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

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Updated: 1 year 18 weeks ago

Indigenous Peoples feel racism’s sting in Canada

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 11:23

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – Deacon Michael James Robinson has a lifetime of experience that tells him systemic racism is real and it’s embedded in Canadian history and culture.

The reality of racism has a way of hitting Indigenous Canadians hard. Robinson was hit with it — and a police vehicle — just a couple months after he was ordained in 2015.

“I had a police vehicle charge at me on the street because I was wearing my (clerical) shirt and collar,” said Robinson, recounting how the vehicle jumped the curb before it “clipped me with their mirror.”

The Indigenous deacon and hospital chaplain at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre was then interrogated in a manner that belittled him as an Indigenous person and a deacon.

“He (the officer) says, ‘What’s with the collar, Chief? Is there a new gang in town?’ ” Robinson recalled.

As a high school student, Robinson was accused of cheating if he did well on exams. In the workforce, he was passed over for jobs.

So he was not surprised last year when both the Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) handed down reports detailing examples of overt racism and racial bias among Thunder Bay police.

“Systemically, it does exist,” he said. “Discrimination and racism does exist, and systematically it exists within many platforms in our society.”

Robinson will get no argument from Keewatin-Le Pas Archbishop Murray Chatlain, who represents the Canadian bishops on the Guadalupe Circle — a group of Indigenous Catholics and clergy who promote healing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Catholics.

“There is clearly an uneven playing field,” Chatlain said.

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

Chatlain saw that uneven playing field in action while he was taking Dene language courses at First Nations University in Regina. During class one day the fire alarm went off and everybody ended up on the sidewalk waiting for the fire trucks. The trucks pulled to a stop outside the building and a firefighter immediately came to Chatlain, asking for details about the alarm.

“Because I was the white guy,” explained Chatlain. “I just thought, ‘Why did you choose to come to me out of this group?’ There were older people. There were the professors there. It just brought home that we have certain associations that we make that we’re not even really aware of.”

Easy assumptions, racial profiling and bias that sometimes expresses itself in violence has poisoned police-Indigenous relations, said Robinson.

“I have grandchildren. They’re seven and five years old. I tell them, ‘You can’t trust the police here in the city,’ ” said Robinson. “We teach them not to talk to the police. We teach them to distance. We teach them they need an adult if the police come around.”

The only other group of Canadians who need to warn their children about police are black Canadians, the deacon said.

Robinson doesn’t want white Canadians to feel guilty.

“To bring about awareness of systemic racism is not about making people feel guilty,” he said.

The point is to change the system, he said.

“How can we work together? Together to make a good change. How can we address it? To address something as big as systemic racism, you have to restructure so many different platforms in life. It’s a big task. It’s not going to happen in our lifetime.”

It’s not a task the Church can observe from the sidelines, said Chatlain.

“We’re always called to an option for the poor. We look to see who are most stricken by poverty, by  voicelessness. Then we’re called to try to bring our voice to that in a healthy way. That would be our call in these situations.”


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Racial and human equality – enshrined but yet so fragile

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 11:10

By Carl Hétu, National Director, CNEWA Canada

Ten years ago, I visited Syria. I recall being impressed by so many people of different religions and ethnicities living together in peace and respect. I could not have foreseen the war and division that were to come. It took a springtime rebellion to push the fault lines and, sadly, ten springs later, they’ve still not stabilized.

When I met John (fictional name) in Lebanon in 2014, he was a refugee from this Syrian conflict.  A successful Christian businessowner, he provided employment to Syrians of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

Things were fine until conflict erupted and people started to lose their economic stability. Revenues started to plummet, people were laid off and then he was kidnapped by former employees. They put a ransom on his life. A few months later, he was told he and his Christian community were no longer welcomed in the country.

When I met him, two years after his arrival to Lebanon, he and his family were living in a one bedroom apartment along with his brother’s family.  They were among the more than 1 million Syrians who had to flee.

In Lebanon, a different form of discrimination awaited them. Despite the great generosity of a particular local Melkite Catholic Church, which my organization supported and which led to our encounter, John came to terms with the fact that as a Syrian he may never be accepted by his closest neighbours. With a return to Syria next to impossible, John prayed hard for emigration anywhere.

In 2016, John and his family were welcomed to Canada through private sponsorship by a local church, part of the 25,000 Syrian refugee program. They were extremely grateful for the opportunity.  After years without any formal education, the kids are now back at school. John and his wife have found work.

That said, despite all of the good people they have encountered here, they have now started to experience some of the disadvantages that come with being Arab in Canada and so insecurities, eerily similar from the past, have resurfaced. Like many people in our world, John cannot find a way to outrun discrimination.

To the foreigner, our own society may look similar to the peaceful Syria of 2010. Against certain backdrops, we do indeed find harmony. But, as we’ve seen in recent events, peace and harmony may reside merely at surface level, resting on a fragile base. Racism, discrimination and suspicion of “the other” are present, though often veiled.

During the past few decades, our world has seen large movements of peoples while, at the same time, entering a new phase of globalization. People of different cultures, language, colour and backgrounds increasingly share national boundaries and close quarters.

With climate change, ongoing conflict, poverty and injustice, even more people will be on the move despite the current pandemic, changing the traditional demographic composition in many a country at an unprecedented rate ; but the outcome does not have to be destabilizing. There is an opportunity to build a better world where we can all live safely – in a stable and free way. But how do we get there?

In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted at the United Nations. It contains a blueprint for the world most of us are looking for. This summer, as we set aside some time for reading, how about we pick it up and refresh ourselves with its articles?

After the emotions and arguments have dissipated from our streets, and some form of cursory peace resumes, perhaps we’ll be ready for the long-term changes that are needed to find peace.

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Thank you, health care workers!

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:08

By Blake Sitter, Director, Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS)

(Reprinted from the June 2020 edition of the CHAS Communique)

On Ash Wednesday, millions of Catholics entered into the season of Lent; 40 days that prepare them for the Easter Season.  At the liturgy of the day, individuals are reminded that they are dust “and unto dust you shall return”.

Little did they know that with their 40 days of Lent, reminiscent of both of Moses’ 40 years in the wilderness and Jesus’40 days in the desert, that we all would be entering into another kind of Lent — the COVID-19 quarantine.

Quarantine comes from the Italian word that means “40 days”.  Quarantines have existed for millennia to isolate people to keep from passing on diseases to each other.  This current quarantine is the largest in human history.

This pandemic has highlighted the heroics of many people.  Healthcare workers obviously have been on the frontline.  The act of getting out of bed to put on scrubs has become the contemporary version of Clark Kent stepping into a phone booth to take off his glasses and pull open his dress shirt to reveal that he is Superman.

Other everyday heroes have been revealed by this storm.  The wind has blown off the dust of mundanity and revealed the faces of personal care aids, postal workers, grocery store clerks, pharmacists, delivery drivers and so many others.  By simply staying the course in the face of infection, they are showing us what courage looks like.

For many of us, seeing our family members having to enter long-term care or even the hospital for a few days can lead to much consternation.  We want to offer our loved ones care but in most situations it is nearly impossible.

Many people have their minds put at ease when they meet some of the caring and professional staff of these institutions of care.  I traveled around the province last summer to visit all of  the members of CHAS,  including five hospitals in

Esterhazy, Estevan, Gravelbourg, Melville and Saskatoon as well as long term care homes and health centres in Macklin, Moose Jaw, Ponteix, Radville, Regina, Prince Albert, North Battleford and Saskatoon.

After those visits, I realized that “hero” is not a big enough word.  Heroes are important but they appear in a flash; they jump out sometimes only for a moment.

The people who are getting up everyday to go out and serve in the Catholic healthcare system don’t just pop in for a brief, glorious moment.  They are dedicated and disciplined.  They are disciples—and their discipline is to come in everyday to care to our family members.

Thank you to all of you for  your dedication especially in this stressful time.  We are grateful for your dedication and service.


If you are interested in learning about the work of CHAS or would like to become a member, please contact Blake Sittler at or (306) 270-5452.

The CHAS Communique is a publication of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan, 104 – 3502 Taylor Street East, Saskatoon, SK S7H 5H9; website;



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Advance Health Care Directives during COVID-19

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:07

By Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR, for the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS)

(Reprinted from the June 2020 edition of the CHAS Communique)

As the pandemic reality has hit home in Canada, I have heard many calls for citizens to plan ahead by thinking about the treatment they might want or not want should they be afflicted by the COVID-19 illness.

In the midst of the present crisis it is assumed that Advance Health Care Directives (ACDs) would be enormously helpful when critical decisions have to be made for seriously ill patients.

I always have a double reaction to such calls for ACDs. On the one hand, I strongly believe in them and their potential usefulness. On the other hand, I find that healthcare providers can sometimes see ACDs as a short-hand form for making decisions which may be correct legally, but not very compassionate in the care of a patient.

Today, with the potential for the health of any of us to change dramatically should we contract COVID-19, I want to err on the side of preparation, and here are three suggestions.

First, the most important part of an ACD is the appointment of a proxy or substitute decision maker.  Should you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, it is enormously helpful for staff to have a clear, written statement of the person(s) you appoint to make treatment decisions for you.

To make the document official in all provinces, one or two witnesses, other than the proxy, need to sign the document.  And if you appoint more than one proxy, please provide a method for them to come to a decision if they differ among themselves (for example, x makes the decision, after talking things over with y and z).

Whomever you appoint as your proxy now needs to hear from you what your wishes would be.

If you are elderly and/or afflicted by other illnesses (such as diabetes or congenital heart disease or kidney failure), COVID-19 could be devastating and I have heard statistics that 66% to 80% of intubated patients (of all ages and conditions) do not survive the illness.

I have also heard from a number of nurses who have told me that they would not want to be intubated at all because of how harsh the treatment experience is, how it steals any final opportunities to say goodbye to family, and how the outcome can be very poor.  In other words, before you tell your proxy what you might want or not want, get as much information as you can and think of your current health situation.

Second, talk with your proxy. While you cannot anticipate exactly what you might go through, give your proxy some idea of how you would make decisions.  Being a proxy is a difficult task when the crunch comes, but it is a whole lot easier if you have had some discussions beforehand.

Third, written instructions can be helpful, but, in my opinion, they should be interpreted by the proxy rather than the health care team.  The proxy can talk with family or friends to support his/her own sense of the wishes of the patient.  Written instructions, however, can sometimes be helpful if they are needed to convince family members that the patient’s wishes are clear and not to be overruled.

The coronavirus is dangerous and fatal in a small percentage of cases.  Hence, having somebody able to converse with the doctor about your wishes might be the best gift you can give your family and, I expect, the medical team.  That is why planning ahead, preparing a proxy document, and talking over possible situations with your proxy could prevent a crisis response as decisions need to be made.


The CHAS Communique is a publication of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan, 104 – 3502 Taylor Street East, Saskatoon, SK S7H 5H9; website;

If you are interested in learning about the work of CHAS or would like to become a member, please contact Blake Sittler at or (306) 270-5452.



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A Christian view of life and death

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:04

By Blake Sitter, Director, Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS)

(Reprinted from the June 2020 edition of the CHAS Communique)

When my dad was dying of cancer, my mom phoned me and asked me to come talk to him.  When I asked why, she simply responded:

“You have to tell him he’s dying.”

Dad had inoperable throat cancer and had not been able to eat for months.  This did not stop him from demanding a small bar fridge be put in his hospital room filled with pies and beer.  These were not for him but his visitors.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Mom calmly replied, “He keeps asking about why they are not starting radiation or chemotherapy.  He doesn’t know that this is it”.

The “it” my mother was referring to was, of course, death.

No one likes to talk about death but as Christians, we know a little secret known only to the faithful and a few poets: Death is not a door that closes; it is a door that opens.

What people of faith can bring to the conversation about healthcare is a peaceful awareness that death is what makes life so precious; death is our most intimate encounter with a life much brighter than this fragile one we live.

In the words of Canadian songwriter, Hawksley Workman, “The one certainty of living is that you’re gonna die, so why not stand in awe of it instead of asking why?”

This courageous hope around the reality of death is an invitation to sigh bitter-sweetly when we consider everything from how we want to live our life and how, when our time comes, we do not have to fight it.  We can invite it into the room with us and offer it a slice of pie and a beer.

I headed over to the hospital and sat beside dad and we chatted.  He was a farmer and a pilot.  He liked hunting and fishing and visiting with family and friends.

From the window of his hospital, he could see out to the west.  He could see the land he farmed.  He could see the skies he flew in.  He could see the river that led to the lakes where he fished and that ran by the places he used to hunt and drink rum.

He stared out the window silently.

“I’ve had a good life.  I have a good family.  I have no regrets,” he stated.

And then he pointed to his bag of Ensure that was giving him all the nutrients in his body and proclaimed, “When that bag is empty, I’m gone”.

I tried to reassure him that it would not be that sudden.

“Dad, dying is like giving birth.  A woman goes into labour and everyone gathers around her to support her.  We are all here to support you but it could take some time. You are not alone in this”.

Dad’s bag of Ensure ran out that night around midnight and by 2:00 a.m. he was gone.  He was a good man, he was grateful for his life, and now he is somewhere where neither the most beautiful poetry nor erudite theology can describe except to say that he is home and well for all eternity.


The CHAS Communique is a publication of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan, 104 – 3502 Taylor Street East, Saskatoon, SK S7H 5H9; website;

If you are interested in learning about the work of CHAS or would like to become a member, please contact Blake Sittler at or (306) 270-5452.


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COVID-19 pandemic an opportunity to build community

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:03

By Gary Goldsand, Ethicist, Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS)

(Reprinted from the June 2020 edition of the CHAS Communique)

As a health ethicist practicing in Edmonton during the pandemic scares of 2003 and 2009, I  have spent substantial time considering the unique ethical issues that a pandemic might raise: How shall we prioritize patients competing for care? How shall we organize clinical professionals to meet huge demands without endangering them unreasonably?

As the middle of March approached, the enormous scale of this pandemic was beginning to come into focus, and once-hypothetical catastrophic scenarios became reality in Italy and New York. At work, I observed a simultaneous rise of both compassion, deep concern for the sufferings of others, and fear,  the harsh realization that this virus is likely on its way here in the near future. How bad might it be?

It would be another two weeks before my rising sense of fear began to subside, mainly  as a result of seeing that intensive care units in New York had not been overwhelmed, despite shockingly high numbers.  With some reduction in fear, my naturally optimistic self began to explore all of the potentially “brighter sides” of our situation.

There are many brighter sides to contemplate at such a time.  It appears this virus is only “mildly lethal,” compared to what one can imagine. It appears that our governments and large institutions are, at least, somewhat capable of cooperative responses to new threats.  Scientists and health professionals are also able to embrace drastic changes to their working lives and collaborate in fighting a public health threat.

I am confident this pandemic will inspire us to be far more serious about the planning we do for the next one or the next phase of this one.  These are all gifts, in a relative sense.  They are opportunities to build community.

The lesson that has been reverberating in my mind most over recent weeks originates in a small phrase from CHAC’s Health Ethics Guide, which reads, “Healing occurs best when people experience that they belong to communities of compassion.”

The pandemic has reinforced for me that patients, care providers, and most citizens belong to a variety of communities that give them support and enable them to trust others.   With trust and comfort come the transmission of compassion, which is the core idea that has been able to thrive in these recent weeks.

The impulse to selfishness, so well embodied early on by the mass hoarding of toilet paper,  has given way to what I think is a deeper impulse – to care for each other with compassion.  Even at great economic expense.

The upcoming weeks will hopefully see a flowering of compassion in our health system, as we figure out how to strengthen the communities that thrive in our long term care centres.  Compassion demands that we not only keep our beloved seniors safe, but find ways to ensure that each of them gets the experience of mingling with community, as the weeks go on.

Compassion compels us to do everything possible to see that dying patients and long-term residents can safely enjoy the company of loved ones.

Witnessing compassion suggests to me that we humans are all deeply attracted to the ideals of justice, and leaves me a bit more optimistic that in the wake of this crisis, we’ll create a health care system that is more attentive to the social needs of clinicians and patients, who all benefit when they interact with a deep sense of shared community.


The CHAS Communique is a publication of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan, 104 – 3502 Taylor Street East, Saskatoon, SK S7H 5H9; website;

If you are interested in learning about the work of CHAS or would like to become a member, please contact Blake Sittler at or (306) 270-5452.

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Book Review – “Serving Up God: My Workplace as a Ministry”

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:01

By Cheryl Thul, Spiritual Care & Volunteer Program Team Lead, Providence Place

(Reprinted from the June 2020 edition of the CHAS Communique)

In our ministry, a vocation with Catholic health, we are privileged to have the freedom to share our faith in our daily duties. I recently read a book that spoke of the importance of not “compartmentalizing our lives into secular and spiritual and just let God show up wherever”.

Serving Up God: My Workplace as a Ministry by Canadian author, Colin MacDougall, is an easy, enjoyable, short book.  I want us to be truly thankful wherever we work. Let us make our workplace a ministry. On a side note, this author also happens to have a little cheesecake shop in Halifax that I indulged in many times and cannot wait to go back.

A quote from this book that really spoke to me was about the importance of treating everyone with respect, “I realized, early in my career, that to be a good leader, I had to be a good follower. I have always believed that people follow leaders who inspire them and treat them with respect.”

My parents were self-employed and they modeled how to treat their staff and customers with respect.  In my leadership role at Providence Place, I try to model how I treat people the same way my parents did.

I read most of this book lying on the beach by the Atlantic Ocean, while my son, fiancé and granddaughter swam. Tears filled my eyes as I realized how blessed I was to grow up in a Christian home, and parents with God’s love being shared with their employees and customers, not just by words but by their actions. Serving Up God reminds me how much responsibility we have as employees in healthcare to do the same.

Serving up God is a must read! It made me realize “my legacy isn’t seen in the financial results brought to the workplaces I have been part of. It is seen in the lives of those God has impacted through me.”

Working for a faith-based facility means that we are called to treat our co-workers with kindness, sharing its messiness with honesty. There is so much more to learn about ministering in our workplaces.

I hope everyone can enjoy the thoughts and words Colin MacDougall has beautifully integrated into this book. Take time to visit Sweet Hereafter Cafe in Halifax, Nova Scotia and enjoy this book while you indulge in a delicious piece of Colin’s homemade cheesecake. Blessings in your vocation!

Romans 8:28, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good, for those who are called according to his purpose”


The CHAS Communique is a publication of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan, 104 – 3502 Taylor Street East, Saskatoon, SK S7H 5H9; Phone: 306-955-CHAS (2427)or e-mail: or find more information on the website:


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Bishop Mark Hagemoen announces clergy assignments: most will take effect on Aug. 1, 2020

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 17:28

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Bishop Mark Hagemoen announced a number of pastoral appointments, moves, and reassignments in a memo sent to parishes June 18, 2020, with most taking effect on Aug. 1, 2020 (unless otherwise noted).

“There are a few outstanding assignments to be announced in the near future,” the bishop said in his message to the diocese.

A number of new clergy will be arriving in the diocese of Saskatoon, with arrival dates yet to be determined. “While we currently anticipate arrival, please offer a warm welcome to the priests joining the diocese of Saskatoon as you have an opportunity to meet them,” said Bishop Hagemoen.

Click here to read the complete message: LINK


Fr. Isaac Agyemang

Fr. Isaac Agyemang will serve as Pastor at St. Joseph, Kindersley, SK, Sacred Heart, Eston, SK, Sacred Heart, Marengo, SK, and St. Joseph, Eatonia, SK.  Fr. Agyemang has 14 years of service in his home Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana.  Fr. Isaac’s arrival date is yet to be confirmed.


Fr. Gerard Cooper

Fr. Gerard Cooper will serve as Pastor at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Saskatoon.  Returning from a year of sabbatical, Fr. Cooper previously served as pastor at St. Patrick, Saskatoon (2013-2019).


Fr. John Ezeoruonye

Fr. John Ezeoruomye, will serve as Associate Pastor at St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon; as well as serving as Pastor at St. Francis Xavier, Vanscoy, SK, and St. Theresa, Asquith.  Fr. Ezeoruomye will be joining us from the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria, and has served as a priest for 18 years. His arrival date is yet to be confirmed.  



Fr. Daniel Louh, SMA

Fr. Daniel Louh, SMA, will serve As Pastor at Sts. Donatien et Rogatien, Prud’homme, SK; St. Denis, St. Denis, SK; and St. Philippe Neri, Vonda, SK.  Fr. Louh is a member of the Society of African Missions who has served as pastor in several parishes and African countries of Niger, Ghana, Ivory Coast and currently in Liberia.  His arrival date is yet to be confirmed. (Retired diocesan priest Fr. Emile April is currently serving as Pastor of the “Trinity” parish cluster of Prud’homme, St. Denis, and Vonda.)



Fr. Prince Sarpong

Fr. Prince Sarpong, will serve as Pastor at Little Flower, Leader, SK, Sacred Heart, Lancer, SK, and Sacred Heart, Liebenthal, SK.  Fr. Sarpong has served for five years in his home Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana.  His arrival date is yet to be confirmed.



Fr. Joseph Thazhathemuriyil, VC

Fr. Joseph Thazhathemuriyil, VC, will serve as Pastor at Sacred Heart, Davidson, SK, Holy Redeemer, Elbow, SK, St. Andrew, Kenaston, SK, and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Outlook, SK.  Fr. Thazhathemuriyil has served as pastor of the parishes in Leader, Lancer, and Liebenthal since 2016.



Fr. Demetrius Wasylyniuk, OSB

Fr. Demetrius Wasylyniuk, OSB, will serve as Pastor of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Muenster, SK.  Fr. Wasylyniuk is a Benedictine monk at St. Peter’s Abbey, Muenster. He will continue in his service as the guestmaster of St. Peter’s Abbey, a role which he as fulfilled since 1997 after serving in various roles with St. Peter’s College.


Associate Pastors:

Fr. Benjamin Ezekwudo

Fr. Benjamin Ezekwudo will serve as Associate Pastor at St. Anne, Saskatoon.  Fr. Ezekwudo is from the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria, where he currently works in high-school administration and has been serving as a priest for 10 years.  His arrival date is yet to be confirmed.



Fr. Ken Forster, OMI


Fr. Ken Forster, OMI, is now serving as Associate Pastor of St. Philip Neri, Saskatoon.  Fr. Forster is a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe Canada, and began his appointment at St. Philip Neri in January 2019.



Clergy Updates:

Fr. Madonna-Godwin Aghedo, OP

Fr. Madonna-Godwin Aghedo, OP, will be returning for assignment with the Order of Preachers, Nigeria. He has served with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon as Pastor of parishes in Davidson, Kenaston, Outlook, and Elbow since 2016.


Fr. Clement Amofah

Fr. Clement Amofah will be taking up a pastoral assignment in the Archdiocese of Regina. Fr. Amofah has been with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon since 2008 and has served in various appointments – including as Chancellor since 2014, and as Pastor of St. Theresa, Asquith, SK, since 2017.



Fr. Emmanuel Azike, OP

Fr. Emmanuel Azike, OP, will be returning for assignment with the Order of Preachers, Nigeria.  Fr. Azike has served with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon in various appointments since 2010, most recently as Pastor in Kindersley, Eston, Eatonia, and Marengo.



Fr. Richard Doll, OMI

Fr. Richard Doll, OMI, is retired after serving with the diocese of Saskatoon since 2015, most recently as Pastor at St. Francis Xavier, Vanscoy, SK.



Fr. Paul Paproski, OSB

Fr. Paul Paproski, OSB, is retiring after working with the diocese of Saskatoon in various appointments since 2006. Fr. Paproski is a Benedictine monk at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster and has served as the Pastor of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Muenster, since 2015.



Fr. Bill Stang, OMI


Fr. Bill Stang, OMI is retired after serving in the diocese of Saskatoon as Associate Pastor at St. Philip Neri, Saskatoon since 2018.



Fr. Andrew Wychucki will be taking a sabbatical after serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Saskatoon, and Sacred Heart Latin Mass since 2013.  A replacement pastor is to be announced.


In his message to the diocese released on June 18, 2020, Bishop Hagemoen said: “I take this opportunity to thank all of these priests for their ministry in our Diocese and we ask God’s blessings on their priesthood as they move forward to new assignments or retirement.  Let us commit to remembering them in prayer.”


Seminarian / Religious updates:

The bishop also provided an update about those pursuing vocations:

Van Tam (Luke) Tran

Van Tam (Luke) Tran will be entering his third year of seminary at Christ the King Seminary in Mission, BC this fall, studying as a seminarian for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. He is currently living at St. Michael parish in Cudworth.


Kaitlyn Deck

Kaitlyn Deck from St. Peter parish in Unity, SK began a period of formation with the Queenship of Mary Community in Ottawa, Ontario.


Nicole Mireau (Sr. John Paul Marie of the Trinity)

Sr. John Paul Marie of the Trinity (Nicole Mireau) from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Saskatoon, has made her temporary profession with the Queenship of Mary Community in Ottawa, Ontario.



Gregory Parsons (Brother Raphael)

Gregory Parsons from St. Mary parish, Wadena, SK, has joined the Carmelite Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel at Cody, Wyoming, USA. He was clothed as a novice in the spring of 2019, taking the name Brother Raphael.


“Please join us in remembering in prayer all those considering the priesthood or religious life,” said the bishop.

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Front step photos taken to celebrate grads at Holy Cross Catholic High School, Saskatoon

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 11:53

By Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools staff

Graduation is a major milestone in a student’s life. Earlier this year, all in-person graduation ceremonies and banquets in Saskatchewan were cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the announcement, schools have been looking for unique ways to acknowledge and celebrate this milestone in their graduates’ lives.

Inspired by the front step family photos that were trending around the world in March, a group of teachers from Holy Cross High School have rallied together to give grads an opportunity to flaunt their formal wear, while respecting physical-distancing practices.

These photos represent a highly collaborative and substantial effort in helping students take back their year.

“We came up with the idea during a yearbook meeting. We were looking for ways to acknowledge the pandemic and the huge impact it has had on our students’ lives while also looking for ways to celebrate our graduates, who have lost a major milestone. We can’t give them the grad banquet they would normally have had, but we can give them this,” said Melisa Tremblay-Pierrard, a Holy Cross High School teacher, yearbook advisor, photographer and parent of a graduate.

Supported by the school’s administration and office staff, many hands made for light work as an online schedule was launched and confirmation emails were sent out to organize the many appointments necessary to fulfill the project.

Beginning the first week of June, three teachers from the school worked together to photograph over 250 students on their front steps, while remaining at a safe distance.

“As both a teacher and a parent, I understand first hand how difficult this situation is for our grads, their families, and our school staff,” said Tremblay-Pierrard. “This is not the send off we wanted for our Grade 12s. We wanted to give our students a chance to still get dressed up and to share their grad outfits with their classmates. We hope that through our effort, grads will feel seen, valued and loved by the various stakeholders in their educational journey.”

While the photos produced by this project will be shared with the graduates, they will also be featured in the grad section of this year’s edition of the yearbook.

Hailey Campbell, another yearbook advisor and teacher at Holy Cross who is involved in the project added, “Our team has come up with creative ways to make this edition special for the school community, but also for the grads. With COVID-19 still a major disruption to everything school-related, we want to make this year’s edition as meaningful as possible, given the circumstances.”


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Pope Francis: Discover the riches hidden in Jesus’ Sacred Heart

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 11:48

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Ahead of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to discover the riches of charity hidden in the heart of Christ.

“Friday we will celebrate the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Do not be afraid to present to him all the intentions of our suffering humanity, its fears, its miseries. May this Heart, full of love for men, give everyone hope and trust,” Pope Francis said June 17, 2020 in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

“I invite you to discover the riches that are hidden in the Heart of Jesus, to learn to love your neighbor,” the pope said via the livestream broadcast of his weekly catechesis.

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a liturgical feast celebrated on the Friday after Corpus Christi. The devotion to the heart of Jesus has Christ’s unconditional love at its center, exemplified in the blood and water which poured forth from Christ’s heart in his sacrifice on the cross.

St. Marguerite Marie Alacoque, a 17th-century French nun and mystic, helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart through her visions in which Christ expressed his desire to reveal his loving heart to mankind.

Pope Francis said that the saints serve as “bridges” between God and his people through their prayers of intercession.

He pointed to the life of Moses as an exemplary biblical model of intercessory prayer. The pope said that Moses belonged among those who are “poor in spirit, who live by making trust in God the viaticum of their journey.”

“Moses urges us to pray with the same ardor of Jesus, to intercede for the world, to remember that despite all of its frailties, it always belongs to God,” Pope Francis said.

“Scripture usually depicts him with his hands outstretched towards God, as if to form a bridge between heaven and earth with his own person,” he said. “Even in the most difficult moments, even on the day when the people repudiate God and him as a guide and make themselves a golden calf, Moses does not feel like putting his people aside.”

Pope Francis explained that Moses prayed for others, not only for himself and thus became “the great intercessor of God’s people.”

“We too must realize that we are never before God only as individuals, but also as members of the Church and children of the one human family. This should also become visible in the way we pray for one another,” he said.

“Entrusted by God to transmit the Law to his people, founder of divine worship, mediator of the highest mysteries, he will not for this reason cease to maintain close bonds of solidarity with his people, especially in the hour of temptation and sin. He was always attached to his people. Moses never forgets his people,” Francis said.

The pope said that Moses provides a “beautiful example for all pastors.” He said that Moses “does not sell out his people to advance his career. He does not climb the ladder, he is an intercessor.”

The “greatness of pastors,” he said, is to be close to their people and not to forget their roots.

“Pastors are the bridges between the people, to whom they belong, and God, to whom they belong by vocation,” Francis said. “This is why they are called ‘pontifex,’ bridges.”

“And today, too, Jesus is the ‘pontifex.’ He is the bridge between us and the Father. And Jesus intercedes for us, He shows the Father the wounds that are the price of our salvation, and He intercedes,” he said.

At the conclusion of his general audience, Pope Francis remembered the life of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

“May freedom of conscience always and everywhere be respected, and may every Christian give an example of consistency with a conscience that is righteous and illuminated by the Word of God,” he said.


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Catholic Women’s League COVID-19 update – CWL defers 2020 convention business and extends elected terms of office

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 14:14

By Anne Gorman, National President of Catholic Women’s League of Canada

[Winnipeg – CWL News Release] – In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with concerns for the safety and welfare of members and to be in compliance with public health orders, the board of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada declares all necessary business will be transacted in conjunction with 2021 annual conventions at diocesan, provincial and national levels.

Further, the board declares a one-time exception to Part XIV, Section 2(a) of the Constitution & Bylaws (C&B) to extend the term of all existing officers at diocesan, provincial and national levels for one year.

In making its decision, the board’s primary consideration was that of care and concern for and protection of members. It determined this care and concern must be given more weight than a temporary infringement on member rights to be present to receive reports from and participate in the necessary business of diocesan, provincial and national councils.

Deliberations included the following:

  1. Public health and safety measures will be imposed for the foreseeable future.
  2. Gathering limits are unlikely to be lifted entirely until mass immunity through vaccination is possible.
  3. Non-essential travel and travel restrictions will likely be imposed for the foreseeable future.
  4. COVID-19 has a devastating impact on elderly citizens and those with underlying health conditions.
  5. More than 1⁄2 of CWL members are over the age of 55, with more than 1⁄4 over the age of 70, making the risk of serious infection or death a significant concern for the membership and convention organizers.
  6. Eight out of every ten deaths due to COVID-19 occur to those over 65 years of age (CDC).
  7. Continued physical distancing will limit the number of members who may attend, a condition that infringes on a member’s right to be present and participate.
  8. The impact/workload that would be imposed on the 46 diocesan, provincial and national executives required to organize AGMs over the summer months in order to hold them in September, October and November.
  9. Public health officials’ expression of concern that a second wave may occur in fall 2020.
  10. The high degree of caution being taken by citizens, including members, to avoid travel and mass gathering.

To effect this decision, the board will be submitting two amendments and one exception to the Constitution & Bylaws for ratification at the 2021 conventions, as outlined in the PDF of the news release (LINK here).

The directors wish to thank you for your prayers and your patience during this time of uncertainty.

Anne Gorman National President

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Pope Francis: The Eucharist gives us Christ’s healing love 

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 11:25

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Christ’s presence in the Eucharist heals wounds and transforms bitter negativity into the joy of Lord, Pope Francis said in his homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2020.

“The Eucharist brings us the Father’s faithful love, which heals our sense of being orphans. It gives us Jesus’ love, which transformed a tomb from an end to a beginning, and in the same way can transform our lives. It fills our hearts with the consoling love of the Holy Spirit, who never leaves us alone and always heals our wounds,” Pope Francis said June 14.

“Every time we receive him, he reminds us that we are precious, that we are guests he has invited to his banquet, friends with whom he wants to dine. And not only because he is generous, but because he is truly in love with us. He sees and loves the beauty and goodness that we are,” he said in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis offered Mass for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, a feast established in the 13th century.

“The Eucharist is not simply an act of remembrance; it is a fact: the Lord’s Passover is made present once again for us. In Mass the death and resurrection of Jesus are set before us,” the Holy Father said in his homily for the feast.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christ – meaning the “Body of Christ” in Latin – is traditionally celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday or, in some countries including Canada, the United States and Italy, on the Sunday following that feast.

Eucharistic Procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus (Corpus Christi) in Saskatoon June 14. (Photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

The feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ provides an opportunity for the Church to focus on Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, which Pope Francis said satisfies the deepest desires of our hearts.

“The Lord, offering himself to us in the simplicity of bread, also invites us not to waste our lives in chasing the myriad illusions that we think we cannot do without, yet that leave us empty within,” he said.

“The Eucharist satisfies our hunger for material things and kindles our desire to serve. It raises us from our comfortable and lazy lifestyle and reminds us that we are not only mouths to be fed, but also his hands, to be used to help feed others.”

Pope Francis said that Jesus approaches gently “in the disarming simplicity of the Host.”

“Only love can heal fear at its root and free us from the self-centeredness that imprisons us. And that is what Jesus does.”

“He comes as Bread broken in order to break open the shells of our selfishness. He gives of himself in order to teach us that only by opening our hearts can we be set free from our interior barriers, from the paralysis of the heart,” he said.

Many people have been hurt by lack of affection and “bitter disappointments caused by those who should have given them love and instead orphaned their hearts,” Francis said.

“We would like to go back and change the past, but we cannot,” he said. “God, however, can heal these wounds by placing within our memory a greater love: his own love.”

“The Lord knows that evil and sins do not define us; they are diseases, infections. And he comes to heal them with the Eucharist, which contains the antibodies to our negative memory. … We will always remember our failures, troubles, problems at home and at work, our unrealized dreams. But their weight will not crush us because Jesus is present even more deeply, encouraging us with his love,” he said.

God gave the world the gift of the Eucharist because he knows how easily people can forget him in their weakness, the pope said.

“God knows how difficult it is, he knows how weak our memory is … He did not just leave us words, for it is easy to forget what we hear. He did not just leave us the Scriptures, for it is easy to forget what we read. He did not just leave us signs, for we can forget even what we see. He gave us Food, for it is not easy to forget something we have actually tasted. He left us Bread in which he is truly present, alive and true, with all the flavour of his love.”

The pope said that the Mass is a “treasure” that should “take precedence both in the Church and in our lives.”

At the end of Mass, Pope Francis spent time in Eucharistic adoration, praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the basilica.

“Let us also rediscover Eucharistic adoration, which continues the work of the Mass within us,” he said. “This will do us much good, for it heals us within. Especially now, when our need is so great.”

He explained that Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is a font of charity, giving us strength to be his helping hands.

“It is especially urgent now to take care of those who hunger for food and for dignity, of those without work and those who struggle to carry on. And this we must do in a real way, as real as the Bread that Jesus gives us,” he said.

“This is the strength of the Eucharist, which transforms us into bringers of God, bringers of joy, not negativity,” Pope Francis said.

“In the Eucharist, Jesus draws close to us: let us not turn away from those around us.”


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Firestorm erupts as B.C Hospice looks at becoming a Christian society to avoid providing euthanasia — planned vote by membership is blocked by B.C. Supreme Court decision

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 11:18

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

UPDATED June 14, 2020: Delta Hospice considering appeal after B.C. Supreme Court halts vote

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – The Delta Hospice Society is considering appealing a B.C. Supreme Court decision blocking its members from voting to change their constitution.

The B.C. Supreme Court decision was delivered Friday, June 12. According to former board member Christopher Pettypiece, who filed the petition, the court stopped a June 15 meeting that would have launched a mail-in vote asking membership if they were interested in becoming a Christian society. Pettypiece also said the judge said the board acted in bad faith and manipulated the vote by rejecting some membership applications to the society. The court has not yet published the order.

“We’re delighted with the outcome,” Pettypiece told the Delta Optimist.

But Delta Hospice Society president Angelina Ireland is disappointed with the ruling and told The B.C. Catholic an appeal is being considered.

“The Delta Hospice Society is a private society – not public,” she said.

In an affidavit filed to the B.C. Supreme Court, Ireland argued the society’s acceptance of certain membership applications, and its rejection of 310 of them, was in line with the Societies Act. She added cancelling or postponing the extraordinary meeting results in $11,500 in costs for the small non-profit.

The Delta Hospice Society has been under fire after steadfastly refusing to permit euthanasia or assisted suicide (known as “Medical Aid in Dying” or “MAiD”) in the Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta. The society oversees the 10-bed hospice as well as a charity thrift shop and various community programs for the very ill and dying and their families.

Ireland and hospice founder Nancy Macey maintain assisted suicide is contrary to the aims of hospice care and the society’s constitution. The mail-in ballot scheduled June 15 would have asked the 1,500 members of the society if they were in favour of becoming a Christian society (see article below). Faith-based organizations are currently exempt from the mandate to allow assisted suicide on their premises.

Two-thirds of voters have to be in favour to effect any change.

“We are highly concerned with the lack of justice in the court system today,” Ireland said in response to the June 12 court decision.

While that conversation has been blocked from the ballot box, it has been playing out in the public arena. Hundreds of people were seen protesting the Delta Hospice Society board at a Ladner park June 13, wearing masks and carrying slogans including “My Life My Choice” and “Save our hospice! Choice for ALL!”

Pettypiece and MLA Ian Paton were among those at the rally.

“I stand in solidarity with the hospice staff, volunteers, and donors who have publicly denounced the cynical gamesmanship of the current hospice board. It’s time for Angelina Ireland to do the right thing and resign as chair of the board and give this hospice back to the people of Delta,” said Paton, the Delta Optimist reported.

But a sizeable number of people support the hospice’s stance on euthanasia; an online petition by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supporting the hospice and opposing assisted suicide in hospice facilities has more than 26,000 signatures.

For more on this story, see previous B.C. Catholic coverage, below.:

Firestorm erupts as B.C Hospice looks at becoming a Christian society

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – June 12, 2020 – Canadian Catholic News] – A 10-bed hospice embroiled in debate for refusing to allow euthanasia on site is now under another layer of controversy as it considers becoming a Christian society.

The Irene Thomas Hospice is a small, private facility in Delta, BC, offering palliative care without euthanasia or assisted suicide for 29 years. But since ending a patient’s life through euthanasia was legalized in 2016, the hospice has been facing increasing pressure to permit it on site.

The hospice board has steadfastly refused, saying euthanasia is at odds with its philosophy of end-of-life care. The hospice’s position has resulted in an outcry from advocates of assisted dying, heated debate playing out in the community and local newspaper, and threats from the provincial government culminating in an announcement that the hospice will lose all of its government funding by 2021.

Now Delta Hospice Society president Angelina Ireland says the board of directors is turning to society members to determine a path forward amid the firestorm. The board planned to hold a special general meeting June 15 to ask members whether they want to become a Christian society.

Faith-based organizations are not compelled to provide euthanasia, under the policies of the Fraser Health Authority and the Ministry of Health in B.C.

The plan called for the vote to be open until June 26 and conducted by mail-in ballot due to restrictions on large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The society has 1,500 members, two-thirds of whom would have to vote yes for the board to go ahead with the change.

The amended constitution would include the following clause in the Delta Hospice Society’s mandate: “to fulfill God’s calling to serve the sick and dying, and to follow Christ’s teachings and example in all we do.”

Ireland said the move shows the hospice is committed to continuing what it has done for the community for nearly 30 years.

“We have taken the very strong position that we do not want to have euthanasia in the hospice, that we will not promote it as a private society, and the basis of that feeling, which we believe from our membership as well as from ourselves, is Christian-based,” Ireland told The B.C. Catholic.

In response, the board has been accused of “going rogue” in its decision to not allow euthanasia on-site, of hand-picking membership applications, and of hijacking the society to impose its religious views on others.

When B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced government funding would be completely withdrawn from the hospice, he accused the society of withholding patients’ medical rights.

“Putting the patient first is what matters most,” said Dix. “No organization can influence this decision or impose it. I respect anyone’s right to disagree, and no one has ever required hospice staff to deliver medical assistance in dying, but they must allow eligible residents who want the service to access it.”

He said, “when the role of the Delta Hospice Society concludes, patients in publicly funded hospice care will again be able to fully access their medical rights.”

Ireland maintains becoming a Christian society would not affect the hospice’s day-to-day activities. For example, it would not require staff or patients to be Christians.

“Everybody would be invited and included – that’s the basis of Christian love and hospitality,” she said. “Affirming that philosophy would affirm the protection of life from euthanasia. That’s the foundation of it all. That’s all we’ve been about: protecting palliative care.”

Constitutional lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos, who is representing the hospice, said the board’s interest in becoming a Christian society has been a long time coming.

“The Delta Hospice Society has been a non-religious or secular corporation officially for the last 30 years, but was founded by a Christian woman with a Christian board and its mission as to provide palliative care was in conjunction with Christian values,” he said. “It wasn’t officially Christian organization but it operated as one.”

Nancy Macey, who founded the Delta Hospice Society on her kitchen table in 1991, was personally opposed to assisted suicide. She has spoken up against allowing euthanasia in palliative care centres, saying the very ill and dying should have the option to receive care in a euthanasia-free facility.

“It has been a rule by decree,” said Ireland. “We have been given directives and then they further and further and further put us in the vice trying to squeeze us to surrender and squeeze us to accept all of the things that are coming down from above.”

“No one ever had a conversation with us, any level of government, any agency. In a democracy, at least you would expect the government would give you an opportunity to at least say your piece, to at least to say your side of the story. We have not been given that.”

Ireland added that she understands the concerns of locals who see Delta Hospice as denying them access to euthanasia, a legal and recognized medical practice in Canada, but believes the concerns are unfounded.

“I understand their frustration because a lot of them want access,” she said.

“But of course they do have access to it in our community. They have access to it in the Delta Hospital and they certainly have access to it in their own homes.”

Polizogopoulos said there is a “a narrative being put forward that a few members of the board are trying to change the direction of the society. But the society wants to do the same thing it’s been doing for three decades.” It is the government who is trying to force change on them, he said.

Delta South MLA Ian Paton initially criticized Dix’s decision, accusing him of “swooping in to take over” the hospice and of “stealing assets from the people of Delta,” but he quickly backtracked after criticism, saying he supports euthanasia being provided in publicly-funded facilities.

Paton then went further, raising alarm bells over whether the hospice violated the B.C. Societies Act after it denied membership applications to various local people without clear explanations. Former board president Jim Levin and others filed a petition to the B.C. Supreme Court last week alleging the society is going against the Societies Acts and Emergency Program Act.

Ireland said the society imposed a cap of 1,500 memberships after the board of volunteers was “inundated” with applications and believed the sudden rise in membership requests was a “concerted campaign” to put pressure on them.

“The fact that we decided that we can’t manage any more people has caused a real issue, which we clearly have to go back and think about,” she said, adding that it’s unusual for a small, private society to have so many members.
“There’s not even a place we can all meet for an AGM.”

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, has spoken out against imposing assisted suicide in hospice and palliative care settings where “compassionate caregivers … are committed to making the final stages of life for the elderly, sick, and suffering meaningful and dignified.”

The federal government passed Bill C-277 in 2017 calling for a national palliative care framework, including improving access to palliative care, raising awareness of its benefits, and supporting the improvement of palliative care skills for health care providers and caregivers.

At the time, MP Marilyn Gladu who put forward the bill said 70 per cent of Canadians don’t have access to palliative care. This is still the case today, say the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.

Ireland said she would like to see federal and provincial governments do more to support palliative care rather than force unwilling hospices to provide euthanasia and threaten to take away their government funding.


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Father McGivney beatification an answer to prayer say Knights of Columbus members

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 11:06

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – The upcoming beatification Mass of Father Michael McGivney is an answer to prayer for thousands of Knights of Columbus in B.C. and Yukon.

“My first reaction was ‘Oh, man, our prayers have been answered,’” B.C. and Yukon state deputy Dale Hofer told The B.C. Catholic.

“Behind the Our Father and the Hail Mary, the Father McGivney prayer … is third in line of the most popular prayers that we pray in council meetings and district meetings.”

Hofer estimates Knights have printed and distributed at least 50,000 cards with an image of Father McGivney and a prayer for his canonization in B.C. and Yukon alone. “Who knows how many are being distributed in other jurisdictions? We’ve been praying so hard for this to happen.”

John Toporchak has been a member of the Knights for 60 years. The Vernon resident said Father McGivney deserves the recognition coming to him.

“The Knights are a good organization for the Church. We look up to the Church and we look up to [Father McGivney],” he said. “He started a good organization and he deserves quite a bit for that.”

Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, now an international movement whose charitable works reach around the globe. With more than 2 million members, it is considered the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization.

But before all that, Father McGivney was a parish priest in New Haven, Connecticut, with a deep love for his parishioners. He invited lay men in the community to help him create a Catholic fraternal organization with the goals of strengthening their faith and supporting struggling families in the community. In 1882, he officially founded the Knights of Columbus, and it quickly took off.

The Knights were expanding beyond the borders of Connecticut when Father McGivney became ill during a pandemic in 1889-1890 now thought to be caused by a coronavirus. The priest died of pneumonia just two days after his birthday. He was only 38.

“There were other organizations in those days, but this one was a little different,” said Hofer. He believes Father McGivney had great foresight and vision, recognizing the importance of lay people serving the Church and the community many years before the Second Vatican Council did.

“We’re supposed to be at the right hand of the Church,” he said. “That’s what Father McGivney was all about: putting our faith in action. Quite frankly, I think that’s the best way to evangelize.”

The Knights’ guiding principles – charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism – have withstood the test of time and attracted men like Toporchak.

“He started the Knights in the right direction because we look after each other and look after the Church,” said Toporchak. He sees the principles of looking after one’s family, community, and Church as inseparable.

Burnaby Knight Graham Darling said reflecting on the lives of saints and blesseds helps inspire lay Catholics like him.

“By special signs, God himself still points to them as examples for us today, so they can continue to inspire us by their legenda (life stories), as in life their immediate and visible heroic virtue inspired people who worked with them or walked by them in the street,” he said.

Father McGivney will be beatified at a Mass in the fall of 2020 in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. An exact date has not yet been set.

He will be the first American.-born priest who spent his entire priestly ministry in a parish to be beatified. There is also a Canadian connection; before his ordination, he spent some time studying in Quebec’s College of St. Hyacinthe (in Saint-Hyacinthe) and St. Mary’s Seminary (in Montreal).

His beatification is moving forward after Pope Francis recognized the healing of an unborn child with a medical condition in 2015 and attributed it to Father McGivney’s intercession. The Pope will have to attribute one more miracle to his intercession before Father McGivney is considered for canonization.

At least six members of the Knights of Columbus have already been canonized, all martyred during or in the aftermath of the Cristero War of 1926-29 in Mexico.

See more information about Father McGivney and his canonization cause at

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Public celebrations gradually open up in parishes across the diocese of Saskatoon: numbers increase again as restrictions related to COVID-19 are eased in province

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 10:36

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The process is neither fast or simple, but parishes across the diocese of Saskatoon are slowly opening their doors to greater numbers of worshippers after months of restrictions implemented to slow the transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

An update from the Government of Saskatchewan announced on June 11 expanded the numbers permitted to gather for public worship from groups of only 30 to “multiple groups of 30” up to a maximum of 150 persons or one-third capacity of the building (whichever is less).

The provincial health authority requirements for gatherings include adherence to physical distancing of two metres between each individual household, and of five metres between the various “groups of 30” spread throughout the building. Cleaning and hygiene standards must be followed, and other measures – such as one-way traffic flow, the removal of printed materials, and a ban on passing collection baskets – are also part of the new provincial guidelines for public worship.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen issued updated directives for parishes June 12.

“In issuing these directives, it is hoped that most parishes will now be offering public Masses in some way,” Bishop Mark Hagemoen said in his message to parishes after the latest provincial announcement. However,Saskatoon’s bishop also noted that there may be local situations that continue to prevent public celebration of Mass in some parishes, such as the age and health of the priest, a lack of personnel to implement the provincial health requirements or undertake the needed cleaning, etc.

It may also take parishes some time to implement the new maximum amount – which for larger parishes will still mean that not all can attend as they did before the pandemic restrictions were implemented in March. Various procedures for registering and monitoring attendance are also being implemented, with worshippers advised to check with their local parish for details.

“Given the immediate significant increase in capacity, while still under distancing and cleaning guidelines, it is understood parishes may need time to organize or fulfill a new arrangement,” Bishop Hagemoen acknowledged.

“Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issue or who are 65 or older are strongly encouraged, for their own health, to avoid the risk of attending public celebrations of the Mass.”

In the updated directives of June 12, 2020, Bishop Hagemoen continues to dispense all the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays. As well, the celebration of Mass by a number of priests in the diocese will continue to be live-streamed at (including 9 a.m. Sunday Mass with the bishop).

Bishop Mark Hagemoen leads a Eucharistic procession after celebration of Corpus Christi Sunday Mass June 14, live-streamed from the Cathedral of the Holy Family. (Image by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

The latest message from Bishop Hagemoen includes directives related to opening churches for prayer, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and celebration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion, as well as the reception of adults into full communion with the Catholic Church. The directives also address various liturgical practices – such as suspending processions, removing holy water from the font, refraining from any physical contact during the Sign of Peace, and instructions for anointing – as well as addressing a range of other logistical details.

Concluding his message to the faithful, Bishop Hagemoen said: “Again, I thank pastors, parish communities and faithful of the Diocese of Saskatoon for their patience and consideration throughout this time. Everyone has done an extraordinary job in continuing ministry and reaching out to keep prayerful communication with so many.”

Fr. Darryl Millette presiding at celebration of the Eucharist June 14 at Holy Spirit Parish. Mass will continue to be live-streamed from parishes around the diocese, posted at (Image captured from video)


Related Article: Public celebration of Mass slowly resumes

COVID-19 updates at


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Queen’s House update: Summer Stillness Retreat with Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI will be online this year

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 07:58

By Brendan Bitz, Director of Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal

Queen’s House has been closed to the public since mid-March. It is difficult to believe, but this is our collective, new, temporary normal and we join the commitment of our community to get to the other side of this challenge safely.

Queen’s House is in the midst of planning opportunities in offering education and insight to those who are wanting to grow in their spiritual journey. We also look forward to the day when we can open our doors and welcome the many groups who love to meet at Queen’s House as they offer meetings and conferences.

Our first retreat offering will be in early July, with Fr. Ron Rolheiser’s annual Summer Stillness retreat being offered on Zoom (more information below).

Further programming will be organized for the fall months, and these will be advertised in future editions of this e-newsletter.

We thank all those who participated in our annual “Spring Fling” raffle – a virtual fundraiser that has been organized annually for several years. Ongoing financial support for our retreat centre is critical as we discern the path forward. Most of our staff are enrolled in the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program which has allowed them to stay safe at home and to maintain their homes and families in the short term.

We continue to operate with a skeleton staff focused on completing upgrading, repair and maintenance projects already underway, managing the needs and requirements of local Oblate personnel and ministries, and doing the necessary hardware and software updates for many of our offices here at the retreat centre, and putting in place the technology that will allow our patrons to register for programs online through our website, as well as donate to Queen’s House online.

We look forward to seeing you soon – online and eventually in person – and we sincerely thank you for your prayer and support during this time. Queen’s House Retreat & Renewal Centre continues to be committed to “Nourish Your Mind and Nurture Your Spirit” as we move forward.

Peace be with you!

Brendan Bitz, Director

Information about the 2020 Summer Stillness Retreat with Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, to be offered ONLINE July 6-July 9, with a Monday-evening-only option

For complete information including the retreat schedule please visit this webpage: Stillness Retreat Information.

There are two options :

  1. Monday evening only, July 6, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. – Topic: Faith, Doubt and Darkness: Understanding the Dynamics of Belief and Doubt Beyond the Fervor of Youth – $25. To register on-line: LINK to Monday evening registration or to register by phone call 306-242-1916.                                                                                                                                                                               .
  2.  The complete retreat – Monday evening, July 6, 7:00 p.m. – Thursday July 9, 11:30 a.m. – Topic for Tuesday-Thursday: Naming the Present Moment of our Faith: Searching for Nurturing Metaphors in a Time of Receding Transcendence – $100 per screen – any additional participants are invited to give a donation to Queen’s House. To register for the full retreat go to LINK to register for the entire retreat. To offer a donation for more than one participant go to DONATIONS. To register or donate by phone call 306-242-1916.


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CNEWA rushes aid to those most impacted by COVID-19 pandemic in India, Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 07:40

By Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) staff

[Ottawa] – CNEWA is rushing emergency aid to its partners in India and Africa to support those in immediate danger of starvation and dehydration and to help contain the spread of the coronavirus in vulnerable areas served by the Eastern Catholic churches, particularly in India’s central and northern states and in Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

“We have sent funds — thanks be to God for our generous and loyal donors — to address the extreme hunger that is now devastating some of the most marginalized populations in the countries we serve,” said CNEWA president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, highlighting as one example in India the work of Syro-Malankara Catholic Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas of Gurgaon, New Delhi.

“From their community kitchen, Mar Barnabas, together with priests, sisters, seminarians and volunteers of his eparchy, are preparing hot meals for up to 1,500 people a day,” he said, adding that the bishop and his team are also preparing food kits for jobless day laborers and their families. “Most of those cared for by the bishop are homeless or migrants and most do not qualify for any benefits from the state.”

CNEWA has also deployed emergency funds to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as face masks, gowns and gloves, as well as soaps, sanitizers and disinfectant supplies.

“Our partners in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt know exactly where these supplies are needed now,” Msgr. Kozar said. “The health care activities of the churches in these countries are broad, ranging from humble medical kits slung over the shoulders of sisters on bikes in Eritrea, to parish dispensaries in Egypt and clinics and modest hospitals in Ethiopia.”

These emergency funds are part of a first phase of CNEWA’s COVID-19 campaign, launched in late April in solidarity with Pope Francis, who has called for Christians not to abandon those most susceptible to the coronavirus — those living on the peripheries, the poorest of the poor.

As part of this historic initiative, CNEWA has partnered with the Holy See’s Congregation for the Eastern Churches, delegates and nuncios of the Holy See, local church superiors, and religious sisters who serve throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. All funds raised through this effort are directed to COVID-19 relief — helping, in a particular way, families living in poverty, children and the elderly, as well as people with special needs, refugees and the displaced.

“Eastern churches throughout these regions provide essential aid and services, often well beyond one single community or village,” said Carl Hétu, national director of CNEWA Canada. “We’re especially happy to support them during these unstable times and we cannot thank our generous Canadian supporters enough. Each time communities in these regions face hardship, Canadians rise to the occasion to help, regardless of where they might live.”

To make a donation to this campaign, please visit

As a registered charity with well established and rigorous donation policies and programs in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Ethiopia, Ukraine and India, CNEWA Canada is able to send money right to the ground – fast. Donations can be made online at; by phone 1-866-322-4441 or by mail with cheques made payable to CNEWA Canada at 1247 Kilborn Place, Ottawa, ON K1H 6K9.  Donations should be marked “COVID-19 fund”. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of $10 or more.

About CNEWA Canada:

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

– 30 –

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Catholics cannot ignore the poverty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic says Pope Francis in message prepared for 2020 World Day of the Poor

Sun, 06/14/2020 - 11:33

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Pope Francis said June 13 that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has revealed poverty that Catholics cannot ignore.

“The word of God allows for no complacency; it constantly impels us to acts of love,” Pope Francis wrote in his message for the 2020 World Day of the Poor.

“This pandemic arrived suddenly and caught us unprepared, sparking a powerful sense of bewilderment and helplessness,” the pope said. “This has made us all the more aware of the presence of the poor in our midst and their need for help.”

Pope Francis said that “time devoted to prayer can never become an alibi for neglecting our neighbor in need.”

“Prayer to God and solidarity with the poor and suffering are inseparable,” he said.

In his message published June 13, the pope wrote that “generosity that supports the weak, consoles the afflicted, relieves suffering and restores dignity to those stripped of it, is a condition for a fully human life.”

He stressed that the time given in support of the poor cannot be put second to one’s personal interests.

“The decision to care for the poor, for their many different needs, cannot be conditioned by the time available or by private interests, or by impersonal pastoral or social projects,” he said.

“The power of God’s grace cannot be restrained by the selfish tendency to put ourselves always first,” he added.

The pope recognized that the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic has left many people feeling “poorer and less self- sufficient.”

“The present experience has challenged many of our assumptions,” he said. “The loss of employment, and of opportunities to be close to our loved ones and our regular acquaintances, suddenly opened our eyes to horizons that we had long since taken for granted. Our spiritual and material resources were called into question and we found ourselves experiencing fear.”

Francis pointed to the wisdom found in the Old Testament Book of Sirach. “In page after page, we discover a precious compendium of advice on how to act in the light of a close relationship with God, creator and lover of creation, just and provident towards all his children,” he said.

Quoting Sirach chapter two, the pope said: “‘Do not be alarmed when disaster comes. Cling to him and do not leave him, so that you may be honored at the end of your days. Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient, since gold is tested in the fire, and chosen men in the furnace of humiliation. Trust him and he will uphold you, follow a straight path and hope in him. You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not turn aside in case you fall.’”

Pope Francis said: “The Church certainly has no comprehensive solutions to propose, but by the grace of Christ she can offer her witness and her gestures of charity.”

“She likewise feels compelled to speak out on behalf of those who lack life’s basic necessities. For the Christian people, to remind everyone of the great value of the common good is a vital commitment, expressed in the effort to ensure that no one whose human dignity is violated in its basic needs will be forgotten,” he added.

The theme for this year’s World Day of the Poor comes from a line in chapter six of the Book of Sirach: “Stretch forth your hand to the poor.”

“This year’s theme – ‘Stretch forth your hand to the poor’ – is thus a summons to responsibility and commitment as men and women who are part of our one human family. It encourages us to bear the burdens of the weakest, in accord with the words of Saint Paul: ‘Through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’” he said.

Pope Francis established the World Day of the Poor at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016. It is celebrated each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, one week before the Feast of Christ the King. The 2020 World Day of the Poor will take place on November 15.

“Each year, on the World Day of the Poor, I reiterate this basic truth in the life of the Church, for the poor are and always will be with us to help us welcome Christ’s presence into our daily lives,” the pope said.

“The ‘end’ of all our actions can only be love. This is the ultimate goal of our journey, and nothing should distract us from it.”


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Federal government asks court for more time to change legislation for euthanasia

Sat, 06/13/2020 - 10:46

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – The federal government is now conceding that it cannot change the rules surrounding who can ask a doctor to help them kill themselves before a court-imposed deadline of July 11, and is now asking a Quebec court to give the feds until Dec. 18 to make it easier for Canadians to access a state-sanctioned suicide.

The federal government is blaming the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on how Parliament functions these days on why Ottawa is now asking Quebec Superior Court for a second time to extend the deadline to bring Canadian law into line with a 2019 Quebec court ruling that struck down a key aspect of the federal law that originally set up the euthanasia / assisted suicide system in 2016.

In a joint statement released by federal Justice Minister David Lametti and federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu on June 11, the federal ministers said a motion to seek the court extension has been filed with the Quebec court.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented challenges, including the disruption of the current Parliamentary session,” the statement from the ministers said. “A five-month extension of the ruling’s suspension period is needed to provide sufficient time for Parliament to properly consider and enact this proposed legislation, which is of importance to many Canadians and families across the country.”

The proposed changes in Bill C-7 to the existing regulations surrounding what the government calls “Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)” follows in the wake of what is known as the Truchon decision. That 2019 Quebec court decision ruled the restriction that a person’s death must already be “reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for a medically-assisted death was unconstitutional because it was too restrictive.

Both the federal and Quebec governments decided not to appeal that latest court ruling and the federal government said it would change Canadian law to respect the Quebec court decision.

The decision by the federal government not to appeal the Quebec court ruling has been denounced by euthanasia opponents, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

The federal government’s proposed Bill C-7 went through First Reading in the House of Commons on Feb. 24, 2020. However, the federal government asked for and was granted a four-month extension of the timeline to comply with the Quebec court ruling soon after that.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Christine Baudouin agreed to the extension request on March 2, giving the federal government until July 11, 2020 to make changes to the national MAiD system. But that was before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the House of Commons for five weeks starting in March and Parliament has been functioning on a limited basis since then.

The federal government’s proposed changes to legislation put forward in Bill C-7 would set up a two-tier system to provide euthanasia to those whose death is reasonably foreseeable and those whose death is not. It would also allow a waiver of final consent for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable but “who may who may lose capacity to consent before MAiD can be provided.” And it specifically states that it excludes “eligibility for individuals suffering solely from mental illness.”

In January, the federal government conducted a brief online survey open to all Canadians to express their views on changes to euthanasia legislation, and has said the proposed changes enjoyed overwhelming support through that the process. Public opinion polls have also consistently shown that a large majority of Canadians support legalized euthanasia / assisted suicide, but critics of euthanasia such as the CCCB dismiss the government’s online survey as being biased, and argue that issues of life and death should not be determined by public opinion polls.

“It is very troubling that the introduction of Bill C-7 was justified on the basis of a highly questionable, biased and rushed online survey, which took place over just two weeks,” a statement from the CCCB released Feb. 26 said, adding that “the questions in this survey were framed in a manner which presupposed agreement with euthanasia and assisted suicide, including its broadening, without giving Canadians who are opposed an equal voice.”

“The Catholic Bishops of Canada with Catholic faithful as well as innumerable other Canadians – religious or otherwise – remain opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide in any form because of their interest in protecting and promoting human life, because it is always wrong to take the life of an innocent person, and because medical science and compassionate care have provided effective ways of easing pain and suffering without having to resort to direct killing,” the CCCB statement said.

In an interview with the Canadian Catholic News on June 1, 2020, Alberta Conservative MP Dane Lloyd urged the federal government to seek an extension of the deadline to make changes to legislation related to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. He said any changes must be thoroughly debated because the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed issues related to how Canadian society looks after the elderly and that may play a significant role in why some Canadians seek to use the existing system.

“We need to know why some people think their only option is an assisted suicide,” he said in a phone interview with the Canadian Catholic News.

Rachel Rappaport, Justice Minister Lametti’s press secretary, said if the court extension is granted, that will give Parliament the time needed to debate the issues surrounding the proposed changes.

“It will provide sufficient time for Parliament to properly consider and enact this important legislation,” she said.



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Pope Francis: The Trinity is saving love for a broken world

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 12:57

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – The Holy Trinity is saving love in a world filled with corruption, evil, and the sinfulness of men and women, Pope Francis said Sunday, June 7, 2020.

In his weekly address before the Angelus prayer, the pope said though God created a good and beautiful world, after the fall “the world is marked by evil and corruption.”

“We men and women are sinners, all of us,” he continued, speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

“God could intervene to judge the world, to destroy evil and chastise sinners. Instead, He loves the world, despite its sins; God loves each of us even when we make mistakes and turn away from him,” he said.

Pope Francis reflected on the feast of the Holy Trinity and the words of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

“These words indicate that the action of the three divine Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is all one single plan of love that saves humanity and the world,” he stated.

The pope pointed to the great love of God the Father, who, to save sinners, sent his Son and the Holy Spirit.

“The Trinity is therefore Love, all at the service of the world, which he wishes to save and recreate.”

“God loves me. This is the sentiment of today,” he underlined.

According to Pope Francis, to live a Christian life means welcoming God-Love, encountering Him, searching for Him, and placing Him first in our lives.

“May the Virgin Mary, dwelling-place of the Trinity, help us to welcome with an open heart the love of God, which fills us with joy and gives meaning to our journey in this world, always guiding us towards our destination, which is Heaven,” he prayed.

After praying the traditional Marian prayer, the Holy Father addressed those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, noting that their “small presence” was a sign that “the acute phase” of the coronavirus pandemic is over in Italy.

When people broke into applause at the words, the pope warned that they should not declare “victory” too early, and everyone should continue to follow the health and safety regulations in place.

Pope Francis also noted that some countries are still deeply affected by the coronavirus and continue to have many deaths.

There is one country, he said, where on Friday “one person died per minute. Terrible!”

The pope appeared to be referencing Brazil, where on June 5, an editorial on the front page of the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper said COVID-19 is “killing a Brazilian per minute,” after the country recorded 1,473 deaths in 24 hours.

According to the John Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard, Brazil has the second-most cases of the coronavirus in the world after the United States with nearly 673,000 confirmed cases. Brazil is third in the world for deaths, with almost 36,000 recorded as of Sunday.

“I wish to express my closeness to those populations, to the sick and their families, and to all those who care for them,” Francis said.

He concluded by pointing to the Church’s dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the month of June. He asked everyone to repeat with him an old prayer he was taught by his grandmother: “Jesus, make my heart like unto thine.”

“Indeed, the human and divine Heart of Jesus is the wellspring where we can always draw upon God’s mercy, forgiveness and tenderness,” he said, encouraging everyone to focus on the love of Jesus.

“And we can do this by adoring the Eucharist, where this love is present in the Sacrament. Then our heart too, little by little, will become more patient, more generous, more merciful,” he said.


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