.#missionispossible #passiontoheal #catholichealthcare #catholichealthassociationofsaskatchewan #compassion #servantleadership #dioceseofsaskatoon #eparchyofsaskatoon #dioceseofprincealbert #archdioceseofregina

Posted by Eparchy of Saskatoon on Friday, October 25, 2019

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Training sessions will be held this fall in the diocese of Saskatoon regarding safeguarding policies and responding to sexual abuse

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 12:26

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Training sessions being held this fall in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon will provide history, context, clarity and tools related to implementing the diocesan policies for preventing and dealing with sexual abuse or other serious misconduct.

Three training sessions in three different locations – Humboldt, Kindersley and Saskatoon – will be conducted by Theresa Campbell, Director of Operations at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, and Lorie Harrison, Registered Professional Counsellor at Legacy Ridge Trauma Recovery and Resource Centre. For those in the diocese unable to attend any of the three sessions in person, there will also be an option to join the meetings via web conference.

“We continue to grow and learn about the priority of being victim and survivor focussed,” said Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen “I encourage anyone who has experienced abuse by persons in the church to come forward. I commit as bishop to bring to bear the support of our church and diocese to respond to victims and survivors of serious misconduct and sexual abuse by persons in the church.”

To report abuse:  Information

Updated safeguard policies released this summer in diocese of Saskatoon:  News item

Diocesan safeguarding policies:  WEBSITE

Providing training is one of the steps that the diocese of Saskatoon has put in place to actively address the issue of protecting children and the vulnerable, to respond to reports of abuse, and to ensure safe church environments for all.

“We have updated the diocesan Covenant of Care policy and our reporting protocols to make them more accessible and more supportive,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, Chair of the Diocesan Advisory Council for Covenant of Care in the diocese of Saskatoon. “We are continuing our education and our roll out and full implementation of the policy, including providing training for clergy, lay employees, and volunteers in the diocese.”

Brenda Fitzgerald, Chair of Diocesan Advisory Council for Covenant of Care, Serious Misconduct and Code of Conduct in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon (Submitted photo)


Topics to be covered at the diocesan training sessions on the Covenant of Care and safeguarding policies include:

  • Understanding the Trauma of Sexual Abuse
  • The Experience of Victims and the Path to Wellness
  • Initial Response to Victims and Ministry to Survivors
  • Policy/Roles and Responsibilities
  • Process/Algorithm for reporting
  • Next steps for individuals and parishes

“These training events are an essential feature of the implementation of our expanded protocols regarding our safe environment protocols, which we call our ‘Covenant of Care’,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

The Covenant of Care policy states: “The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon will provide opportunities for holistic, ongoing formation – spiritual, intellectual, human, and pastoral – recognizing increasingly complex needs, and emphasizing the human dimension. Training and formation related to the Protocol will include sensitizing members of the clergy and employees to the nature of sexual abuse and its effects, and learning how to walk and work with victims.”

The bishop emphasized that the updated diocesan policies comply with the national CCCB document Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse (2018) in a strong commitment to ensure that training will address matters such as the experience of victims, the impact of abuse on families and communities, detection of abuse, ministry to survivors, and relevant laws.

“I encourage anyone who has experienced abuse by persons in the church to come forward. I commit as bishop to bring to bear the support of our church and diocese to respond to victims and survivors of serious misconduct and sexual abuse by persons in the church.” – Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

“We are working to provide resources that will help us all to foster attitudes and behaviours necessary for inspiring compassion for victims, correcting myths, overcoming stigmas associated with being a victim of sexual abuse, and for long-term safeguarding against sexual abuse,” Hagemoen said, quoting the policy.

The training will also address what to do if a person comes forward with a report of abuse, including parish and diocesan intake and reporting procedures, contacting police, and transparent procedures and progression.

The updated policies in the diocese of Saskatoon include an expanded reporting procedure, with options for reporting to a diocesan Intake Officer. In addition, in every parish, there is a Parish Coordinator of Care (PCC) to assist in the implementation of the safe environment protocol, and to also assist with the receiving and communicating of reports or allegations of abuse.

Informing and encouraging reporting to the police is one of the steps in the process of handling a report of sexual abuse.

Counselling and pastoral services will be made available to the victim, parents and family members. A diocesan Victim Support Coordinator will provide support and assistance to those who bring forward allegations of serious misconduct, including sexual abuse. Options for those making a report include having a support person present, and being provided with access to counselling, including the availability of a female counselling person.

The training sessions across the diocese are timely and needed, given the updated policies and the ongoing need to be vigilant and pro-active to protect the vulnerable and to safeguard everyone in safe church environments, said Hagemoen.

The three training sessions will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Thursday, Nov. 14 – Kindersley – St. Joseph Parish, 600-4th Ave. W., Kindersley, SK
  • Tuesday, Nov. 26 – Humboldt – St. Augustine Parish, 809-10th, Humboldt, SK
  • Tuesday, Dec. 3 – Saskatoon – Holy Family Cathedral, 123 Nelson Rd, Saskatoon, SK

Clergy, parish staff, Catholic Pastoral Centre staff, Parish Coordinators of Care, and high-risk volunteers are being asked to attend one of the three workshops, or to participate in the web conference option. Other volunteers are also welcome to attend. There is no cost.

Lorie Harrison, a Registered Professional Counsellor at Legacy Ridge Trauma Recovery and Resource Centre, will be one of the facilitators offering the training at sessions across the diocese of Saskatoon. (File photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News, taken at vicarious trauma workshop in January 2019)

“I am grateful to our staff and Advisory Council members for our Covenant of Care and safe environment work, as we continue to build and expand our training and policies to assure that our Churches are safe and supportive places,” said Hagemoen.

“As we respond to the great need to carry out and expand our ministry programs in our churches – especially with youth and vulnerable people – it is my hope that our employees and volunteers will fully support our ministries and support to people in need. I also hope and commit that our diocese will provide the education and training so that our employees and volunteers – clergy and lay – will be well supported to carry out these needed activities on behalf of our churches.”

Register for the training workshops online at: 

(You can also find the link in an article posted on the front page of the diocesan website: or for more information about registering, contact Andrea Alas at (306) 659-5831 or



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Help with ethical dilemmas is a phone call away

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 09:05

Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The provincial HealthLine 811 now includes an ability to request an ethics consultation.

HealthLine 811 is a free, confidential, 24-hour health and mental health and addictions advice, education and support telephone line available to the people of Saskatchewan, staffed by experienced professionals. Saskatchewan residents simply dial 811 to be connected with HealthLine.

Access to ethics consultants was added to the 811 service in the summer of 2019. The health ethics program is a collaboration between the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Emmanuel Health and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

Ethics consultants are available at HealthLine 811 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays).

“When 811 takes the request they ask some basic questions. They also ask if you are asking for the Catholic ethicist or the Health Authority ethicist, which facility your call pertains to, etc. The person requesting the ethics consult can also ask the ethicist that he/she remain anonymous,” says Teresa Bodnar-Hiebert, a member of the Saskatoon and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency Joint Ethics Committee. “The huge benefit of 811 is that you can call from home, work, or any other location.”

A pamphlet about the program explains: “Every day, people make decisions about how to provide the best care possible for patients, residents, clients and families. Ethics Services is available to help anyone who may want help thinking through their decisions. This includes patients, residents, family members, employees or physicians. Some of the issues people bring to Ethics Services are simple. Others are much more complicated.”

Because of the development of new technology and treatments, decisions in health care can be complex. “However, even with these new developments, the way that people think about problems has not changed,” points out the program pamphlet. “We still have values and principles that guide our decisions, and are still able to talk through our problems with other people.”

“SaskEthics” column by Dr. Mary Heilman, PhD, ethicist for the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan:  “Moral Distress is an Early Warning System” 

An ethical dilemma may arise when a person has to choose between conflicting values, beliefs or duties. Signs of an ethical dilemma might include:

  • Feeling uncomfortable about a decision or course of action
  • Not knowing what is the best choice between possible actions
  • Disagreeing with others about what should be done
  • Worrying that someone has been treated unfairly.

An ethics consultation may take place over the phone, in person, or through a meeting. Those who use the service are not obligated to take the advice of the ethics consultant. “They are there to offer you suggestions and support you, not to take your decision away from you,” states the program pamphlet.


News item: “New app offers ethical signposts for health care workers

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Reflecting on 100 years of history at St. Mary’s in Saskatoon

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 22:36

By Darlene Polachic, Saskatoon Star Phoenix

[Previously published in the Oct. 19, 2019 issue of Saskatoon StarPhoenix: LINK ]

One hundred years ago, on March 12, 1919, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic parish was officially incorporated by Bishop Albert Pascal of the Diocese of Prince Albert, the jurisdiction under which the parish fell at the time. The parish was initially given the name Our Lady of Victory in recognition of the ending of World War I.

St. Mary’s was the second Catholic parish to be established in Saskatoon. The first was St. Paul’s on Spadina Crescent. The cornerstone for that church was laid in 1910 by then Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier.

St. Mary’s Church was intended to serve the part of Saskatoon that was developing on the west side of the river. It was placed under the care of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Fr. Joseph Paille was appointed its first pastor. It was under Paille’s direction that construction of a church building began in 1920. An oversized basement was dug on the corner of 21st Street and Avenue O. It was covered over with a sloped roof, and this Basement Church—as it was known—was blessed by Abbott Ott of Muenster in December of that year. Early parishioners recalled that the structure was used not only for Mass and the Sacraments, but for recreation, as well.

Plans were in the works to construct a building on the Basement Church’s foundation, but the plans were scrapped when a fire in 1927 destroyed much of the existing structure. New plans were drawn up by architect Gentil Verbeke, and the cornerstone for the new church was laid in 1930 by Bishop Joseph Prud’homme on a different location. The red brick St. Mary’s Catholic church that stands on the corner of Avenue O and 20th Street today was blessed by Prud’homme and opened in November 1930.

In 1934, the parish was placed under the care of priests from the Redemptorist Order.

From its earliest days, St. Mary’s has served a multi-cultural congregation. As the late Tom Loran remarked at the church’s 75th anniversary celebration in 1994: “The parish…was a heterogeneous group if there ever was one—Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Portuguese, German, English and French who knit together a quilt of Catholic unity in what was considered ‘the poor parish’ of the city.”

In the mid-20th Century, a strong Vietnamese component was added to the congregation, and in the 70s and 80s, immigrants from South and Central America joined its numbers. In more recent decades, St. Mary’s has welcomed people from Africa, the Middle East, Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Asia, as well as more newcomers from Europe. At last count, there are 40 to 60 different countries represented in the parish.

“We’re like a shared facility,” adds Loretta Skipper, a long-time member of the parish. “Spanish language Mass is held here every week, and Our Lady of Guadalupe (Indigenous, First Nations, Métis Catholic parish) also holds their Mass here.”

Skipper says St. Mary’s also has a long history of outreach ministry to the city’s core community. “One of the things we do is distribute food hampers to people within the parish boundaries. We get so many requests, we’ve had to limit distribution to a maximum of five hampers per week day.”

Loretta Skipper is a member of the committee in charge of the parish’s 100th anniversary commemoration. “Our theme is Celebrate 100 Years: A Journey of Faith, Hope and Charity, and we’re celebrating it all year long,” she says.

The first centennial event was a three-day mission that was held in March of 2019. Bishop Jon Hansen, CSsR, a former pastor at St. Mary’s, was the guest speaker. Hansen is now Bishop of the Mackenzie-Fort Smith diocese in the Northwest Territories.

In June 2019, the parish held a special weekend celebration to mark the Feast Day of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, a devotion promoted by the Redemptorists . The celebration included a barbecue and picnic, plus a procession through the parish neighbourhood on Corpus Christi Sunday.

“Our 100th anniversary celebrations will culminate with an event Sunday, October 20,” Skipper says. “That roughly coincides with the date the Redemptorists were placed in charge of St. Mary’s parish, so we’re celebrating two milestones at once.” Invitations went out to former pastors and others who have served at St. Mary’s, and the general public was invited to attend 4 p.m. Mass Oct. 20. A dinner and program followed.

Read ore about the celebration: Catholic Saskatoon News ARTICLE

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Federal election result reveals deep divisions

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 18:40

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – A deeply divided electorate in the Oct. 21, 2019 federal election has left some Canadians bitterly disappointed and others hopeful that a minority government may force Canadians and the federal parties to work together in a spirit of cooperation.

“I agree with some of the commentary from election night that what we will be seeing is that the parties are going to be forced to work together and there will be a need for more dialogue and more public involvement in making decisions,” said Natalie Appleyard, a socio-economic policy analyst with Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ).

While the CPJ, a Christian organization that advocates for social and environmental justice in Canadian public policy with a focus on poverty, ecological justice, and refugee rights, sees a Liberal minority government that will need the support of the NDP and Green parties at times to get anything done as possibly good news for action on some of the key issues the CPJ focuses on, Appleyard said it is also important not to dismiss the opinions of those who voted for other parties such as the Conservatives.

“It is important to hear what Conservative voters have been saying and not just ignore that,” she said of the path ahead for Canada’s newest government. “Their needs and concerns must be taken seriously and not ignored.”

The election results that left the Liberals in power as a minority government can be analysed in many different ways. With 157 seats, the Liberals won the most seats but the Conservative Party and its 121 seats actually had more votes (34.4 per cent for Conservatives compared to 33 per cent for the Liberals). However, the so-called “progressive vote” of the Liberals, NDP and Greens taken together was 55 per cent.

The Bloc vote in Quebec is harder to categorize, as that party’s platform lines up on many environmental issues with the “progressive parties” but the Bloc’s strong stance in support of Quebec’s controversial religious symbols law Bill 21 and the vote in that province further drives home that the anti-religious symbols sentiment is deep and wide in that province.

Daniel Weinstock of the Faculty of Law at McGill University in Montreal said at the outset of the election that the dynamics among voters in Quebec would play an important role in the election results.

“The Quebec electorate is quite volatile,” Weinstock said. “SNC-Lavalin and Bill 21 play very differently in Quebec as opposed to other parts of the country. How the federal leaders and local candidates negotiate this will be a fascinating angle of this election.”

Indeed, Canadians who were hoping the federal election result could play a role in how a future federal government would address religious freedom issues in Quebec in light of Bill 21 do not have anything to cling to in the aftermath of the election.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were the only federal party to indicate on the campaign trail a willingness to possibly challenge Quebec’s Bill 21, with a minority government and the vote result in Quebec indicating strong support for Bill 21 in that province, the chances that a minority government would fight that battle are slim.

And that is added to the discontent of many western Canadians in Alberta and Saskatchewan who voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Conservative Party and where the “progressive parties” barely made an impact.

In his victory speech Monday night, Trudeau emphasized his new government would govern for all Canadians regardless of who they voted for but then emphasized the progressive nature of what his government would advocate.

“You have asked us to invest in Canadians, to reconcile with the indigenous people and make it a priority and to show even more vision and ambition where we are fighting against the biggest challenge of our times, climate change.

“It is exactly what we will do, we know there is a lot of work to do, but I give you my word, we will continue what we started,” Trudeau said.

For many conservative-leaning Canadians, that is not a happy prospect.

The pro-life Campaign Life Coalition issued a blistering critique of the re-election of the Liberals, albeit as a minority government.

“Under his previous tenure, Justin Trudeau legalized euthanasia, discriminated against Canadians who didn’t adhere to his pro-abortion views, expanded abortion access in Canada, and committed billions of Canadian tax dollars to funding and advocating for abortion overseas,” the Campaign Life Coalition said in a post-election statement.

And the coalition also took a swing at Conservative Leader Andrew Sheer for abandoning social conservatives in the campaign.

“The opposition Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer might have formed government if they had not alienated so much of their natural base of social conservatives, with their cynical but ultimately ineffective campaign to diminish the importance of moral issues, and to put on a socially-liberal face,” said Jeff Gunnarson, Campaign Life Coalition national president.



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“Arise” women’s retreat has profound impact

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 12:32

(Photos of the Arise women’s retreat Oct. 18-20 by Chelsey Shortman)

By Sharon Leyne, Retreat participant

Photos by Chelsey Shortman

[Catholic Saskatoon News] – On Oct. 18-20, some 250 women of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of faith descended on the peaceful grounds of the St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, SK, for a profound experience of healing, hope, and transformation.

Over a year ago, a group of Saskatchewan women traveled to British Columbia for a similar women’s retreat, and it was there that the Holy Spirit impressed upon them the deep desire to bring such a retreat to the prairies. After much discussion and prayer as to how this was to be, one of the women “received a word in prayer” and all agreed that it was from this word that the retreat would be shaped – thus, the Arise women’s conference was conceived.

With support from Bishop Mark Hagemoen, the retreat was jointly presented by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and alumni of Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), with support from sponsors, and organized by a group of volunteers.

Within eight hours of opening registration, the retreat was sold out, with a waiting list of about 90 women. This confirmed for the organizing team that women are thirsting for opportunities to grow deeper in their faith and that the Holy Spirit was at work.

The gracious hosts at St. Therese, after hearing of this response, bent over backwards and insisted they could make room for more women, because to them and the team God had something big planned, and they wanted to assist in permitting as many as possible to experience it. This soon involved a beautiful collaboration with the School of Faith and Mission and the town of Bruno. Many homes in the community opened their doors to billet retreat participants and team members, allowing more spots to open up, each one snapped up in a matter of minutes. Even the night before the event women were calling in hopes of gaining a spot.

One of the late-spot participants described the moment she discovered she could attend as “truly a gift – I knew I had to be here, God knew it too and He made it happen and I am so grateful because I have experienced so much healing.”

From the moment they stepped into the building, participants could sense that we were on “Holy Ground,” said team member and CCO missionary Christy Dupuis of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Martensville, SK.

The entire retreat was steeped in prayer, thoughtfulness, and the effort to make each participant feel as though they were being shown God’s love personally and intimately, down to the last detail. The team joked about what can happen when the feminine genius comes together.

The truth of that feminine genius was evident everywhere you looked. The beautifully designed décor filled and transformed each space, and thoughtful gifts presented throughout the weekend were met with surprise and joy. The beautiful, all-female music ministry provided participants an opportunity to enter deeply in worship. The organization and flow of the event ensured that everything came together purposefully and beautifully.

Eucharistic Adoration during the women’s retreat. (Photos by Chelsey Shortman)

Heather Khym of Abbotsford, BC (founder of Life Restoration – listen to her podcast at Abiding Together), Angele Regnier of Ottawa (co-founder of Catholic Christian Outreach – CCO), and Christy Dupuis (CCO missionary and local parishioner) were the keynote speakers for the weekend, focusing on the theme “Arise my beloved” from the scripture Song of Songs 2:10-14.

At the beginning of her first talk, Heather Khym said she sensed this was not a group of women that needed to start in the shallow end, and so she dove deep. This set the tone for every speaker and breakout presenter for the next three days, as every presentation was raw, unhindered, filled with powerful testimony and truth to the nature of women, God’s profound love and intense pursuit of our hearts, and the human desire to be seen, delighted in and loved in ways that can only be fulfilled by God. Tears flowed as each speaker spoke words of pain, hope, and healing, seemingly touching on shared and related experience of the women in the room.


“We are not alone, we are beloved, we are seen, and if we are broken beyond what we think can be repaired He wants to redeem us, but only if we trust and give Him the permission.” This message was a common thread in all three keynotes and echoed in breakout sessions offered by Leah Perrault, Janelle Yasinski and Angele Regnier.

Participants had a difficult time choosing one of the three, as each session offered an wisdom, insight and moving testimony about how the speaker has come to know God’s love, whether through immense grief and personal loss, or living both the call to live a life of missionary and motherhood and often times feeling unequipped and having to rely solely on God’s strength.

However difficult it was to select a breakout, it was clear that every woman heard and received what they needed, given new ways to interpreted God’s word for significant moments in their own lives, because the hallways and meal discussions were filled with deep personal sharing and discussion of what was learned and discovered.

Celebration of Mass with Bishop Mark Hagemoen during the Arise retreat for women. (Photos by Chelsey Shortman)

There were long line-ups for the sacrament of confession and prayer ministry was offered, with women praying over each other for their needs.

Many participants commented on how overwhelming and beautiful it was to be surrounded by so many faith-filled women, and how freeing it was to feel as though you could share openly with one another without the fear of judgment. Teenagers, mothers, and grandmothers were sharing with one another, allowing for a richness of life experience and perspective which provided a type of sisterhood I have never experienced or witnessed at a retreat before.

Personal experience and words of gratitude:

I had the privilege of speaking to a few women who, like me, were resistant at first. I have two kids, I’m currently pregnant, I’m tired, I’m busy, and feel like I do not have time nor the energy for God to move my mountains (I am comfortable and like them just where they are, thank you)… but, I and many women like me, were met with a very persistent God at the retreat, and could not deny that He had other plans.

It did not take long, in fact it was Heather Khym’s first talk that these mountains began to not just move, but crumble, and the Holy Spirit took over. We were fortunate to have Heather bring with her a first-class relic of St. Therese of Lisieux –  from that moment, I knew this was no ordinary retreat.

Each talk that followed resonated deeper and deeper in me. I realized that what God had in store for me was greater than what I was comfortable with, that He needed me to be open to healing so that I could truly embrace His plan, not just for me as a woman, but for me as a mother raising a daughter who needs to know she is seen, and beloved. I needed to wake up. I needed to – yes I’m going to say it – ARISE. That word was truly a prophetic word spoken to the team. And I wasn’t the only one in the room who needed that scripture. In that one word – in each conversation, in each presentation, in the environment – God was stirring.

I am so grateful that the Arise team had the courage, and determination to bring this retreat to life in the prairies. I know many others are, as well. It is a difficult process to step into the deep and trust in God. The many miracles that occurred to even make this event possible is a testament to their steadfast faith to not allow barriers and obstacles to keep them from what they knew God wanted done. Their “yes” has changed the lives of not just the 250 women present that weekend, but the lives of their families and the friends that surround them.

  • To the team: “Your yes has a greater impact then you have even yet to know, so from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of all the women in attendance, thank you.”
  • To all the speakers thank you for diving off the deep end and sharing so intimately and personally you each touched us in profound ways.
  • To Fr. Joseph Salihu of St. Augustine Parish, Humboldt who journeyed with us through the weekend and shared his own insights and weaved his experience into his personal sharing, thank you.
  • To all the priests and Bishop Mark Hagemoen who provided us with the sacraments of confession and mass, as well as a beautiful time in adoration, a deep thank you for bringing us closer to Christ.
  • To the Bruno community, the staff and students at St. Therese thank you for the incredible food and hospitality and for opening your doors so that we women could encounter Christ.
  • To the gold sponsors – Knights of Columbus Insurance, Vitae Fertility Education, and partners CCO Alumni and the Diocese of Saskatoon – as well as other donors who all made this possible: Thank you.
  • To Face to Face who donated their equipment as well as their staff to help run sound and lighting so smoothly. Thank you.
  • Finally to everyone behind the scenes, who in some way contributed to this profound experience, THANK YOU

(Photos by Chelsey Shortman)

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Imhoff Portraits come to St. Paul Co-Cathedral: “It is as if they have always been there”

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 10:24

By Fr. Stefano Penna, Rector and Pastor, St. Paul Co-Cathedral, Saskatoon

[Catholic Saskatoon News] – The Bishop’s Annual Appeal video this year invited us to build upon the faith legacy of our fore-bearers. It is indeed a rich one here in Saskatchewan – including the remarkably productive career of the artist Count Berthold von Imhoff.

Over 200 beautifully painted, life-size images of the Saviour, Virgin Mary, and heroes of our Catholic faith grace churches across Saskatchewan including the remarkable works in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Muenster and the churches in Reward, Paradise Hill, Marysburg, and Prince Albert.

From his  studio in St. Walburg, SK, Count Imhoff responded to commissions from many parishes in Pennsylvania, North Dakota … and Blaine Lake Saskatchewan!

My dear cousins, Ed and Carol Thorsteinson – long-time parishioners of St. Andrew’s Parish in Blaine Lake – informed me that sadly their church built in 1911 was to be decommissioned and sold. Among the patrimony of this parish were two large paintings of Sts. Peter and Paul – the work of Imhoff in 1916, early upon his move to St. Walburg. Would the Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon be interested in such, my cousins wondered? Would we!

With the blessing  of Bishop Mark Hagemoen, I immediately contacted Bishop Albert Thévenot of Prince Albert who has responsibility for the sacred patrimony of his diocese. I asked that St. Paul’s be allowed to host these wonderful works permanently. Bishop Thévenot graciously made this possible – with the proviso that a suitable acknowledgment of St. Andrew’s parish be prepared as a plaque.

Ray Marchildon, St. Paul Co-Cathedral building manager, and I travelled to Blaine Lake in a rented van that providentially allowed the paintings to fit perfectly. Despite their age, these two works of art (on 9’x4’ canvases stapled to the sanctuary walls) were in excellent condition. We laid them out in Bishop Mahoney Hall at St. Paul Co-Cathedral so that our parishioners could examine them and reflect upon how this artwork could be incorporated into our beautiful worship space.

It was almost unanimously agreed that the sanctuary was the best place for Imhoff’s saints. So off to work we went to prepare the canvases and the walls (which had never had any adornment other than banners over all their many years). By “we” I mean Ray Marchildon and Michael Raney (who was received this Easter into full communion) who (supported financially by two anonymous donors from the parish), prepared, framed, and affixed St. Peter and Paul in their places.

The unveiling of these paintings took place as only right on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2019 in the presence of a full co-cathedral. Though Bishop Mark was unable to attend the unveiling – he will formally bless the plaque and finished frames on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul  – we were thrilled that a cohort of parishioners from St. Andrew’s in Blaine Lake were able to join us. Bitter-sweet as it was, these women and men of faith rejoiced that with their new home these works of faith-filled devotion that had inspired them and generations before would now raise the minds and hearts of new generations.

“Those wall have been waiting for Peter and Paul,” commented one of the St. Andrew’s coterie. They were moved by the welcome and applause of the co-cathedral congregation and particularly touched when it was explained that the moulding in the corners would include the Cross of St. Andrew.

As I reflect on the propensity of recent church design and renovations a certain sadness arises. “Noble simplicity” often ended up being pedestrian and boring. The result is churches that are not very kid-friendly, that is, there are few beautiful images whose polychrome form can intrigue and provoke the imagination of children of every age during monochromatic homilies. St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral has been able to retain much of this beauty and colour through devastating fires and renovations. It is a patrimony of the faith of our fore-bearers, the faith founded on St. Peter’s confession and St. Paul’s preaching. Indeed, beautiful art and architecture for us is only important as it serves to proclaim, “Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”!

A recent item from the St. Paul Cathedral Bulletin:

MOVE FROM MAINTENANCE TO MISSION”- So Bishop Hagemoen has identified one of the goals of our three-year Diocesan Pastoral Plan “To Proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom Today.” St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral has understood this all through its long mission to be the spiritual heart of Saskatoon City. We have a beautiful treasure in this storied cathedral building and generations have contributed millions of dollars and work hours to its structural maintenance. Thanks to them we can sing, “How lovely is your dwelling place Lord God of Hosts” (Ps. 84:1). Yet the recent gifts of tabernacle veils reminds us just what is the deep truth of this building – it is the house of a “tent” – for that is what tabernaculum means. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel) dwelled in the midst of wanderers and exiles in a tent. God is God-on-the-Move. This is the way of God – pitching His Tent among us wherever we are – moving with us, moving in us, in the Resurrected Son – Jesus Christ – whose Holy Spirit still blows through the flaps of the Holy Tabernacle. He moves into the world through us who leave this House of the Tabernacle seeing ourselves as “lovely dwelling places” in which Jesus lives wherever we pitch our tents.

It was as if Imhoff captured this idea in these images of the Apostles – for they both look at and gesture towards the crucifix and the altar where their Lord meets His Church. A few weeks after the installation a parishioner said to me, “Father, there is something different about the cathedral.” I asked if he meant the new portraits. He paused, smiled, and said, “Hah. I guess so. I should have noticed. It is as if they have always been there.”

That is true, Peter, Rock of the Church, Paul, Patron of our diocese have always been here.


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St. Mary Parish celebrates 100 years of faith, hope and charity in the heart of Saskatoon

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 20:50

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

A century of parish life and faithful discipleship was celebrated Oct. 20, 2019, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Saskatoon. Parishioners, family members, former pastors, spiritual leaders, and special guests gathered from near and far to share in the joyful 100th anniversary program.

Established in 1919 as Our Lady of Victory Parish, St. Mary’s was first served by French-speaking Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In January 1927 the first church building suffered damage in a fire, and the cornerstone of the present building was laid by Bishop Prud’homme of Prince Albert in May 1930, with the new building completed and blessed by the end of that year. After the diocese of Saskatoon was formed, the first Bishop – Most Rev. Gerald Murray, CSsR – decided to place the parish in the care of priests from his own Redemptorist order — the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer. This year marks the 85th anniversary of the arrival of the Redemptorists in the parish, another milestone marked during the celebrations.

Read more about the history of the parish in an article by Darlene Polachic of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix: LINK

A treaty land acknowledgment and an honour song by First Nations drummers opened the centennial celebration.

Celebrants at the 4 p.m. 100th anniversary Sunday Eucharist  included Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen; Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, OMI; Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB; Provincial Superior of the Redemptorist Province of Canada Fr. Charles Duval, CSsR; and Superior General Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR (who gave the homily). Among the many other priests also in attendance were former St. Mary pastors Fr. Ciro Alfonso Perez, CSsR, and Fr. Remi Hebert, CSsR, as well as present pastor Fr. Mick Fleming, CSsR, and Deacon Donat Davatz.

In his homily, Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR, reflected on the history of St. Mary Parish, through hard times, Depression and war, and through years of re-builiding and of community building, as well as of outreach to those in need, and in welcoming wave after wave of newcomers.

He reflected on the mission, identity and meaning of a parish. “First and foremost, a parish community is precisely the opportunity for the faithful to gather on Sunday here at the Eucharist. It is where the Lord calls us together to renew us and refresh us, to instruct us with the Word, and then feed us with His own Body and Blood, so that we will be what we proclaim ourselves to be, the Body of Christ living and working in our world.”

He added: “When we come to the Eucharist on Sunday, we come as a sinful people, but we come always as people of hope, trusting in the mercy and forgiveness of God, and receiving that forgiveness, we can open our minds to hear the Word of God.” The parish gathers around the altar, and takes the simple human gifts of bread and wine, “which with the guidance and blessing of the Holy Spirit becomes the Body and Blood of Christ, who then nourishes us and gives us the strength to go forth.”

The people of a parish then go forth and “distribute themselves among the community,” said Miller. “We go out to be the Body of Christ wherever we roam. If you are a businessman, you go and be a good businessman. If you are a teacher, you put the interest of the children first and foremost. If you are a nurse or a health care provider, recognize that you are part of the ministry of Christ.” Every part of life and work is meant to be an exercise and ministry of the Body of Christ, he said.

A parish is also a place of relationship, Miller added. “This is the part that really struck me upon my reflections on St. Mary Parish,” he said, describing his years of living in the Redemptorist community at St. Mary’s (although never as a pastor). Examples of relationships that stand out include the work of groups like the Catholic Women’s League (first formed in the parish in 1920), and the Knights of Columbus, and the friendships that are so obvious as the community gathers, in the sisterhood and brotherhood of Christ.

Relationship is also the key to the parish’s long-time commitment of outreach to the community, examples of “Christ living and acting in our world,” Miller said. Relationships are at the heart of  the love and care expressed through hampers given out every week, or sandwiches shared at the back door, or help offered to those who are struggling, he said.

Miller also pointed to the parish ministry of care, which remembers the homebound, or those too ill to attend Mass, or those in hospital. “It is not just in bringing communion, but bringing the love and caring of St. Mary’s into the community.”

He pointed to the St. Mary Parish Nurse program as “one of the most tangible forms of healing ministry in the Church that I have seen in the modern world.”

In the Gospels, Christ does two things — he proclaims the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and he heals the sick, noted Miller. “We did not become Christian to avoid pain and suffering of the world. But we know that pain and suffering can be transformed, can be healed, can be accepted and renewed for us in our redemption and faith. This is something that I am strongly reminded of in the parish community of St. Mary.”

Welcoming newcomers has been another hallmark of the life and history of St. Mary Parish, with the community opening its arms to welcome those from other countries, other cultures, from the earliest days, Miller said. This has perhaps at times involved tensions or difficulties (which are part of the journey of being human), he said, but forgiveness and reconciliation also happened, as the community came to recognize the gifts of diversity.

Speaking on behalf of the Redemptorists, Miller also expressed his gratitude to the people of St. Mary Parish. “We learn so much from you. What a gift you have been: the friendships you have built up, the work we have done together for the sake of the kingdom. We could go on and on: I just want to thank this parish community from all of the Redemptorists who have been privileged to work with you and for you in St. Mary’s Parish.”


A banquet and program followed in the parish hall next to the church, with Don Brophy serving as master of ceremonies, and greetings brought by a number of special guests and dignitaries, including Bishop Wiesner, representing the Oblates, and Fr. Duval, representing the Redemptorists; as well as Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark and Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

“We give special thanks to God for faith, generosity and service of the Redemptorist priests and associates over these many years,” said Bishop Wiesner.

Bishop Hagemoen also thanked St. Mary Parish and the Redemptorists for the “prophetic witness” that the parish has been over the past century — most especially in outreach to those who are most vulnerable and in need in the core city neighbourhood that faces many significant challenges.

“I have only been here two years, but I have seen the many ways in which St. Mary Parish, and the pastoral leadership under the Redemptorist community… are being called upon to be a prophetic witness in our time and in our age, and who strongly desire to respond to the circumstances: in some cases, poverty; in some cases, addiction…. God does call us to continue to grow and move forward.”

The 100th anniversary celebration appropriately was held on World Mission Sunday, the bishop noted, quoting Pope Paul VI: “The Church will not proclaim Christ if she herself is not in a constant place of conversion and evangelization herself.” That is a call to each one of us to be ourselves on a journey of healing and conversion, Hagemoen said. He pointed to another timely circumstance: the promulgation of a new diocesan Pastoral Plan, which expresses an invitation to the diocesan community, parishes and the faithful to proclaim Christ in all things, “from a missionary stance.”

Hagemoen concluded by offering nuggets of wisdom from newly-canonized St. John Henry Newman, that he asserted apply in a special way to “the People of God of St. Mary Parish”:

  • “To live is to change, and to be perfect (and to live well) is to have changed often.”
  • “Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather that it shall never have a beginning.”
  • “If we are intended for great ends, we are called to great hazards.”
  • “A man (or woman) would do nothing if he (or she) waited until he (or she) could do it so well that no one could find fault.”
  • “Growth is the only evidence of life.”
  • The truth “has been upheld in the world not as a system, not by books, not by argument, nor by temporal power, but by the personal influence of such men as have already been described, who are at once the teachers and the patterns of it.”

Provincial Superior of the Redemptorist Province of Canada Fr. Charles Duval, CSsR, also spoke during the program, reflecting on the impact that faithful people have over 100 years or longer. “I am really fascinated how God works with people who are very ordinary, to create very extraordinary things, when we just do this by faith, by charity, and by hope,” he said. “We are the giants of tomorrow, if we will be faithful in the same way that our grandparents and our great grandparents have been throughout the ages…. simply by following what God has asked us to do.”

Duval also thanked the parish “for supporting, welcoming and helping” the Redemptorists for the past 85 years.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark began his remarks by thanking the parish for beginning the 100th anniversary celebration with the sacred drum and the treaty acknowledgement, saying it is a sign of commitment to the journey of reconciliation.

The mayor also pointed to the lyrics of the celebration’s gathering hymn at Mass – “Sing a New Church” – as a remarkable testament to the vision and strength of the St. Mary Parish community: “Bring the hopes of every nation; bring the art of every race; weave a song of peace and justice; let it sound through time and space. Let us bring the gifts that differ, and in splendid, varied ways, sing a new Church into being, one in faith and love and praise.”

Noting that it is the first time he has heard this hymn, Clark said: “I am blown away that on the 100th anniversary of a church that this is the hymn that you have chosen. This is a church that has gathered from many nations, and it shows in your congregation, it shows in the story of the church, and it shows in the opening of the drum as you gathered today — this sense of renewal at a centenary is very inspiring. And you are undertaking that renewal in a church that stands in the midst of some of the most broken people in our community, some of the biggest challenges of our community.”

Clark said that the entire community must come together “to figure out, in a humble way, in a loving way, how to continue to heal and to renew and to learn, now to bring people together in their differences and to build a strong community” — and he ended by thanking everyone at St. Mary Parish for playing a part in that in large and small ways. “Thank you for providing inspiration to us in the rest of our city about how to build a strong and loving community.”

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark presents a certificate of congratulations to St. Mary pastor Fr. Mick Fleming, CSsR, on the occasion of the parish centennial.

Throughout the evening many other special guests were acknowledged, including representatives of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal (the Grey Nuns), who established neighbouring St. Paul’s Hospital, and who have served in the parish in a number of ways — including the present time, with Sr. Carol Borreson, NDS, serving as Parish Nurse. Also acknowledged were the Sisters of Sion, who taught in nearby schools, and other religious orders who served the community. The gathering also acknowledge some of the oldest parishioners, and members of founding families who are still part of the St. Mary community 100 years later.

Also recognized were those who travelled farthest to attend the celebration: a member of the Gerwing family, one of the parish’s founding families, came from British Columbia to attend, and Deacon Donat’s son, Fr. Reto Davatz, OFM Conv., was in attendance from Switzerland, where he lives and serves as a Franciscan priest.

Photos of the celebration:

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