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

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Updated: 1 year 6 days ago

Western Canadian Catholic bishops gather for retreat

Mon, 01/20/2020 - 16:34

Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon and Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, of St. Peter’s Abbey, Muenster, SK, were among those attending a retreat for bishops of Western Canada Jan. 6-10, 2020 at Westminster Abbey in Mission BC.

The retreat for the Association of Western Canadian Bishops (AWCB) was preached by Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec.


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B.C. eparch appointed bishop in London, UK

Sat, 01/18/2020 - 11:54

By B.C. Catholic Staff, Canadian Catholic News

With files from Grandin Media

[Vancouver – CCN] – Bishop Ken Nowakowski, who has shepherded the Ukrainian Eparchy of New Westminster since 2007, has been appointed bishop of the Eparchy of the Holy Family in London, England.

The appointment by Pope Francis was announced Jan. 15. The Holy Father appointed Bishop David Motiuk of the Eparchy of Edmonton as apostolic administrator of the New Westminster eparchy.

In a letter to the faithful, Bishop Nowakowski offered his thanks for their support over his 12 years as bishop.

“In this time, I have come to know most of the faithful of the Eparchy and have had the wonderful opportunity of journeying in faith together with you — our clergy, religious and the lay-faithful. The years have truly gone by very quickly for me,” said Bishop Nowakowski, who was born in North Battleford and served as chancellor of the Eparchy of Saskatoon.

“Although I am a prairie boy, I have come to love the ocean, the mountains and the cities and towns where our parishes are located,” said. “The direction that we have taken over the last decade has been to ensure that we are an ever-vibrant Eparchy, with vibrant parishes, dedicated clergy and active lay-faithful.”

He also expressed thanks for “the support and kindness that our Eparchy and I personally received from my neighbours and brothers in faith, the Roman Catholic Bishops of British Columbia and Yukon.”

Bishop Nowakowski, 61, was ordained to the priesthood in the Eparchy of Saskatoon on Aug. 19, 1989. He obtained degrees from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto and a degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

Nowakowski is a former rector of Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary. At a national level, he is also chairman of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Standing Committee for Development and Peace/Caritas Canada.

In his letter, Nowakowski asked for prayers as he makes the move to London.

“Over the next few weeks I will need to address many challenges related to my move from New Westminster to Westminster proper in the city of London. On my part, I assure you of my continued prayers for you. And if in your travels you find yourself in London, please let me know so that I can welcome you!”

News is bittersweet for Ukrainian Catholic Bishop

Bishop Ken Nowakowski says the news that he would be leaving Canada for England came as “bittersweet,” especially after shepherding 7,800 Ukrainian Catholics of the Eparchy of New Westminster for more than a decade.

“I have been here for 12 and a half years and I have come to love and appreciate the faithful of the Eparchy of New Westminster and the clergy,” he said in an interview with The B.C. Catholic.

The joyful part, he said, is “I am very much looking forward to the challenges and blessings of being the bishop” for Ukrainian Catholics in the United Kingdom.

While he has been a frequent visitor to his new assignment, he admits there will much for him to learn as he looks after Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland.

The scales are certainly different. It may be a smaller territory, but it has many more parishes, including a cathedral parish where large sections of street have to be blocked off for the thousands of people who attend Easter services, he said.

Bishop David Motiuk of the Eparchy of Edmonton has been named apostolic administrator of the New Westminster eparchy but will continue to work from Edmonton, Bishop Nowakowski said, adding Bishop Motiuk is very familiar with New Westminster, which historically was part of the Edmonton eparchy until 1974.

The next meeting of the Bishops of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is in September, where Bishop Nowakowski expects there will be discussion of possible candidates to succeed him. Names will be submitted to the Pope, but Bishop Nowakowski says he’d be surprised if a decision were made in under a year.

He expects to relocate to London by March, with an installation date following soon after.

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Dementia and Faith

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 17:07
Places of worship can do more to make Canadians suffering from dementia feel welcomed say advocates

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[OTTAWA – CCN]  – An Ottawa man is on a mission to make Canadian places of worship more welcoming to the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who suffer from dementia.

With January being Alzheimer Awareness Month in Canada, a special event as part of a Mass at a Catholic church in Ottawa on Jan. 26 is part of Matthew Dineen’s effort to help Canadian faith communities do more to reach out to those with dementia.

Matthew Dineen of Dementia Advocacy Canada says that places of worship and Canadian society as a whole need to do more to meet the needs of Canadians who suffer from dementia so that they are not isolated from the rest of society. Faith communities are being encouraged to make sure that those dealing with dementia know they are welcome to continue being a vital part of their church community.

With dementia, the body may be failing, but a person’s soul, their spiritual side, still needs and can benefit from staying connected to their places of worship, said Dineen.

“People with dementia are still capable of responding to God,” he said.

Dineen’s advocacy comes from personal experience. His wife Lisa was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia at the age of 43 in 2013 and was subsequently placed in long-term care.

Since then he has committed himself to pushing for societal changes to make life easier for Canadians who suffer from dementia and has been working on a set of guidelines on how places of worship can be part of those changes.

“I have been busy preparing guidelines as part of my Dementia Advocacy Canada work on how to make places of worship in Canada more dementia-friendly and inclusive. I have been speaking with key experts from across the world to learn more on this subject,” he said, adding that Canada can learn a lot from what is happening in other parts of world, specifically in the United Kingdom and Scotland.

“There they have made a societal effort to address the needs of people with dementia, they set lofty goals, and that has been embraced in their culture,” he said in a recent interview with Canadian Catholic News.

A United Kingdom-based organization called Livability ( has created a guide for how churches can be more inclusive and welcoming to people with dementia called “Developing a Dementia Friendly-Church” which has been instrumental in Dineen’s efforts to create such a tool for Canadian places of worship.

“They are much more ahead of us over there in addressing these issues from a societal perspective,” he said, adding that in parts of the United States they are also ahead of Canada in making sure church communities are doing all they can to be welcoming and inclusive for people with dementia.

Lynda Everman, a key member within the US Against Alzheimer’s community and the founder of the Clergy Against Alzheimer’s network, is one of those whom Dineen has consulted on how Canadian places of worship can be more dementia-friendly.

Part of Everman’s ministry is making stoles and tallitot for clergy, one of which will be presented at the 10:30 a.m. Mass at the St. John the Apostle Church in the Archdiocese of Ottawa Jan. 26 where Dineen will also speak.

“I take great pride in initiating work that will allow greater opportunity for those impacted by dementia to continue to be able to practice and live out their faith here in Canada,” Dineen said. “I remain hopeful that my work through Dementia Advocacy Canada will not only be used by the bishops of Canada, but with other faith traditions as well.”



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Canadians given until Jan. 27 to contemplate assisted suicide rules: government survey underway (UPDATED article)

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 07:35

Article UPDATED Jan. 21, 2020

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA – Opponents and supporters of legally sanctioned medically-assisted death in Canada are being urged to make their views known before the government proposes changes to the rules surrounding who qualifies for a government-approved suicide.

About 200,000 Canadians have already taken part in a federal government survey that continues until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27 to provide public input into how the federal government changes regulations surrounding assisted-suicide / euthanasia to fall in line with a Quebec court ruling that the “reasonably foreseeable” and imminent death requirement to qualify for an assisted death is unconstitutional.

Tell the government what you think about expanding assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada and protecting the vulnerable: LINK to Online Survey

PDF version of the survey for those who prefer to print and submit by mail or e-mail: Survey document

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition guide to filling out the survey for those who oppose assisted suicide: LINK

The latest public consultations, which are primarily being conducted through an online public survey, were launched on Monday, Jan. 13 by the federal government, and Canadians can give their views on what the rules should be surrounding state-sanctioned suicide by the end of the day Jan. 27, 2020. The survey can be accessed at:  Justice Ministry web page.

The rush to make changes to Canada’s assisted-death laws is a direct response to a Quebec court decision in September 2019 that ruled that the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” criteria in the federal law and the “end-of-life” criteria in Quebec’s provincial law on medically-assisted suicide / euthanasia as being unconstitutional because those rules are too restrictive.

When the federal government first brought in regulations surrounding assisted-dying in 2016, which in itself came after previous court decisions, the government promised there would be a larger review of the system after five years, primarily focusing on three complex issues: requests for medically assisted suicide/euthanasia by mature minors, for reasons of mental illness only, and for advance requests.

“As we prepare to launch the full review of the MAID law this summer, the Government of Canada is moving quickly in the shorter term to help inform our response to the recent Quebec court ruling. Updating Canada’s MAID law will expand eligibility for MAID beyond people who are nearing the end of life, and could possibly result in other changes once the review is complete,” a statement on the Justice ministry’s website said. MAID or “Medical Assistance In Dying” is the term used by the government for medically-assisted suicide/ euthanasia.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti – who voted against his own government’s original assisted suicide/ euthanasia regulations when they were first adopted because he felt those regulations were too restrictive – said in a statement that he understands that the issues surrounding assisted-death are “complex.”

“Medical assistance in dying is a profoundly complex and personal issue for many Canadians,” Lametti said in a statement on Jan 13, 2020 when the new public consultations were unveiled.

“The consultations we are launching today will allow us to hear directly from Canadians and guide the path forward,” Lametti said.

Opponents of allowing legally-sanctioned medically-assisted death say that any move to further expand who would be eligible is the slippery slope that they warned about when the practice was first legalized in Canada.

“What are we going to allow?” asked Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, adding that his organization is worried that minors and people with mental disabilities will eventually be made eligible to ask for an assisted death, as has happened in other jurisdictions in the world where legally-sanctioned suicide / euthanasia has been allowed.

While Canada struggles to come up with an assisted suicide/ euthanasia system that meets court mandated requirements, opponents continue to argue that much more support is needed for palliative care and hospice options in Canada that would help people who are nearing death without having to resort to suicide as a way to speed up their natural death.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s Schadenberg points out that Canadian hospices are concerned that the issue of end of life care for Canadians that hospices provide is being tangled up in the assisted suicide/ euthanasia debate.

News item: B.C. Hospice faces deadline to offer assisted suicide

Schadenberg recently reported on the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s website how in November 2019 the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and the Canadian Association of Palliative Care Physicians (CAPCP) issued a joint statement “stating categorically that ‘national and international hospice palliative care organizations are unified in the position’ that MAID is not part of the practice of hospice palliative care. Medical aid in dying, they argued, is not an ‘extension of palliative care’ but a violation of hospice and palliative medical goals of care.”

Court rulings driving legalization and expansion

The Quebec court decision in September 2019 known as the Truchon decision – which either the federal and Quebec governments could have appealed but have decided not to – means that the federal government must make changes to Canada’s assisted-dying regulations by March 11 of this year.

The whole issue of legalization of medically-assisted suicide in Canada has been driven by court rulings, following a Canadian Supreme Court decision in 2015 that led to the existing federal law in 2016.

The 2016 law came with a number of restrictions including that a person seeking assisted suicide / euthanasia must be an adult, not suffering from a mental illness, and that people suffering from progressive mentally-disabling illnesses such dementia were not permitted to give advance permission for medically-assisted /suicide to take effect after their condition deteriorates to the point in which they are mentally impaired from making a final decision.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti told reporters at a press scrum before a Liberal cabinet retreat in Winnipeg shortly after the federal government launched its online survey on Jan. 13 that more than more 150,000 people had already responded to the survey and he expects to have a new bill before the House of Commons by the middle of February.

Opponents urged to use comment section of survey

While the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is urging its members to take part in the online survey, Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the coalition, says the wording of the survey’s questions make it clear that the federal government is leaning towards a much more permissive regime for who would qualify for an assisted-death.

“The language of the consultation questionnaire is not great, nonetheless, the questionnaire does allow you to leave further comments,” Schadenberg said.

And he urges opponents of a legal medically-assisted death to use that opportunity for further comments to express opposition to assisted suicide in all its forms.

Along with philosophical opposition to the very idea of government-sanctioned suicide, Schadenberg is concerned that the existing narrow pathway to seeking an assisted suicide will be expanded and that the mentally ill, youth and other vulnerable Canadians will be allowed to seek the option of an assisted death.

Schadenberg has prepared a guide on the EPC website for how those who oppose legal euthanasia in Canada should answer the government survey questions, a guide he said is needed because the survey questions are written in a manner that leans towards expansion of who qualifies for an assisted death. He said he wrote the guide to answering the consultation questionnaire because some of the questions are biased, and imply support for assisted suicide / euthanasia

One issue that the EPC has continually raised is what it considers a lack of direct oversight of the system to make sure that the checks and balances that are supposed to make sure assisted suicide/ euthanasia is permitted in a manner that is consistent with existing regulations being adhered to.

Schadenberg is calling for a retrospective review of our cases by a committee to verify that the eligibility criteria and safeguards were satisfied and in place.

Canadian Physicians for Life, an organization of pro-life medical practioners in Canada, has reached out to its membership to make sure they are aware of the ongoing government survey so they may also respond to the government questionnaire if they wish.

“We have reached out to all our members,” Canadian Physicians for Life executive director Nicole Scheidl said. “What we don’t do is tell them how to fill the survey out, that is up to each individual.”
One issue that is of significant concern to Canadian Physicians for Life is the feedback it has received from some family members of people who claim they are being pushed by some doctors to consider euthanasia for their family member, even if they don’t want to.

“What concerns us is the amount of pressure that family members can face to consider (medically-assisted suicide euthanasia) as an option,” Scheidl said.

While groups and organizations, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, that have always opposed any form of legally-sanctioned suicide have been vocal in their opposition to assisted suicide/euthanasia and any expansion of who can qualify, supporters of assisted-death being an option in Canada are also urging Canadians to also speak out on the issue as well. And they are calling on the government to make the assisted-death system as permissive as possible.

Alexandra Da Dalt of Dying with Dignity Canada, which calls itself the “the leading national charity defending end-of-life rights” in Canada, said the federal government must “pursue a rights-based approach as it considers changes to the 2016 assisted dying law.” Dying with Dignity Canada is calling on the federal government to allow advance requests for euthanasia in any changes to the law.

“The current ban on advance requests unfairly prohibits many people with capacity-eroding conditions such as dementia from accessing their right to a medically assisted death,” according to Dying with Dignity Canada.

Former Nova Scotia Liberal Senator James Cowan, who is on the board of directors of Dying with Dignity Canada, said removing the reasonably-foreseeable criteria from the assisted death rules does not mean that other safeguards to restrict access to assisted suicide/ euthanasia need to be put in place. “We caution the government against adding unnecessary roadblocks in the law that, instead of protecting vulnerable people, unfairly restrict access to medical assistance in dying,” Cowan said.





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Edmonton memorial honours Iranian-Canadians killed in crash

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 05:46

By Andrew Ehrkamp, Grandin Media

[Edmonton – Canadian Catholic News] – If grief is a journey, this is the first painful step: searing heartache.

Some 2,500 people filled the Saville Community Sports Centre at the University of Alberta on Jan. 12 to remember the lives of 13 Edmontonians and 163 others lost when Ukrainian Airlines International Flight PS752 was shot down by a missile shortly after takeoff from Tehran. All 176 people onboard were killed in the Jan. 8 crash, including 57 Canadians.

The Edmonton victims were of Iranian descent, and their lives were recalled by family and friends at the memorial, which included Persian poetry and song. They were cherished as paragons of Iranian virtues – high education, patience, humour, and a welcoming spirit.

They were physicians, engineers and students. One couple had just been married. Another entire family was lost. Pedram Mousavi and his wife Mojgan Dansehmand – both engineering professors at the University of Alberta – were killed along with their daughters Daria, 14, and Dorina, 9.

Friends and family spoke about the lives of the 13 Edmonton victims of the plane crash, at the university memorial. (CCN Photo by Lincoln Ho, Grandin Media)

Hossein Saghlatoon said he’s suffered other losses in his life, but the loss of Mousavi hits harder. Mousavi was his professor through his PhD studies and after graduation and they were partners in a company with other engineers.

“He was more than a boss or a friend to me. He was like a father to me. He was an important part of my life here in Canada,” Saghlatoon said.

“I’m an immigrant and I left everyone and everything I knew or had … and he supported all the time all of us, every person who has been in his group. Everyone who, in any way, dealt with him he was always supportive. He tried to help us and we are missing him so much.”

“I’m not going to forget them,” Saghlatoon said. “No one is going to replace them. I’m just going to learn how to life without them, which is sad for me because he was a big, big portion of my life and that of anyone else who worked with him.”

The university is a particular draw for Iranian students, and the campus as a whole has come together in solidarity at this time, said Mona-Lee Feehan, the Catholic chaplain at the U of A.

“There’s a huge sense of loss, but there’s also a huge sense of pride at what has been happening on our campus, about the caring and people holding each other and people looking out for each other,” said Feehan, who is also campus minister at St. Joseph’s College, the Catholic college on campus.

“It’s been an amazing show of concern and compassion that crosses boundaries of race, culture and faith.”

Mona-Lee Feehan, Catholic chaplain at the University of Alberta. (CCN Photo by Lincoln Ho, Grandin Media)

Feehan added: “Things are created that are not the best for us, but we have the great capacity to choose good in all of those situations. In this instance, something bad has happened and we’ve chosen the good.”

The university memorial capped a week of remembrance, including a Jan. 11 memorial service at the Imam Hussein Islamic Society mosque, where many of the victims were regular worshippers. Amid the Muslim call to prayer, they hugged and shed tears. They paused at a memorial with photos of the victims and comforted each other in grief as they held tight to their strong Shiite Muslim faith.

“I don’t know what I would do without my faith,” said Mohi Mahmoudi, a PhD student at the University of Alberta who knew the victims and had initially planned to return to Iran over Christmas. She would have been on the ill-fated flight.

“We felt that we had lost everything after that news. It was not only friends, it was family. Our faith kept our hope that we can survive through this time,” Mahmoudi said. “We all saw their pictures and we all thought we might have been on the plane. We ask God to help them through this devastating time. “It is really a great loss for the Iranian community.”

Speaking at the University of Alberta memorial, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised a full investigation in the crash. (CCN photo by Lincoln Ho, Grandin Media)

It was the largest single loss of Edmontonian lives since the 1987 tornado, and the worst air disaster in Canada since the Air India crash 35 years ago. Mayor Don Iveson, Premier Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at the Jan. 12 memorial.

Trudeau called the crash a “Canadian tragedy.”

“While no words can ease the pain, the grief, the outrage, it is my sincere hope that you can find some comfort in knowing that all Canadians stand with you … that is what makes us strong,”

Trudeau said, noting that he had a “gut-wrenching” meeting with families who spoke of their loss. “This tragedy never should have occurred,” Trudeau said. “We will not rest until there are answers. We will not rest until there is justice and accountability.”

Trudeau promised a full investigation in the crash. After days of denial, Iran has admitted that the plane was mistakenly shot down with a missile amid rising hostilities with the U.S. government.
Mahmoudi said the Iranian community was devastated when they heard the news.

Among the victims was Shekoufeh Choupannejad and her daughters Saba and Sara. The Edmonton obstetrician was well-known in the Iranian community and delivered some of their children.

“When everybody came here to Canada and needed to visit a doctor, she was there for everyone,” Mahmoudi said.

Most mosque members knew the victims personally and their violent deaths came as a shock, said Ali Zakerhaghighi, president of the Imam Hussein Islamic Society.

“For these individuals, there is no doubt that they are blessed,” Zakerhaghighi said. “Hopefully we can have the message of patience for their families and for their friends.”

“I would say the faith of knowing that there will be life after death and all we do here, for our very short time, is to actually seek the plans for the hereafter. There is no doubt that this tragedy was something that will really take time for us to not to be emotional about anymore, but there is no way that will forget these people.”

What’s particularly stinging for Iranian Canadians is that their own government was responsible for the tragedy, and they are collectively demanding an explanation after days of denial.

“You cannot imagine what we felt,” Mahmoudi said. “It was awful. We need to know who is responsible for this mistake. We really need to know. Their families, their friends really need to know, and we ask the government to tell us the whole truth. We deserve it.”

Asked if she will return to Iran after her studies at the University of Alberta are completed, Mahmoudi said she’s unsure.

The Iranian community in Edmonton has mobilized to help the victims’ families.

A Gofundme campaign has been launched to raise funds for an Edmonton-based funeral for the victims. It has surpassed its goal of raising $50,000. Organizers say most of the victims were students and any excess funds will be donated as a scholarship/grant to post-secondary students in the name of the victims from Edmonton.

The University of Alberta will also set up a memorial fund honouring professors Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Dansehmand and the students who were killed in the crash. With a $1-million endowment, the fund will offer two $20,000 graduate student scholarships each year.


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Hospice opposing deadline to offer assisted suicide

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 08:41

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – A heated debate about whether a 10-bed hospice in Delta should offer assisted suicide may come to a climax in February.

Delta Hospice Society, the non-profit behind the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner, is facing pressure from the Fraser Health Authority to offer “Medical Aid in Dying” (MAID) euthanasia to its patients. Assisted suicide / euthanasia has been legal in Canada since 2016.

The non-profit says offering a lethal injection to its patients runs contrary to its constitution, while Fraser Health holds the position that patients have a right to it.

“Fraser Health fully supports a patient’s right to receive medical assistance in dying wherever they may be, including in a hospice setting,” health authority spokesperson Tasleem Juma told The B.C. Catholic Jan. 6, 2020.

“We understand this is a difficult and emotional issue for some people, but it is important to consider the patient in everything we do.”

Last month, representatives from Fraser Health met with leadership from the Ladner hospice to discuss concerns about the hospice not offering assisted dying to patients under the Fraser Health’s 2016 policy for legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Juma said that after that meeting, Fraser Health “provided them with formal notice of the concerns and shared our expectations that they comply to permit medical assistance in dying by February 2020.”

What happens to the hospice if it refuses to allow on-site assisted suicide/euthanasia by deadline? Juma did not have information about next steps, but Health Minister Adrian Dix hinted at dramatic penalties at a media briefing Dec. 11.

“Should they not want to fulfil their contract with Fraser Health, there may well be consequences for that,” Dix said, as reported by The Delta Optimist.

“Delta Hospice can decide it doesn’t want to continue receiving support from the Fraser Health Authority in its mission. They can choose to do that … But, of course, you can’t have it both ways.”

The Optimist reported the hospice receives about half of its funding from Fraser Health.
The small hospice in Ladner is not alone in its stance on assisted suicide. Both the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians released a joint statement at the end of 2019 saying a hospice is not an appropriate place to end the lives of patients.

Euthanasia “is not part of hospice palliative care; it is not an ‘extension’ of palliative care, nor is it one of the tools in the ‘palliative care basket,’” they wrote.

“Hospice palliative care focuses on improving the quality of life and symptom management … for those living with life-threatening conditions … Hospice palliative care does not seek to hasten death or intentionally end life. In MAID, however, the intention is to address suffering by ending life.”

They also called on federal and provincial governments to prioritize funding and access to hospice care, saying less than 30 per cent of Canadians can access high quality hospice care, though 90 per cent of deaths in Canada would benefit from it.

In contrast, they said, euthanasia/assisted suicide is considered a right for all Canadians, though only 1.5 per cent of all deaths in the country result from it.

The Delta Hospice Society also has support from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, whose petition in support of the hospice had more than 14,500 signatures by press time, as well as the Catholic Physicians’ Guild, which represents about 50 local health care workers.

“To compromise patients who are dying in a natural way knowing that, next door, staff are providing death, it just gives the wrong message,” said Dr. Jim Lane, president of the Catholic Physicians’ Guild in Vancouver.

He said his organization does not support euthanasia or assisted suicide, but now that the practice is legal, supports conscience rights for doctors and keeping euthanasia out of hospice settings.

The Catholic Physicians’ Guild will host a White Mass Jan. 10, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Church in Vancouver, inviting doctors, nurses, and everyone in health care fields to pray for physicians and conscience protection in Canada.

“Palliative care organizations are the ones that have always provided ‘medical aid in dying,’ but it’s always been truly medical aid, not death,” Lane said. “If patients go there thinking that’s what’s going to happen to them, it changes the whole tone.”

Michele Coleman, past president of the Langley Hospice Foundation Board, also throws her full support behind Delta hospice’s refusal to provide assisted suicide/euthanasia.

“Hospice care supports life until its natural end. It is compassionate care for all the person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, as well as grief support for their families. The two philosophies of MAID and hospice care are completely opposite.”

Delta Hospice Society board president Angelina Ireland was not available to comment.
Former executive director Nancy Macey, who founded the Delta Hospice Society at her kitchen table more than 25 years ago, is personally opposed to assisted suicide.


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The great collaborator – Order of Canada recipient recognized for work with L’Arche

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 08:29

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Canadian Catholic News – CCN] – Changing the world an inch at a time with nothing but a word, a prayer, a hope or an intuition isn’t the sort of thing we very often notice, let alone celebrate.

By giving the Order of Canada to Sr. Sue Mosteller of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the country is in fact elevating both her quiet accomplishments and the ideals that drive her, whether that means a better life for those with intellectual disabilities or a life of meaning for young people.

Mosteller is one of 120 Canadians this year either named to the Order of Canada or promoted within its three ranks. In the annual New Year’s list, the 86-year-old was named to the middle rank of Officers of the order, just below Companions and above Members.

The award’s citation reads: “For her dedication to improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, and for her decades of work as a leader of L’Arche.”

“Everybody who was involved with nominating Sue talked about this combination of her great capacity — intelligence, organizational skills, her deep humanity and her incredible capacity to listen, to be there with people,” said L’Arche Toronto outreach officer John Guido. “She wasn’t from on high. She was from the group; she led from the group as a collaborator.”

No date has been set for when Mosteller will be formally awarded her medal by Governor General Julie Payette.

Mosteller was born in Ohio to Canadian parents in 1933 and came to the University of Toronto to get her degree in English literature. While studying, she boarded with the Sisters of St. Joseph and by the time she graduated was ready to join in their life.

After vows, she taught school in British Columbia and Ontario. In her early 30s, she made a pilgrimage to Lourdes and heard Jean Vanier speak at St. Michael’s College about L’Arche and living with the disabled.

Mosteller went to the Mother Superior and asked whether she might try living with the young L’Arche Daybreak community established in 1969 on farm land north of Richmond Hill, Ont.
Mother Superior said no. She needed her bright young sisters in classrooms. Mosteller went back to teaching Grade 3. But the idea of L’Arche, Vanier’s vision of community, wouldn’t leave her alone.
“It was funny, because I didn’t know people with disabilities,” Mosteller recalled. “But there was this attraction to this new kind of endeavour.”

In the early 1970s the Second Vatican Council had washed ashore in the Canadian Church. Religious sisters who had spent their lives living behind the locked doors of institutions and keeping them running — schools, hospitals, parishes — were stepping out and rediscovering their vocations in the world, not separate from it.

Mosteller recalls how much the Council opened up religious life.

“It wasn’t just me alone. It was rampant in our congregational lives,” she said. “Sisters were already starting food kitchens and things like that. It was so radical that you can’t even describe what life was then.”

The sisters had long provided services to the poor and the marginalized. Living with the poor, sharing their lives on an equal footing, was no small change.

“The whole thing with L’Arche that turned my head around was that I was the one who was transformed,” said Mosteller.

In 1972 Mosteller again went to her superior with a request to live in L’Arche.

“She said, ‘Let’s pray about it.’ ”

Three days later Mosteller had permission and that urging of her heart was suddenly a reality she had to face.

“Truly, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know anything about taking care of people. I didn’t know people with disabilities at the time,” she said. “The funny thing is, the minute I walked in the door I was responsible for this house of 26 people. First thing I got was the government regulations on all the things that had to be taken care of.”

By 1976, Mosteller’s good sense was evident to such an extent that she was elected the second International Co-ordinator of L’Arche, taking over from Vanier. During her nine years travelling the world and encouraging communication between L’Arche communities, the network expanded from 30 to 65 countries.

It was during the second half of her 40 years spent living in L’Arche that the real revolution in the organization began.

Vanier had begun L’Arche in 1964 under the guidance of his Dominican spiritual director. The first L’Arche in North America, L’Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill, was started by Anglicans Ann and Steve Newroth. Through the 1970s L’Arche remained an experiment in a Christian laboratory. But in the 1980s, as L’Arche expanded into non-Christian countries and people of other faiths came to live in L’Arche, it was time to ask how this experiment would live on in a more diverse world.

“We weren’t there to make people into Catholics at all. We were there to respect who they were and to try to help them grow,” said Mosteller.

But how? Mosteller knew a priest who could tackle the question — Fr. Henri Nouwen.

“Henri, he had a gift for it and he knew how to do it. He could show us the gift that we had in this diversity,” she said.

By 1986 Nouwen was living at Daybreak and working with Mosteller. In those years he went from psychologist, university professor and public intellectual to the author of The Return of the Prodigal Son.

Today Mosteller is his literary executrix, responsible for getting the Henri Nouwen Society off the ground and setting up the Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection at St. Michael’s College.

She is more than muse to one of the most popular and influential Catholic authors of the past 50 years. Mosteller has published three of her own books, beginning with My Brother, My Sister in 1972, then A Place To Hold My Shaky Heart: Reflections From Life In Community in 1998 and Light Through The Crack: Life After Loss in 2006.

Guido remembers first meeting Mosteller as a 23-year-old who had arrived at L’Arche full of fears and doubts and misgivings. This older, religious woman told him he could contribute. “Her sense is that every person is gifted. She radically believes that,” Guido said.

Thirty years later, Guido finds himself in awe of how this 86-year-old is involving herself in the lives of millennials, acting as consultant to Sacred Design Labs — an American experiment in spiritual life for people who have little or no attachment to religious tradition.

“Her real life still comes from the connection with young people,” Guido said. “When she is with people with disabilities, the relationships are so deep and so strong. But the real call for her is to continue to nurture a new generation, and to name where the Spirit is working in the world, in their lives.”

Sr. Sue Mosteller (CCN Photo by Michael Swan, The Catholic Register)

For Mosteller, being interviewed and photographed and honoured and praised is uncomfortable. After three clicks of the shutter and an adjustment to the lights, she figures the portrait session is done and she wants out.

“There is literally no one on Earth who would scorn honours as much as Sue Mosteller would,” Guido said.

But Guido is certain Canada needs to take note of Mosteller. “She’s so fundamentally Canadian,” he said.

Mosteller believes in her country.

“Any country that takes care of people who have difficulty taking care of themselves in such a beautiful way, where everybody is transformed — not just the people who have the fragility, but everybody in their own fragility is transformed — that’s a great, great asset to a country,” she said.

Guido hopes more people come to know Mosteller for “this incredible combination of being a pastoral leader but also a fellow traveller on the road to Emmaus — always there with us. I just think that’s her gift and the beauty of her life.”


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Sisters of Sion ‘horrified’ by anti-Semitic attacks

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 08:12

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – A spike in attacks on Jewish people and organizations in North America and Europe has prompted the Sisters of Sion in Canada to speak out.

“We have been horrified and saddened by the recent series of violent attacks against Jewish individuals and Jewish institutions,” said a Jan. 3 statement from the sisters and their lay associates.

The religious order dedicated to better understanding between Christians and Jews singled out the Dec. 28 machete attack on Jews celebrating the last night of Hanukkah in a rabbi’s home in Monsey, N.Y., but said their concern goes beyond any single incident.

“We are aware that these attacks are part of a larger rise in anti-Semitic attacks that deeply troubles us, and which our leaders must address swiftly and decisively,” state the Our Lady of Sion sisters.

Canadians can’t dismiss the rising and increasingly violent anti-Semitism in Europe or the U.S., Sr. Lucy Thorson, NDS, told The Catholic Register.

“It’s certainly significantly on the rise in Europe and obviously on the rise here in Canada, too,” said Thorson, who has been working on interfaith affairs with the Sisters of Sion for more than 30 years.

A Statistics Canada survey indicated a 63-per-cent increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes between 2016 and 2017. Jews, who represent just one per cent of Canadians, endured more hate crimes than any other religious community — 360 incidents in 2017 compared to 221 in 2016.

Any negative assessment, suspicion or dismissal of Jewish persons or Judaism is inconsistent with Catholic faith, Thorson said.

“All Christians and therefore all Catholics, we are invited to — it’s part of who we are — to better understand and to respect the Jewish people, especially in our relationships,” she said. “To deepen our understanding of the relationship between one another is part of the call to all Christians.”

In the Monsey attack, five people were injured and a man was charged with six counts of attempted murder.

American bishops’ conference president Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles strongly condemned the Monsey attack, declaring, “Violence in the name of God is blasphemy.”

“The rise of anti-Semitic violence in this country and around the world must be condemned along with the ongoing persecution of Christians. Protecting religious freedom and freedom of conscience should be among the highest priorities of every government,” Gomez said Dec. 31.

Thousands marched across New York Ctiy’s Brooklyn Bridge on Jan. 5, 2020 to signify their solidarity with the Jewish community.

In a New Year’s message, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster denounced anti-Semitic graffitti attacks that hit shops, cafés and a synagogue in London.

“The recent anti-Semitic graffiti in north London brings shame to us all,” said the cardinal, whose archdiocese covers the city north of the River Thames.

“Such hatred can have no place in our way of life. Only when we see the good in each other will every person feel welcomed and unafraid.”

(With files from Catholic News Service)



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The Gift: Catholic Filipino community shares the light of Christ

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 12:28

Editor’s Note: During the pre-Christmas celebration of Simbang Gabi by the Filipino Catholic community in Saskatoon Dec. 15-23, donations were collected for Prison Ministry in the diocese of Saskatoon, for The Bridge inner city outreach organization,  and for Saskatoon Pregnancy Options Centre.

The Gift

By Arnel-Libay Mendoza

Filipinos have migrated to Saskatoon, Canada, as embroiderers, nurses, doctors, caregivers, welders, food servers, nannies, cleaners, etc., but along the way, we found a joint mission. That mission is to share the light of Christ.

From the third largest Catholic country in the world, with donations often needed to aid the poor and the victims of natural calamities back home, the time has come to show that we are also capable of offering something — maybe not that big, but big enough to show our faith and to witness how we are called to be men and women living for others.

Some of us, like myself, are hesitant to express ourselves because of communication barriers, inferiority complex, or probably economic status, but expressing our faith allows us to radiate what we want to say and what is inside our hearts.

During the first Simbang Gabi, I was touched by one guy who just migrated to Saskatoon from the Philippines in June 2019. He came here to support the education of his nieces and nephews. I was amazed and inspired by his faith, knowing that he is just earning enough to pay his rent and meals with the minimum wage as a food server at Tim Hortons. He is the one who stood and offered a box of diapers for the Pregnancy Options Centre.

Sometimes, when we are called to help someone, we reason out that we are not rich enough to help others. We might say: “When I win the Lotto, I will help others,”or “If I find a rich man or woman to marry, then, I can help,” and other strange alibis. Just like the message for us last Sunday in celebration of the feast of Epiphany: the shepherd offered what was available from his humble place and the three Kings offered what they had. Being a gift to someone who doesn’t mean buying expensive things. We can pray for them; we can listen to them, read the word of God, offer word or encouragement, volunteer and donate whatever is available.

We might have different cultures, colors, and status in life, but giving our talent, time, and treasures will break these barriers. They will unite us by transcending – not denying, but using diversity – into a higher form of unity of love, not division.

Simbang Gabi is our expression of our faith, our fully active and conscious participation in giving glory to God. May our gestures be our act of worship, may these be our offering to God, and may our faith be our liturgy to show our faith so that others live.

Let our songs be our expressions of thanksgiving, especially for those unspoken prayers of our community. May we be a gift to others, as we received the most precious gift from God, his son Jesus.


Dianne Anderson, coordinator of prison ministry in the diocese of Saskatoon; Linda Walker, executive director and pastor at The Bridge; and Cathy LeFleche, executive director of Pregnancy Options Centre (left to right) — spoke at Simbang Gabi Dec. 23 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, expressing thanks for donations collected during the nine days of celebration. (Photo by Arnel Libay-Mendoza)

Donations collected during Simbang Gabi were recently delivered to community organizations. (Photos by Arnel-Libay Mendoza)


Editor’s Note: Simbang Gabi is a novena of special Masses before Christmas traditionally held in the Philippines. In Saskatoon, the Simbang Gabi celebrations were held in a different parish each night, followed by a potluck meal. Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided on the final evening Dec. 23, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, and after Mass helped to serve the Lechón (also spelled litson or lichon), a traditional dish of the Philippines.

Lea Mariano coordinated Simbang Gabi this year, with photography by Roland Macana, and choir direction by Robert Enriquez.

Photos from Simbang Gabi 2019:

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Euthanasia connection to organ donations in Canada raises ethical concerns 

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 12:35

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency

[Ottawa – CNA] – Increasing numbers of people killed by euthanasia are supplying a “boon” for organ transplant surgeries in Canada, according to an Ottawa newspaper. But politicians and ethicists told CNA the practice is “rather horrifying” and raises questions of coercion.

A Jan. 6, 2020 article titled “Medically assisted deaths prove a growing boon to organ donation in Ontario” in the Ottawa Citizen, explained that while the number of people in need of a transplant in Ontario has remained relatively static, fewer and fewer people are registering in advance as donors, with assisted deaths providing a positive answer.

“This relatively new source of organs and tissues is significant in that Ontario’s waiting list for organs typically hovers around 1,600 without any great headway made to eliminate that number,” Bruce Deachman reported.

From January until November of 2019, there were 18 organ and 95 tissue donations from patients who died by euthanasia. These numbers, which do not include the month of December, represent an increase of 14 per cent over all of 2018, and 109 per cent compared to all of 2017.

According to the Trillium Gift of Life Network, which runs organ and tissue donation in the province of Ontario, these donations were 5 per cent of the province’s overall number of organ and tissue donations. This was more than double the percentage of euthanasia-related donations in 2017.

Euthanasia/ assisted suicide – dubbed “medical assistance in dying” – has been legal in Canada since 2016. Canadians who have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” are able to elect to end their lives. This is defined as a “serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” that results in “an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability,” and causes “enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable” and cannot be treated in an “acceptable” manner.

A person’s death has to become “reasonably foreseeable” in order to be approved for euthanasia, but their condition does not necessarily have to be considered terminal.

In Ontario, Trillium “proactively” solicits patients to discuss organ donation once they have elected to be killed. It is provincial law that Trillium be made aware once a person has been approved to end their life. Ronnie Gavsie, the CEO of Trillium, defended this as “the right thing to do for those on the [organ donation] wait list.”

“And, as part of high-quality end-of life care, we make sure that all patients and families are provided with the information they need and the opportunity to make a decision on whether they wish to make a donation,” Gavsie told the Ottawa Citizen. “That just follows the logical protocol under the law and the humane approach for those who are undergoing medical assistance in dying.”

In Quebec, it recently was approved for Transplant Quebec to raise the possibility of organ donation after a person’s request to die by euthanasia is approved by doctors.

Conservative MP Michael Cooper told CNA that while he is not necessarily opposed to someone donating their organs after dying by euthanasia, he said the practice raises questions regarding consent, and opens up the possibility of coercion.

“The concern that I have is that it muddies the waters in terms of the patient making a decision freely, without any degree of coercion or influence from anyone,” said Cooper. He added that with the current setup of physician-assisted death in Canada, there is a chance that it is administered to a patient who is not able to properly consent or who may not want to die.

Organ donation “should not be part of the conversation” when a patient makes a decision regarding physician-assisted dying, said Cooper, and that he feels as though the decision to donate one’s organs should be “completely separate” from the decision to pursue euthanasia.

Dr. Moira McQueen, a moral theologian and the executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, told CNA said such practices appear “rather horrifying.”

McQueen cited the scenario of a patient who opts to begin the euthasia process at home and be transferred to a hospital for organ donation as one that sparks “even more ethical and legal problems.” In this case, a patient would essentially be sedated at home and then transported to a hospital for the final dose of lethal medication and then have their organs removed.

“That situation makes it clearer that the focus is truly on ‘harvesting’,” said McQueen. “The donor’s dignity is compromised and the ‘separation’ of teams that is supposed to be the warrant of independence of the teams is completely blurred.”

While the Church does not have ethical issues with the use of organ donations from consenting donors who died natural deaths, or from unconscious donors whose relatives have elected to donate their organs, McQueen said there are serious ethical questions about the transplant use of organs retrieved after euthanasia.

“There’s no Church teaching on it that says specifically, you can’t. There is definitely something that talks about the dignity of the body, and I would think, as a Catholic, most of us would say ‘oh no, you can’t use these organs because the person has died a sinful death, died a wrong death by asking for euthanasia,” she said.

The ethical questions regarding this situation have not been resolved, she explained, and that she could see both sides of the issue. McQueen told CNA that she feels the conversations regarding organ donation and euthanasia need to be completely separate. If this were the case, following the death of the patient, the organs could be considered “neutral.”

“I think there could be a possibility that [the organs] could be used, despite the fact now that we are talking about people who have asked for euthanasia,” she said, but could only be considered if the medical team administering euthanasia was entirely and wholly separate from the medical team that handled the organ retreival.

“I think the Church will eventually deal with all these implications, but right now everyone is watching these events unfold and it’s tricky to separate what’s morally wrong,” she said.

Given that a person who is approved for euthanasia may not be terminally ill, McQueen said it is not out of the realm of possibility that a primary physician “might well suggest organ donation as, if not an incentive, a kind of ‘consolation’ for the person’s own loss of life.”

“These scenarios are all too real, and many people will be all too willing to ‘justify’ their decisions by turning something which even to them cannot be an unqualified good into something quite noble,” she said.


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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be celebrated Jan. 19-26 in Saskatoon

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 11:42

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The 2020 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will again be marked in Saskatoon, with a number of events organized Jan. 19-26 through the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism.

“We look forward to seeing you as we celebrate our unity, together!” – Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, Saskatoon    

The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer is “They showed us unusual kindness.” In keeping with that theme the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism (PCE) is inviting participants at each event to bring donations of non-perishable food donations for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Food Pantry Program. There will also be opportunities to make freewill offerings for the work of the PCE.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon reflects upon the 2020 Week of Prayer:  Bishop’s Letter

Week of Prayer 2020 Events

3:00 pm Sunday, Jan. 19 — Opening Service at Knox United Church, 838 Spadina Crescent East, Saskatoon.

7:30 pm Tuesday, Jan. 21 – Singing into Unity at St Stephen’s Anglican Church, 10 Grosvenor Crescent, Saskatoon.

12:00 pm Thursday, Jan. 23 – Service and Luncheon at Queen’s House, 601 Taylor Street West, Saskatoon —Liturgy 12:00 pm – Lunch 12:30 pm.

7:30 pm Friday, Jan. 24 – Celebrating Our Unity, An Ecumenical Ceilidh at Christ Church Anglican, 515 28th Street West, Saskatoon.

3:00 pm Sunday, Jan. 26 – Closing Service at St Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church, 1902 Munroe Avenue (at Taylor Street East), Saskatoon.

Daily Morning Services will be held at 8:00 am at the following locations:

Monday, Jan. 20 — St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, 436 Spadina Crescent East, Saskatoon.

Tuesday, Jan. 21 – Grace Westminster United Church, 505-1oth Street East, Saskatoon.

Wednesday, Jan. 22 — Calvin Go Forth Presbyterian, 1602 Sommerfeld Avenue, Saskatoon.

Thursday, Jan. 23 – All Saints Anglican Church, 1801 Lorne Avenue, Saskatoon.

Friday, Jan. 24 – Resurrection Lutheran Church, 310 Lenore Drive, Saskatoon.


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Celebration marks transfer of St Angela Merici Residence to Emmanuel Care

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 11:21

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski and Sr. Teresita Kambeitz, OSU, with files from Emmanuel Care

[Catholic Saskatoon News] – A celebration was held Jan. 6, 2020 to mark the transfer of ownership of St. Angela Merici Residence care home to Emmanuel Care.

Originally constructed in the Lawson Heights neighbourhood of Saskatoon by the Ursuline Sisters of Prelate for aging members of their community, St. Angela Merici Residence opened its doors to the wider community in December, 2017.

After a discernment process by the Ursulines of Prelate in conjunction with the provincial Catholic health care organization Emmanuel Care, which owns Catholic health care facilities and care homes across the province, ownership was transferred to Emmanuel Care as of October 2019.

“In thanksgiving for the Ursulines of Angela’s convent, who built St. Angela Merici Residence as a place of hospitality for their retired sisters and later as a home of care for their aging and infirmed sisters, and eventually as a licensed personal care home where all who come can experience God’s love and compassion, we pray to the Lord…” – Prayer of intention during celebration of Mass, led by Scott Irwin, Emmanuel Care president and CEO.

The Jan. 6 sponsorship-transfer celebration included celebration of the Eucharist with Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, OMI, as well as the missioning of the St. Angela Merici Residence board of directors and executive director.

Ray Kolla, Vice-Chair of the St. Angela Merici Residence board of directors, welcomed those assembled for the celebration. “Today we celebrate a special milestone in the life of St. Angela Merici as we have formally joined the Emmanuel Care family. It is our hope that in doing so, the ministry that started with the Ursuline Sisters will continue for years to come.”

In his homily, Archbishop Bolen reflected on the Feast of Epiphany and the quest of the Magi in light of the transfer of the residence to Emmanuel Care.

“We as individuals are called to be faithful in our quest and so also are we as a community. Your Ursuline community is called to ‘Educate for Life,’ bound to each other in compassion and witnessing to the joy of the quest which today is taking us to a new place. Today you are bearing beautiful witness to your faithfulness to God,” he said.

“Emmanuel Care is also on a quest , namely, to bring Christ’s compassion to the sick, the suffering and those in need; to carry forward Jesus’ mission in the world.  Now Emmanuel Care is to take on a new role of ownership and responsibility for this beautiful place. It is a meeting of quests that has brought us here.”

The archbishop also reflected on the deeper narrative of God’s quest. “Where we are living, God wants to be with us. Where we find joy, God wants to accompany us. God is taking the sisters with one hand and Emmanuel Care in the other hand, saying ‘Let’s walk together’.”

Bolen concluded: “We hope it will continue to be a place of blessing for all who live here.  We have a kind of covenant, a covenant of peace and joy, trusting in God as we continue on our quest.”

“For Emmanuel Care, the Board of Directors of St. Angela Merici Residence, and all who work at St. Angela Merici Residence, that individually and collectively they may embrace their Mission of Compassionate Care and live it each day as they continue the healing ministry of Jesus to all those entrusted to their care, we pray to the Lord.” – Prayer of intention during celebration of Mass, led by Scott Irwin, Emmanuel Care president and CEO.

Emmanuel Care had its beginnings some 30 years ago when the bishops of Saskatchewan created the Catholic Health Council of Saskatchewan to accept transfer of ownership of Catholic health care facilities previously owned and operated by congregations of religious sisters. That original Catholic health organization established by the bishops is now known as Emmanuel Care. In addition to St. Angela Merici Residence, Emmanuel Care is sponsor/owner of various Catholic facilities throughout Saskatchewan, including 12 Catholic hospitals and nursing homes and two seniors independent and assisted living facilities (Trinity Manor at Stonebridge, Saskatoon and Trinity Manor at Westerra, Regina). Emmanuel Care continues to be accountable to the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan, who are its corporate members.

“We are proud to welcome St. Angela Merici to the Emmanuel Care family,” said Francis Maza, the Emmanuel Care Executive Lead for Mission, Ethics and Spirituality.

St. Angela Merici board of directors missioning: Ray Kolla, Brenda Fitzgerald and Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU (l-r).

The formal transferring ceremony featured Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU, addressing Al Brischuk, chair of Emmanuel Care.

“In Canada, healthcare, education, and social services find its roots in the work of religious women who dedicated their lives to the service of the people in our country,” said Lewans. “The Ursulines of St. Angela’s Convent have served the Lord with humility and joy, planting seeds of hope and care in everyone they serve. Over time these early seedlings grew into well-rooted and established facilities of care.”

St. Angela Merici Residence is a testament to this commitment and dedication, Lewans added, calling for its legacy to be preserved, built upon, and kept in trust for the future by Emmanuel Care. “A new generation of visionary leaders must strive to uphold the Catholic mission and values in carrying out the healing ministry of Christ to all in need. Times have changed, but the gospel values remain constant as our guide to compassionately care for the sick and suffering.”

Brischuk responded on behalf of the Emmanuel Care board of directors and the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan, accepting the ownership, sponsorship and governance of the residence. Please be assured that this precious health ministry of leadership and service that we are now inheriting from you will be protected and nurtured with the greatest of care.

The formal transfer of sponsorship/ownership of the former Ursulines of Prelate residence to Emmanuel Care was marked Jan. 6 in Saskatoon.



Ray Kolla, Vice-Chair of St. Angela Merici Residence board of directors, led the missioning ceremony for Shannon Granger as Executive Director.


History of St. Angela Merici Residence Notes from the Jan. 6 program booklet:

In The Beginning…

The Ursulines of Prelate built St. Angela Merici Residence as a retirement home for their Sisters.  After several years of discernment and planning, lots 8 and 9 of block 914 in the Lawson Heights area were purchased and the ground for the residence was blessed March 2, 1985. Excavation began the next day!

As in all construction projects, there were some revisions and delays along the way, even some changes in management of the construction. In any case, by fall of that same year, the structure was taking shape. The occupancy permit was received on March 1, 1986.

The first sisters moved in on May 20, 1986. By June 29 there were sixteen residents.

The official opening and blessing took place on June 29, 1986 with Bishop James Mahoney presiding.  Along with many Ursuline sisters, also present were Bishop Noel Delaquis, (Bishop of Gravelbourg), Fr. Bernard Dunn (pastor of St. Anne’s Parish), Saskatoon Mayor Cliff Wright, architects and construction personnel.

For a number of years after opening, St. Angela Merici Residence housed a Stay and Play Program in an area of the basement.  Mothers and their infants and preschoolers gathered three half days a week.

Many other events and activities hosted at the residence include: practices of The Fireside Singers; sessions of Foundations;  RCIA groups; conventions of the Ursuline Sisters; annual meeting of bishops and religious superiors; retreats; training sessions in liturgy, canon law and team leadership; visits and entertainment from neighbouring schools.

Daily Eucharistic celebrations have been made possible through the generous service of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Redemptorist fathers and diocesan priests.

St. Angela Merici Residence has always been a center for the Ursulines sisters to gather for their meetings, feast days and other special congregational events. Since the closing of St. Angela’s Convent/Academy in Prelate, SK, the funerals of Ursuline sisters also take place at the residence.

Provision of Care… 

When St. Angela Merici Residence opened, a sister was both administrator and care giver to the residents with some assistance from Home Care. Sisters needing 4th level care usually moved to nursing homes in Saskatoon. By the year 2000, care needs increased and so care aids were employed first for the night, then daytime and evening shifts. Since 2003 a doctor has been available for regular visits and emergency consultation.

In 2010-2011 the sisters engaged a professional health care consultant to assess the areas of administration and the coordination of services. Recommendations included some changes in governance and management practices, as well as maintenance and residents’ care. The General Convention of the Ursuline Congregation gave the General Council the responsibility and authority to implement the recommendations as follows: in October, 2011 the Leadership/Administration began to be shared by two people –  a lay administrator and a sister coordinator of the sisters’ community; in January 2012 a Registered Nurse was hired as a consultant and support/guide to the Care Aids; in June 2012 the St. Angela Merici Residence Advisory committee was established; in fall 2014 care needs were increasing and so did the number of shifts for care personnel; hospital beds were purchased for some rooms, as was an appropriate lift.

In 2015, the Ursuline congregation engaged in a number of consultations and in-depth discussions about the future of St. Angela Merici Residence. Continuing to staff what had by now become a care home, meant that serious consideration needed to be given to the future management/operation of the residence as well as its viability. At their spring General Convention, the Ursuline sisters expressed their hope that the residence would continue as a care home and that eventually Emmanuel Care would take over management and ownership of the residence. While conversations with Emmanuel Care and Saskatoon Integrated Health Services for the Saskatoon Health Region continued, care needs were increasing at the residence and a Registered Nurse was hired part time.

A decision was made to proceed with the process of obtaining a Personal Care Home license. A corporation was established, a board of directors appointed and the first meeting of St. Angela Merici Residence Inc. was held Sept. 21, 2016.

The business of the corporation took effect Jan. 1, 2017. On Dec. 12, 2017 the Personal Care Home license was obtained!

At the beginning of 2018 efforts were made to invite residents – besides Ursuline Sisters – to fill the empty suites and take advantage of the excellent care being provided at St. Angela Merici Residence. At the end of 2019, the residence had been at near capacity for several months.

The Ursuline Sisters are very pleased to see the fulfillment of  their hopes – that St. Angela Merici Residence continue as a care home, that it be owned and operated by Emmanuel Care, and especially that they can continue to have their sisters, and others, call the residence home and receive respectful and compassionate care. – Excerpt from celebration program

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Young Christian family will be sponsored as refugees in the diocese of Saskatoon

Mon, 12/30/2019 - 12:40

By Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard,

Migration Office Coordinator, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

Maria and Sharoon are a young Catholic couple in their twenties who grew up in Pakistan as part of the small Christian minority living in that Islamic republic.

While Maria was taking a hairdressing course, the owner of a nearby shop made unwanted advances towards her. Through his business he had access to her phone number, and she began to get disturbing images and messages from an unknown source. When Maria discovered the source and the man accosted her in person, protests were lodged, and in retaliation the shopkeeper filed a blasphemy charge against Maria. This claim led to an angry mob damaging the family’s property as announcements were made in nearby mosques about the family defiling the Quran. Maria and her family went into hiding and later moved to Thailand, where they have been living since December 2014.  In 2018 baby Ariana was born to Maria and Sharoon in Bangkok, and the family is now expecting another child.

Life in Bangkok is precarious for asylum seekers, as Thailand does not recognize any refugees and treats all such persons as illegal immigrants. There is no right to employment, education or benefits, and the possibilities of arrest, long term detention in Bangkok’s overcrowded IDP centre, or deportation back to Pakistan are always possible.

Recognizing our duty towards those who are persecuted for the name of Christ, the Archdiocese of Toronto sent a mission team to Bangkok earlier this year. With the help of a local priest in Bangkok, the Toronto archdiocesan team identified, interviewed and selected 65 families, and have challenged all the Canadian dioceses to join them in finding sponsorship in Canada for these families.  Bishop Mark Hagemoen agreed that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon should take up this challenge, and Maria and her family were selected for sponsorship.

Plight of Pakistani Christian families highlighted through Archdiocese of Toronto mission trip to Thailand: ARTICLE

A successful sponsorship requires people (to form a settlement team) and finances for a period of 12 months. For a family of this size, the costs will be in the region of $27,000 to $30,000.

The diocesan Migration Office is actively seeking individuals or parishes who would like to partner in helping this young family make a new life. To assist with this sponsorship or for more information, please contact Migration Office Coordinator Jan Bigland-Pritchard at or (306) 659-5842.

Refugee sponsorship update: new intake system starts Jan. 1

The diocese of Saskatoon finishes the calendar year having filed new sponsorships for a total of 34 people, and having welcomed many new arrivals to Saskatoon.

Refugee families recently welcomed in the diocese of Saskatoon: ARTICLE

It has been a busy time as the diocesan Migration Office has put methods in place to ensure that refugee sponsorship becomes more accountable and that the quality of our settlement work remains high.

New government regulations have created challenges, and we are grateful to parish refugee committees and family co-sponsors for their patience and flexibility as we learn how to do quality work in a changed environment.

One of the big changes for the Migration Office is the end of a “waiting list”, which will be scrapped as of Dec. 31, 2019.

 CLICK HERE for more information about the changes

The list had grown much too large, and had become unworkable and unjust. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon  will move to an annual intake system –  as have most other Sponsorship Agreement Holders in the area – in order that inquirers get a speedy answer and do not build up false hopes.

The new intake system opens Jan. 1, 2020, for a period of about one month.  Inquirers are urged to make their first contact by e-mail: numbers of requests are now so large that it is impossible for the diocese to handle inquiries on a drop-in or telephone basis.

Parishes that have not recently been involved in refugee sponsorship are invited to find out more about what is involved by contacting the diocesan Migration Office.

Please continue to pray for the 71 million people on our planet who currently have been forced from their homes, and pray that our diocesan Migration Office can be a small part of God’s response of compassion to them.




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Meditation: it’s not for the multitasker

Mon, 12/30/2019 - 11:58

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

Many who are suspicious of meditation still associate it with yoga or mindfulness

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – Meditation. In the modern Western world, the word is often associated with yoga mats, incense, candles, and mindfulness practices. According to Benedictine priest Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB, that has made many Catholics suspicious of the practice.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Freeman, the founder of the World Community for Christian Meditation, said a form of meditation rooted in the Gospel is slowly making a comeback in the Church, and that’s a good thing.

Back to the roots

A revival of Christian meditation was sparked in the 1960s in part thanks to Fr. John Main, an Irish Benedictine monk who noticed Christians were yearning for deeper spiritual lives.

“People were looking for an interior experience of God and they weren’t finding it in the Church. What did they do? You had transcendental meditation. You had the great search going eastwards, to Asia. And more recently, in our time, we have mindfulness, which is kind of an abbreviated form of Buddhist practice but made popular because it’s very secular,” said Freeman.

The Irish monk studied the phenomenon and realized his monastic tradition had its own ancient practice of meditation that had been marginalized or somehow forgotten.

“Contemplation as a whole became an object of suspicion in the modern Church. The emphasis went entirely on other forms of prayer: mental prayer, devotional prayer, liturgical prayer,” said Father Freeman. “Those are very important forms of prayer, but without ‘the prayer of the heart,’ they easily become mechanical, superficial, or they wither.”

Fr. John Main dug deeper, looking into Jesus’ teachings on prayer and finding Jesus described it as something you do interiorly (behind closed doors), in silence, with a calmness of mind (not worrying), and with undistracted attention on God.

All of this led him to formulate and teach meditation grounded in the teachings of Jesus and early desert monks in a way that is accessible to Christian lay people. In 1977, at the invitation of the Archdiocese of Montreal, Main and Freeman arrived in Canada to teach.

Main died in Montreal in 1982, but Freeman continued his work. In 1991, inspired by his mentor, Father Freeman formed the World Community for Christian Meditation. It is now present in 100 countries.

Prayer of the heart

John Cassian, a fourth-century monk and mystic, called meditation “pure prayer,” because of its focus on God, not on oneself. That can be hard for a generation used to multitasking.

“We live in a very distracted age. Young people particularly grow up with an addition to their mental chatter, devices, and social media,” said Father Freeman, who recently led a three-day seminar on meditation for about 200 people at Quest University in Squamish.

“By letting go of that, we rediscover the real presence of the spirit in us, our own spiritual dimension.”

To let go, Cassian recommended finding a quiet place and choosing a word, verse, or short phrase to repeat. He used the Latin word for “formula.” Today, people might be more familiar with the word “mantra.”

“We’re turning the attention off ourselves to God through the spirit of Christ in us,” explained Father Freeman. He recommended choosing a word like “maranatha,” which means “come, Lord” in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.

To meditate, a person must sit in an upright, relaxed, and alert position; close their eyes; slowly, interiorly repeat the word or phrase; and spend about 20 minutes or so in the “prayer of the heart.”

“The art of meditation, in a very practical way, is to be in the present moment by letting go of your thoughts as they arise and returning to the journey to the heart, the inner room,” said Freeman.

Not a solo experience

This meditation Freeman teaches in his travels isn’t just mindfulness or “smuggling in Buddhism,” as he’s been charged. Rooted in the early Church, it stands apart from the practices used by other religions or stressed people looking to relax.

For example, it’s not meant to be done in isolation. The World Community of Christian Meditation has chapters all over the world, with members creating parish groups and meeting weekly to listen to recorded reflections and meditate together in silence.

JoAnn Kelly-Cullen, a member of St. Anthony’s Parish in West Vancouver, meditates for 30 minutes twice a day. “In spite of yourself, your life begins to change and your understanding of Scripture deepens,” when you meditate, she said. “It helps the rest of my day. I would miss it if it didn’t happen.”

The meditation group at St. Anthony’s meets weekly for a 10-minute recorded lecture by Main or Freeman, followed by 25 minutes of silent meditation in the church.

“When you meditate together, in a Christian context, you are experiencing in a silent way what it means to be the body of Christ,” said Freeman.

There is “so much loneliness in the world, so much digital isolation and disconnection, we have to find a way through that loneliness back to an experience of communion, community, and friendship. It doesn’t look like it, but this is the direct way to do it: by entering into silence, stillness, and solitude, you find that community.”

Let the little ones come

An 11-year-old child’s depiction of meditation. The book of illustrations was published in 2017 after students participated in Christian meditation. Fr. John Main calls meditation “the prayer of the heart.” (CCN photo by Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic)

While adults may have a difficult time meditating, WCCM school liaison Andy Burns said it often comes easily for children, who are not burdened by the same distractions adults carry.

“God is winking at them all the time,” he said.

“When I’m working with children, I say: ‘Your heart has ears. You’re not going to be listening for God the way I’m speaking now, but your heart can sense God’s presence.’ Kids catch on to that very naturally.”

More naturally than Burns himself, who was only introduced to meditation four years ago. “I noticed how it enriched other forms of prayer,” once he got the hang of it, he said. “I realized more and more the mystery within me, and I began to notice more and more that it’s in other people, that it’s in Mass, that it’s in adoration.”

Catholic bishops in Canada have spoken in favour of Christian meditation. Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton has described it as a beautiful form of prayer.

“It would probably be the kind of prayer that monks and cloistered sisters, nuns, would experience in their convents and monasteries, but more and more people are using Christian meditation as a very profound form of personal prayer and communal prayer. You experience the peace and the love of God as you do this,” said Crosby.

“When you close your eyes, you really are in your own chapel. You can quietly block out everything, all the distractions, and focus … It is a very Christian way, and a Catholic way, of praying.”

More information about Christian meditation at or at


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Lifted from suffering: An unheralded ministry is bringing healing to abuse survivors across Western Canada

Mon, 12/30/2019 - 11:20

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

Grief to Grace: Walking in a freedom they have never known

[Kelowna, BC – Canadian Catholic News] – Theresa Burke founded Rachel’s Vineyard in 1995 as a ministry for parents grieving after abortion. But she came to realize many of the participants seeking help for post-abortion regret had been sexually assaulted or were survivors of domestic abuse.

Seeing that the needs of abuse survivors were going unmet, Burke, a counsellor and psychologist, set up a ministry for them called Grief to Grace, the new program drawing upon insights from Rachel’s Vineyard.

Burke first piloted the Grief to Grace program in North Dakota 14 years ago, and in 2009, she brought the ministry to British Columbia.

Grief to Grace operates four- to five- day retreats that incorporate Scripture, journaling, group activities, and therapy for victims of abuse in centres in Canada (Kelowna, B.C.), the United States, England, and Jamaica.

Counsellor and psychologist Dianne Beamish said Grief to Grace welcomes people who have suffered physical, emotional, and other abuse. Most have suffered sexual trauma; some have been abused by priests.

An outgrowth of post-abortion counselling

“When they come in on the Thursday, they are so hurting and wounded, they can hardly look you in the eye,” Beamish said. Then, for several days, the team of staffers, including counsellors and a spiritual director, guide participants through Burke’s program, which includes guided Scripture meditation and prayer.

“By the Sunday, they are full of life, the transformation has happened, and they are walking in a freedom they have never known.”

It seems those who suffer in silence heal in silence, too. Grief to Grace is 14 years old and expanding across the globe, but still not widely known.

Terry Dunn, director of Grief to Grace Kelowna, said there are about 15 centres internationally. Here in Canada, his Kelowna-based team serves communities from the west coast to Manitoba to the Northwest Territories.

Dunn said in the wake of the clergy abuse scandals in the U.S., there seemed to be more openness around talking about abuse and ways to serve victims, but it’s hard to quantify its effects on the numbers of people seeking help from non-profits and counsellors.

A family therapist for 35 years before he retired and joined Grief to Grace, Dunn said the power of a ministry like this comes from treating the person as a whole.

“We are spiritual beings as well as physical, emotional, relational, sexual, all of that,” he said. Though the program takes care to respect participants’ boundaries spiritually, it was created from a Catholic perspective and draws on scriptural themes.

Combining the psychological and spiritual

For example, participants reflect on Jesus’ passion as they write down names they were called or words they believed about themselves and nail them to a piece of wood. They talk about their pain while reflecting on Jesus’ wounds, and write letters to the children they used to be.

“This is the psychological and spiritual combined, which makes it so powerful,” said Dunn. He’s not aware of any other treatment programs like this in other Christian denominations.

One-on-one counselling is a valuable resource, but victims who are plagued by shame and insecurity shouldn’t rule out group sessions, added Dunn. Meeting other victims of abuse in a safe, confidential environment can help them realize they are not alone and that others can relate to their pain.

“It is not uncommon to have a 72-year-old woman talk about her abuse, and that trigger a 35-year-old woman in a way that they know the other person gets it and their experience was so similar. They can help heal one another.”

The next Grief to Grace retreat in Kelowna, B.C. is scheduled for May 2020. More information, including location information and registration, is available by visiting or contacting Grief to Grace Kelowna: 250-878-7603.

Local resources for those dealing with abuse:

  • Immediate danger: 911
  • Saskatchewan HealthLine: 811
  • Saskatchewan HealthLine TTY access for the hearing impaired is available at 1-888-425-4444.
  • Kids Help: 1-800-668-6868
  • Community and health services line: 211 or
  • Legacy Ridge Trauma Recovery and Resource Centre, Saskatoon: or (306) 659-5815
  • CFS Saskatoon counselling: or (306) 244-7773
  • Report abuse by clergy, religious, or lay employee/volunteer in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon:
Bernice’s story: Hurt and shame replaced by peace

(Note: Surnames are withheld to protect privacy)

At the age of five, Bernice was tied up and sexually assaulted by a neighbourhood bully in a rural British Columbia town. Overwhelmed with fear and shame, she didn’t tell a soul. She couldn’t.

Not long after the attack, her family moved to another town. It was out of convenience that they left, she explained in a recent interview with The B.C. Catholic, “not because anybody knew.”

The new neighbourhood was not far enough away. There the abuse started again. More local boys sought her out as a target to exploit.

“Abusers seemed to be attracted to me. It started and went on for years and years and years.”

She had learned to expect little support at home, where she was often told she was “no good.” Her father was verbally abusive and alcoholic. From a young age, she had low self-esteem.

“As I became a teenager, well, I just felt it was my duty in life,” she said. “That’s what you start to believe.”

Unable to handle the shame and self-blame, Bernice turned to substance use.

“It gets to the point where you get into the booze and drugs and try to forget it all … Then I got suicidal and came really close to that,” she said. “I was in pain all those years. I acted out of my pain. When people saw me as being a troublemaker, the actual problem was that I was abused when I was five.”

In pursuit of peace

For years Bernice suffered in silence.

Whatever seeds of Christian faith had been planted on those days her parents had dragged her to church had long shrivelled without ever having taken root. “We were cradle Catholics, I guess … I was forced to go to church until confirmation. It was my choice after that, so I left.”

And then, three decades after the traumatic attack, Bernice started to seek healing. She found herself signing up for a live-in retreat, an event described simply as a place to get to know Jesus.

Having walked away as a teenager from a faith practice that had meant little to her at the time, she began to reconsider. “I probably didn’t say two words at the retreat,” but the experience made a profound difference. “The people running the retreat had a peace about them. It attracted me: this peace that I never had and wanted.”

So Bernice started going to Mass again.

She also found a counsellor, joined a prayer ministry, and sought other ways to calm her inner turmoil. For about a dozen years, she worked hard to blaze a trail on her healing journey. “I started to get my spiritual life a bit together. It took a long time. It wasn’t an overnight thing.”

Then Bernice found out about a little-known program, the Grief to Grace retreat, which she said completely changed her life. “The memories of abuse are still there, but the feelings, the hurt, and the shame, are gone,” she said.

“I remember walking down the hallway and thinking how different I felt. Something was different. The only way I can explain it, and it doesn’t make sense, but it felt like my head attached back to my body. I have felt that disconnect my whole life until one day at Grief to Grace, and I have never felt it since.”

Not everyone has such a dramatic experience, but for Bernice, it meant wounds healed and a life she could reclaim as her own.

To make the best of what she sees as a gift given to her, she was trained as a facilitator and now helps run retreats for others who are suffering.

Diocese of Saskatoon safeguarding training sessions include information on impact of sexual abuse and the need to support victims:  ARTICLE

Pam’s story: From secrecy to truth-sharing

Pam was sexually abused at age 13 by an older sibling. She believed she had to hide the truth to protect her family.

“Denial is a really safe place. It’s a comfort zone, even though it’s very uncomfortable.”

The B.C. woman kept the secret for years. She married and had five children.

It wasn’t until she arrived at a Grief to Grace retreat in 2011 that she came to realize it was the truth that would set her free.

“When I got there, I was amazed how different everyone’s story was, and yet we all suffered the same pain,” she said. “Through the program, I was able to join my suffering to Jesus’ suffering.”

This reflection on Jesus’ sufferings, she said, also helped her cope with her own.

During the four-day retreat, Pam was surrounded by counsellors and abuse survivors who had become her friends. Though she can’t pinpoint exactly when, there was a moment she felt the guilt and shame disappear.

Like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders

“I felt like I was standing up straight for the first time, literally like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “Part of survival is to have a shell around your heart, around your soul. It was necessary to carry me through to that day, but once I healed, that hardness of my heart was replaced with a heart of flesh” (see Ez 36:26).

She was convicted by a passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that says to have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness (5:11). “That really struck me. I was taught as a child, in a roundabout way, that you keep a secret if it’s going to embarrass somebody.”

She realized the next step was to tell her family what had happened when she was 13.

“It felt like I was stepping into a hurricane when I started speaking the truth,” she said. “I was told to be quiet, that I was ruining the family … They tried to control me, and it didn’t work anymore because I had learned to speak the truth. I had a choice to make, and it was them or the truth. I chose the truth.”

Now, Pam is not shy about sharing her experience at Grief to Grace. Her husband and children are supportive, and her oldest son volunteers for the non-profit that helped her work through the trauma.

“Any one of our children, if someone spoke to them about abuse, they would share my story and encourage them to go to Grief to Grace,” she said. “I’m happy to share my story because I don’t want one person to suffer alone.”

She also found some healing in speaking with a trusted counsellor and in reading autobiographies of abuse survivors.

Pam had some words of advice for someone in whom a close friend who has suffered abuse chooses to confide. “I think the most important thing is to listen if someone wants to talk about it. If they confide in you, say: ‘I’m sorry that happened.’ If you know about a program or a counsellor that can help them, encourage that. It’s something no one should go through alone.”

For her, healing was about so much more than leaving the shame behind.

“Growing up in a family where abuse happens, there’s not a lot of love,” she said. “I don’t know that I ever experienced love, not in the way I do now. When I used to think of God my Father, that was a scary thing, if I related that to my father. Discovering God’s fatherly love and what that truly means, and how he accepts me and loves me and is proud of me – I was missing that.”




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Pope Francis on World Day of Peace: The world needs peacemakers open to dialogue, forgiveness

Sat, 12/28/2019 - 13:10

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Pope Francis’ message for the 2020 World Day of Peace released on Dec. 12, 2019 calls for openness to dialogue, commitment to forgiveness, and an ecological conversion.

“The world does not need empty words but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation,” Pope Francis says in his peace message for Jan. 1, 2020, the World Day of Peace.

“We cannot truly achieve peace without a convinced dialogue between men and women who seek the truth beyond ideologies and differing opinions. Peace must be built up continually; it is a journey made together in constant pursuit of the common good, truthfulness and respect for law,” he says.

Pope Francis says that war often begins with “the inability to accept the diversity of others,” which fosters attitudes of “domination born of selfishness and pride.”

“War is fueled by a perversion of relationships, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuses of power, by fear of others and by seeing diversity as an obstacle. And these, in turn, are aggravated by the experience of war,” he says.

He notes that entire nations have struggled to “break free of the chains of exploitation and corruption that fuel hatred and violence.”

“Our human community bears, in its memory and its flesh, the scars of ever more devastating wars and conflicts that affect especially the poor and the vulnerable,” the pope says.

In his message, Pope Francis recalls his meeting with survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on his recent apostolic journey to Japan. He says that their testimony bears witness to succeeding generations of the unspeakable suffering and horror caused by the bombings.

The pope reiterates his message that nuclear deterrence can only produce “the illusion of security.”

“We cannot claim to maintain stability in the world through the fear of annihilation, in a volatile situation, suspended on the brink of a nuclear abyss and enclosed behind walls of indifference,” he says.

Pope Francis says that the answer to breaking today’s unhealthy mentality of threats and fear is to pursue “a genuine fraternity based on our common origin from God” through dialogue and mutual trust.

Only by choosing “the path of respect can we break the spiral of vengeance,” he says, underlining the importance of forgiveness by quoting Christ’s command to forgive not “seven times, but seventy times seven.”

“This path of reconciliation is a summons to discover in the depths of our heart the power of forgiveness and the capacity to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters. When we learn to live in forgiveness, we grow in our capacity to become men and women of peace,” he says.

For Catholic Christians, confession is a part of the peace process because it “renews individuals and communities” and “bids us to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, who reconciled all things … by making peace through the blood of his cross,” the Holy Father says.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation “requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbours or against God’s creation,” he says.

The World Day of Peace – instituted by St. Paul VI in 1968 – is celebrated each year on the first day of January. The pope provides a special message for the occasion, which is sent to all foreign ministers around the world.

The pope’s message for the 2020 World Day of Peace is entitled, Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion.”

“The ecological conversion for which we are appealing will lead us to a new way of looking at life, as we consider the generosity of the Creator who has given us the earth and called us to a share it in joy and moderation,” Pope Francis says.

“All this gives us deeper motivation and a new way to dwell in our common home, to accept our differences, to respect and celebrate the life that we have received and share, and to seek living conditions and models of society that favour the continued flourishing of life and the development of the common good of the entire human family,” he says.

At a Dec. 12 press conference on the peace message, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said faith in God’s covenant implies care for the weakest members of society and for the environment as God’s creation.

In his peace message, Pope Francis says that democracy can be an important paradigm for the peace process, provided that it is “grounded in justice and a commitment to protect the rights of every person, especially the weak and marginalized.”

“Setting out on a journey of peace is a challenge made all the more complex because the interests at stake in relationships between people, communities and nations, are numerous and conflicting. We must first appeal to people’s moral conscience and to personal and political will,” he says.

“The desire for peace lies deep within the human heart, and we should not resign ourselves to seeking anything less than this,” Pope Francis says.


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What a decade! A look at the biggest Catholic stories of the 2010s

Sat, 12/28/2019 - 12:57

Catholic News Agency (CNA)

[Vatican City – CNA] – When Church historians look back on the last ten years, they’ll have several historic and important moments to study.

As a new decade begins on January 1, 2020, CNA offers a look back at some of the most important stories for the Church in the 2010s:


Pope Benedict XVI announces his retirement

When Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would retire in February 2013, he was the first pope to relinquish his office since 1415. The pope emeritus said that he would “serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”

Pope Francis, first Latin American pope, elected

After the resignation of Pope Benedict XVi, the conclave of cardinals elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who took the name Pope Francis. The pope is the first Latin American to be elected to the papacy, and the first Jesuit.


Pope St. John Paul II and Pope St. John XXIII canonized

John Paul II had been beatified in 2011 by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. John XXIII had been beatified in 2000, by Pope John Paul II.

The two were canonized together by Pope Francis in April 2014.

Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, the first Polish pope, has been the longest-reigning pope since Vatican II, Pope Francis pointed out during the canonization.

At the canonization, Pope Francis praised John Paul II’s “untiring service, his spiritual guidance, and his extraordinary testimony of holiness.”


Pope Francis releases Laudato Si’

The papal encyclical Laudato Si’ – Care for Our Common Home connected ecological crises and the suffering of the most vulnerable populations, calling for conversion and change at every level.


Pope Francis releases Amoris laetitia

Pope Francis’ pastoral exhortation on marriage and family life was written as a result of an Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Amoris laetitia, the Joy of Love, offers a guide for both families and their pastors, and addresses challenges of family life in the modern world.


Mother Teresa canonized

Among the most well-known Catholic figures of the 20th century, Mother Teresa of Calcutta died in 1997 after decades of service among the poor in India and around the world, with her religious order, the Missionaries of Charity. She was named a saint by Pope Francis in September 2016.


Theodore McCarrick laicized

In 2018, revelations about the sexual abuse and coercion of then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick amplified a global crisis regarding clerical sexual abuse and misconduct.

Before the McCarrick scandal emerged, Pope Francis had already faced a crisis in Chile, which led to mass protests during his January 2018 visit to Latin America, and eventually culminated in every Chilean bishop submitting his resignation to the pope.

The McCarrick scandal, however, caught the attention of the globe, and led to the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and to the eventual laicization of McCarrick.

The McCarrick scandal also led to new norms from Pope Francis on investigating allegations of abuse or misconduct by bishops.


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Safeguarding policy training sessions include information on impact of sexual abuse and the need to support victims

Sat, 12/21/2019 - 08:31

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Recent training sessions held in Humboldt and Saskatoon provided updates to parish representatives about diocesan “Covenant of Care” policies to safeguard against sexual abuse in the church, as well as information about the process and protocols for receiving and responding to allegations.

An ongoing commitment to being more victim-focused in responding to abuse was evident in the training’s focus on understanding the nature and effects of sexual abuse and the experience of victims.

 Update on safeguarding policies and serious misconduct protocols in the Diocese of Saskatoon: ARTICLE

Archdiocese of Vancouver releases report on sexual abuse cases: ARTICLE

Pope Francis lifts “pontifical secret” from legal proceedings related to abuse trials of clerics: ARTICLE

The diocesan training sessions were led by Lorie Harrison, a registered professional counsellor with Legacy Ridge Trauma Recovery and Resource Centre, and by Theresa Campbell, who serves as the Diocesan Coordinator of Care, overseeing implementation of diocesan safeguarding and misconduct policies. Campbell is also the Director of Operations at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Saskatoon.

At both St. Augustine Parish in Humboldt Nov. 25 and at Holy Family Cathedral in Saskatoon Dec. 3, Lorie Harrison provided an overview of the impact of trauma such as sexual abuse.

Harrison noted the willingness of the church to look seriously at the issues, hurt and harms that have happened in lives impacted by abuse, and she thanked participants – including pastors, parish staff, and volunteers — for their courage in showing up to learn more about “a subject that is hard to imagine, and even harder to live.”

A training session was held at St. Augustine Parish, Humboldt on Nov. 25, 2019. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Sexual abuse is an abuse of power, she said. And sexual abuse by those in a position of trust – those who are supposed to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable – is a profound betrayal that takes its toll on victims physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Harrison called for a “trauma-informed perspective” of care and compassion that recognizes the prevalence of abuse – and an understanding that often “more is happening under the surface” of behaviours and symptoms. Depression, nightmares, self-harm, phobias, sexual problems, eating disorders, anxiety or compulsive behaviours are among manifestations that might emerge because of an underlying trauma such as sexual abuse, which leaves survivors with an inability to trust, feelings of self-blame and shame, and shattered self-esteem, she described.

The subject of trauma and sexual abuse is not easy to hear about or deal with, Harrison acknowledged, urging her listeners to consider how they might respond to someone revealing trauma or abuse, calling for an attitude of acceptance, care and compassion. The natural human inclination might be to withdraw in horror, especially if the abuse challenges our belief system, she said, but there is a profound need not to recoil or reject the information and the person, but rather to “draw towards someone who is hurting.”

Those who have experienced trauma require a response that includes acknowledgment, a place of safety, of trust and compassion, she described. She called for receiving those who reveal abuse with a spirit of loving kindness that conveys: “I believe you, I am here, and I can see you are hurting.”

“I would ask you to be a neighbour, as if it were your mom, your best friend, your children – those you hold most precious,” Harrison said.

Collaboration, choice and empowerment – and a lot of “heart work” are ultimately needed on a healing journey that is rarely simple or straightforward for victims of abuse, she described.

“As organizations and communities, we are called to find ways to support, and be observant, and make sure our community is safe,” she said. She pointed to the need for prevention through policies such as the diocesan Covenant of Care, a requirement to have police record checks, and rules about not being alone with a child or vulnerable person: “These things are in place to protect everyone.”

Diocesan Coordinator of Care Theresa Campbell (left) and Lorie Harrison, a registered professional counsellor with Legacy Ridge Trauma Recovery and Resource Centre provide an overview of how a Parish Coordinator of Care might respond to an allegation or inquiry. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Diocesan Coordinator of Care Theresa Campbell provided an overview of the diocesan policies, and recent updates and changes, with a particular focus on the role of “Parish Coordinator of Care” or PCC.

Under the diocesan safeguarding policies, each parish is required to have a PCC: “who works closely with the ordained and lay leadership of the parish to ensure the diocese of Saskatoon’s Covenant of Care, Allegations of Serious Misconduct Protocol and Code of Conduct are implemented thoroughly in the parish community. The PCC also acts as a local contact for parishioners who have issues, questions about the policy or protocol.”

Parish Coordinators of Care have a role in implementing and raising awareness about the diocesan Covenant of Care, Allegations of Serious Misconduct Protocol and Code of Conduct. PCC contact information is publicized in the parish, and the PCC is asked to be a local source of information about the policies, and to serve as a contact person for anyone coming forward with an allegation of abuse.

Campbell provided an overview of steps a PCC would take to respond to an allegation, including determining and acting upon a duty to report to police of ministry of social services if a person under 18 is involved, as well as connecting the person who has come forward with diocesan “Intake Officers” who receive the allegations:

  • Anne E. Williams, BSW, RSW, SEP at (306) 220-0448 or
  • Kevin McGee, Vicar General, at (306) 659-5833 or toll free at 1-877-661-5005 Extension *833 or

Question and answer sessions followed the training presentations in both Humboldt and Saskatoon.

In a comment at the conclusion of the Saskatoon event, Fr. Mick Fleming, CSsR, pastor at St. Mary Parish in Saskatoon, stressed the importance of vigilant, well-implemented safeguarding policies, and the need to fully protect the most vulnerable, describing it as a covenant of love. “Let us focus on care and on providing healthy, wholesome ministry in freedom and peace,” Fleming urged.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen spoke at the Saskatoon training session Dec. 3, 2019. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Bishop Mark Hagemoen also spoke briefly at the Saskatoon training session Dec. 3, describing recent media coverage around the question of naming clergy and lay employees in the church who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse – which some survivors of sexual abuse have been calling for – and noting the recent release of a ground-breaking report by an historic case review committee in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. An external “historic case review committee” separate from the bishop’s office is being established in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon to review historical files, with a report anticipated in the late spring of 2020.

Hagemoen continues to call for the diocese of Saskatoon and its parishes to “hold the bar high” and actively engage in outreach and healing for victims, focus on improving policies and ongoing training, and expand the safeguarding culture.

“We continue to grow and learn about the priority of being victim- and survivor-focussed,” said Hagemoen.

The bishop also recently produced a video message updating the diocese about Covenant of Care safeguarding policies and protocols in which he said: “We need to listen to and support victims and survivors. This is the perspective from which all our efforts begin.”

Covenant of Care safeguarding committee chair Brenda Fitzgerald and Diocesan Coordinator of Care Theresa Campbell also provide video updates. The videos can be found on the diocesan website at:

In his video message to the diocese, Hagemoen again reiterated: “I, as bishop, invite victims to come forward,” echoing earlier statements asking those who have experienced abuse by persons in the Church to report the abuse.

“I commit as bishop to bring to bear the support of our church and diocese to respond to victims and survivors of serious misconduct and sexual abuse by persons in the church.”

Concluding the Saskatoon training session with prayer. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)



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A Christmas message from Bishop Mark Hagemoen

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 06:27

A message to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Dec. 20, 2019

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness– on them light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2) This passage from the Prophet Isaiah speaks to me very much today. I think people are seeking light – light that illumines the shades of grey and even darkness that we deal with on so many levels today. We live in a world with so much plenty and progress, and yet there is still much anguish, competition and rivalry, and degradation – of people and creation.

Amidst this situation comes Our God – the babe Jesus Christ – who comes as a new king, not in pomp and splendor, but in humility, littleness, and dependence on Mary, Joseph, and the very people and environment He ironically comes to save.

The world continues every Christmas to reflect on the way Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World comes to us. Indeed, the very way that He comes, I think, gives us more than just a hint about the way forward. His light does continue to illumine the darkness.

Two key lessons of the Advent season are the themes of waiting and forgiveness. The Advent season is a time of waiting – which is one of the most difficult issues for a culture and world with such abundance and focus on the immediate gratification of any want. I have learned about waiting here on the Prairies. Our farmers know this lesson well – you can put so much careful work into preparing the soil and seeding the land. However, then comes the time of waiting – which may see too much or too little rain; or too much or too little sun and warmth. Of course, there are many other variables as well. And yet, God blesses! He may sometimes lead us through an unexpected time – one we had not counted on. But God always blesses – not on our terms, but on God’s terms!

One of the other features of the spiritual life is the journey of ongoing conversion of life and heart. It is no surprise that during this season of ‘preparing the way of the Lord’ that we are also called to reconciliation and healing.

Let us all be inspired by John the Baptist who calls us to prepare for the coming of our Saviour by a watchfulness and wakefulness that features ongoing forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation.

I take this opportunity to thank you all so very much for your prayers, support and faithful work as God’s holy people. I also thank you for your inspiration and desire to realize the call to holiness. Let’s us continue to help each other this coming 2020 to have the same mind and heart as Christ!

Most Rev. Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon – Catholic Saskatoon News photo

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