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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: 2 years 23 weeks ago

Restoring Indigenous languages considered a step in “righting past wrongs” of residential schools

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 13:24

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

When news of the 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Residential School landed in Edmonton, an Elder at the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples wanted to put out a statement in Cree. The problem is that so many survivors of the residential school system lost their language when they were children in the schools.

So the Edmonton Elder turned to Sacred Heart pastor and Oblate missionary Fr. Susai Jesu to translate the statement from English.

Jesu is from India, where he spoke the tribal languages of the sub-continent. When he got to Canada, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate gave him a year to concentrate on learning Cree. It’s a humbling and delicate thing for him now to be asked to help his parishioners express themselves in their own language. He gave it his best shot but asked the elder who brought him the request to check it with Cree elders who may speak other dialects.

Since leaving the Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay communities 700 kilometres north of Regina, Sask., to become pastor of Sacred Heart more than a year ago, Jesu has placed as much emphasis and energy as he can on language-centred programming at the parish. There is regular recitation of the rosary in Cree, plus Cree and Dene language courses at the parish tied in with study of Indigenous spirituality.

“An action plan is emphasizing and putting effort into language and teachings,” Jesu told The Catholic Register. “That, at least in my heart, I have taken seriously since coming here.”

Related: “Revitalizing languages key to implementing United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples” – LINK

Related: “Helping the Catholic Church rediscover and protect Indigenous languages” – LINK

Could Catholics across Canada offer help to Indigenous communities fighting to retain their languages? “For me, the bigger question would be how could we fund it,” Jesu said.

“Reparations could be language learning,” said the retired Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas, Archbishop Emeritus Sylvain Lavoie. “That could be as good a place to start as any. Helping people find their buried children is one, but also help learning their language.”

Lavoie spent two years trying to learn Cree but starting in his 60s and balancing his duties as a bishop, he found it difficult.

But he recognizes how deeply connected language and culture are. Reversing the effects of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called a “cultural genocide” will require repairing the damage done to Indigenous languages.
From funding language immersion programs to setting up university chairs for Indigenous linguists, there’s no shortage of ways Canadian Catholics might serve Indigenous communities trying to recover their language, Lavoie said.

Cree language guide and former Oblate missionary Steve Andreas, who has designed and taught courses in Cree at Blue Quills University, recently proposed a $200,000 video and audio media project in support of Cree language and culture.

“Governments and sadly to say bishops (some I have asked in the past) and religious congregations who worked for generations in residential schools (some I have asked in the past as well) ‘like the ideas’ but don’t always connect the dots,” Andreas said in an e-mail.

Andreas cautioned against a piecemeal approach that would simply add language recovery to an atonement checklist for Canadians.

“Having respect is of utmost importance as a beginning step for the Catholic Church,” he said.

Land, culture, the environment and language are all of a piece for most Indigenous people.

“Certainly the revitalization of Indigenous languages is important, but it has to be seen in the context of what language really means,” Andreas said. “It is not an isolated topic. It is interconnected with everything that is sacred and profound… The language of a nation is not something in isolation. It connects and carries the ancient ancestral knowledges, carries the ceremonial knowledge, it is spiritual and deeply tied to culture and identity. It is sacred because it comes from the sacred.”

For reconciliation plans to be taken seriously, the Church will have to be engaged in a range of issues, said Andreas.

“How about the Catholic Church especially using their moral authority for putting pressure on governments to honour the treaty right to education and to stand in solidarity, supporting the initiative of original, sovereign nations of this land to receiving the funding to create unique, Indigenous-led immersion educational centres… without having to be under the authority of the Catholic Church,” Andreas said.

Canadian Catholics don’t have time for endless agonizing over how and when to address the residential school history, said Andreas.

“Now is the time to embrace this opportunity to make amends,” he said. “Restitution is necessary, not merely sympathies and apologies. We must make things right — right the wrongs. That’s how good relationships are built and restored.”


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New relationship with Indigenous communities in Canada established as UNDRIP gains legal standing

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 13:13

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – Native leaders and their allies in faith groups across the country are celebrating what they see as a victory in the long march towards reconciliation with Canada’s First Peoples after a bill that ties a United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous people into Canadian law passed its final hurdle in Parliament.

By a vote of 61-10, senators gave the final approval needed on June 16 for Bill C-15, which gives legal standing in Canadian federal law to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), something that those seeking justice for Canada’s First Peoples have been working towards since the UN declaration came into being in 2007.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Bill C-15 is an historic step in the relationship between the Canadian government and Indigenous Canadians

“This is a major step forward for First Nations and for Canada. This is concrete action, this is history in the making,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde.

“This legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Right of indigenous Peoples in Canada can be a pathway to reconciliation, guided by our inherent and Treaty rights,” Chief Bellegarde said.

“Its full implementation will see First Nations rights respected and implemented and is essential to addressing all forms of racism and discrimination in Canada.”

Catholic and other faith organizations have been at the forefront of lobbying efforts imploring the Canadian government to give UNDRIP legal standing within Canadian law as a means of furthering reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous communities.

“May this be a sign of hope for Indigenous peoples in what has been a very difficult period,” said Joe Gunn, the executive director of the “Centre Oblat – A Voice For Justice,” a joint project of the three Canadian Oblate Provinces and St. Paul University. Final adoption of Bill C-15 comes just weeks after the discovery of the bodies of an estimated 215 children on the site of a former Catholic-run residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

“Indigenous leaders and faith communities worked so hard on this, including the Oblates,” said Gunn of the move to give UNDRIP legal standing in Canadian Law as attention is again focused on the history of church-run residential schools.

The Ottawa-based Citizens for Public Justice, a faith-based organization that is one of many faith organizations that have been demanding UNDRIP be officially recognized within Canadian law, said passage of Bill C-15 in Parliament is important but more must be done going forward.

“This is a moment to pause and to celebrate. It is time to lift up Indigenous Peoples in Canada who have worked for decades to have their rights recognized and honoured by the Government of Canada,” said the CPJ in a statement.

“Getting Bill C-15 across the finish line, is, in many ways, just the beginning. The work of aligning Canadian laws with the UN Declaration is the next critical order of business,” said the CPJ. “We will continue to follow this legislation and engage with government leaders to make sure the commitments outlined in this bill are acted upon.”

Before the Senate gave final approval, MPs in the House of Commons voted 210-118 in favour of Bill C-15 on May 25. The only MPs to vote against the bill in the House were Conservative Party MPs and independent MP Derek Sloan, who is a former Conservative MP.

A joint statement released on June 16 by Federal Justice Minister David Lametti and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said the new law “provides the foundation for transformational change in Canada’s relationships with Indigenous Peoples.”


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New interfaith caucus hopes to foster dialogue in Ottawa

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 12:58

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – You can learn a lot about Islam, Judaism, Christianity and other faith in books, but the best way to really know about another faith is through personal relationships.

And that is part of the rationale at the heart of a new Parliamentary all-party interfaith caucus that was launched during an online meeting that focused on the role that faith plays in a multi-cultural democracy such as Canada.

No one involved in the online discussion questioned the need for a multi-cultural democracy such a Canada to have a secular form of politics, but all involved talked about how a person’s faith does inform who they are, what they believe, and what their politics are.

“Faith plays a positive role in people wanting to get involved in their communities and wanting to get involved in public policy,” said NDP MP Daniel Blaikie, the new co-chair of the interfaith caucus that includes members from different religious and political backgrounds.

“What I hope is that we can implement a dialogue among different faiths,” he said during an online meeting that also included former politicians who shared their views on how faith plays a role in politics within a secular democracy.

Related article: Work of “Catholic Conscience” includes ongoing resources in-between elections: LINK

While the Parliamentary all-party interfaith caucus is new, it has been in the works for a couple of years and is only now getting off the ground because it was delayed by the COVID pandemic.

The new caucus, which is associated with the Canadian Interfaith Conversation and its member organizations, is being touted as a way “to promote dialogue between Parliamentarians and representatives and members of Canada’s religious communities on matters of shared interest and concern.”

According to the Canadian Interfaith Conversation (CIC), which is Canada’s national interfaith organization, it is hoped that the new interfaith caucus will help foster a dialogue about the “contribution” and “experiences” that Canada’s religious communities can bring to public policy challenges.”

As the charter of the CIC said, “The practice of religion and its impact on the identities of Canadians is an enduring feature of this country.”

“We want to promote harmony and spiritual insight among religions and religious communities in Canada, strengthen our society’s moral foundations, and work for greater realization of the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion for the sake of the common good and an engaged citizenship,” the CIC charter said.

Membership in the interfaith caucus is open to all Canadian MPs and senators and at this point has representatives from most parties in Parliament on its executive.

The Green Party’s Elizabeth May, along with the NDP’s Blaikie is caucus co-chair, and Conservative MP Garnett Genuis and Liberal MP Rob Oliphant are also on the executive of the caucus.

One of the people who took part in the online discussion June 16 was Canada’s first-ever Muslim Senator Mobina Jaffer, who spoke of facing a backlash when she was first appointed in 2001 and who raised Quebec’s controversial secularism law Bill 21 that she said “prevents Muslims from looking like Muslims” if they want to work in the public sector in Quebec.

But another participant in the June 16 online forum pointed out why even when discussing Quebec’s Bill 21, which has been criticized by faith groups and many other non-faith rights organizations across the country as an attack on religious freedom, there needs to be an understanding of the complete context of the law that can only come from further respectful discussion.

Former Bloc Quebecois MP Richard Marceau, who is Jewish and spoke during the June 16 online meeting, said it is important that viewpoints that come from faith and religion be heard during public debate, but that in a secular democracy those viewpoints do not have a veto and everyone should understand that.

He said issues such as Quebec’s controversial secularism law Bill 21 has to be understood within the context of why the law was enacted in that province, and the history of religion and especially the Catholic Church’s role’s within Quebec in the past.

While he said that as a Jewish person he is against Bill 21, he also said “you have to understand Quebec’s history” to understand why that law is so popular in Quebec.

“You cannot just dismiss that without some understanding of what the role of the Catholic Church has had (in that province),” he explained.

At the end of the day, Jaffer said dialogue between people of different faiths and backgrounds shows us all that we all have more in common with each other then there are differences regardless of what our traditions and backgrounds are.

“Our practices and traditions may differ, but our values are often the same,” she said.


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Called to believe in the Church

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 13:40

By Peter Oliver, Olive Branch Marriage and Family Ministry

Three lanky individuals in their early twenties make their way home from a basketball court. The sun is bright, the grass green, and they are young, excited about the world around them and charting their course into the future. It’s Sunday and their parents went to Church this morning, but they didn’t. Wouldn’t it be nice if these young people believed in the Church? On the face of it, this seems like a rather sentimental question, but it is actually a deeply theological inquiry with significant anthropological and sociological properties. The gospel from this past Sunday can help us explore its implications.

The late Dr. John J. Pilch’s commentary on Sunday’s gospel, found on the Sunday Web Site developed by St. Louis University, offers us insights into the worldview of the people of the Mediterranean during Jesus’ time. Dr. Pilch draws our attention to Mark 4:39 in which Jesus, “rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!” He observes that “Western readers of this story struggle to understand how a human being could control nature by word alone. Jesus’ Middle Eastern contemporaries had no such problem.”

The reality that Dr. Pilch points to is actually a lot more pervasive than our capacity to believe a person can influence the forces of nature by the power of their words. From our earliest formative years Westerners are challenged to analyze and dissect, to employ a scientific lens and to thoroughly reject anything that cannot be calculated or quantified. We live with a profound level of doubt concerning all things mysterious and divine.

A recent meditation found in Henri Nouwen’s book, Bread for the Journey, helped me think about some of the consequences of this kind of formation. Pointing to the statement of belief concerning the Trinity (I believe in God the Father almighty…) found in the Apostle’s Creed, Nouwen brought my attention to something I had not noticed before. “The Apostle’s Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.”

Nouwen’s testimony is quite dramatic and quite important. He is equating belief in the Trinity with belief in the Church. The Church is a divinely constituted reality. It is the actual Body of Christ. The real presence of God bringing about God’s transforming action in the here and now and it is instrumental in moving history toward its final culmination in the second coming.

Nouwen freely acknowledges that this is difficult for us to believe but he goes on to say, “… whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers.” That is a startling conclusion, but the situation is a bit more complicated.

Our uncertainty about belief in the Church and questions about the power of Jesus’ words to still the sea are echoed thousands of times in our lack of confidence in God’s power to affect the concrete realities of our lives. Before we ever give thought to our belief in the Church, we have ingested an extraordinary amount of doubt concerning our belief in almost everything – God, Church, leadership, meaning, other people’s motives, our capacity to know, the possibility of happiness and even reality itself. The reality is that we come to the Apostolic faith, the “I believe in the Church”, as unbelievers.

The trio mentioned in the opening sentence of this article did not go to Church but there is a good chance that their parents, who did go to Church, would be extremely uncomfortable with the kind of belief that came quite naturally to the people of Jesus’ time. It’s also probable that we share in this unbelief and likely that we do not believe that our faith, expressed in words, can do anything that would approximate Jesus’ power over the unruly waves. It follows quite naturally that a good number of us don’t really believe in the Church.

This Sunday it would be helpful to spend some time contemplating Jesus through the lens of the apostles in the unsteady boat. Their capacity to believe has not been thoroughly undermined so they can probe issues of faith that elude us. Their question is not “do I believe” he can do this? Instead, Jesus’ power moves them to ask, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey? (Mk 4:41)”

Time spent contemplating people with an alternative worldview can move us a step closer to belief in the divine entity we call the Church. The confidence that this kind of belief inspires delights in the youthful energy of the homeward bound basketball players and that gives life to the same awe experienced by the disciples in the boat.


Madeline and Peter Oliver work with Olive Branch Marriage and Family Ministry at Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal, providing programming and support for people going through separation and divorce. Contact Madeline Oliver for pastoral counseling: 306-361-9318.

Upcoming programs: 2021 Bitter or Better and Marital Separation: Money and Property


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Peer Health Mentor program launched at STM

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 13:13

By St. Thomas More College staff

A pandemic is a strange time to initiate anything, but the increased focus on university students’ mental health and well-being meant STM saw it as a great opportunity to recruit students to engage other students in their first ever Peer Health Mentor program.

St. Thomas More College Campus Ministry and Students Services have long been talking with the College’s Student Experience Team about how this might look at STM.

When Director of Mission and Ministry Dr. Gertrude Rompré and STM Dean Dr. Tammy Marche began meeting with Healthy Campus Saskatchewan (HCSK), the community of practice that includes 19 post-secondary institutions and two community organizations across the province, a plan started to take shape.

Rose Wu, of HCSK, began working with Michael MacLean, of STM Campus Ministry, and by Term 2 of 2021, STM had engaged their first-ever Peer Health Mentors: fourth-year student Veronica Lucas, and first-year student Alayna Jones.

Wu and MacLean worked with Lucas and Jones to determine possible ways to engage students in this time of pandemic.

Jones conducted a session on-line to teach viewers how to make quesadillas, and Lucas focused on International Women’s Day, surveying STM students, staff and faculty. She shared her findings all week on social media.

As Lucas graduates with her degree, Jones and MacLean are looking to find more students to join them in Peer Health Mentorship at the College.

STM shares the vision of Healthy Campus Saskatchewan to create a healthy, resilient campus community where students feel safe, supported, and have the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to achieve their personal, academic, and future career goals.

If you or a student you know might be interesting in joining the team at STM, please email a resume to Michael MacLean in STM Campus Ministry at


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New Dean appointed for St. Thomas More College

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 13:03

Release from St. Thomas More College (STM)

STM President Carl Still recently announced that Dr. Tammy Marche (PhD) will be the next Dean of St. Thomas More College, following Dean Kumaran, whose term concludes this June.

Following an internal search process, Marche’s appointment was recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee for the Appointment of the Dean and was approved by the College’s Board of Governors. Her five-year, renewable appointment as Dean will begin on July 1, 2021 and extend until June 30, 2026.

Marche received her BSc in Mathematics (1985) and her BSc Honours in Psychology (1986) from St. Francis Xavier University. She then completed her MSc (1988) and PhD (1993) in Experimental Psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She joined STM in 1992 as a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology and was subsequently appointed Assistant Professor in 1993. She was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in 1996 and then to Professor in 2013.

Marche has a long and distinguished record of administrative service and leadership at STM. She was Department Head of Psychology from 2003-2004 and 2009-2015 and Acting Department Head of Sociology from 2015-2017. She served as Assistant Dean from 2004-2007 and was appointed Associate Dean in 2017. Over the course of her career, she has served on every major committee at STM and has represented STM on numerous committees at the University of Saskatchewan, especially in the College of Arts and Science.

Marche is also an accomplished teacher and mentor, having offered 14 different courses in Psychology from the introductory to the graduate level. She has supervised 12 graduate theses to completion as well as 39 undergraduate honours theses. Marche received the USSU Teaching Excellence Award in 1999 and the STM Teaching Excellence Award in 2013.

Marche’s research expertise is in cognitive development and memory. She has received funding for her research from federal agencies, including SSHRC and CIHR, as well as from provincial, university, and college grants. Her publications include a co-edited book and 28 research papers with colleagues and students. Marche has produced 76 research papers and posters for conferences. From 2017 to 2020 she served as Associate Editor of Developmental Review.

The Dean is the senior academic officer of the College and a key member of the College’s senior administrative team. The Dean oversees the College’s academic programs and planning, faculty recruitment and career development, student services and the Dean’s office, and the federation relationship with the University of Saskatchewan. In this last capacity the Dean serves as a key liaison with the Dean and Vice-Deans of the College of Arts and Science. As she takes on this position, Marche will have the full support of the College’s senior leadership team as she directs the academic work of our faculty and students.



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B.C. Catholic newspaper reports on prayerful responses to Kamloops discovery

Sat, 06/19/2021 - 10:33

[Below are three articles by Agnieszka Ruck published recently in the B.C. Catholic, describing prayers and healing in different communities]

Residential school survivor prays for 215 souls

People gather near a cemetery memorial in Fort Providence, N.W.T., to honour lives lost at residential schools, including the 215 children whose remains were recently found in an unmarked grave in Kamloops. (Photo submitted by Monique Sabourin – The B.C. Catholic – CCN)

Related Article, Saskatoon: “Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Saskatoon holds four-day memorial wake for 215 children – LINK

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Fort Providence, NWT – Canadian Catholic News] – Shoes and stuffed toys surrounded a memorial on the grounds of Sacred Heart Mission School Cemetery in Fort Providence, NWT, last week to honour lives lost at residential schools.

The memorial is a large cement block with the names of some 300 children and adults buried on the Fort Providence site. With no individual grave markers in view, the structure is the only clear sign of the significance of the place.

Several dozen people gathered at the memorial as the group remembered in particular the 215 children whose remains were reported discovered in an unmarked site more than 1,600 kilometres away in Kamloops, B.C..

Among the participants was residential school survivor and Dene elder Monique Sabourin.

“It was really sad for me,” said Sabourin. “I think what hurt me the most was that kids are so innocent. We were brought up with loving parents, but to be dragged away? I want to know, how did those kids, 215, how did they die? Why are they buried there?”

“How did they manage to take the babies away from their parents?”

In the 1960s, Labourin attended LaPointe Hall, a residential school where she was sexually abused by a priest and also faced physical abuse. The experience led to alcohol addiction, a rejection of her Catholic faith, and years of pain. She tells her story and describes her journey toward healing in the 2017 documentary In the Spirit of Reconciliation by local filmmaker and priest Father Larry Lynn.

Monique Sabourin (centre) with Father Larry Lynn and former Lieutenant Governor of B.C. Steven Point at the 2017 world premiere of Father Lynn’s documentary In the Spirit of Reconciliation. (File photo – The B.C. Catholic, CCN)

“How do you forgive? That was the question I asked myself,” she said in the documentary. “How do you forgive something that happened to you as a child, when everything was taken away from you?”

Today, she says that healing journey is still an ongoing process.

“We still deal with this stuff every day,” she said. “I thought it was over, but it’s never over, as long as you’re there.”

For Sabourin, her key to wholeness has been forgiveness.

“Its hard to forgive what happened to you, but you have to forgive to go on. It is what it is. You cannot do nothing with it. It happened. You cannot go back and change it. You just have to forgive and walk with your head up and say, ‘Jesus loves me,’” said Sabourin, who has returned to her Catholic faith and works to help others in Fort Providence overcome addiction.

“I’ve been hurt so many times, I could say ‘I will not forgive.’ But that’s not the answer to anything.”

Since she heard about the discovery of the grave site in Kamloops, she has been lighting candles at home daily in honour of the 215.

“Everybody’s talking about apologies and everything that has to do with residential schools and the 215 kids that they found, but nobody is doing anything for those little souls to go to Jesus,” she said.

At the memorial, “when I heard the sound of the drum, I closed my eyes and in my mind, in my imagination, I saw 215 little souls going up to heaven. It was the image I had. I really pray that they are in heaven.”

Some of her most challenging moments are when people disbelieve that abuses were perpetrated on students at residential schools – comments of the sort she has seen on social media in recent weeks.

“It really, really affected me. I was so emotional, I had to go out and pray.”

In the wake of the Kamloops discovery, she hopes to see apologies from the government, the RCMP, and Catholic leaders.

She said those who insist on an apology from the “Catholic Church” misunderstand the meaning of Church.

“We are the Church. How do we ask for an apology from the Church if we are the Church?” she said, counting herself as part of that body. “We are asking for an apology from church leaders, not from the people.”

She also hopes to see funding for survivors.

“I’m hoping that the government can repay everybody that went to residential school so they can go on their own healing journey. I’m still on my healing journey. You want to do it on your own, but there is no money for it. The government should pay every individual that was in residential school.”

Meanwhile, she holds her head high and teaches her grandchildren about residential schools and what it means to forgive.

“We are loved. We can go on. We can start over with forgiveness, because God loves every one of us. He lay his life down to share, you know. He loves us no matter what.”

One of her grandsons attended the ceremony in Fort Providence and she snapped his photo in front of the cemetery memorial. “I told my grandson, ‘I’m taking this picture of you because those grandchildren are not home, but we are so blessed with you,’” she said.

“Forgiveness is a key to a door. If you open that door and open it wide: Wow, look at the beautiful world. You don’t have to live behind closed doors.”

-30- Tla’Amin First Nation joins with Kamloops in sorrow

Betty Wilson places her hand on a cedar box that contains the names of residential school survivors. The priest in the photo is Father Patrick Tepoorten. (Photo courtesy Betty Wilson – The B.C. Catholic, CCN)

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Powell River, B.C. – Canadian Catholic News] – Members of the Tla’Amin Nation joined their sorrow with the Tk’emlúps te Secwe’pemc peoples at an outdoor memorial in Powell River to honour those who died at residential schools.

Betty Wilson, a member of the Tla’Amin people, said four members of the community had attended Kamloops Residential School and were deeply grieved to hear of the unmarked graves recently discovered there.

“Like everyone else I was shocked and very upset when I first heard about the children in Kamloops. Tears flowed for the children,” said Wilson.

Despite unpredictable weather, a ceremony went ahead June 9 with brushing of cedar boughs, singing of mourning songs, and praying the Rosary. Community members who had gone to St. Mary’s Residential School in Mission were also in attendance, as were Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa and his wife, and Church of the Assumption pastor Father Patrick Tepoorten.

It was a small, but deeply moving gesture for Wilson.

“My sadness was lifted as we acknowledged in our traditional way, and through Father Tepoorten’s healing prayers, that we need to work together to create a better world,” she said.

At the ceremony, a cedar box with names of Tla’Amin people who had attended residential schools tucked inside took special prominence. The plan is to bring the box into all three local Catholic churches where Masses will be said for all survivors.
“We will continue our healing prayers that there be resolution for the young children buried.”

She added she drew encouragement from Archbishop J. Michael Miller’s letter of sorrow and apology for residential schools, believing it signalled an openness and willingness to work toward reconciliation.

Other ways the Tla’Amin Nation has participated in the mourning of the 215 included holding a moment of silence, inviting students to wear orange, and hosting a display of signs, shoes, and orange T-shirts at Willingdon Beach Park May 31.

Father Tepoorten said the Willingdon Beach event attracted hundreds of people who lined the streets with orange, showing the diversity of those who care about First Nations reconciliation, with old, young, and people of various backgrounds and professions.

“One thing about Powell River that is amazing is that we have a great connection with the city and the First Nations. We work very closely together, there’s no animosity, and there’s lots of back and forth sharing,” he said.

“People are people, whether you are First Nations or a descendant of white colonial people… It’s all of our problem. We all have to work and do something to make things better for our survivors and their children.”

The Tla’Amin community also hosted a “Hang a Heart” campaign that involved displaying orange paper hearts in a public place in remembrance of the 215 children, and all those who have suffered at residential schools.

“Many of our people have since passed away that lived through this system, many of our people never returned home to their families – for this we grieve and for this we spread awareness,” they said in an invitation to participate in these events.
“When we grieve, as a Nation, we come together in our trying times to lift one another up.”


Faith provides way forward: Seabird Island elder

Elders in the Seabird Island community built this bell tower at their local church. Local resident Richard Moses Louie believes the Christian faith provides guidance for healing and reconciliation. (Photo submitted to The B.C. Catholic, CCN)

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Seabird Island, B.C. – Canadian Catholic News] – When news of a burial site at Kamloops Indian Residential School reached the First Nations community of Seabird Island, local elders handed out potted pansies as gestures of honour and remembrance.

Seventy-four-year-old Richard Moses Louie made a home for some of the blooms on his veranda.

“There has to be truth and reconciliation,” said the Seabird Island man in an interview with The B.C. Catholic. “They brought that up in the past, a few years ago now, and it seems when things like this that sound horrific come up, we remember that we had the Truth and Reconciliation [Commission] and how this fits in.”

Louie once lived at Kamloops Indian Residential School. When the news broke about the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried there last week, he was shocked that some of the stories he had heard generations ago may have been true.
“It was really something to hear the stories and the hurt and the anger. It was hard to believe, but when we do the Creator’s work, that’s what we have to do: listen to the people and try to console them.”

Louie had attended a school nearer to home and his Indigenous Catholic family in the early 1960s, but he dropped out in 1963 after a car accident killed his parents and two of his brothers.

After some time, he mustered the will to go back to school and it was arranged for him to go to Kamloops. There, he lived in a dorm at the residential school (which in the 1960s ceased running classes and was converted into a residence) and took a bus to nearby St. Ann’s Academy. He remembers the girls on the top floor, the boys on the bottom floor, and a soccer field just outside the junior dorms. He also remembers meeting people of various nationalities at St. Ann’s, something he said prepared him for the real world.

“I was really surprised there is a grave down there that involved so many people.”

After a year in Kamloops, Louie returned to Seabird Island where he has lived and been an active member of the small community’s Immaculate Conception Church decades.

Louie believes his faith provides him guidance on how to move toward healing.

“We have to remember that we have love, forgiveness, and understanding. It’s really pretty hard to forgive the abuser, but I guess that’s where Jesus came in when he said, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do,’” he said.

“So I guess that’s what we should focus on, bringing us together and giving us an opportunity to love, forgive, and understand. [Jesus] has been trying to do that for so long. It’s alright to be doing that in everyday life, but this brings all the people together and we all have to learn to love, forgive, and understand. It’s uniting the people.”

He added he hopes the remains will be identified and returned to their families or communities. He also hinted he might like to hear an apology from Pope Francis.

“People are uniting across Canada, the USA, and around the world to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, that our people are safe.”



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Catholic Church blamed for residential schools – poll

Sat, 06/19/2021 - 10:33
A new urgency since Kamloops discovery

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

While the work toward a formal apology from Pope Francis is ongoing, a clear majority of Canadians hold the Catholic Church primarily responsible for the damage done by residential schools, according to a Leger poll conducted June 4- 6.
Sixty-six per cent of 1,539 people polled said the Church bears responsibility for the tragic residential school history, while 34 per cent say the federal government should be blamed.

It has been difficult to explain to Canadians the complex history of Catholic apologies for residential schools, a CCCB spokesperson told The Catholic Register.

“Apologies for wrongdoing were issued by the entities that were responsible,” the CCCB said in an e-mail. “More importantly, for decades the bishops of Canada have been and are deeply committed to continuing a journey toward greater healing and reconciliation, locally and nationally, to rebuild relationships and trust between Indigenous peoples and the Church in Canada.”

In the aftermath of the Kamloops Residential School discovery of 215 children in unmarked graves, the CCCB designated bishops to speak with the media and the organization issued a formal statement. Many bishops have come forward to offer direct apologies, including the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, and Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver.

“There is more work to do and part of the journey also involves increasing the awareness of all Canadians as to the Church’s reconciliation efforts and the work accomplished at the local and national levels,” the CCCB said.

The bishops’ conference is hoping a clearer picture of the history of residential schools will be embraced by Canadians.
“Responsibility lies with both the authors of the policies and the organizations who managed the schools. The government educational policies of assimilation, which were the genesis of the schools run by Christian churches, including Catholic entities, caused enormous harm and suffering at many levels for countless Indigenous children, families, cultures and nations,” the CCCB said.

CCCB Statement about Delegation of Residential School Survivors and Indigenous Leaders going to Rome: LINK

Bishop Mark Hagemoen message for Indigenous Peoples Day – LINK

Related Article: “Canadian bishops, Indigenous leaders push for papal apology” – LINK

Related Article: “Pope and Canadian Indigenous: Sorry must fit the level of suffering” – LINK 

In the past, not all of Canada’s bishops have embraced the idea of inviting Pope Francis to Canada, said Emeritus Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas Sylvain Lavoie.

“They’re sort of divided on that,” said Lavoie. “There’s some who don’t take it very seriously. … But again, maybe it took something like Kamloops to wake people up — although they were working on this (an Indigenous delegation visit to the Vatican this year) before Kamloops happened, for a year already.”

Lavoie sees new urgency from Canada’s bishops since Kamloops.

“There has to be some pretty powerful leadership at the top of the Church, the CCCB, to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this,’ ” the archbishop said. “Maybe it’s coming.”

“Most Indigenous people, especially Indigenous Catholics, see the Pope as the chief,” and “when there is a wound between families, the fathers are engaged in the reconciliation process,” Regina Archbishop Don Bolen told Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service June 10.

Many Indigenous Canadians are looking to the Pope “to be connected, to take some ownership and to speak on behalf of the Church,” Bolen said.

Asking the Pope to make a formal apology on Canadian soil is not an arbitrary request, the archbishop said. “The land is so central to Indigenous spirituality, to meet people on their land is vital in terms of a relationship.”


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Bishop Hagemoen sends message for Indigenous People’s Day

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 17:25

“I deeply regret and apologize that Catholics were part of this system which was designed to separate children from their families and communities and to assimilate them into a culture that featured a colonial attitude and approach. I deeply regret and apologize for the damage done to children at these schools, which for many included neglect and abuse, and I apologize for the deaths that happened at these schools, with children dying far away from mothers, fathers, grandparents and families, and I apologize to the families and the communities who have not been able to honour children’s burial sites.” – Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Message for Indigenous Peoples Day

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Celebrated annually on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day is resonating in a new, powerful, and sometimes painful way for many Canadians this year.

The recent discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at the former Kamloops residential school is providing renewed awareness about the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the damages caused by the residential school system designed to separate children from their families, language and culture. In particular, the discovery has brought an increased awareness of TRC findings that Indigenous children died at these schools, which operated in Canada for some 120 years.

In a message for Indigenous Peoples Day shared with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Bishop Mark Hagemoen acknowledged the “grief, dismay and anger” at the recent discovery by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.

“Since that discovery was announced, I have listened and heard how the shock and dismay of this news is impacting and hurting so many in our community, affecting us all – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – across our diocese and our nation,” he said.

“In particular, I have heard and shared the sorrow and the anguish of knowing that Catholics were among those who ran the schools established by the federal government that operated in this country from the 1870s until the late 1990s.”

The bishop then repeated his own apology for what happened at residential schools.

“I deeply regret and apologize that Catholics were part of this system which was designed to separate children from their families and communities and to assimilate them into a culture that featured a colonial attitude and approach,” said Bishop Hagemoen. “I deeply regret and apologize for the damage done to children at these schools, which for many included neglect and abuse, and I apologize for the deaths that happened at these schools, with children dying far away from mothers, fathers, grandparents and families, and I apologize to the families and the communities who have not been able to honour children’s burial sites.”

He noted that the recent discovery is bringing an increased national awareness about the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and what it revealed through its multi-year process of listening to residential school survivors. In particular, the bishop noted the TRC final report of 2015 and Calls to Action that included  #71 to #76 dealing with “Missing Children and Burial Information,” and Calls to Action # 58 to #61, dealing with “Church Apologies and Reconciliation.”

Call to Action #58 specifically calls for Pope Francis to visit Canada to apologize to residential school survivors, their families and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. In his message, Hagemoen expressed his support for a papal visit to address the legacy of residential schools in this country.

“Former Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen (now the Archbishop of Regina) and myself are among those who were encouraging the Holy Father to come to Canada in the months and years after the TRC Report,” Hagemoen noted. “We were also among those who were disappointed by a March 2018 announcement that Pope Francis would not be coming to Canada to apologize.”

The bishop of Saskatoon added: “As calls are renewed for a papal apology – with plans for a delegation of residential school survivors and Indigenous leaders to travel to Rome only recently announced – I want to again state my support for a visit by the Holy Father to Canada, and I believe that an apology from Pope Francis would bring healing to many, and would help to further the journey of reconciliation in our Church and in our country.”

Reflecting on ongoing work for reconciliation in the diocese of Saskatoon, Hagemoen expressed his thanks for all involved in that ongoing journey.

“I am extremely grateful for all those among you and across our diocese and our communities who have been walking that path of reconciliation over the past many years,” he said. “This includes the Elders and leaders at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, and members of the Diocesan Council for Truth and Reconciliation (formed as a direct result of our diocese’s participation in the TRC national event in Saskatoon in June 2012), as well as partners in Catholic education, Catholic colleges, and Catholic health – and many individual Catholics – Indigenous and non-Indigenous.”

Bishop Hagemoen noted that Indigenous, Métis and Inuit peoples “have taught me to be a better bishop and pastor” and he renewed his commitment to continue on a path of reconciliation.

“I pledge that I and our diocese will continue to walk a path of reconciliation and healing. As I wrote in 2018, this is part of our gospel call to reconciliation and solidarity,” Hagemoen said. “We must walk in love and friendship as sisters and brothers. I again ask us all to renew our ongoing commitment to building relationships of honour and respect, and to continue to take concrete steps on this journey of healing that must involve all of us.”

In his message to the diocese, the bishop also shared a prayer in honour of Indigenous Peoples Day:

O God, Creator and Father of all, with humility we your children acknowledge the relationship of all living things.  

For this we thank You, we praise You and we worship You.

We call on you, Great Mystery, the Word made Flesh – our Teacher, Prophet and Brother – to open our hearts to all our brothers and sisters, and with them to grow in the wisdom, honesty, courage and respectfulness shown in the Sacred Teachings.

Give us the vision and honesty to recognize that the we are all brothers and sisters of one human family, created and sustained by the One Creator.

 As we deal with many challenges, may we never give way to fear and anger, which can be the source of division and threat amongst peoples.

We look to how God always gives to us a remedy  for sins of prejudice and intolerance.

We see in God the Creator of all things, One who always provides and is generous – even given the abuses we have heaped on one another and on the earth.

We see in the Son, Jesus Christ – the innocent Victim who pours His life blood out from the Cross for all peoples.

We see how the Holy Spirit is God’s gift, alive in our world today – inspiring vision and hope that we can have the same mind and heart of God!

O Creator, show us the way to healing, forgiveness and reconciliation, and a renewed fellowship.



Bishop Mark Hagemoen places a lit candle before the altar during Mass with Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish at St. Mary’s Church in Saskatoon June 6 in memory of the children who died at residential school. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Indigenous Peoples Day events June 21, 2021:

Rock Your Roots Walk for Reconciliation” will be held in-person this year in Saskatoon on June 21. In order to keep everyone safe, organizers ask that participants plan to walk individually or in small groups. Participants may choose to wear cultural clothing or the reconciliation colours of yellow, blue, and red. Find more information at: LINK

Reconciliation Saskatoon will also hold a Live Virtual Event on June 21 featuring stories, entertainment and messages from residential school survivors. The video will be available anytime on June 21at LINK

National Indigenous Peoples Day events from Ottawa – LINK





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New program launched in diocese

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 12:02
Sts. Benedict and Scholastica program combines faith formation and vocation discernment with academic path

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is partnering with St. Thomas More College to provide faith formation and discernment to university students pursuing an academic path to vocations or service in the Church.

The Sts. Benedict and Scholastica Formation Program is designed for candidates who are pursuing “an academic and vocational pathway” that seeks ordained ministry, religious life, or professional lay ecclesial ministry.

Candidates will live in community and study while discerning their life’s vocation, obtaining spiritual formation while they obtain a degree.

Learn more about the program: LINK

Sr. Malou Tibayan of the Verbum Dei Missionary Community is one of the program’s coordinators.  (Photo submitted).

Sr. Malou Tibayan is coordinating the diocesan side of the program, along with another soon-to-arrive member of the Verbum Dei Missionary Community, Sr. Claudia Vázquez Díaz, with input and planning also provided by Sr. Marta Piano of Verbum Dei, and Fr. Matthew Ramsay, pastor at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon.

Plans call for the Sts. Benedict and Scholastica Formation Program to eventually include a live-in residence for both men and women, beginning this year with establishment of the men’s residence, located on Temperance Avenue, near the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, says Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

“This diocesan program of human and spiritual formation has been created specifically for men and women who are tracking to a philosophy program in their university studies, with a view to theology,” he explains. “They may be men who are discerning priesthood, or they may be women or men discerning religious life or professional leadership roles in the Church.”

Saskatoon is an ideal place for such a combined program, given the diocese’s relationship with St. Thomas More College, the federated Catholic College at the University of Saskatchewan, notes Hagemoen.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen holds up a summary of the three-year Pastoral Plan, part of the inspiration for the new Sts. Benedict and Scholastica Faith Formation Program. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

“Thanks to St. Thomas More College’s academic programs – including philosophy and Catholic studies — those who participate in the Sts. Benedict and Scholastica program earn a recognized degree. At the same time, they will receive faith formation, human formation, and spiritual direction, as well as an experience of community, focused on prayer, missionary discipleship and Christian holiness.”

Launching the program last year, Bishop Hagemoen connected it to the diocesan Pastoral Plan. “One of the ways in which we Proclaim Christ is in assisting young adults to discern their God-given vocations,” he said.

“The Verbum Dei Missionaries have joined our diocese, and their work among us will focus on faith formation and spiritual accompaniment,” he said.

“The Verbum Dei sisters are theologians, philosophers and educators, and they will play a key role in the partnership we are undertaking with STM for young men and women who have discerned a vocational pathway to the priesthood, religious life, or professional ministry in the Church.”

Sr. Malou Tibayan says there is much to explore and to do in launching the program this fall. “I think the Holy Spirit is moving us through.”

It is a blessing to be part of the program, she adds. “I feel my own vocation is a gift, and that is one thing that I would like to share with people who are being called by God. I want to share the gift I have been given with them.”

The need for accompaniment for those discerning their vocations is critical, Sr. Tibayan adds. “What happens to someone who feels they have a call from God, but have no one to accompany them, to journey with them as they discern that call?”

Thus, the Sts. Benedict and Scholastica program is designed to “ provide a space where they can really discern properly in a program of formation and accompaniment,” she says.


The deadline to apply for the fall is July 23, 2021. Contact Sr. Malou Tibayan at the Catholic Pastoral Centre: for more information or learn more on the diocesan website at: download a PDF description of the program here: PDF


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Help needed for Saskatoon sponsorship of family displaced by deadly conflict in Tigray

Mon, 06/14/2021 - 15:25

Alem’s youngest daughter helping out in the Tenedba camp. (Submitted photo – used with permission)

By Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard, Office of Migration, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

These days, Roko is having trouble sleeping at night. And when she watches her older kids and cuddles her baby, snug in Saskatoon, her heart aches, especially when it rains.

Roko and husband Negasi, who now live in Saskatoon, were once Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. In the camp where they stayed, refugees and the local people lived close together, and Roko made a close Tigrayan friend named Alem. That friend is now a refugee herself, forced by the conflict in Tigray to flee with her family to Sudan.

Roko remembers, “She was like a sister to me, she helped like a sister. We braided each others’ hair, and if she had extra clothes, she would share with me. She introduced me to the rest of her family.” They were neighbours for two years, and when Alem moved to Humera to get married, the two women stayed in touch.

Alem and her husband were raising two daughters and had a pretty good life in Humera, until November of 2020. That was when the current deadly conflict in Tigray engulfed their town and they were forced to flee. Humera has an airport and is close to the borders with Eritrea and Sudan, and was one of the first places to be attacked.

The attacks came so fast that Alem’s family could not even flee together. Along with many other civilians, they found themselves seeking refuge in Sudan. Alem and her daughters were sent to Tenedba camp, and her husband and brother to Umm Rakuba camp.

Related: “Humera attacks in November 2020” – LINK

Related: “Unlawful shelling of Tigray Urban Areas” – LINK

To call Tenedba a refugee camp is to perhaps overstate the case. The UN and the Sudanese government had to scramble to deal with the sudden arrival of so many desperate people.

Tenedba is a new camp, growing up make-shift in the desert. Alem and her 14-year-old and 8-year-old daughters were given a folded tent and very basic equipment, and left to put up the tent themselves. There were sleeping mats but no table. When Alem needed to photograph a document to send to us, she had to peg it out with stones on the desert sand.

The area near Tenedba camp is very dry, but it does have a rainy season in the spring, when the desert sands turn into mud.

In Saskatoon, Roko’s dreams are haunted by the image of Alem and her girls sitting this spring in their tent, in the mud, in the rain. And then the tent collapsed.

Although they managed to get their tent up again, Alem and her family are stuck. In a few short days, they went from a good life in Humera to a small tent in the desert. The kids are missing their dad, but no one can travel. Food is in short supply, and some children in the camp are getting sick.

Teneba camp in May 2021 (Image by Alula Solomon, Twitter)

After the rainy season comes the heat, and with moist heat come the mosquitoes, carrying malaria. Roko shudders when she tells me this. She remembers all too well when her husband came down with malaria in their camp. It was a long road to recovery.

Roko and Negasi very much want to repay the debt of friendship that they owe to Alem. She stood with them in their time of need, and now they want to stand with her.

Roko and Negasi now live in Saskatoon — they are working to help bring their friend Alem and her family to Canada. (Submitted photo, used with permission)

Roko and Negasi want to sponsor Alem and her family to come to Canada.  They have saved $5,000 towards the cost of the $19,000 needed for the sponsorship to meet government standards, and they have a basement suite where the family can stay for free.

Roko says, “I put away $50 a month for my children’s future education. They can have that too.”  I express my concern that her kids would lose out but she says, “My kids are safe, they are fed, they are in school.  Her kids have nothing.”

Can we help Roko and Negasi to help their friends? Their family finances are stretched, as they already support family members abroad. Can we help? Can you help?

What we need:

Money – We need another $14,000 before we can submit the application as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder. The funds go into an in-trust account with the diocese in the family’s name, and will be used to fund their first year in Canada. Donations large and small are welcome. If for some reason, the family cannot come to Canada, the funds are returned with interest to the original donors. Because it is for a named family, charity law means that we can’t issue a tax receipt for donations. Donations can be made by cheque to Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, 123 Nelson Road, Saskatoon, SK S7S 1H1 or received by e-transfer.  Please contact Jan Bigland-Pritchard at for details.

A group – Jan Bigland-Pritchard has worked on successful sponsorships with Roko and Negasi in the past, but the practice of the diocesan Migration Office is always to pair would-be co-sponsors with a trained and established parish or community settlement team (Constituent Group). This helps to share out the many tasks of the settlement work and provide good accountability for the progress of the sponsorship.  So we need a group. Could your parish or organization step up? Or could you as an individual volunteer to be part of a new Constituent Group with others?


Jan Bigland-Pritchard-Pritchard, Office of Migration, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

Migration Office Coordinator Jan Bigland-Pritchard says: “I am not qualified to assess the political situation in Ethiopia and Sudan, but for me this is a straightforward humanitarian issue. As we watch the news, many have felt sick and sad for those who have been made refugees by the current conflict. Helping Roko and Negasi make this sponsorship happen is one very concrete and specific way to express our pain and make a path of hope.  And I want Roko to start getting some sleep again.”


To donate or to volunteer to help with this sponsorship, please contact Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard-Pritchard, Coordinator of the Office of Migration in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon:

To support the work of the diocese of Saskatoon Office of Migration in general (rather than this specific project), donate online at and designate your gift to “Office of Migration” in the drop-down box entitled”Ministry Directed Gift Preferences.”


United Nations UNHCR map of camps in Sudan, with Tenedba circled. (UNHCR image)


This is a stock photo from Tenedba, taken in January 2021, which illustrates the kind of accommodation the family is living in. (Photo submitted)


UNHCR Tenedba camp, late 2020 or early 2021 (UNHCR photo)


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Canadian Indigenous leaders set to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican to talk about Church’s role in residential schools

Fri, 06/11/2021 - 06:42

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – Canadian Catholic News] – Canadian Indigenous leaders will meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican before the end of 2021 to address the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential schools that will hopefully lead “to a shared future of peace and harmony between Indigenous Peoples and the Catholic Church in Canada,” Canada’s bishops announced on June 10.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said it has been working for years to arrange such a meeting and had hoped it would have been held earlier this year but that was sidelined by the COVID pandemic.

In a statement released June 10, 2021 the CCCB said the meeting in the Vatican that will include representatives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations “represents an important step on the journey of reconciliation and shared healing for Indigenous Peoples and the Church in Canada.”

“The recent discovery of children’s remains at a burial site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, remind us of a tragic legacy still felt today,” Canada’s bishops said. “With the strong encouragement of Pope Francis, the Bishops of Canada have pledged true and deep commitment to renewing and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land.”

Although an exact date has not been given, Indigenous leaders with the Assembly of First Nations and the Métis National Council, along with Canadian politicians such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have renewed their calls for a meeting with Pope Francis in which they hope the Pope will agree to apologize for what happened in residential schools in Canada that were run by the Catholic Church and other Christian faith groups.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said such a meeting with the Pope is important for Canada’s Indigenous people.

“It’s a very big part of healing,” Bellegarde told the CBC in an interview. “Our missing children have not received the same dignity nor respect in death or in life that every human being deserves.”

According to the CCCB, the meeting with the Pope will allow residential school survivors to speak directly with the Pope.

“This pastoral visit will include the participation of a diverse group of Elders/Knowledge Keepers, residential school survivors and youth from across the country,” according to Canada’s bishops.

“The event will likewise provide Pope Francis with a unique opportunity to hear directly from Indigenous Peoples, express his heartfelt closeness, address the impact of colonization and the implication of the Church in the residential schools, so as to respond to the suffering of Indigenous Peoples and the ongoing effects of intergenerational trauma,” the CCCB said.


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In-person summer camping resumes at Knights of Columbus Blackstrap Youth Camp

Thu, 06/10/2021 - 15:51

By Eric Olauson, Knights of Columbus

Since 1942 the Knights of Columbus Blackstrap Youth Camp (BYC) has been providing enjoyment, learning and faith to Saskatchewan children. This year is no different as they are once again offering full overnight camping as the pandemic restrictions ease.

BYC’s camps run weekly from July 4-30 this year. Each week, campers arrive on Sunday afternoon and depart on the following Friday afternoon.

In-between, there are campfires, activities like volleyball, swimming, paddleboarding, archery, and of course crafts, singing, worship; even a mudpit.

An integral part of the camp’s mandate is to provide Christian leadership and to help the campers grow in their spiritual life.

Bishop Hagemoen with campers. (File photo courtesy of Blackstrap Youth Camp)

Mass is celebrated typically on Wednesday and the counselors guide the campers as they participate, learn and express what their spiritual journey means to them. All this is done in a safe, friendly, loving environment that nurtures natural leadership qualities in campers.

S’mores, hot dogs, campfires, games, swimming and water activities are a great way to have fun while learning and appreciating what God has given to us. The memories and friendships made at Blackstrap Youth Camp are sure to last a lifetime.

The registration fees for a week of camp are $395.

To register, go to  and follow the links.  Or for more information or questions, call (306) 934-1838 or e-mail

Campers: what a great way to celebrate the beginning of the end of the pandemic and re-connect with all your friends after a very tough 16 months!







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Healing Indigenous communities: First Nations lean on culture and tradition for coping and healing

Thu, 06/10/2021 - 14:29

By Wendy-Ann Clarke, The Catholic Register

[Wikwemkoong First Nation – Canadian Catholic News] – Indigenous Elder and lay minister Rosella Kinoshameg reflects on the Gospel of Matthew’s parable of the treasure discovered hidden in a field as she looks to find healing and meaning in the wake of the latest trauma to hit Indigenous communities in Canada.

It’s the Scripture she felt compelled to read at a sacred fire held outside of Holy Cross Church in Wikwemkoong First Nation in the days following the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried near Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

People held tobacco offerings up to heaven as they prayed and extended whatever message they had to the children, their parents and loved ones. Those offerings were put into the fire as the eagle feather was used to fan the smoke of their prayers up to God.

It’s not going to heal all the pain, says Kinoshameg, but it will be a start.

“At this time our hearts are heavy so you want to remove that heaviness and cleanse your spirit so that you will be open to receive whatever message that you’ll be getting out of all this,” said Kinoshameg. “You take all that negative energy that’s been removed and you put it on that smoke and burning medicine. Then we take the eagle feather, and we send that smoke up higher. We ask that eagle who flies the highest and sees the farthest to take our prayers to the Creator. We asked the Creator to give us cleansing and renewed energy.”

Rosella Kinoshameg, Wikwemkoong First Nation Elder, has been turning to traditional prayer to find healing and meaning in the days following the Kamloops residential school discovery. (File photo – The Catholic Register- CCN).

The retired nurse and residential school survivor has been a spiritual leader in her community on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario. She is known for her commitment to the faith, justice and reconciliation. She has spent decades in healing work, caring for the sick both medically and spiritually. In 2000 she was commissioned by the Sault Ste. Marie diocese as a member of the Diocesan Order of Service.

The long-term effects of the trauma of children as young as three years old being removed from their parents is all too close to Kinoshameg, who was sent to residential school at age nine. In reflecting on the wounds from that experience of being separated from her parents and family, she reasons it is likely why she was so protective of her own children when they were young.

Healing for the nation and individuals comes through true respect for Indigenous people, through the acknowledgment of their humanity and the power of their culture and teachings to help all people, she says.

Related: Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Saskatoon holds memorial wake for 215 children

Kinoshameg believes that a new project by the Jesuit Forum called Listening to Indigenous Voices will be an important project for non-Indigenous people in order to learn more about their culture and ways.

Though society may have tried to bury the darkness of our history, Kinoshameg maintains it’s important on the healing journey that we face the pain head-on as a nation and within ourselves as individuals, especially Indigenous peoples, for the betterment of all.

“It can sit (inside you) and if you’re feeling it or it’s hurting, you’re wearing it,” said Kinoshameg. “It will make you sick. We have to talk about it. Dialogue is very important.”

Tom Dearhouse has been involved in such dialogue as a therapist for several years. A traditional support counsellor and social worker at Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services, he has skills in traditional Mohawk practices and healing methods such as sweat lodge and smudge ceremonies. He is a member of the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine at the St. Francis Xavier Mission and co-chairs the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle along with Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas.

Dearhouse has been engaged in healing work with former residential school students and their families who are feeling the impacts of the intergenerational effects. Through his trauma-informed practice, he works to find the resilience in people. The latest trauma, he says, compounds so many others in the community. The discovery of the children left him in shock and filled with all kinds of emotions and looking at ways to respond.

The stress imposed by the bullying and the removal of language and cultural learning through the residential school system partly explains the lateral violence experienced in communities, which includes domestic violence and substance abuse, said Dearhouse.

“What the settlers and the mainstream society did to us, we’re doing it to each other,” he said. “I find myself placed to try to deal with that, to address the trauma.”

He leads several weekly groups in unpacking grief and other ways people are suffering psychologically, and is planning a sacred fires and teaching circles welcome to all those who felt the impact of residential schools and of the 215 children.

For Dearhouse it’s all about creating a safe space for people to share and to find tools for coping.

The impact of the Church’s presence on the reserves has been heavily discussed in communities, he said. The Church has been connected to splitting families apart and so much trauma, but it’s also the place where people have many happy memories of marriage, baptismal celebrations and other events. Indigenous peoples are challenged with holding those positive and negative realities at the same time. While lashing out in anger in different ways is a natural response to suffering it is not the healthy way forward.

“It’s a hard balancing act I would say, but I don’t think it’s the right way to act, to be taking a sledgehammer or making threats or carrying anger,” said Dearhouse. “If you can address that anger and get in touch with that maybe you’ll move forward. That’s where our work comes in as counsellors and helpers. We don’t call ourselves healers but we’re helpers to move people along.”

While formal apologies can be a crucial part of the healing process on the national level, they don’t need to be the starting point for individuals to process their pain, said Dearhouse.

“For example, if you have something against your father from childhood and he’s passed on, you can still make things right,” said Dearhouse. “You can still get those emotions through ceremony and different methods where you’re going to let those emotions get out and say what you have to say. Use your own voice and fix things in a spiritual way.”

The road ahead is a long one, he said, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provides the roadmap with its 94 Calls to Action. Though there is work to be done, Dearhouse through his work is obligated to the individual and communities as part of the healing of our wider society.

For Kinoshameg, true justice won’t be possible for the 215 children and however many others, and though we cannot change the past it must be examined to deal with where we are now. That comes with openness to new possibilities and ways of seeing our society and understanding the oneness we are called to walk in as created beings under God.

“We have a new trail ahead of us,” she said. “We see the footprints, but we have not followed to the point of knowing. In looking at our past, we have told our own story. Have lived in our own story. We cannot change the past, but we do have to look at our past of hurts to deal with where we are now. If we are unwilling to carry this to the future, then we should be standing towards the opening in the trail, to the opening of possibilities of our future. I believe that our answers lie in our traditional teachings and spirituality.”


Candles around the statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha at the conclusion of a four-day memorial wake held for the 215 children found in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School – the closing Mass included smudging, sacred drum, prayer in the four directions. (Catholic Saskatoon News file photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Healing and reconciliation will come when there is true respect for Indigenous people, an acknowledgment of their humanity and the power of their culture to help all people.Photo by Michael Swan

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St. Peter’s Abbey goes solar-powered

Thu, 06/10/2021 - 09:55

Abbot Peter Novecosky stands next to an impressive 150 megawatt array on St. Peter’s Abbey. (Photo courtesy of Discover Humboldt)

By Maury Wrubleski, Discover Humboldt

[First published at Discover Humboldt local news page – used with permission]

An impressive array of three banks of photovoltaic solar panels tilts to the southern skies on the grounds of St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster.

The new installation went in on the first weekend of June 2021 in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the Benedictine abbey’s operation.

The field-length of solar cells rows will reduce the abbey’s grid usage of electricity by around 50 percent, explains Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB. Power from the units will furnish the abbey proper and not St. Peter’s College at this point.

“We’re expecting to cut our power bill in half,” explains Novecosky. “We’re using Net Metering that feeds into our solar panels. If we don’t use all the energy, it goes to Sask Power, and then we can draw it back at nighttime when the sun is not shining.”

The 100-kilowatt array is the largest allowable unit in the province on Sask Power’s Net Metering program and would be enough to light up 12 to 15 conventional households.

The installation was completed by Sundawg Solar, an independent solar company from Saskatoon. The 236 solar modules in the array make up one of the largest installations the company has done, explains co-owner Callen Goebel. While larger production capacities would be possible, the energy produced beyond 100 megawatts would be forfeited to the Sask Power grid with limited return as the regulations stand now.

“We analyzed their power consumption over the last few years, and the abbey consumed 292 megawatt hours of energy,” Goebel explains. “If you take that into consideration, that’s probably the energy used by 30 small houses. The array we’ve put up will produce around 150 megawatt hours.”

Goebel explains that the power used during the sunny parts of the day goes directly into the electrical needs of the abbey. Any excess will be sent out to the grid for use by other consumers in the area. Ultimately, the solar energy produced at the Abbey will reduce the contribution to the province’s electrical grid by non-renewable driven power plants. Goebel uses the analogy of a water system where sometimes excess will flow out, but when needed, it can be drawn back in.

Changes in the Net Metering program from the province initially put a damper on the solar industry in the province, sending some companies packing. With the announcement of $5,000 in federal funding for home improvements as an economic jump start, Goebel says he’s seen a resurgence in interest that has kept him – and partners Shane Weidman and Ryan Pitka – increasingly busy.

“That’s really increased traffic to our sites and people inquiring about it because a system can range from $10,000 to $50,000. Knocking $5,000 off of that definitely perks people’s interest.”

In the abbey’s case, it was less about incentives than it was about taking advantage of improved technology and efficiency, and actively working toward being strong environmental stewards.

“Pope Francis put out an encyclical five years ago called ‘Care for Creation’ (Laudato Si’) and he has been pushing a lot toward using solar energy and caring for the natural resources,” says Novecosky.

The Abbot notes that St. Peter’s Abbey will see a total return on its investment in a decade or so, after which the power produced by the abbey’s solar installation will be free and clear.

Numerous residences and businesses in the area have installed solar panels to offset electricity costs, but all of them are dwarfed by the impressive array nestled on the south side of St. Peter’s Abbey.

The solar array was recently installed in a field at St. Peter’s Abbey, Muenster. Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, says moving to solar power is part of a commitment to caring for the earth. (Photo courtesy of Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB)




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Kamloops band ‘deeply disturbed’ by vandalism of church

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 18:34

By Canadian Catholic News staff, with files from The B.C. Catholic

[Kamloops, B.C. – CCN] —The chief of the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc, or Kamloops Indian Band, has condemned the vandalism of the historic St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on the Tk’emlups band lands.

The vandalism follows the discovery of Indigenous children’s graves at a nearby Church-run Residential School.

“We are deeply disturbed to learn that the Saint Joseph’s church was vandalized. The church was built from the ground up by Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc members. We understand the many emotions connected to a Roman Catholic run Residential School. At the same time, we respect the choices that Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc ancestors made, over a 100 years ago, to erect this church,” read a May 31 statement from Rosanne Casimir, the band’s chief.

On the weekend of May 22, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The discovery was made with ground-penetrating radar. It is unclear how the children died.

Graffiti reading “banished,” “evicted,” and “crime scene” was found spray painted on the walls of St. Joseph’s May 31, 2021. An “X” was on the front doors.

By the next day the graffiti had largely been cleaned off, Kamloops This Week reported.

St. Joseph’s, a mission church, is the oldest church in Kamloops and a heritage site. Mass is offered once a month on first Sundays.

The residential school in Kamloops operated from 1890 until 1978. The school was administered by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate from 1893 until 1969, when the Canadian government took control of the school again. At that point, the school building operated as a residence for First Nations children who were attending area day schools. The residence was closed in 1978.

The Kamloops school was at one point the largest school in the entire Residential School system, which was established in Canada beginning in the 1870s and was overseen by the Catholic Church and Protestant ecclesial communities. The last operating Residential School closed in 1996.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission which operated from 2008 until 2015 reported on a history of abuses in the system. Children from First Nations and other Indigenous communities were separated from their families and placed in the Residential Schools as a means of forcible assimilation and enculturation. An estimated 4,100 to 6,000 First Nations and other Indigenous children died as a result of neglect or abuse in the system, the commission found.

One of the calls of the commission was for a papal apology “to survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”

In a 2017 meeting with the Pope, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invited Pope Francis to visit Canada and apologize for the treatment of Indigenous children in the schools.

Pope Francis on June 6 expressed sorrow over the discovery of the unmarked graves at the site of the Kamloops school, and prayed for all children who died in the Residential School system.

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller has expressed a “deep apology and profound condolences to the families and communities that have been devastated” by the discovery at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Archbishop Miller repeated his 2013 apology to the Indigenous populations for the abuses that occurred in Church-run Residential Schools, saying that he remains “committed and accountable” to those words.

“I wish to apologize sincerely and profoundly to the survivors and their families, as well as to those subsequently affected, for the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of those Catholics who perpetrated mistreatment of any kind in these Residential Schools,” said Archbishop Miller.

Archbishop Miller said that “the Church was unquestionably wrong in implementing a government colonialist policy which resulted in devastation for children, families and communities,” and that his apologies “must be accompanied by tangible actions that foster the full disclosure of the truth.”

Archbishop Miller pledged to be “fully transparent with our archives and records regarding all residential schools.”

He said that records related to the Kamloops Indian Residential School, located in the territory of the archdiocese until 1945 when the Diocese of Kamloops was created, were given to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“We commit to supporting the same process and resources to all Nations in whose territories Catholic-run Residential Schools were forcibly located, and which fall within the historical boundaries of the Archdiocese of Vancouver,” he said.

Kamloops Bishop Joseph Nguyen of Kamloops issued a statement May 28 saying he was “heartbroken and horrified” by the discovery of the children’s remains.

“I express my deepest sympathy … to all who are mourning this tragedy and unspeakable loss,” said Bishop Nguyen. “No words of sorrow could adequately describe this horrific discovery.”

Bishop Nguyen said that he offered his “personal support, prayers and accompaniment to our First Nations community in Kamloops and beyond.”


Statement from the Archdiocese of Regina, Archbishop Donald Bolen – LINK

Statement from Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – LINK

With B.C. Catholic files

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Sketchbooks are created and donated by GSCS students as an outreach to prisoners

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 16:48

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

A collection of lovingly decorated, hand-made sketchbooks were recently delivered to the Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Filled with blank pages for drawing and sketching, the books will find their way into the hands of men at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre after a local Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) high school class responded to a suggestion by Dianne Anderson of the diocesan Restorative Ministry Office.

Teacher Frances Veslinos approached Anderson for project ideas for Grade 9 students at Bethlehem Catholic High School in Saskatoon to undertake as a way to learn more about prison ministry and assist with outreach to men at the Correctional Centre.

Men in prison who wish to sketch and draw will often ask Anderson for paper when she meets with them as part of providing Catholic ministry at the Correctional Centre. “But the rules say that they are not allowed to have coil-bound sketch books,” she explains.

The sketch books created by the students have no coils – and they come with artwork and inspirational messages the students created for the covers.

Drawings, designs and bright colours decorate the covers, with many accompanied by messages such as: “Never give up because great things take time,” “Always rooting for you,” “God loves you,” “You can do this,”“God is here,” “Small steps every day” or short passages from scripture.

Dianne Anderson explains that coil-bound sketchbooks are not permitted for men at Saskatoon Correctional Centre — the non-coil books created and donated by students are a welcome donation, she says. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

“These sketch books are so beautiful, and the messages are so meaningful. I am so impressed and so happy,” said Anderson, visibly moved by the donation.

For more information about the Office of Restorative Ministry and prison outreach in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon  funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal – contact Dianne Anderson at



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Shock and anger expressed across the country after hate attack on Muslim family

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 15:43

[Updated June 10, 2021]

Canadian Catholics reach out to Muslims in wake of London attack

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[London, ON. – CCN]  – Faith communities and politicians are condemning an attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, that police have labeled a hate crime.

The targeted killing June 6 claimed the lives of four members of a Muslim family and left a nine-year-old boy in serious condition. London Police believe the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith. The driver of the vehicle has been arrested and faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ executive committee Thursday issued a statement calling for an end to religious violence in Canada and specifically hatred against Jews and Muslims.

The statement, signed by CCCB President Archbishop Richard Gagnon, said the bishops “adamantly object to all forms and expressions of hatred and they strongly denounce the recent violence seen in Canada against the Jewish People and Muslims, for which there can be no possible justification ever.”

The statement was endorsed by Bishop John A. Boissonneau and Archbishop Paul-André Durocher representing the CCCB’s Canadian Rabbinic Caucus Bilateral Dialogue.

The bishops note “a disturbing rise in harmful and violent acts against the Jewish People and Muslims” in recent weeks, including “offensive slurs, prejudice, hostility, and even terror claiming lives.”

The bishops appealed to “the minds and hearts of the Catholic faithful, and all people of good will, to denounce Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all similar forms of extremism and violence against fellow human beings of all faith traditions.”

The statement includes prayer for “an increase in tireless, sincere and constructive dialogue, greater understanding, social harmony, and mutual respect, in order that Canadians from all backgrounds, faith traditions and cultures may live not as strangers or adversaries, but peacefully as brothers and sisters.”

The Archdiocese of Toronto released a statement June 7 condemning the fact that Canadians appear to have been targeted for death because of their faith.

The archdiocese offered “prayers and sincere condolences following the violent death of four family members in London, Ontario, targeted for their faith.”

“We join the Muslim community, London Mayor Ed Holder, and all those who condemn this heinous act of violence.”

London Bishop Ronald Fabbro pledged that Catholics will work with the Muslim community to root out hate wherever it exists.

“I am horrified by the hate-motivated killing of an innocent Muslim family in London,” Bishop Fabbro said. “I unconditionally condemn acts of hatred and violence. People of all faiths, and all people, should always feel safe, everywhere in our country.

“The Catholic community in London offers our support to our Muslim brothers and sisters, pledging to work together with them to end crimes of hate,” Bishop Fabbro said. “I ask the faithful of the Diocese to keep the family of those killed and their community in our prayers, asking God to bring them comfort in this time of grief and to grant the full recovery of the survivor.”

The same sentiments were expressed by the leaders of all political parties in the House of Commons on June 8, when party leaders made statements condemning what police in London, Ontario, allege was a premeditated hate crime.

“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate,” London Police Detective Superintendent Paul Waight told a press conference on June 7, after a 20-year-old man who was later arrested plowed into a Muslim family that was taking a family walk in their neighbourhood on the evening of June 6.

“We can not allow any form of hate to take root,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the House of Commons on June 8. “We must confront the ugly face of hatred.

“We know we need to look truth in the face, this hatred does exist in our country,” he said of those who dismiss the idea that racism is a fact of life for many Canadians of different races and faiths in 2021.

“We must understand the anxiety and fear that our fellow Canadians face just when they go outside,” Trudeau said. “Racism exists in Canada.”

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole called the killings in London a “brutal act of terror” in the House of Commons and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who is Sikh and wears a turban, said that people such as himself know all too well what looking different or praying differently can mean in Canada.

“Will I be attacked today just because of the way I look,” Singh asked.

“This is our Canada, we can’t deny it,” he said of the level of racism that people of colour, of different faiths and that Indigenous Canadians face.

Singh, Bishop Fabbro and Prime Minister Trudeau were among the people expected to attend a vigil on the night of June 8 in London.

With B.C. Catholic files

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Diocese launches Youth and Young Adult Ministry with a renewed focus on discipleship and accompaniment

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 12:02

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

After some two years of discernment, prayer and planning, a new Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office has been launched in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, with a renewed focus on discipleship and accompaniment.

The launch includes the introduction of “Project Timothy” a leadership development program led by diocesan Evangelization and Mission Leader John Hickey and Sr. Marta Piano of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. The two leaders will recruit, mentor and accompany young adults who have a desire to share their faith and reach out to other youth and young adults.

Other priorities for diocesan Youth and Young Adult Ministry have also been established: providing support and trainingfor youth ministry in parishes across the diocese, and offering diocesan events “as a place of encounter” for youth and young adults.

“The focus is less on programming and more on discipleship and accompaniment,” describes Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

“The focus of Project Timothy is calling and supporting youth as ‘disciples’ through what Pope Francis calls ‘the art of accompaniment,’” the bishop writes in a June 8 letter to the diocese about the new direction for Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the diocese. “

“It has been a slow process, but we are excited to announce this shift in the way will be delivering Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the diocese of Saskatoon,” says Marilyn Jackson, diocesan Director of Pastoral Services. “We sure did not anticipate it would take two years.”

COVID-19 caused delays, she says, but adds that these delays “did not stop the Holy Spirit from moving gently through our time of discernment.… God revealed his plan, one piece at a time.”

The two-year discernment process started with the establishment of a task force to identify features and gaps in youth ministry. “It was a group of adults, young adults, single, married, teachers, ministry leaders and clergy. The data we collected was then shared with a consultant, who presented us with a model of making missionary disciples,” says Jackson.

“Our diocese has been ready to launch our youth ministry strategy for awhile,” notes Bishop Mark Hagemoen in a video released June 8 (below).

“Coming out of COVID-19 is not the occasion to stand back and wait to see if our pews fill up, but it is a time to be bold and to move forward with a renewed focus on forming missionary disciples,” he says.


The launch of the new Youth and Young Adult Ministry model is not an isolated event or decision, notes Hagemoen, pointing out that this new path is also connected to moving the age of confirmation to an older age (Grade 6), and to vocation formation – including the new Sts. Benedict and Scholastica Formation Program recently launched in partnership with St. Thomas More College – and to a renewed focus on adult faith formation emphasizing discipleship and evangelization.

It also reflects the diocesan Pastoral Plan to “Proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom Today,” notes the bishop, with several priorities reflected in the new Youth and Young Adult Ministry approach including:

  • helping young people discern God’s call to share in the mission and life of the Lord
  • strengthening and supporting vocations;
  • promoting the healing journey; and
  • supporting a deepening friendship and intimacy with Jesus Christ.

“May the Holy Spirit – who has led us to this point – bless and guide all of our efforts in support of children, youth, young adults, and all families and communities,” says Bishop Hagemoen.

Project Timothy

In particular, Project Timothy will be a new path for youth ministry in the diocese.

“Project Timothy represents a new way of doing things. Not only do we have programs for our young people, but indeed we call our young people to be leaders, to be mentors, to be disciples of Christ as they call forth and other young people to be leaders in the church and in the world in the way of Jesus Christ,” the bishop describes in the video released June 8.

Sr. Marta Piano, Verbum Dei

“As a diocese, our vision for this new moment in history is to enter boldly into something new,” says team member John Hickey. “Project Timothy represents a shift: a new way of doing things—not just to minister to needs of the young people in our diocese, but to train and empower them to minister to the needs of their peers, and form disciples wherever they go.”

Through Project Timothy, co-leaders John Hickey and Sr. Marta Piano will “accompany, equip and empower” a team of young leaders to become missionary disciples within the diocese.

“These missionary disciples will go out to form their own apostolates or small groups among the youth, their peers, in schools and parishes, and anywhere the mission field takes them,” explains Piano.

John Hickey, Evangelization and Mission Leader

The new co-leaders are eager to begin, sharing their hopes for the new initiative in the video at

“In this moment I can see a resurrected church, alive like never before. I can see our pews crowded with people young and old, standing shoulder to shoulder like we’ve been unable to do for so long,” says Hickey.

“I can see a church thriving with new missions, new ministries, new leaders, and new ways of reaching every last person with the good news of Jesus Christ,” adds Piano. “As St. Catherine of Siena states: ‘If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.’”



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Pope names new nuncio for Canada at a contentious time for Church in Canada

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 10:56

By Canadian Catholic News staff

[Ottawa – CCN] – The Vatican is sending a new diplomat to Canada, with Pope Francis appointing Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič as the new apostolic nuncio to Canada on June 5, 2021.

Jurkovič’s appointment comes at a time when the relationship between the Canadian government and the Catholic Church has been strained recently and there have been renewed calls in Canada among politicians and Indigenous Canadians for the Vatican to officially apologize for the Church’s role in operating residential schools in Canada after 215 bodies were discovered on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., at the end of May.

Jurkovič, who has served as the Apostolic nuncio previously in Belarus, the Ukraine, the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan, has most recently served as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva since 2016 and also acted as the Vatican’s representative to the World Trade Organization and the International Organization for Migration.

CCCB statement on the appointment of Apostolic Nuncio for Canada: English / French

In a statement June 8, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) expressed gratitude for the appointment. ”

“The bishops acknowledge that this important mission constitutes a privileged channel that expresses the ecclesial and affective bond with Pope Francis himself,” said the CCCB statement.” Canadian bishops recognize particularly the Apostolic Nuncio’s crucial ecclesial mission entrusted to him with its two aspects: that of Representative of the Holy Father to the Church in Canada and that of Representative of the Holy See to the political authorities of this country. The Episcopal Conference, through its members, welcomes this much waited appointment and is eager to get to know him personally.

When contacted by Canadian Catholic News, staff members at the Apostolic Nunciature to Canada, which is located in Ottawa, said that at this point a date has not been set for when Jurkovič will arrive at the Holy See’s diplomatic mission in Canada.

Before Jurkovič’s appointment June 5, the post had been vacant in Canada since Dec. 10, 2020, when the previous nuncio in Canada Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi was transferred to Albania. Bonazzi was nuncio in Canada from 2013 to 2020.

According to the Vatican’s Catholic News Agency, Jurkovič was born in southern Slovenia in 1952 and was ordained as priest of the Archdiocese of Ljubljana in 1977 when he was 25. After training for the diplomatic service of the Holy See he served in South Korea, Colombia, and Russia before Pope John Paul II named him apostolic nuncio to Belarus in 2001.

According to the Vatican, Jurkovič’s mother tongue is Slovenian but he can also speak English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, German, Serbian, Croatian and Ukrainian.


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