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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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Online across Canada, in solidarity with the world – Development and Peace Solidarity Sunday

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 12:23

By Development and Peace / Caritas Canada 

[Montreal – April 2 –] – On Solidarity Sunday, March 29, 2020, Archbishop Albert LeGatt of Saint Boniface led a special online Mass for Development and Peace/Caritas Canada from Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens parish in Winnipeg, MB.

With COVID-19 having closed churches at a most spiritually significant time, the live-streaming of the mass attracted a large Catholic audience from across Canada. In the absence of Lenten congregations, the online Mass gave Development and Peace an opportunity to share the message of its For our Common Home campaign.

Opening his homily, Archbishop LeGatt said, “What times we are living in! Think of it: we have to be physically distant from one another, but we’ve never been so socially close to one another.”

Donate to Share Lent campaign online at:

Bishop Mark Hagemoen message in support of Share Lent: Letter from Bishop of Saskatoon

Elaborating on a theme in the Gospel reading from John 11:1-45, the archbishop asked, “Do we weep with people of the Amazon? Do we weep with people that Development and Peace has brought to our attention this year? Do we weep with the Indigenous and the poor of Brazil?”

Echoing the educational material and advocacy tools offered by Development and Peace, LeGatt continued, “What does it mean in terms of action flowing out of our weeping with the poor? In terms of the Share Lent campaign… it means becoming informed… of the social situation in the Amazon. Do we act in terms of, perhaps, signing letters… to say, ‘you are not alone’?”

“And then, perhaps…, we join in that weeping so much,” LeGatt added, “that we give, and give generously, to the Share Lent campaign. Because Share Lent and Development and Peace [are] part of this family of efforts to never forget the poor, to help the poor help themselves, to help the poor rediscover dignity and strength together.”

He emphasized, “I believe that for the Catholic Church in Canada, now is not the time to abandon Development and Peace.”

The virtual congregation was then led in a series of poignant, powerful prayers for the Amazon and its people.

Janelle Delorme, Development and Peace’s animator for Manitoba and Thunder Bay, closed the proceedings by inviting the audience to donate to the Share Lent campaign.

Video archive of the online Mass on Solidarity Sunday 2020:



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Out of touch? Not for long: Gazan girl touches my heart without saying a word

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 12:11

By Carl Hétu, Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Social distancing is now the new norm, but how long until it overstays its welcome? The memory of a Gazan girl gives me reason to wonder.

It was a clouded and cold day in Gaza, January 12, at the beginning of a promising 2020. I had travelled with the bishops of Canada, USA and Europe (France, Germany, England, Spain, and Italy) on an annual visit to show solidarity with the few remaining Catholics who live in this war-torn part of the world.

We arrived from a two-hour drive from Jerusalem going through a well elaborated Israeli check point and drove to the only Catholic parish of Gaza called Holy Family.  That parish serves about 150 Catholics who live in this modest Gazan neighbourhood.  Behind the compound of the church we walked to a house hidden by a large tree and children’s park. That’s where we found our hosts for the afternoon – The Missionaries of Charity.

The nuns run a comprehensive facility for children and adults with special needs, ministering to the mentally and physically handicapped, as well as their families. As we meandered through the hallways, single file, I anticipated that speeches and formal handshakes would mark the conclusion of our visit.

Before departing, our delegation entered a busy hall where 20 people were confined to their wheelchairs, many immobilised since birth. An unfortunate or distressing sight for some, it was clear the sisters who lived and worked here considered it a privilege to work with these persons in need. For a brief second, it seemed their introduction of the residents was over-the-top – more like an introduction of a renowned pop star than any ordinary person.

I stayed at the doorstep, looking into the room, with no intention of entering (I have a son who was born intellectually challenged and he gets very excited when too many people show up at the same time). So I felt it was better keeping the number of people down.

As I made my way to the exit, I saw one of the youngest persons looking at me. She was completely alone, seemingly immobile in her wheelchair.  I could have easily missed her. But she hadn’t missed me.

I approached cautiously and looked at her. She couldn’t move her head, arms or legs, but her eyes followed me.  To the left. To the right. We connected and I smiled but got no response. I then approached her, putting my fingers in the palm of her hand delicately so as to not shock her and, as I did, she gently closed her hand around my fingers. Then she gave me an unexpected smile. I smiled back.  It didn’t last long but I felt she was telling me, “Nice to meet you. Thank you for stopping by. I really appreciated it.”

Then it was time to go.  I didn’t even get her name. It didn’t matter. The feeling in my heart was more important to me than any name.

Despite her condition, she was able to truly touch me – on par with life’s finer moments. There was no need for frivolous speeches, no political wrangling or ideological debates on Gaza or other issues.   She couldn’t care less about my status, title, or way of dressing. The only thing she cared about was connecting, heart to heart. Nothing else was needed.  I suspect she is like this with anyone who crosses her path. Silent, reserved and yet fully expressive when given the chance.

According to some, this Gazan girl, or anyone like her in the world, might have little to contribute to our society. But give her a moment and she just might pass along one of life’s greatest lessons. She reminds me still today of my humanity, and yours, and our need to have compassion for one another. That’s when personal growth and a conversion of heart can take place. Then we can endeavour to find peace within ourselves, and then others. This is what I joined CNEWA to do.

As we look at this historic pandemic, let us keep an open mind on the value of a personal encounter such as this one – with an inspiring Gazan girl who touched my hand, and my heart.  In the spirit of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, maybe this pandemic will give us a new way to relate with one another and see what is so special in the other, instead of focusing on the negative.  But now, as the Coronavirus makes its way into Gaza, I fear for my new friend. Indeed, the Gaza healthcare system is in no way equipped to face a pandemic — and many won’t survive.


Carl Hétu is the Canadian National Director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, an agency of the Holy See that supports the churches and peoples of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Northeast Africa and India. 


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Easter Triduum celebrations will be live-streamed only because of COVID-19

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 11:18

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

In an update to the faithful on March 31, 2020, Bishop Mark Hagemoen announced that because of directives prohibiting public gatherings as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the suspension of public Masses will continue, including during Holy Week and the Easter Triduum celebrations.

The Chrism Mass, normally celebrated on the Monday of Holy Week in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has been postponed until a later date when public gatherings can resume.

Liturgies from a number of parishes in the diocese will continue to be live-streamed and posted at, with the bishop’s Easter Triduum celebrations also featured on the home page of the diocesan website at The live-streamed celebrations will also be archived as video files that can be viewed after each event, at a later time.

The Triduum live-streaming schedule with Bishop Mark Hagemoen includes:

Holy Thursday, April 9, 2020 – Liturgy of the Hours with the clergy celebrated at 10:00 a.m., Mass of the Lord’s Supper celebrated at 7:00 p.m., both live-streamed from the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

Good Friday, April 10, 2020 – Liturgy of the Passion of Our Lord at 3:00 p.m., with Stations of the Cross at 7:00 p.m., both live-streamed from the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

The annual justice and peace Way of the Cross through the streets of Saskatoon on Good Friday has been cancelled. In its stead, a video version has been created: ARTICLE

Holy Saturday, April 11, 2020 – Easter Vigil at 9:00 p.m. live-streamed from the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020 – Easter morning Mass at 10:00 a.m. live-streamed from St. Paul Co-Cathedral.

In his latest update on March 31, 2020, Bishop Hagemoen also reminded the faithful that the previous directives of March 17, 2020 continue to be in place, and address:

  • Penitential services
  • Other sacraments
  • Sacramental preparation
  • Funerals
  • Marriages
  • General parish gatherings
  • Access to churches; cleaning; removal of books, hymnals, and pamphlets
  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

“Regarding Ministry to the Sick and Shut-ins: please see the guidelines attached that will assist you with fulfilling medical advisories about physical human contact vis-a-vis administering the sacraments to the sick and dying,” the bishop wrote in his March 31 update.

“I remind us all to also be vigilant about community caring,” he added. “Let us encourage our parish communities to be mindful of the need to support fellow parishioners and other community members, especially elders, the sick, and those who might be otherwise housebound. Of course, we do all of this seeking local coordination to assure compliance with the Chief Medical Officer directives.”

The bishop also called for continued prayer: “Please join with me in prayer for a rapid end to the COVID-19 virus. May God grant healing to those who are ill, and eternal rest to those who have died. May the Lord’s blessing come upon our medical professionals and civic authorities, who continue to strive with enormous effort and expertise to keep all of us safe.”


Resources, statements, information:

Letter to faith leaders about Easter celebrations from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer – April 3, 2020

Bishop Mark Hagemoen update related to celebrating Holy Week and the Easter Triduum during COVID-19 – Letter of March 31, 2020

Bishop Mark Hagemoen directives related to COVID-19 – Letter of March 17, 2020

Diocesan Liturgy Commission Guidelines Regarding COVID-19 (Pastoral Care, Sacraments, Adoration, Holy Week)

Instructions related to Christian initiation sacraments – 24 March 2020 (in extraordinary circumstances)

Holy See Decree re Holy Week 2020

Links to Faith Resources during a time of COVID-19

Archdiocese of Toronto Resources related to Spiritual Communion

Infographic from Archdiocese of Toronto

CCCB statement on Coronavirus COVID-19 – EN

CCCB statement on Coronavirus COVID-19 – FR

When to call the 811 Hotline / Self assessment

COVID-19 symptoms and treatment:

Saskatchewan Coronavirus Information (English)

Saskatchewan Coronavirus Information (French)



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Travel plans impacted by COVID-19: Including postponement of famous passion play

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 10:44

By Fr. Ralph Kleiter, Ministry to Tourism

As we begin Holy Week, I write as one in isolation or better in solitude, like all of us. Easter this year will be like the novel Coronavirus, entirely new. This week’s celebrations will also be new for Easter people.

Our worlds have changed, suddenly!

We feel for those who have been caught travelling or cruising as this pandemic was about to break. We know how one of the largest industries in the world today, tourism (which includes the hospitality component), has impacted millions of people. This havoc will continue for some time because even after the pandemic it will take time for even those who might be financially able to venture beyond their borders.

Even Crystal Cruises has suspended their entire fleet until further notice. So we are in uncharted waters not knowing when and where travel will return.

The Ministry to Tourism’s 2020 travel programs have been postponed or cancelled. All the programs were centred around the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany with pre-tour or post-tour programs in Paris, Lourdes, London and the cruise of the Fjords of Norway to St. Petersburg. The Passion Play season has been postponed to 2022.

After years of planning, saving and waiting our fine group will now have to wait until 2022 or 2030. I am not only personally saddened but sorry for the losses that these travel pilgrims are experiencing. But as we are about to celebrate Easter it is important to remember that the Passion Play has always been about giving thanks for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Oberammergau villagers made a vow in 1633 to celebrate this event through drama. It was their way to thank God for being saved from a plague. Interestingly, it has taken another epidemic to force them to postpone the fulfillment of their vow. May we be with them as they bear this cross.

Please keep in touch and visit my website In a spirit of calm and resolve, we will return to travel. Is that not our belief as travel pilgrims? Is that not the reason why we have become and will remain travel pilgrims? May all the providers soon be welcoming us back for enriching travel experience!

Easter message:

Everyone this Holy Week and Easter will have lost the opportunity to celebrate these Paschal Days with others and must even celebrate outside our places of worship. Today is a time to deepen our spirituality in another way. It will be without our faith communities and for some without the Liturgical Summit of these days. May we rediscover that the Sacred, the Risen One, is with us, interceding for us wherever we are during these uncertain and difficult times.

I leave you with the gift of this prayer. Maybe we can say it while we are “washing our hands” so often these days for the safety of all:


Almighty and merciful Father, who show your love to all your creation.                                                        

We come before you asking for a quick control of the coronavirus currently ravaging our world.

Hear graciously the prayers we make for those affected by the virus in various parts of the world.     

Grant healing to the sick, eternal life to the dead and consolation to the bereaved families.                    

We pray that an effective medicine to combat the sickness be speedily found.                                            

We pray for the relevant governments and health authorities that they take appropriate steps for the good of the people. 

Look upon us in your mercy and forgive us our failings.


– Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar

I pray not only for those who have died from COVID-19 here, or during their travels, or  even while cruising. Truly, we have all been challenged by it, changed by it.


Magdalene rejoices at the tomb:“I know that my Saviour lives…..He is with us all the days until the end of the world….Oh, could I proclaim it throughout all the worlds, so that the mountains and cliffs and heaven and earth should re-echo with the words:



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Virtual version of annual Way of the Cross created after Good Friday prayer walk cancelled because of COVID-19

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 09:13

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

With public gatherings banned because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an annual Good Friday tradition of praying the Way of the Cross through the streets of Saskatoon had to be cancelled.

However, the prayers, reflections and spirit of the annual event continue through a virtual version released during Holy Week by the diocesan Office of Justice and Peace.


Virtual Way of the Cross on video:

Using technology to connect:

Just as with the traditional downtown prayer walk, the virtual video version of the annual Way of the Cross involves a variety of community groups and voices reflecting on the 14 stations of the scriptural stations of the cross as introduced in 1991 by Saint Pope John Paul II. The virtual version continues the event’s long-standing tradition of connecting the Good Friday events and the suffering of Jesus Christ to suffering and injustice in our world today.

Coordinated by Myron Rogal, diocesan coordinator of the Office of Justice and Peace, a range of individuals and groups read the scriptures, provide the reflections and lead the prayers, safely filming on phones and tablets in their homes, offices and churches.

The 14 individual files were then edited together to create a video version of the downtown prayer walk – including images of past events, showing hundreds following the cross through the city streets, praying and singing. In the video version, several of the traditional hymns featured at the annual event are sung by Melissa Anaetoh. (PDF of lyrics and stations: LINK)

“It was a devastating decision to cancel this popular Good Friday tradition for Catholics, Christians and others in our community who for 22 years have come out to participate,” said Rogal. “After much consultation locally and with counterparts across the prairies it was determined that there was no safe way to move ahead with the event and not turn people away. Then two hours after the decision was made, provincial health guidelines changed, implementing new restrictions which affirmed our decision to cancel.”

However, there was an immediate desire to continue the event in a new format, that would not involve gathering people together. “The vision of the online (video) event is to emulate the outdoor Way of the Cross that can be brought into your homes as you pray with the local church leading up to the passion of our Lord.”

The production is not seamlessly polished, reflecting the reality of Good Friday, added Rogal.  “Just like the outdoor event, just like the road to Calvary, just like being a Christian, it is messy.”

“This particular Way of the Cross is scripturally based, which Saint Pope John Paul II developed in part as means to share in the passion of our Lord with other Christians,” said Rogal.

“These stations and their reflections are an attempt to prayerfully enter into the depth of the suffering of Christ who was mocked and ridiculed as he pitched his tent amongst us to heal each of us and all of the Earth,” he said.  “The goal of these stations is not to showcase social inequalities but rather to draw attention to the deep unconditional love of Christ that continues to be rejected in our community today.”


List of stations, themes and participants:

Station 1: Jesus on the Mount of Olives, (Luke 22:39-46)

Theme: Finding strength in the Lord during the trials of Covid-19

Reflection: Carol Zubiak, Chair of the Justice and Peace Diocesan Advisory Council


Station 2: Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested, (Luke 22:47-48)

Theme: The betrayal of family in our culture

Reflection: Mary Ann Posada and family, Couples for Christ Saskatoon


Station 3: Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin, (Luke 22:66-71)

Theme: Being indifferent to the truth

Reflection: Father Graham Hill, CSsR, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and member of the Diocesan Council of Truth and Reconciliation


Station 4: Peter denies Jesus, (Luke 22:54-62)

Theme: When we deny Christ in the peoples and lands of the Amazon we deny of Christ in ourselves

Reflection: Dulce Reyes and family, Development and Peace / Caritas Canada


Station 5: Jesus is judged by Pilate, (Luke 23:13-25).

Theme: Judging and remaining indifferent to the plea of refugees and new Canadians,

Reflection: Co-written by Jude Dugbere, co-written and presented by Martin Nyai, and Ray Amiyok of the African-Canadian Catholic Community


Station 6: Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns, (Luke 22:63-65, John 19:2-3)

Theme: When we mock creation, we mock our God who created it

Reflection: Tyrone Miranda, Michael MacLean and the STM Laudato Si’ Group


Station 7: Jesus takes up the cross, (Mark 15:20)

Theme: Belonging to Christ and one another through the cross

Reflection: Connie Crichton, Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL)


Station 8: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross, (Luke 23:26)

Theme: Carrying our burdens together with Jesus

Reflection: Wyndham Thiessen, L’Arche Saskatoon


Station 9: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, (Luke 23:27-31)

Theme: Being awake to the sufferings of others

Reflection: Jacqueline Saretsky, Coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon


Station 10: Jesus is crucified, (Luke 23:33,47).

Theme: Jesus is near the workers whose dignity is being diminished

Reflection: Written by Frank Dodd, volunteer with the Roman Catholic diocese; reflection read by Kevin Bentler


Station 11: Jesus promises his Kingdom to the good thief, (Luke 23:33-34,39-43).

Theme: Father forgive us for denying food to our brothers and sisters

Reflection: Myron Rogal, Grow Hope Saskatchewan


Station 12: Jesus on the cross, his mother and his disciple, (John 19:25b-27)

Theme: Reaching out to persecuted Christians like members of our own family

Reflection: Nadeem Bhatti, Canadian Aid to Persecuted Christians


Station 13: Jesus dies on the cross, (Luke 23:44-46)

Silent reflection Following Scripture reading

Reflection: Adrien Piche and Frank Brown, Knights of Columbus Honour Guard


Station 14: Jesus is placed in the tomb, (Luke 23:50-54).

A summary reflection, prayer and benediction: Bishop Mark Hagemoan Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

From the Archives: Coverage of the 2019 justice and peace Way of the Cross through streets of Saskatoon



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Humboldt honours victims on second anniversary of Broncos bus crash

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 08:10

By Mickey Conlon, The Catholic Register

[Humboldt, SK – Canadian Catholic News] – The church bells of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Humboldt chimed 29 times at 4:50 p.m. on Monday, April 6 in remembrance of the 16 who died and 13 others injured two years ago when the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus collided with a semi-trailer near Tisdale in northern Saskatchewan.

A moment of silence followed throughout the community, at the approximate time of the 2018 crash to remember the 16 players and team officials who died and the 13 injured survivors. 

This year’s toned down commemorations are in stark contrast to last year’s first anniversary celebration, when a nation was still mourning the young men, team officials and other associates who died or had their lives forever changed when a semi-trailer barrelled through a stop sign and collided with the team bus enroute to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team’s Junior “A” playoff game in Nipawin. 

With the country shutdown due to COVID-19, some families had planned on attending a small ceremony in Humboldt, while others wanted to visit the crash site or gather with family and friends, reported Canadian Press. But restrictions around the virus put a stop to those plans.

St. Augustine parish was to be at the heart of this year’s commemoration. Beyond the ringing of the bells, the parish centre was to host a special exhibit bringing together the creative and unique memorabilia the city of Humboldt received in the days, weeks and month that followed the horrific crash. Original plans had the exhibit being open to the public, but COVID-19 restrictions have put a stop to that. Instead, people can view the exhibit online at

The tribute site is a place to view photos and video clips and remembrances of the team members and others on the bus, what happened and how a community, near and far, came together in support of each other. The tribute went live online at noon April 6.

The ceremonies surrounding this year’s anniversary are purposely toned down, said St. Augustine pastor Fr. Joseph Salihu. Since the first anniversary there’s been a conscious community effort to leave the mourning with the families affected.

“We’re thinking of a way to still remember them without drawing too much communal (grieving),” said Salihu. “So that memorial was a very good way of doing it, so people can come on their own as individuals to look at the memorial without really gathering collectively for that celebration.”

St. Augustine parish is honoured to take part in this commemoration, said Salihu. “St. Augustine’s is very proud and privileged to still be able to uphold that heritage within the community,” he said.

“In the midst of all the turmoil in the present world we want to make sure the lives lost and those that were changed forever two years ago are not forgotten,” said Humboldt Mayor Rob Muench in a news release. “During this time of self-isolating and practising physical distancing, it’s important to us that people still have a place to go to reflect and remember the tragedy and the outpouring of support that our community received on a global scale.”

Those who died as a result of the crash on April 6, 2018 were Humboldt Bronco players Logan Boulet, Adam Herold, Logan Hunter, Jaxon Joseph, Jacob Leicht, Conner Lukan, Logan Schatz, Evan Thomas, Parker Tobin, and Stephen Wack, along with support and team personnel: assistant coach Mark Cross, head coach, Darcy Haugan, team statistician Brody Hinz, Bolt FM broadcaster Tyler Bieber, bus driver Glen Doerksen, and athletic therapist Dayna Brons.

Those who were injured in the crash were Graysen Cameron, Brayden Camrud, Kaleb Dahlgren, Bryce Fiske, Morgan Gobeil, Matthieu Gomercic, Xavier LaBelle, Layne Matechuk, Derek Patter, Nick Shumlanski, Tyler Smith, Ryan Straschnitzki and Jacob Wassermann.

The driver of the semi-trailer, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and 13 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily injury, and was sentenced to eight years in prison.



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In Exile: A column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI: “The Meaning of Jesus’ Death”

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 08:31
The Meaning of Jesus’ Death

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Jesus’ death washes everything clean, including our ignorance and sin. That’s the clear message from Luke’s account of his death.

As we know, we have four Gospels, each with its own take on the passion and death of Jesus. As we know too, these Gospel accounts are not journalistic reports of what happened on Good Friday but more theological interpretations of what happened then. They are paintings of Jesus’ death more so than news reports about it and, like good art, they take liberties to highlight certain forms so as to bring out essence. Each Gospel writer has his own interpretation of what happened on Calvary.

For Luke, what happened in the death of Jesus is the clearest revelation, ever, of the incredible scope of God’s understanding, forgiveness, and healing.

For Luke, Jesus’ death washes everything clean through an understanding, forgiveness, and healing that belies every notion suggesting anything to the contrary. To make this clear, Luke highlights a number of elements in his narrative.

First, in his account of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, he tells us that immediately after one of his disciples struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear, Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him. God’s healing, Luke intimates, reaches into all situations, even situations of bitterness, betrayal, and violence. God’s grace will ultimately heal even what’s wounded in hatred.

Then, after Peter denied him three times and Jesus is being led away after his interrogation by the Sanhedrin, Luke tells us that Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter in a look that made Peter weep bitterly. Everything in this text and everything that comes after it suggests that the look from Jesus that caused Peter to weep bitterly was not one of disappointment and accusation, a look that would have caused Peter to weep in shame. No, rather it was a look of such understanding and empathy as Peter had never before seen, causing him to weep in relief, knowing that everything was alright and he was alright.

And when Luke records Jesus’ trial before Pilate, he recounts something that’s not recorded in the other Gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial, namely, Pilate sending Jesus to Herod and how the two of them, bitter enemies until that day, “became friends that same day.” As Ray Brown, commenting on this text puts it, “Jesus has a healing effect even on those who mistreat him.”

Finally, in Luke’s narrative, we arrive at the place where Jesus is crucified and as they are crucifying him, he utters the famous words: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Those words, which Christians forever afterwards have taken as the ultimate criterion as to how we should treat our enemies and those who do us ill, encapsulate the deep revelation contained in Jesus’ death. Uttered in that context as God is about to crucified by human beings, these words reveal how God sees and understands even our worst actions: Not as ill-will, not as something that ultimately turns us against God or God against us, but as ignorance – simple, non-culpable, invincible, understandable, forgivable, akin to the self-destructive actions of an innocent child.

In that context too, Luke narrates Jesus’ forgiveness of the “good thief”. What Luke wants to highlight here, beyond the obvious, are a number of things: First, that the man is forgiven not because he didn’t sin, but in spite of his sin; second, that he is given infinitely more than he actually requests of Jesus; and finally, that Jesus will not die with any unfinished business, this man’s sin must first be wiped clean.

Finally, in Luke’s narrative, unlike the narratives of Mark and Matthew, Jesus does not die expressing abandonment, but rather dies expressing complete trust: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. Luke wants us to see in these words a template for how we can face our own deaths, given our weaknesses. What’s the lesson? Leon Bloy once wrote that there is only one true sadness in life, that of not being a saint. At the end of the day when each of us face our own death this will be our biggest regret, that we’re not saints. But, as Jesus shows in his death, we can die in (even in weakness) knowing we are dying into safe hands.

Luke’s account of the passion and death of Jesus, unlike much of Christian tradition, does not focus on the atoning value of Jesus’ death. What it emphasizes instead is this: Jesus’ death washes everything clean, each of us and the whole world. It heals everything, understands everything, and forgives everything – despite every ignorance, weakness, infidelity, and betrayal on our part.

In John’s passion narrative, Jesus’ dead body is pierced with a lance and immediately “blood and water” (life and cleansing) flow out. In Luke’s account, Jesus’ body is not pierced. It doesn’t need to be. By the time he breathes his last he has forgiven everyone and everything has been washed clean.


Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher, and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX. He can be contacted through his website

Now on Facebook

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

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A Reflection: Will we survive without the Holy Eucharist?

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 11:32

By Hudson Byblow for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy Family and Life Office

When this COVID-19 thing really hit Canada, a friend of mine lamented the fact that she was no longer able to go to Mass in person. I understood her frustration, because I too love attending Mass/Divine Liturgy, and find myself somewhat lost without it. Many others feel that way as well.

In this article, my focus is to bring to the surface some bigger questions, such as:

Have Catholics lived without Mass/Divine Liturgy before? The answer is yes. Many times, throughout the last 2000 years, Catholics have not only existed but have also survived and thrived without the Sacraments being available to them in public. If the people in prior times could keep the faith, then we should be able to as well.

Does being deprived of the Holy Eucharist mean we will falter in our Catholic faith? The answer is no. Well, it can be no, if we approach it correctly. Here is why: First, Jesus is not bound to the Holy Eucharist, therefore the Holy Eucharist need not be our only encounter with Jesus. That is not to say that if we could receive Him in that way, we should ignore it in place of receiving Him other ways. Second, in any situation, the disposition of our hearts (and whether we are in a state of grace) will impact the nature of the encounter we have with Christ. Third, if we can skip the Holy Eucharist from daily Mass/Divine Liturgy without thinking about becoming less nourished, then should also be able to conceive of the idea that, given a proper disposition of heart, we won’t need to worry about becoming less nourished if we are forced to skip more than one  (or many more Masses/Divine Liturgies).

To what degree do things depend on the disposition of our hearts?  If we truly desire in our hearts to be unified with Jesus Christ, then we will be able to weather these days without Mass /Divine Liturgy and without access to the Holy Eucharist (and sometimes other Sacraments), no matter how long this period turns out to be. The desire in our hearts indeed needs to be nourished, but it is best nourished in and through our cooperation with God’s grace. That is, it must be nourished by our “Yes” to choosing to focus on things that will provide that nourishment (or at least not erode it). What we place before ourselves in our daily lives contributes to that nourishment in one way or another. In this way, we can think about with new eyes about whether we are truly striving to worship God or whether we are backsliding into worshiping mammon, because what we truly worship will be what we choose to feed upon. (Mammon is sometimes referred to as the ‘spirit of the world’ – we do this when we worship or put the acquisition of things before God.) If, however, our desire to become further unified with God is lacking, or if we nourish an appetite for mammon, then the inevitability is that a continuation of missing the Holy Eucharist would likely have a far different outcome. It could lead a person to become conditioned to a to a life without it, settling for something lesser than God, and being okay with that, as in, being okay with that “lesser focus” being their greatest focus. In such a case, a person would eventually come to not even miss it.

Our Tomorrow Will Reflect Our Today

Given that humans tend to continue along the trajectories that they are already on (barring some life-impacting circumstance), it follows that in order to gain a sense of what might happen within our hearts down the road, we ought to have a look at what is going on within our hearts today.

This is especially pertinent in the case of the COVID-19 situation, for this situation could be prolonged for a time that is greater than what we might anticipate. Further, it is more urgent to consider this now as opposed to later because as times goes on, the amount of people who will experience a waning in their desire to turn to Jesus will increase, due to being conditioning within a “new reality” without the “routine” of regularly attending Mass/ Divine Liturgy in person.

The fact is that it is in precisely this moment that we have the opportunity to ask ourselves this: “Do we love Jesus enough today that our desire for Him will increase tomorrow?” and this: “Will absence (of the Holy Eucharist in our lives) make our hearts grow fonder?”

Well, the answer to both of those questions is that it depends… on us. We alone are responsible for opening or closing our hearts to Jesus, and for fostering a deepening desire for Him. Sure, others can warm us up to Him (or turn us towards rejection of Him), but it is up to us to open our hearts. No one can do that for us. And regardless if public celebrations of church services are cancelled, that truth will not change.

If we strive for that openness, then being deprived of the Holy Eucharist for some time will not cause us to be undernourished, but quite the opposite – it will shed from us the distractions of our excesses such that we become more and more focused on our heart’s one desire, Jesus Christ. That deepening desire for Jesus will be enough for God to provide us with all the nourishment we need, while we wait in anticipation of the hopeful eventuality that we will be able to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist once more.

 Lord, awaken our hunger and thirst for you. Help us to not try and to seek the fulfillment of our deepest desires with things that will never satisfy!


Hudson Byblow is an author, speaker, and consultant, as well as a professional educator. 

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Lac Ste Anne pilgrimage cancelled for first time in a century

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 18:28

By Andrew Ehrkamp, Grandin Media

The Lac Ste Anne pilgrimage, an annual tradition that attracts thousands of people and dates back more than a century, has been cancelled this year as a precaution against the spread of the COVD-19 coronavirus.

“For the first time in living memory the pilgrimage is cancelled,” Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said in a video message announcing the decision by the board of trustees that governs the event.

“This is a very sad and difficult decision obviously, but we also realize it’s a necessary one. After all there are not many gatherings larger than the annual Lac Ste Anne pilgrimage … We simply cannot hold this event when we know that doing so would risk the health and possibly the life of the people who participate.”

Each year, an estimated 35,000 people from all over Canada attend the July pilgrimage to Lac Ste Anne, west of Edmonton, for four days of worship and spiritual and physical healing. Pilgrims set up tents and motorhomes on the site, and wade into Lac Ste Anne, renowned for its healing waters and for its spiritual significance to Catholics and Indigenous people.

The Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation call it Wakamne, or “God’s Lake,” and to the Cree it’s Manito Sahkahigan or “Spirit Lake.” Rev. Jean-Baptiste Thibault, a priest and missionary, dedicated the lake to St. Anne, the mother of Mary and Jesus’ grandmother.

The cancellation of this year’s event comes after a March 24 teleconference between 300 faith leaders from across province and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief public health officer. Hinshaw recommended the cancellation of large events in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“The advice we received was clear,” said Archbishop Smith, who participated in the call. “Since there is no expectation that a vaccine for the virus will be found before the summer, it would be prudent to take steps now to cancel summer events that draw together large numbers of people.”

Both the board of trustees that governs the pilgrimage site and the company that organizes logistics for the event recommended the cancellation. Many of the pilgrims are elderly or in poor health as they seek out the healing waters of Lac Ste Anne.

In his video message, Archbishop Smith prayed for the intercession of St. Anne herself.

“She has a special love for us, and we for her. Our tradition of going to her in prayer when we need healing dates back generations. Let’s ask now for her intercession that this pandemic come to an end, and that God’s blessings come upon all who are ill with the virus, their families and all who care for them.”


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When the suffering becomes too great

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:00

By Hudson Byblow, reprinted from

Well, here we are in the “new normal” of COVID-19. And we don’t know how long it’s going to be before things change.

We have to strive to be strong and to be together (in spirit, of course). This indeed will test our character, our strength, and our coping mechanisms, and will really show what we’re made of. And the better we learn to handle ourselves in this time of isolation, the more bearable these days will be.

If, however, it seems our lives are beginning to unravel and or spiral out of control, we would do well to remember that there is someone who can still be our Rock. His name is Jesus Christ. The blessing of having our Catholic faith is that we know this. But what about those who don’t? Perhaps this could be a significant moment in history for us to help people come to desire Him more than ever before. This, of course, will be influenced by the degree to which we radiate peace and joy amidst this time of great suffering and upheaval.

If our lives are seen as attractive (in the ways not of this world), people might be more open to Jesus, as a result of first becoming more open to us. Hopefully, authentic relationships may develop through which a person might choose to eventually take a leap of faith. And we want people to take that leap, for after doing so, what might seem like unbearable suffering can be seen in a new light.

How Faith Transforms What We “See”

In my own life, I was moved by the attractive example of others, opened my heart to Christ more, began to taste His love in a new way, and began to trust Him more than I ever had before. This made it easier for me to cooperate with God’s grace, which brought about blessings beyond measure (and much healing). This brought me to realize that God’s plan for me was better than my plan, and that made me want to know God more intimately, and to cooperate with Him (and His graces) more profoundly.

The after-effects of that journey, however, is that I can now see how I am handling myself during this isolation a lot better than if this were to have happened years ago, before my conversion. And today, not only am I able to make this time bearable, but I can also make it fruitful.  And regardless of the degree of suffering, you can too.

Entering A New State

The reason for that is because I learned that I could use those experiences to enter more deeply into the Passion of Christ. With all due respect to the profound suffering that people are experiencing, in due time, and with due support, we can choose to enter His Passion out of love for Him. In doing so, we can more profoundly unite our hearts and our sufferings to His and can begin to walk with Christ in a more intimately way. This might be easier said than done, of course, but it is still something we can set our sights upon as a target.

Through that, however, we can come to see our purpose in a whole new way. Ultimately, of course, our purpose is to work for the salvation of souls. But if we embrace suffering and unite our hearts to the Lord, we can gain a better understanding of what that actually will look like in our lives, and how our choice to do that might impact others in a positive way. Through that, over time, we can gradually shift from wherever we are, into a state of mission – befitting of furthering the Kingdom of God. In that state of mission, we can come to see the suffering is no longer just an occurrence, but rather is an occurrence that we can transform into something better. And that “something better” is penance.

Carrying Our Crosses

If we become engaged in this mission, we ought to not expect that the crosses we are carrying will just “go away.” Rather, we ought to expect to gain the strength to carry them, and to carry them well, not with resentment and or bitterness, but rather with interior joy and peace – hopefully eventually to the point where it attractively radiates outward from within us. How we “get there” isn’t to do with the type of sufferings we are faced with during our lives, or whether or not they become alleviated, but rather is to do with whether or not we are willing to change our thinking, such that we can willfully accept sufferings as penance instead of experiencing and wasting the suffering altogether.

In other words, if we change our thinking to see that our sufferings can be given as a gift to God by being transformed into a form of penance, then enduring those sufferings can be seen through that new lens; the lens of charity. And when we willfully endure penance with the joy of knowing we are giving the gift of our hearts to the Lord (not that we should seek out the suffering to bring this about), that penance can be used for the good of all humanity; for the eternal salvation of souls!

What a profound gift to give!

A Renewed Sense of Purpose

In transforming our way of thinking like that, we can become renewed with a sense of purpose that will last the length of our entire lives. Also, it will give us the confidence to embrace future inevitable sufferings with courage so that we can serve in even a greater capacity.

And that points us to greater intimacy with Christ – in a complete, consistent, and forever type of love.

So, when suffering seemingly becomes too great, or at any point leading up to that threshold, perhaps we can remember that complete, consistent, and forever love, and courageously embrace our sufferings as a penance.

If enough people strive to enact this degree of charity, the face of the entire world would be forever changed for the better.


Hudson Byblow is an author, speaker, and consultant, as well as a professional educator. 

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Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran bishops of Saskatchewan sign new covenant

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 13:45

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

A new covenant among the leaders of the Lutheran, Anglican, Ukrainian and Roman Catholic churches in the province was announced April 2, 2020 by the bishops of Saskatchewan.

“It is our hope that the signing and release of this covenant will be a source of encouragement at this difficult moment in time, and a life-giving enrichment of our churches moving forward,” states a message from the bishops to their churches about the new covenant.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions,  “The LAURC Covenant(LAURC = Lutheran, Anglican, Ukrainian, Roman Catholic) was not signed in a face-to-face meeting, but was finalized in an electronic meeting. The new covenant bears the signatures of:

  • Bishop Bryan Bayda, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon
  • Archbishop Donald Bolen, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina
  • Archbishop Murray Chatlain, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas
  • Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon
  • Bishop Adam Halkett, Bishop of Missinippi, Anglican Diocese of Saskatchewan
  • Bishop Robert Hardwick, Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle
  • Bishop Christopher Harper, Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon
  • Bishop Sid Haugen, Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
  • Bishop Michael Hawkins, Anglican Diocese of Saskatchewan
  • Bishop Albert Thévenot, Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert

The expanded covenant grows out of a covenantal relationship that the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina entered into in 2011, the message notes.

“For many years, the Anglican, Lutheran, Ukrainian and Roman Catholic bishops have met, twice a year, to share concerns and build relations. Two years ago we began working on a draft of an expanded covenant that would include all of our churches in Saskatchewan, with the help of an expanded implementation committee with all of our churches represented,” wrote the bishops.

“The COVID-19 pandemic prevented an in-person meeting in mid-March, but we met through electronic means to finalize the covenant which we now rejoice in signing and making public. This is an historic event in the life of our churches. We hope and pray that this covenant brings as much joy to our people as it does to us as your bishops.”

Click here to read The LAURC Covenant, April 2, 2020

The original covenant text was signed on behalf of the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina on Jan. 23, 2011 by Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson (now the Anglican Bishop of Calgary) and Archbishop Daniel Bohan, who died in 2016.

The Jan. 23, 2011 signing of the original Covenant text at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Regina: the two bishops are Anglican Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson and Catholic Archbishop Daniel Bohan, assisted by Deacons Susan Page and Joe Lang. (Submitted photo)

Ecumenical covenants have been an important catalyst for local ecumenical communities, explains Nicholas Jesson, Ecumenical Officer for the Archdiocese of Regina. “There are many covenants between congregations or parishes of various traditions. There are a number of examples of covenants between Anglican and Roman Catholic dioceses, and a few that include Lutheran synods. The acronyms ARC, LRC, and LARC are frequently used for these. The LAURC Covenant in Saskatchewan appears to be the first covenant including an Eastern Catholic eparchy.”

An ecumenical covenant is not intended to be an exclusive relationship, he adds. “It is hoped that our churches will continue to foster close relations with all faith communities in their neighbourhoods, and that where appropriate these will blossom into a renewed covenantal relationship. Our covenant is intended to be a witness to the unity we already share in Christ and to our commitment to work together to give this visible expression.”

“Among the many ways that churches have found to express our growth in communion, covenants have a particular place. Beyond the most basic sense as a mutual agreement or contract, the biblical understanding of covenant is of a relationship initiated by God; a promise to which God remains faithful despite the failures and transgressions of the people. A covenant serves to sustain and nurture an established ecumenical partnership. It requires a fundamental commitment to working, praying, and acting together in response to God’s call, yet it is not the final stage of life in communion. We engage in this covenant as a pledge of faithfulness and in hope of the full visible unity to which we are called.” – The LAURC Covenant.

The expanded covenant includes commitments from the bishops to hold a prayer service together each year, ideally in the Pentecost season, with the bishops present; to regularly remember one another’s churches, leaders and relationships in intercessions; to join together on justice-related initiatives, locally or in the developing world; to find ways to work and pray together in times of great need; to together hold meetings with First Nations and Métis elders and communities as part of responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action; and to maintain communication.

Noting the many proposed ecumenical initiatives listed in the covenant document, the bishops said in the message to their churches: “our hope is that our communities in their local settings might begin with one or two joint actions that would enliven their parishes and congregations.”

The list of suggested activities proposed for congregations of the four traditions to share together includes:

  1. Shared services, Bible study, and other activities in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
  2. Common services in Advent and Lent.
  3. Visiting each other’s churches, particularly to share in Sunday worship, while respecting the different disciplines of our churches. This would provide opportunities for experiencing each other’s eucharistic life, thereby serving both to deepen our communion and our desire for full communion.
  4. Joint non-eucharistic worship, including faith-sharing celebrations, pilgrimages, processions of witness (e.g. on Good Friday), and shared public liturgies on significant occasions.
  5. Making a public profession of faith together, perhaps by renewing baptismal promises at Pentecost each year.
  6. Create new traditions together.
  7. Shared witness in the name of Christ to people in particular spiritual need, including those who have lapsed from regular attendance at worship.
  8. Parish welcome and support for interchurch couples and families.
  9. Clergy sharing in the pastoral care of interchurch families (including marriage preparation).
  10. Encouraging the inclusion of witnesses from other churches at baptisms and confirmations, particularly in the case of candidates from interchurch families.
  11. Bishops acting together whenever possible: for example, issuing joint statements on current public pastoral concerns.
  12. Inviting ordained and lay observers to attend each other’s synodal and collegial gatherings and conferences.
  13. Consulting one another as fully as possible when providing pastoral care to people who may have a continuing pastoral relationship with another church.
  14. Clergy acting together whenever possible: for example, holding occasional study days; arranging a joint component in our programs for baptism, confirmation, and marriage preparation.
  15. Youth leadership: possibility of a joint youth group forming or occasional jointly-organized events with our youth.
  16. Occasional workshops on aspects of the liturgy which would allow us to learn liturgical best practices from each other (e.g. welcoming/greeting, music, lectors, servers, those preparing intercessory prayers).
  17. Meetings of those with parallel ministries: pastors; deacons; lay leadership/lay ministry; musicians; healing ministry; bereavement; church councils/vestries/parish councils.
  18. Exploration of common texts – for example, the study of Scripture, or study of our agreed statements, e.g. Growing Together in Unity and Mission or From Conflict to Communion.
  19. Social occasions following joint liturgical events, to offer opportunities for fellowship.
  20. Fostering friendly relations and regular communication between neighbouring Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Ukrainian Catholic parishes and their clergy; encouragement to enter into parish covenants and hold annual events together.
  21. Justice issues – speaking out together on areas of common concern where we can act together: prison ministry; relations with First Nations communities; healing ministry, chaplaincies, nursing homes.
  22. Preparation for mission: coming together to identify specific concerns in the community and to provide gracious outreach, joining together to bring relief and Christ’s healing.
  23. Joint participation in evangelism, shared training of lay people for evangelism, and the development of new ways of gathering faith communities.

“This Covenant is in part the fruit of a long history of ecumenism in Saskatchewan and of the extraordinary good will, support honesty and friendship that exists between the bishops,” notes Bishop Michael Hawkins from the Anglican Diocese of Saskatchewan (which has about the same boundaries as the Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert). “Saskatchewan remains a pioneer in ecumenism.”

In their message announcing the expanded covenant, the bishops recalled the great suffering, disruption and isolation that many are experiencing at present because of COVID-19.  “We bring all those negatively-impacted by the pandemic before the cross of Christ. And we join the whole Christian community of Saskatchewan in calling down God’s grace as we prepare to celebrate the redemptive death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” wrote the bishops.

“As we sign this covenant, we pray:  God and Father of us all, we give thanks for the spiritual unity which is already ours as believers in the one Lord and members of the one Body. We pray that this spiritual unity may, by your grace, increasingly become a visible unity, so that your Church in every place may demonstrate the healing and reconciling power of the gospel and be an instrument of your peace in the life of the world, to the praise and glory of your name. Amen.” –  (Prayer by Frank Colquhoun. New Parish Prayers, Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN 0 340 27237 6)




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Love is creative: finding ways to witness and to pray during COVID-19

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 12:35

By Alison Bradish, Archdiocese of Regina News

Drive by confessions, Eucharistic Processions over the sky, websites to livestream homilies, when it comes to bringing Christ to the faithful, some priests and laity are getting creative.

Fr. Parker Love is adamant social distancing be followed.  He wants to keep his parishioners safe.  When Archbishop Don Bolen wrote the letter about public celebrations of the Mass being suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fr. Parker knew he needed to think of new ways to bring Christ to the people.

At 31, Fr. Parker is the youngest serving priest in the Archdiocese of Regina.  He is pastor of St. Augustine parish in Wilcox and chaplain for Notre Dame High school.

Thursday, March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, saw Fr. Parker doing something out of the norm.  Encouraged by the president of Notre Dame High School, Rob Palmarin, Fr. Parker donned his vestments, organized a few altar servers and from the back of his truck (Fr. Parker uses a wheelchair) held up the monstrance as a volunteer drove through the streets of Wilcox.

“We had lots of people who came and stood on the streets near their houses and took in the 30 seconds are so that we were going down their street,” says Fr. Parker, describing the scene.

Families watched from their living room windows.  Some of the images stuck with Fr. Parker more than others.  “One of the Hounds was practicing her hockey shots in her backyard and when we came down the street she stopped, and then as soon as we turned the corner, she was taking shots again. But to me, that was cool.  Because if she knows anything about the faith, I don’t even know for sure if she’s Catholic, but she knows to pause in a moment like that…no matter who you are or where you come from you see this guy dressed in gold holding up this golden thing and three guys walking up front, clearly something is happening. It’s such a profound sign for people,” said Parker.

Fr. Parker laughs about some aspects of the experience.  He admits next time he does a procession he will have a clear route planned. (He narrates trying to practice social distancing while also shouting to the driver what way to turn and then the driver shouting to get the message to the altar servers.)

“It was really the last time we could really do one of these things,” say Fr. Parker, noting how Notre Dame school was pretty much vacant of students by that time.  “I wanted to do something like that.  In small town Saskatchewan we have a huge chunk of elderly parishioners who are very faithfully listening to the suggestions to stay at home.  I’ve had a couple of homebound people just on a regular basis and so here’s a way we can get to them, here’s a way we can get to all the families and kids who are barred from going to school.”

Fr. Parker says this is a time where Christians can become more visible.  “I know a lot of people who have never posted anything about their faith before.  And now they are,” says the priest who is also being inspired by many of the priests he was ordained with.

“One of my priest friends in Vancouver is livestreaming his Mass everyday on Twitch, a livestreaming platform that when it was originally founded it was for video gamers….for the first time ever, as Catholics , we are present on Twitch…if one person gets reached through that what an amazing thing,” says Fr. Parker.

Fr. Parker admits the restrictions put in place to protect us, also give him pause to really think about the great privilege of celebrating the sacraments.  “This whole part of my pastoral ministry, part of my job and beyond that my life and vocation is being kept from me and that’s hard and a struggle but ultimately I want to serve people and I truly believe that this is the best way to serve people right now. Stay at home,” says Fr. Parker.

He says now is when we are called to stay in and go out.  “It’s bad that we can’t physically share space anymore. But that’s never stopped Saints from sharing the Gospel before,” says Fr. Parker.

He does worry about some of his parishioners who are shut ins, and maybe only receive a few visits a week, he knows maybe those visits will be less, and it will take effort on his part and the community to make sure all are cared for.

Fr. Parker is also hosting an event like Theology on Tap from his Facebook Live feed during this time.  He’s calling it “Cold drinks, Quarantine and Christ.”  He will discuss popular culture topics and open it up to discussion.

Some of the other ways people in the Archdiocese are responding to the new pandemic norms are by putting in in place a contact person to make sure those who may not be connected virtually can be called and checked in on.  One deacon from the Archdiocese is livestreaming the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a homily and the rosary every day at  The Archdiocese of Regina is livestreaming daily and Sunday Masses from Resurrection Parish.

Alison Bradish lives in Moose Jaw with her husband and two children.  They attend St. Josephp’s Parish. She earned Bachelor of Arts in Journalism at the University of Regina. She is naturally curious about local and world events.  She writes from her home where she strives to bloom where she is planted. She often feels pulled to the topics of religion, education and politics.

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Online efforts continue as worship services and other gatherings are on hold during COVID-19

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 11:39

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Celebration of Mass and other prayers continue to be live-streamed online in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon given the restriction on gatherings – including public worship – in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen has been celebrating Eucharist at 9 a.m. Sundays from the Queen of Peace Chapel at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, with the Mass live-streamed on the diocesan website at and on a new website of live-streamed and recorded Masses in the diocese:

At the conclusion of the Mass on the Fifth Sunday of Lent March 29, the bishop announced that as measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 continue, the coming Holy Week and Easter Triduum celebrations will face the same limitations on gatherings.

“I will be communicating to our diocese how we are covering the Holy Week and Easter Triduum — probably through video Masses as we have been doing,” he said at the conclusion of the March 29 celebration.

UPDATE on March 31, 2020: Bishop Hagemoen announces Holy Week and Easter Triduum directives

“May we continue to persevere in faith in prayer and in charity and almsgiving and service to others as we reflect on how we are called to make ready to celebrate the anniversary of the Saviour’s passion, dying, and rising at Easter.”

Bishop Hagemoen also expressed his appreciation for the opportunity for the faithful to share in prayer and spiritual communion, aided by videos of Mass at this difficult and unprecedented time of a worldwide pandemic.

“I am greatly encouraged by many of our parish communities that have the ability … to be able to live stream and record Masses and Stations of the Cross and other opportunities. It helps those communities that may not have that available, and we as a diocese can join together. In some mysterious way, the circumstances that we face is an opportunity for us to connect more broadly as a diocese.”

During the March 29 broadcast on what is annually known as Solidarity Sunday, the bishop also highlighted the Development and Peace / Caritas Canada fund-raising efforts, noting that a traditional Share Lent collection in parishes obviously cannot take place this year. Instead, the bishop encouraged the faithful to make a donation online to Share Lent at:

“The extraordinary times we face means that our parishes are not in a position to support themselves as they have, and they still have expenses,” the bishop added, noting the initiative of parishes and the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation to facilitate an online Parish Offering, which can be found at:

In addition to live-streaming of Mass, parishes have also been broadcasting other prayers and devotions, such as the Stations of the Cross (including 7 p.m. Fridays with the bishop), the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and the Rosary. Audio files of homilies are also available at

Priests at various parishes are finding creative ways to provide the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the required two-metres of physical distancing, including a “parking lot” opportunity provided at one parish, and home visits for confession on the door step by another pastor. Many parishes are sharing prayer resources online and others have undertaken “phoning trees” to connect with parishioners during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Other faith resources are also being promoted, including such things as a parish subscription to “Formed” — a Catholic video channel. (Complimentary access to “Formed” is available for the next 40-days, accessible by any parishes within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon that do not currently have a “Formed” subscription: — enter the words “Faith At Home Saskatoon”.)

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools has also shared its link to the Growing in Faith, Growing in Christ religious education program at: LINK (the username is: GIFGIC_student99 password is: Student99)

The diocese of Saskatoon has posted reflections on the Sunday readings for family sharing and discussion, available at: LINK

As well, St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, SK is sharing online faith resources that include:

  • The “Lord’s Day Celebration” — Sabbath mealtime prayers which include a reflection on the Sunday Gospel — the booklet can be downloaded and printed on the website (which includes a video intro) at: LINK
  • Gospel Reflection by Nick Pierlot: LINK
  • The noon-hour Angelus as a family meal prayer: LINK




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Religious leaders stand united with Canadians during COVID-19 pandemic

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 10:50

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN]  – Canada’s Catholic bishops have joined with other faith leaders across the country to offer hope and solidarity to all Canadians as the nation faces an unprecedented national health and economic crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In spite of present sufferings, which can seem overwhelming at times, the flames of hope cannot be extinguished. Love, which gives life its fullest meaning, continues to seek out the common good in spite of individual difficulties,” a special statement released March 30, 2020 and signed by more than 80 Canadian faith leaders said.

The “A message to Canadians from religious leaders in Canada in response to the COVID-19 pandemic” acknowledges that “Canadians are experiencing the devastating impact of COVID-19” but said that “acts of kindness can bring us closer in spirit, despite the requirements of physical distancing.

“Let us witness hope to each other and so become beacons of light during these uncertain times,” the message said.

Link to the message in English

Link to the message in French

The call for spiritual solidarity comes as most places of worship in the country have been closed to the faithful as religious leaders have put into practice the necessity of Canadians to socially distance themselves. Worshippers across the country are not gathering in large numbers as demanded by health authorities in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly virus that has infected hundreds of thousand people around the world.

Initiated by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus and with support from the Canadian Council of Churches and Canadian Interfaith Conversation, the message from Canada’s faith leaders offers spiritual support to those working on the frontlines of the health care battle to control COVID-19 and to all Canadians who fear for their health and the lives of their loved ones and their economic well-being.

“We all need to pull together. It is essential to carry out the practical requirements to limit the spread of this virus. It is also important to maintain a posture of attentive caring towards our neighbour,” the statement said in calling on Canadians of all faiths to “draw closer to God.”

“Religion and spirituality can indeed contribute to building people up, to providing a sense of meaning, inner strength, new horizons and openness of hearts. As religious leaders, we wish to emphasize, especially in times like these, the power and importance of prayer.

“We earnestly pray for healing, for the continued efforts to relieve human suffering, and for perseverance throughout these challenging times,” the message continued.

“As history records these moments for our country’s future, let us pray that, in the face of COVID-19, we respond with an abundance of hope, gratitude and solidarity, trusting in the loving and ever merciful God, the source of all hope.”

The message of interfaith solidarity came on the heels of a special “National Prayer for Canada” drafted by two Ottawa-based religious leaders, the Catholic Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast and Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka, former co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. They had called on Canadians of all faiths to share the prayer and pray together across the country on March 31 at 3 p.m. ET (1 p.m. Saskatchewan time).


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Pray for homeless forced from shelters – manager of Vancouver hostel

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 12:02

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – If you thought you were seeing more homeless people on the streets these days, you were right.

Scott Small, manager of Catholic Charities Men’s Hostel, said COVID-19 health and safety measures have forced many shelters downtown to reduce their services, with the unintended consequences of leaving more people on the streets.

“We’re seeing hundreds more people out on the streets than there were on the streets two weeks ago,” Small told The B.C. Catholic March 26, 2020.

The shelter, which was offering overnight stays to 125 homeless men a few weeks ago, now can host only 75.

“We’re not alone. All the shelters are down by at least 10 per cent. It’s tragic,” he said. “I’d say at least 400 more are outside physically, amassed from all of our [Vancouver] shelters.”

There are several reasons for the dramatic rise in people on the streets, Small said. For one, government-imposed social distancing measures require people at least two metres distance between individuals to prevent potential spreading of the new coronavirus. The dorm rooms in his 60-year-old hostel are just too tight to house 125 men under that restriction.

“Guys who are physically able are literally packing up massive backpacks and going to the bush and waiting it out,” he said. “Guys who can get out, get out.”

The average age of shelter clients is especially troubling. Before the virus broke out, half the men who stayed at the hostel were over age 55, putting them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Small is also facing a staff shortage, while employees who continue coming to work are grappling with questions they never faced before.

“We’re seeing people who have spouses that are working from home, and kids having to be at home, and they are concerned that, as they are an essential service, they have to come to an extremely tense operation. The challenge is not necessarily that our guests are going to give it to us, but the pressure that we are possibly going to infect them, and that’s a lot for a soul to carry,” said Small.

At the same time, he faces the shortage of masks, hand sanitizer, and other protective gear so many groups are encountering. “We were never equipped to be medically or clinically based. We’re hospitality based.”

With even hospitals struggling to find enough masks, shelter managers like Small are finding creative ways to source protective equipment. He’s received distillery-made sanitizers and hand-sewn masks and even had staff stapling paper towels and rubber bands into makeshift face coverings for guests in the absence of anything else.

The shelter has also had to increase food services. Typically, it would serve about 25 guests who couldn’t get themselves a meal from a nearby McDonald’s restaurant or soup kitchen. But with many kitchens closing or offering limited services, Small has doubled the number of meals offered at the hostel and is giving them away in take-out style containers.

The storage of dry goods and frozen goods is stocked up in case of more difficult times to come.

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

Pope Francis prays for the homeless during coronavirus pandemic: LINK

The Door is Open (DIO), a downtown drop-in centre in Vancouver that serves free meals to the poor and homeless 365 days of the year, is also facing difficult times.

Manager Frances Cabahug said the centre has had to close its dine-in services, counselling programs, and clothing donation bin, volunteers now only offering take-out meals through the doors and windows, keeping a two-metre distance from their clients and each other.

Her team used to serve about 250 meals at lunchtime. Now, she says, they’re stretching to feed as many as 400, with the lineup circling the block.

“It’s a bit difficult because we’re making more food, for sure, but we don’t have the volunteers coming in.”

In pre-virus days, weekends at DIO were filled with church or school groups bustling around preparing meals out of ingredients they brought themselves.
Now, “sometimes it’s seven, sometimes it’s four, sometimes it’s 10 of us making the food that 20 people would have made.”

Cabahug never had to worry about food availability before, but with volunteers staying home and bulk stores like Costco packed with shoppers and empty of staples like bread or frozen hotdogs, she’s had to spend more time than ever finding food. Fortunately, some local restaurants that have shut down or decreased their own services have been donating bread and perishables.

“That has been helping us through the shortages,” she said.

The DIO also keeps a pantry stocked with an estimated three weeks’ worth of non-perishables, though “we are very careful because we don’t know how long this will last.”

BC Housing says it recognizes the particularly difficult situations of the homeless these days and is working on “swift action” to protect vulnerable people. So far, that has resulted in a ban on evictions for people who can’t afford to pay rent in BC Housing-funded buildings and identifying places for homeless people to self-isolate.

DTES Response, a newly formed group working to prevent the spread of COVID-19, is encouraging those not living or providing essential services in the Downtown Eastside to stay out of the community.It also asking for donations of food, cellphones, and money for those in need of food, hygiene, and ways to stay connected.

Meanwhile, Small is hoping the Catholic community continues to do what it does best for the vulnerable and those caring for them during the crisis. He wants them to pray.

“I’ll never be able to go to order from a catalogue or go to any government warehouse and get prayer,” he said.

“Prayer works and it’s one of our foundations. It’s an opportunity for our Church to do something miraculous.”


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National multi-faith prayer effort strives to unite Canadians during COVID-19 crisis

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 11:34

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa -CCN] – Two Ottawa-based faith leaders have joined together to comfort Canadians during the COVID-19 health crisis that has closed most places of worship across the country.

Ottawa’s Catholic Archbishop Terrence Prendergast and Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka, former co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, have co-authored a National Prayer for Canada that they hope will be shared by people of all faiths across the country during on March 31.

On his Twitter feed, Archbishop Prendergast issued “an invitation to Canadians to pray for all in any way touched by the Corona Virus” on March 31.

While Prendergast said the prayer can be recited at any time, he suggested “common action on Tuesday, March 31, at 3 p.m.” eastern time or the equivalent time depending on time zones across the country — in Saskatchewan it would be at 1 p.m. March 31.

The call to join together in a national prayer on March 31 is being shared by representatives of other faiths as well and more information can be found on Facebook (LINK to Facebook page).

The director of the Religious Freedom Institute at the faith-based think tank Cardus has added his voice to the call for a national multi-faith prayer on March 31.

“During this time of affliction it is important to celebrate and support worthy communal efforts that unite us in prayer as people of faith, as citizens, and above all in our shared humanity,” said Andrew Bennett, adding “as faith leaders across the country think creatively about ways to care for their communities, I would invite you to join me in supporting such a worthy initiative.”

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, is among the Canadian religious leaders supporting the national prayer effort.

“Prayer is the shared language with which we express the hopes and longings of our hearts to God with our sisters and brothers of faith,” Nicholls said. “Please join in prayer as we face this common challenge in every community.”

Prayer created by Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka and Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast:

O God,
We gather together separated by life-saving distancing, but united more than ever in spirit;
We know we are in a war against COVID-19 together, and the more together we are, the better and stronger we will emerge:
We know the challenges are enormous, yet so are the opportunities;
That whether we are in isolation with loved ones, or alone, we will have abundance of time;
We commit to using that time to the max, to help those in greater need in whatever way we can;
We know we all have the opportunity, and time, to be life savers and life enhancers;
We give thanks for those who are on the front line taking care of those who are not well;
We give thanks for the researchers who are working at breakneck speed to find cure and vaccine;
We give thanks for our leaders, federal, provincial and local, for their dedication to all of us;
We give thanks for the providers of our daily needs who go to work in spite of the risk;
We give thanks for those who have ramped up their ability to produce life-saving supplies.
We pray for the well-being of all our life savers; For those who are not well, that they recover fully;
For those enduring difficulty, that they may overcome their challenges.
We pray that a cure and vaccine will soon be available,
And that we all – family, friends, all Canadians, the entire world may be healed in body and spirit.
We ask you, O God, to bless our leaders, our front line care givers, our life savers and life enhancers.
We ask you, O God, to bless Canada, to bless the world, to bless everyone.


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COVID-19 pandemic puts ethics to the test

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 18:04

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – In a crisis, hard decisions have to be made.

When there aren’t enough ventilators or Intensive Care Unit beds for everyone who needs one, it’s left to medical ethicists to provide guidance to clinicians faced with dire decisions about who lives and who dies.

“This pandemic is challenging us all,” said bioethicist and medical doctor Sr. Nuala Kenny, who founded the bioethics department at Dalhousie University’s medical school in Halifax.

Canada has about 3,200 ICU beds and 5,000 ventilators. Provincial health ministers across the country are ordering more of both in anticipation of high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kenny stresses that the hard decisions are first of all medical decisions.

“Provision of testing or treatment, when available, requires a medical indication,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Catholic Register. “This is true at all times and especially in times of limitation.”

Before doctors and triage nurses are forced into ethical decisions, the public has to ethically decide to not waste time or medical resources by demanding unneeded tests and treatment. Doctors should and will reject such demands, Kenny said.

“The modern bioethical principle of respect for autonomy does not mean giving them anything they want. Doctors are not Wal-Mart salespersons,” said Kenny. “Clearly, modern medicine has been affected by consumerism and commercialization. ‘Ask your doctor’ has become in many ways ‘tell your doctor.’ ”

Ethics of living through a pandemic falls to ordinary people

The ethics of living through a pandemic should fall first on ordinary people, before we ask doctors to decide who gets a ventilator, said Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute executive director Moira McQueen.

From hand washing to staying home, it’s up to Canadians to “flatten the curve” so that demand for medical interventions does not exceed hospital capacity.

“I think it’s great that so many people are taking this seriously. We’ve been made to take it seriously, with the schools and churches, etc. being closed for our own good,” said McQueen. “This is the hope exactly, that (social distancing and hygiene) works. And these other, stronger ethical decisions wouldn’t have to be made, or at least wouldn’t have to be made to the same extent.”

Who should benefit from limited medical resources?

The hard calculation of who should benefit from limited medical resources is actually something that comes up all the time, said St. Joseph’s College moral theology professor Paul Flaman.

“This issue does not only come up with pandemics like we are facing now,” he said. “Decisions are made regularly as to who gets priority in being treated in emergency wards and also with organ transplants.”
The criteria for these decisions are not controversial, Flaman said.

“There is wide agreement about who gets priority based on who has the greatest need or (will have the) greatest benefit,” Flaman wrote in an e-mail. “A dying person may have great need, but treatment may not be able to benefit them.

“That person should still get personal care and support, including pastoral care which is a concern for Chnristians including Catholics. We also support good palliative care to help dying people die as pain-free as possible and surrounded by love.”

Christians are lucky to have a set of spiritual resources to help determine whether medical resources should be dedicated to a relatively healthy 60-year-old versus a somewhat less healthy 40-year-old.

“From a Christian perspective, we realize our need to entrust everything to God while seeking His guidance in doing what we should,” Flaman said. “From a Christian perspective, while we are to show compassion and try to help the sick and dying, we also believe in a God who loves us and wants us to share His eternal love and life with us after death, which we will all have to face some time in the future.”


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The cross is our hope: Pope Francis gives “Urbi et Orbi” blessing during coronavirus

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 13:03

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] –  Before an empty and rain-covered St. Peter’s Square on Friday, March 27, 2020, Pope Francis held Eucharistic adoration and gave an extraordinary “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, praying for the world during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic which has killed more than 25,000 people.

The holy hour included a reading from the Gospel and a meditation by Pope Francis, who spoke about faith and trust in God during a time when people fear for their lives, as did the disciples when their boat was caught in a violent storm.

“We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love,” Pope Francis said.

Embracing Christ’s cross, he said, “means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time.”

“Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope,” the pope stated.

Pope Francis held Eucharistic adoration on an altar set up under the portico in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Also present nearby was a miraculous crucifix which the pope visited March 15 to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. The crucifix, which usually hangs in San Marcello al Corso, was venerated as miraculous by Romans after it was the only religious image to survive unscathed from a fire that completely gutted the church on May 23, 1519.

An image of the Byzantine icon of Mary as Salus Populi Romani, was also brought to the square for veneration during the prayer.

At the conclusion of the prayer, Pope Francis gave an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing, and gave benediction with the Blessed Sacrament while the bells of the basilica rang.

In his meditation, Pope Francis entrusted everyone to the Lord through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “from this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world.”

“Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts,” he prayed. “You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm.”

“Tell us again: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, ‘cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us.’”

God’s call to be converted resounds in our hearts this Lent, he said. This is a time, he said, “to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”

In this moment, “how many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons,” Francis said.

He noted that in the Gospel, the disciples are afraid of the storm, but Christ sleeps in the boat. The disciples lacked faith not because they stopped believing in Christ, but because they think he does not care about what happens to them.

“‘Do you not care about me?’ It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement,” Francis said.

The storm, he said, “exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities.”

“‘Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’ Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us.”

The extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing also included the opportunity for Catholics to receive a plenary indulgence by joining via the media, praying for the intentions of the pope, and having perfect contrition, as well as the will to receive sacramental confession and the Eucharist as soon as possible.

Pope Francis said during the hour of prayer that part of faith is realizing we are in need of salvation, that we are not self-sufficient.

“We need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars,” he said. “Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck.”


Vatican News Video of “Urbi et Orbi” blessing:

Litany of Supplication

(English translation of the Litany of Supplication used during the prayer service March 27 at Sts Peter’s Basilica – from Vatican News)

We adore you, O Lord

  • True God and true man, truly present in this holy Sacrament: We adore you, O Lord
  • Our Savior God with us, faithful and rich in mercy: We adore you, O Lord
  • King and Lord of creation and of history: We adore you, O Lord
  • Conqueror of sin and death: We adore you, O Lord
  • Friend of humankind, the Risen One, the Living One who sits at the right hand of the Father: We adore you, O Lord

We believe in you, O Lord

  • Only begotten Son of the Father, descended from heaven for our salvation: We believe in you, O Lord
  • Heavenly physician, who bows down over our misery: We believe in you, O Lord
  • Lamb who was slain, who offer yourself to rescue us from evil: We believe in you, O Lord
  • Good Shepherd, who give your life for the flock which you love: We believe in you, O Lord
  • Living bread and medicine for immortality, who give us eternal life: We believe in you, O Lord

Deliver us, O Lord

  • From the power of Satan and the seductions of the world: Deliver us, O Lord
  • From the pride and presumption of being able to do anything without you: Deliver us, O Lord
  • From the deceptions of fear and anxiety: Deliver us, O Lord
  • From unbelief and desperation Deliver us, O Lord From hardness of heart and the incapacity to love: Deliver us, O Lord

Save us, O Lord

  • From every evil that afflicts humanity: Save us, O Lord
  • From hunger, from famine and from egoism: Save us, O Lord
  • From illnesses, epidemics and the fear of our brothers and sisters: Save us, O Lord
  • From devastating madness, from ruthless interests and from violence: Save us, O Lord
  • From being deceived, from false information and the manipulation of consciences: Save us, O Lord

Comfort us, O Lord

  • Protect your Church which crosses the desert: Comfort us, O Lord
  • Protect humanity terrified by fear and anguish: Comfort us, O Lord
  • Protect the sick and the dying, oppressed by loneliness: Comfort us, O Lord
  • Protect doctors and healthcare providers exhausted by the difficulties they are facing: Comfort us, O Lord
  • Protect politicians and decision makers who bear the weight of having to make decisions: Comfort us, O Lord

Grant us your Spirit, O Lord

  • In the hour of trial and from confusion: Grant us your Spirit, O Lord
  • In temptation and in our fragility: Grant us your Spirit, O Lord
  • In the battle against evil and sin: Grant us your Spirit, O Lord
  • In the search for what is truly good and true joy: Grant us your Spirit, O Lord
  • In the decision to remain in you and in your friendship: Grant us your Spirit, O Lord

Open us to hope, O Lord

  •  Should sin oppress us: Open us to hope, O Lord
  • Should hatred close our hearts: Open us to hope, O Lord
  •  Should sorrow visit us: Open us to hope, O Lord
  • Should indifference cause us anguish: Open us to hope, O Lord
  • Should death overwhelm us: Open us to hope, O Lord



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During COVID-19 uncertainty, Saskatoon priest flies over community in prayer, with Blessed Sacrament and statue of Our Lady of Fatima

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 15:18

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

With encouragement, support and logistical details provided by parishioners and others in the community, Fr. Matthew Ramsay, pastor of St. Anne Parish, flew over the city of Saskatoon on March 21, praying for all those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea began when St. Anne parishioner Vanessa Nyssen received a video from her sister about a similar flight undertaken in Italy, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus. She shared that with others in the community, who began working to see if a similar event could be held here.

Carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession and on the small plane piloted by William Hughes, Fr. Ramsay prayed for the community in a unique way at a unique moment. A statue of Our Lady of Fatima provided by Jennifer Nunes of St. Mary Parish in Saskatoon was also on the plane.

“This brings us together in faith,” said Fr. Ramsay, reflecting on prayer for the city and beyond, and the gift of asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to join us in prayer as well. “We want to remind ourselves that here on earth we are not alone in this, but also connected to our brothers and sisters in heaven, we are not alone in this.”

The experience was reported on social media and on Global TV news, with many in the community listening for the airplane overhead, and expressing appreciation for the initiative.

Video reflection about the experience:

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Church as field hospital in a time of COVID-19

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 10:26

By Blake Sittler, Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan

In my work for the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan, I had several priorities a few weeks ago: we are revising our Witness To Mission Formation Program, putting together a committee to spearhead a visiting campaign and we potentially have our annual convention taking place in October 2020.

But that was days ago – before COVID.

Since this pandemic has taken root in the province and North America, every one of us in our work and families have had to reprioritize and reschedule our lives. This reaction is legitimate and it has lead me to reflect on Pope Francis’ analogy of the Church as field hospital.

But it also inspired a reflection on Scarlett O’Hara.

Scarlett O’Hara, the larger-than-life lead of Margaret Mitchell’s epic, Gone With the Wind, needed to find a doctor to help in the birth of her sister-in-law’s baby.  No doctors were available though, because the battle of Atlanta was happening only a few miles away, and anyone with medical training was busy in the field hospital.

Scarlett knew she had to get ahold of the local doctor, but she was terrified of the fighting where the field hospital was located. She heard the cries of her sister-in-law in labour though, and she was fortified. Filled with fear and desperation, she went to fetch the doctor.

When the intrepid Scarlett arrived, she searched out her family doctor but she had to watch where she stepped because “lying in the pitiless sun, shoulder to shoulder, head to feet, were hundreds of wounded men, lining the tracks, the sidewalks, stretched out in endless rows.”

Scarlett had seen wounded men, many of them her neighbours, before, but never like this: “This was an inferno of pain and smell and noise and hurry—hurry—hurry!”

When Pope Francis described the Church as a field hospital, this is the image he had in mind: a world filled with hands reaching up croaking, “Water! Help me! Please!”

This is not an image of finely-tuned bureaucracy, but one of all hands on deck.  This is not washing your hands for 20 seconds while humming “Happy Birthday” but one of wiping the mud and blood off of your hands onto your pants and moving to the next person in need.  (Though do please keep washing your hands!)

Pope Francis is unflinching in his description, “I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”

Fr. Osita Asogwa, a lecturer in philosophy at Bigard Memorial Seminary, once said that the pope’s vision of a field hospital must focus on “pastoral care in concrete situations.”

With the rise of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, we as the Church are being called to a variety of concrete situations. It is not a gentle whisper in our ear during quiet prayer. It is a bombshell going off in the not-too-distant distance. Every institution that exists is being put to the test – be it health, political, financial and even the institution of the family. All are under pressure and our Catholic faith impels us to respond.

Now we are being called and the call will grow louder over the upcoming days, weeks and months.  There will be much need as systems start to reach their maximum capacity. We will all be called to respond in different ways but what we need to do as people of faith is to brace for it by preparing ourselves through prayer and by nurturing a flexible spirit.

The gift of the Church to this crisis is being Church—being a mass of people who have something to offer those in need. Mother Teresa was called to the poor of Calcutta. Fr. Damien was called to care for the lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molaka’i, where he dressed ulcers, made coffins, dug graves, lived, ate and drank with them and eventually succumbed to their shared disease. In the Catholic long-term care homes and hospitals in Saskatchewan, hundreds of dedicated people continue to go into work to care for our grandparents and spouses and children. They leave their family to take care of our family.

Most of us have no idea yet where we will be called. The personal gifts that we feel we have may not be the gifts that are needed. But the call will come and most likely it will come from a place we are afraid to go. Our faith though is that the One who calls us is there in the chaos and, like hearing the call of our own child labouring in the darkness of the birth canal, we cannot resist but go.

Please continue to pray for and support the men and women who are working so hard in our long-term care home and hospitals throughout the province and country.


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