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Priests gather at three locations for Clergy Day of Recollection in diocese of Saskatoon

4 hours 17 min ago

Catholic Saskatoon News

With the start of the Advent season, priests from across the diocese of Saskatoon gathered at three locations for a day of prayer, reflection and fraternity in preparation. The Clergy Day of Recollection, to prepare for Christmas, was held at Kerrobert, in Humboldt and in Saskatoon, with pastors from each region attending.

Related – Parishes submit Advent Confession / Penitential and Christmas Mass time schedule to rcdos.ca/Advent-Christmas-Schedule:

     – City Advent  & Christmas/New Year schedule– CIty parish Christmas Mass times – LINK

     – Rural Advent & Christmas/New Year schedule – Advent confession / Christmas Mass times for rural parishes (outside city of Saskatoon) – LINK

Clergy Day of Recollection at Humboldt, SK (l-r): Fr. Colin Roy, pastor at Humboldt, Muenster, Burr and Pilger; Fr. Charles Nweze, pastor at St. Front, Rose Valley, Archerwill, Nobleville and Naicam; Fr. Jerobe Ogunleye, pastor at Wadena, Kelvington, Lintlaw, Perigord and Fosston; Fr. John Ezeoruonye, associate pastor at Humboldt, Muenster, Burr and Pilger; Fr. Greg Smith-Windsor, pastor at Lanigan and LeRoy; Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu, pastor at Wynyard, Foam Lake and Wishart; Fr. Peter Olisa, pastor at Watrous, Imperial and Young; Fr. Prosper Abotsi, pastor at Lake Lenore, Annaheim and St. Gregor. (Submitted photo)

 

Clergy Day of Recollection Dec. 1 at Saskatoon (l-r) Fr. Matthew Ramsay, pastor at Saint Anne, Saskatoon; Fr. Kevin McGee, pastor at St. Mary, Saskatoon; Fr. Hoang Nguyen, pastor at St. Joseph and St. Francis, Xavier, Saskatoon; Fr. Darryl Millette, pastor at St. Augustine, Saskatoon; Fr. Geoffrey Young, pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes, Saskatoon; Fr. Habila Musa, pastor at Rosetown, Elrose and Beechy; Fr. Jean Baptiste Murhumwa, pastor at Prud’homme, Vonda and St. Denis; Fr. Daniel Louh, SMA, pastor at Sts-Martyrs-Canadiens, Saskatoon;. Fr. Marvin Lishchynsky, pastor at St. John Bosco; Brendan Rogal of St. Mary, Saskatoon; and Fr. Cosmas Epifano, OSB, of St. Peter’s Abbey, Muenster, who is serving at Our Lady of Czestochowa, Saskatoon. (Submitted photo)

 

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In Exile – “Jesus’ dysfunctional ancestry”

8 hours 34 min ago
Jesus’ dysfunctional ancestry

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI

The full story of how Jesus Christ came to be born includes elements that we do not easily imagine when we sing our Christmas hymns. Jesus’ family tree and bloodline were far from perfect and this, according to the renowned biblical scholar, Raymond Brown, needs to be kept in mind whenever we are tempted to believe in Jesus, but want to reject the church because of its imperfections, scandals, and bad history. Jesus may have been immaculately conceived, however, as the gospels make clear, there is much in his origins that is as jolting as any contemporary church scandal.

For example, in giving us the origins of Jesus, the gospels point to as many sinners, liars, and schemers in his genetic and historical lineage as they do to saints, honest people, and men and women of faith.

We see, for example, in Jesus’ genealogy a number of men who didn’t exactly incarnate the love, justice, and purity of Jesus. Abraham unfairly banished Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, rationalizing that God favou rs some people over others; Jacob, by scheming and dishonesty, stole his brother Esau’s birthright; and David, to whom Jesus explicitly connects himself, committed adultery and then had the husband of his mistress murdered to cover up an unwanted pregnancy in order to marry her.

Moreover, the women mentioned in Jesus background don’t fare much better. It is interesting to note, as Raymond Brown does, which women don’t get mentioned in reference to Jesus’ origins. The gospels don’t mention Sarah, Rebekah, or Rachel, all of whom were regarded as holy women. Whom do they mention?

They mention Tamar, a Canaanite woman, someone outside the Jewish faith, who seduces her father-in-law, Judah, so that she can have a child. They mention Rahab, also a Canaanite woman, and an outsider, who is in fact a prostitute. Next, they mention Ruth, a Moabite woman who is also outside the official religion of the time. Then they mention Bathsheba, a Hittite woman, an outsider who commits adultery with David and then schemes to make sure one of her own offspring inherits the throne.

All of these women found themselves in a situation of marriage or pregnancy that was either strange or scandalous, yet each was an important divine instrument in preserving the religious heritage that gave us Jesus. It is no accident that the gospels link these women to Mary, Jesus’ mother, since she too found herself in a ritually taboo pregnancy and in a marital situation that was peculiar.

Further still, beyond these less-than-saintly characters in Jesus’ lineage, we see as well that some of the institutions that shaped the Jewish faith were also less than saintly. Institutionalized religion back then suffered from many of the same problems it has today, including the corrupt use of power. Indeed, Israel itself (perhaps justifying the deed by referring to what Jacob had done to Esau) seized the land of Canaan from those who had a prior claim to it, claiming ownership by divine privilege.

Finally, and not insignificantly, we see too that the lineage that gave us Jesus built itself up not just on the great and the talented, but equally on the poor and insignificant. In the list of names that makes up the ancestors of Jesus, we see some that are famous but also others who can make no claim to specialness or significance. Jesus’ human blood, scripture tells us, was produced equally by the great and the small, the talented and the talentless.

What’s to be learned for all of this? Perhaps Raymond Brown captures it best. What all this tells us, he says, is that God writes straight with crooked lines, that we shouldn’t accept an overly idealized Christ, and that our own lives, even if they are marked by weakness and insignificance, are important too in continuing the story of the incarnation.

As Brown puts it: “The God who wrote the beginnings with crooked lines also writes the sequence with crooked lines, and some of those lines are our own lives and witness. A God who did not hesitate to use the scheming as well as the noble, the impure as well as the pure, men to whom the world harkened and women upon whom the world frowned – this God continues to work through the same mélange. If it is a challenge to recognize in the last part of Matthew’s genealogy that totally unknown people were part of the story of Jesus Christ, it may be a greater challenge to recognize that the unknown characters of today are an essential part of the sequence.”

Christianity isn’t just for the pure, the talented, the good, the humble, and the honest.

The story of Jesus Christ was also written and keeps being written by the impure, by sinners, by calculating schemers, by the proud, by the dishonest, and by those without worldly talents.

Nobody is so bad, so insignificant, so devoid of talent, or so outside the circle of faith, that he or she is outside the story of Christ.

 

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Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher, and award-winning author. He can be contacted through his website  www.ronrolheiser.com. He is also on Facebook www.facebook.com/ronrolheiser

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

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“Moral distress” of euthanasia helps spur BC doctor’s hospice resignation

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 11:49

By Terry O’Neill, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – After at least five years of signing petitions and writing about his opposition to doctor-assisted suicide, Port Coquitlam, B.C. family physician Dr. Kevin Sclater finally decided to act.

Just days after Crossroads Hospice in Port Moody announced Nov. 19 that Sclater was ending his part-time work at the hospice to concentrate on his family practice, he told The B.C. Catholic in an interview that another important reason he decided to sever ties with the facility is because he can no longer tolerate the fact euthanasia is taking place there.

“For me, personally, the challenge as a physician working in a hospice – I am obliged to speak to people about MAiD (medical assistance in dying) if they initiate the conversation,” Sclater said. “I can do that so well that people will not know that my personal opinion about MAiD is completely opposed to it.

“And every time I do that, that just takes a little bit out of me.”

He described a relentless process in which he is not only expected to provide details about assisted suicide but is also consistently asked if he will assess patients on their suitability for medically-provided death, something he just as consistently refuses to do.

“It’s just this ongoing – call it moral distress – that occurs with having to be even included in the MAiD approval” process, said Sclater, who has cared for patients at the hospice since it opened 19 years ago. “I don’t want to have any participation in that process.” His last day at the hospice will be Dec. 28.

RELATED: Outcry grows against mental illness as grounds for medically-provided euthanasia

RELATED: Psychiatrists’ call to delay MAiD for mental illness welcome: Archbishop Millar

Sclater, 57, has practised family medicine for 31 years. He held a diploma from the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and now is a Certificant of the Canadian College of Family Physicians with an added competency in palliative care.

Sclater has blogged about his opposition to euthanasia, writing that as a physician he has pledged to do no harm and that he adheres to international standards of palliative care, which preclude hastening a patient’s death. “I respect the free choice of others, but I ‘shall not kill,’” he wrote in one post.

In 2017 he was one of hundreds of Canadian doctors who signed a document prepared by the Canadian Physicians for Life, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians, and the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada opposing the expansion of euthanasia.

In 2020, he publicly supported the “MAiD to MAD” initiative which opposed legislation broadening the availability of assisted suicide to those who were not near death.

Both campaigns failed to sway the Liberal government, which, as The B.C. Catholic recently reported, is now on track to enact a provision in March 2023 that will permit doctor-assisted suicide on the sole grounds of mental disorder.

Dr. Kevin Sclater

Sclater, an evangelical Christian, said he opposes euthanasia on many levels, including his personal ethics, the palliative care physician relationship, “and even from a social perspective.”

Catholic teaching is unequivocal about assisted suicide. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a brief submitted to Parliament in May that the Church explicitly opposes any form of euthanasia and that any expansion of eligibility for assisted suicide “will only serve to erode the respect for the essential dignity of the human person and the common good of society, which must be committed to protecting and safeguarding vulnerable individuals and those without a voice.”

Once Ottawa legalized MAiD in 2016, the Fraser Health Authority, which funds the Crossroads Hospice, moved quickly to ensure that euthanasia was available in all its funded facilities, except those with a religious charter opposing euthanasia, such as St. Michael’s Centre in Burnaby. The edict led Neil Hilliard to resign his job as head of the region’s palliative-care program, saying medicalized killing is incompatible with palliative and hospice care.

Sclater agrees. “I’ve always accepted and embraced the philosophy of palliative care … about how the goal of palliative care is not to change the path of the natural life, neither to hasten nor to prolong the time to end natural life,” he said.

“So to include Medical Assistance in Dying or, more specifically, physician-assisted suicide into the palliative approach, it really stretches beyond the definition of what palliative care is and what palliative care should be.”

Moreover, he said palliative care tends to attract people of faith because they often do not have the same fear of death as non-religious people; that same faith can also lead them to oppose MAiD. “So to force that into your workplace or your palliative-care program, it’s really not a good fit,” Sclater said.

He notes the sad irony of hospice workers telling new patients that standard medical interventions such as intravenous injections and hydration are not part of the services provided by a hospice. “But the exception is if you choose MAiD we will actually get someone to come in and start an IV so you can receive drugs that will end your life,” Sclater said. “It’s a little bit of a practical disconnect.”

In the hope of keeping hospice, and Crossroads Hospice specifically, a MAiD-free zone, he tried to persuade Fraser Health to set up centralized MAiD-provision centres where health providers who embrace that practice would be concentrated, “rather than forcing it into a hospice environment where there is some significant opposition to that as a part of palliative care.”

(CNS photo by Shaun Best, Reuters)

The Delta Hospice Society waged a years-long but unsuccessful battle with Fraser Health to keep euthanasia out of its hospice. As reported by The B.C. Catholic, the society is now working on opening a euthanasia-free hospice. The society is also circulating a “Do Not Euthanize” directive for patients to inform medical staff about their opposition to assisted dying and is planning to launch a “guardian-angel” program to team volunteer advocates with vulnerable sick and elderly patients.

When Fraser Health ordered that hospices allow euthanasia on site, officials said it was necessary to prevent increased stress on those patients who were already suffering as they neared death. But Sclater said his experience at Crossroads is that the vast majority of patients choosing doctor-assisted suicide do so for “reasons of autonomy and control” and are not suffering intolerable pain. As such, they could easily be moved to a more suitable facility.

He also revealed “some misadventures” have occurred in the ending of patients’ lives at Crossroads. In one troubling scene this fall euthanasia providers were unable to insert an intravenous needle into the patient’s body. The attempt to find a vein went on for several hours until staff finally called a paramedic from a nearby firehall, who managed to insert a “large-bore” IV needle “right into the lower leg … so that the MAiD provider could administer the lethal drugs.”

In circumstances like that, said Sclater, “You just go, ‘Really, is hospice really the area where you want to be doing MAiD provision?’”

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New marriage formation curriculum introduced at diocesan workshop

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 11:32

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News / Photos by Sr. Malou Tibayan

“Building Faith-Filled Families” was the theme of a workshop Nov. 19 introducing a new marriage preparation and formation curriculum in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

Attended by some 40 participants, including resource couples and clergy, the day-long event held at the Cathedral of the Holy Family offered “practical tools for meaningful discussions and an invitation to become life-long disciples together, united in Christ,” said Marilyn Jackson, diocesan Director of Ministry Services.

The event included a walk-through of the new curriculum, demonstrations of presenting themes, a chance to use the materials, discussion of adult learning principles and creating an environment of  hospitality and safety.

Developed by a diocesan committee established by Bishop Mark Hagemoen, the new curriculum will be used by parishes across the diocese in forming couples who are preparing for marriage. Guests Racele and Clement Ng were recognized at the workshop for the research that went into the process.

The vision for marriage formation in the diocese “seeks to provide practical tools to raise topics for meaningful  discussion and invite engaged couples into the life of a faith community.”

“Through radical hospitality and the witness of Catholic married couples, engaged couples will be supported in their journey to becoming life-long disciples together, united in Christ.”Marriage Formation Guidelines 2022

Themes in the new curriculum that were explored during the workshop included Family of Origin and Communication, addressed by speakers Tracy and John Connelly; Communication, Sexuality and Family Planning, presented by Monique and Ryan Leblanc; and Spirituality and Prayer, reflected on by Chantale and Myron Rogal.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen also spoke about the Sacrament of Marriage.

In the bishop’s message included in the guidelines, Hagemoen noted: “I have been hearing from many clergy and laity throughout the diocese – in both our rural and urban parishes – about the need for strong support for couples discerning life-long, Catholic marriage. The diocese of Saskatoon seeks to provide solid theological formation and practical tools to address and raise topics for meaningful teaching and discussion, as we invite engaged couples through their parish faith communities to discern this wonderful, God-given vocation.“

Hagemoen added: “It is our hope that the support we provide to pastors, parishes and marriage formation teams will assist our parishes and pastoral regions in equipping engaged couples to enter into marriage with faithfulness, joy, and hope. As we accompany young couples in their journey towards holy matrimony, let us aim to surround them by our larger circle of family, friends and faith community.”

For more information about marriage preparation in the diocese of Saskatoon, please contact Director of Ministry Services Marilyn Jackson at mjackson@rcdos.ca or (306) 659-5836 or visit the website at MARRIAGE PREPARATION INFO.

Photos by Sr. Malou Tibayan, Verbum Dei missionary fraternity:

 

 

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Pope Francis: Restoration of Christian unity is ‘an urgent priority in today’s world’

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 16:57

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Pope Francis said Wednesday that the full restoration of communion among all Christians is “an urgent priority in today’s world.”

In a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the pope expressed gratitude that Catholic and Orthodox Christians are seeking “to achieve full communion that will enable us one day, in God’s time, to gather together at the same eucharistic table.”

“The full restoration of communion among all the believers in Jesus Christ is an irrevocable commitment for every Christian, for the ‘unity of all’ (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) is not only God’s will but an urgent priority in today’s world,” Pope Francis said on Nov. 30.

The pope’s letter marked the feast of St. Andrew. Pope Francis sends a message each year on the feast to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is regarded as the successor of St. Andrew the Apostle and “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

n this year’s letter, Pope Francis wrote that Christians are called to work toward the restoration of unity “not merely through signed agreements but through fidelity to the Father’s will and discernment of the promptings of the Spirit.”

“Much attention has rightly been placed on the historical and theological reasons at the origin of our divisions. This shared study must continue and develop in a spirit that is neither polemical nor apologetic but marked instead by authentic dialogue and mutual openness,” Pope Francis said.

“We must likewise acknowledge that divisions are the result of sinful actions and attitudes which impede the work of the Holy Spirit, who guides the faithful into unity in legitimate diversity. It follows that only growth in holiness of life can lead to genuine and lasting unity.”

Patriarch Bartholomew expressed support earlier this month for finding a common date for Easter, a move that would lead to Catholics and Orthodox celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ at the same time.

The patriarch said that conversations are underway between Church representatives to come to an agreement. According to an earlier report by Vatican News, the patriarch supports such a common date to be set for the year 2025, which will mark the 1,700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea.

The Holy See press office reported on Nov. 30 that a Vatican delegation traveled to Istanbul for a customary visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the feast of St. Andrew.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect emeritus of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, led the delegation, which included the undersecretary for the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Msgr. Andrea Palmieri. They were joined by Archbishop Marek Solczynski, the apostolic nuncio to Turkey.

The delegation took part in a solemn Divine Liturgy presided over by Patriarch Bartholomew in St. George’s Cathedral in Istanbul, where Sandri read the pope’s letter aloud.

“Invoking upon you Almighty God’s gifts of serenity and joy, I renew my expression of good wishes for the feast of St. Andrew, and exchange with Your All Holiness a fraternal embrace of peace in the Lord,” Pope Francis said.

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Pope Francis moves to reform Caritas Internationalis

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 16:48
Recent shakeup did not come as a total surprise

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – A dramatic shutdown of the Caritas Internationalis offices in Rome by papal decree was a surprise – and yet not a surprise – to the leaders of the 162 Catholic agencies that belong to the world’s second largest humanitarian network after the Red Cross.

“This is a real shock to all, but at the same time most knew that things weren’t going well at the secretariat level, with many resignations, complaints and political games that were undermining CI (Caritas Internationalis) for some time now,” said Development and Peace-Caritas Canada executive director Carl Hétu.

By decree, Pope Francis suspended the management, executive committee and regional committee of the Rome office at the centre of the global Catholic network.

The former president of the organization, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, has been assigned to assist the new temporary administrator, Dr. Pier Francesco Pinelli, an Italian management consultant. The decree also names Caritas head of advocacy Maria Amparo Alonso Escobar and Portuguese Jesuit Fr. Manuel Morujão to the temporary administration under Pinelli.

The shakeup in Rome is a signal that the Pope considers Caritas a central and important arm of the Church, Cardinal Michael Czerny told The Catholic Register in an e-mail.

“It (the charitable work of Caritas) is already at the centre of the Church’s concern, and the coordinating or networking office, Caritas Internationalis, of the worldwide federation of national Caritases has to be up to the measure of this very important mission,” Czerny said.

Nothing about the events in Rome should have any effect on any of the 162 Caritas agencies around the world. They are all autonomous organizations. But by the time the member agencies meet again in May to elect a new executive committee, Czerny hopes the reformed office in Rome will be more useful to the work of the entire network.

“One hopes that a better-run secretariat and more coherent bodies will have a positive ripple effect amongst the 162 Caritas members,” he said. “But they themselves and their operations are not within the purview of the evaluation of CI and the subsequent appointment of a temporary administrator.”

It makes sense that Pope Francis would personally intervene in Caritas, said King’s University College history professor Robert Ventresca, who is one of two general editors of the forthcoming three-volume Cambridge History of the Papacy.

“As with his reforms in other matters of governance, Francis is keenly aware that good governance is essential for the morale of organizations,” Ventresca said by email. “In this case, Francis seems to be signalling the need to reform and modernize structures and processes to make them more responsive to humanitarian needs on the ground. Clearly, Francis is less interested than his immediate predecessors in policing doctrinal alignment and more interested in making sure that humanitarian aid reaches people in need.”

“The pope sees Caritas as the most important charity and justice organization of the Church,” said Hétu. “If he acted like this, that’s because he realized that with the current leadership it was impossible to move forward.”

Development and Peace – Caritas Canada members and donors should know that the Canadian organization is legally separate from the office in Rome, and the shake-up has no impact on day-to-day operations in Canada, Hétu said.

“For us, it doesn’t change the way we work. It doesn’t change the program we have. It doesn’t change how the money is used,” he said.

Hétu understands the drive to reform Caritas Internationalis as lining up with the Synod on Synodality, with its emphasis on transparency and an open style of communication.

“His goal is really to redirect Caritas to make it even better, particularly in the sense of reconciliation and synodality — meaning listening and acting,” Hétu said.

Direct papal investment in a transnational network of modern Catholic humanitarian agencies began between the wars in the middle of the last century. In the wake of massive displacements of ethnic and religious minorities in Russia, Turkey, Iraq and elsewhere at the end of the First World War, Pope Benedict XV and then Pope Pius XI directed a network of agencies to help refugees. In 1926 these agencies were tied together in the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

In 1951, while Europe’s network of displacement camps were folding, the Cold War was ramping up and the world was coming to terms with the Holocaust, Caritas Interationalis was founded to co-ordinate this work on a more global scale. After the Second Vatican Council bishops’ conferences in Europe and North America set up agencies in response to a broader crisis of development as former colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America gained independence. Development and Peace in Canada, Catholic Relief Services in the United States and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development in England and Wales were among these agencies.

Under Francis’ curial reforms, the Caritas network has fallen under the leadership of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, of which Czerny is prefect.

“I believe that what the Holy Father has decided expresses his pastoral outlook, his strong, fatherly care — not only towards the poorest, neediest and most suffering in the world, but also towards colleagues and staff who carry out such an important commitment of the Church: charity,” Czerny said.

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Ecology comes first, “no ifs ands or buts” say religious congregations

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 16:36

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – Twenty religious congregations have joined together to lobby Ottawa politicians on climate change and social justice.

Since September, the Office of Religious Congregations for Integral Ecology has been quietly meeting with MPs and Senators of all parties, making the case for thoughtful, planned changes to the structure of Canada’s economy.

“We need it because the Catholic voice is missing on the Hill these days,” said ORCIE’s chief lobbyist Genevieve Gallant. “There’s no other group that has the mandate to do advocacy, or the capacity to do advocacy, on the Hill.”

On behalf of sisters, priests and brothers that live under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in religious congregations, Gallant is pushing an ecology-first agenda for all parties.

“It’s about what we’re advocating for — with Laudato Si’ and Pope Francis, the urgent need to get action on climate change,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if the Conservative policy is going to look similar to the Liberal policy, because we need action on that file — no ifs, ands or buts.”

It’s natural that the job should fall to the religious congregations, who have often played a prophetic role in the Church and society, Gallant said.

“We know the Catholic bishops have had a lot going on with reconciliation. We know that Development and Peace has a lot going on with emergencies from Pakistan to Ukraine,” she said.

Gallant has been in the advocacy business for 25 years with Development and Peace-Caritas Canada, Citizens for Public Justice, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle and Kairos, the Canadian ecumenical social justice collaboration. The idea for ORCIE came together in June 2021 and Gallant began active lobbying in September, participating in the Climate Action Network’s annual Days on the Hill meetings.

The Synod on Synodality and the Vatican’s accession to the Paris Climate Accords have made the case for practical Catholic political activism more than clear, according to Gallant.

“The urgency now is that we had 623 oil executives, lobbyists, as part of (official) delegations at COP27. We’ve got to up our game.”

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Civil rights league concerned about proposed Online Streaming Act, Bill C-11

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 16:16

By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) is concerned that Bill C-11, the federal government’s proposed Online Streaming Act, could limit the free speech of Catholics on issues that might run up against federal policies.

League executive director Christian Elia pointed in particular to Catholics with pro-life views, which run contrary to the official stances of the governing Liberals, who have outlawed people with pro-life views from running for office under the federal Liberal banner.

“The League submits that in a free and democratic society efforts to limit free speech must be opposed in favour of open communication, which includes opinions that the government might view as dissentient,” wrote Elia in an email to The Catholic Register. “We support the dignity of the human person from conception until natural death in our opposition to abortion and euthanasia. We hope that broadcasters will allow such voices to be heard in a robust way, rather than submit to government diktat.”

Elia said the CCRL “have worked hard to use digital means in advancing fair hearings for Catholic positions on issues of public debate in support of law and policy compatible with a Catholic understanding of human nature and the common good for a better Canada.”
Bill C-11 could represent a threat to those efforts.

If the bill becomes law, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will be armed with regulatory power over audiovisual content transmitted or retransmitted on online platforms, including monetized content on social media services.

“The CCRL fears that Bill C-11, or any attempt to regulate and shape communications by broadcasters, will lead to greater incursions to our freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience and religion,” Elia said.

Experts from every corner of the Canadian — and global — media ecosystem have testified to the Standing Senate Committee of Transport and Communications over the past two months on the legislative proposal originally authored by Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez. Rodriguez said the act “will make a direct contribution to the vitality of Canadian culture” by mandating online streamers “to do their fair share, no more, no less, to fund, create, produce and distribute Canadian content.”

Opposition voices state this bill will diminish the country’s online prosperity and harm individual content creators’ freedom of expression, including a former vice-chairman and telecommunications president of the CRTC.

“With YouTube, for example, if they promote Canadian content in Canada, they are going to have to depress (the videos) elsewhere to make it fair because they have to treat all their clients with the same set of rules,” said Peter Menzies, now a senior fellow of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

“This shrug you get from people, this ‘so what, they can do whatever they want,’ I find that very alarming. It really is sort of a ‘build that wall’ approach when it comes to content.

“The Internet gives Canadian content producers access to every Anglophone or Francophone in the world. It’s just a much bigger market than Canada. Why would you do something to wreck that? It’s just crazy,” he said.

If Bill C-11 passes the Senate and receives royal assent, any Catholic publication posting audio or video on streaming platforms, and the Church itself, would fall under CRTC jurisdiction, said Menzies.

“Religion has always been an area of concern for the CRTC when it comes to broadcasting. A lot of it has to do with its history. A matter of concern means they keep a close eye on it. Basically, with some of the priorities that the government has in terms of the tone and mood and things that it wants to take place, there are traditional Catholic teachings that would very much be a concern of the CRTC.”

Elia points to the Statistics Canada finding in August that acts of anti-Catholic violence rose 260 per cent from 2020 to 2021 suggesting this is a product of the lack of civility accorded to Catholic beliefs in the public square.

It appears Bill C-11 is inching closer to a resolution in the Senate. The Standing Senate Committee of Transport and Communications re-convened Nov. 23 to conduct a clause-by-clause consideration of the Online Streaming Act.

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Hospitality is the heart of health care – SaskEthics reflection

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 16:01

By Dr. Mary Heilman, Bioethicist for CHAS  and St. Paul’s Hospital, Saskatoon

[November 2022 issue of SaskEthics, an Ethics Newsletter for Catholic Healthcare Organizations in Saskatchewan, re-published with permission]

Dr. Mary Heilman, Bio-ethicist, CHAS and St. Paul’s Hospital

This October, the Saskatchewan Catholic Healthcare family gathered in person for the first time since the pandemic for the CHAS Annual Convention. This year’s theme was “Hospitality” which has prompted me to spend a lot of time thinking about the ethics of hospitality.

As it turns out, other people are thinking about hospitality too.  In fact, the Catholic Health Association of the United States of America has launched an Advent program centered on the theme of hospitality (availble at www.chausa.org/prayers/advent).  Coincidence?  I think not.

Hospitality is at the core of Catholic healthcare.  The words “hospital” and “hospitality” have the same root precisely because the first hospitals were places that welcomed weary travelers and provided them with a hot meal and a bed to help them regain their strength.  This practice of welcoming the stranger was embraced by monasteries, and later guided the work of our founding sisters who set up hospitals and long term care homes across the province.

At the CHAS convention, I presented a workshop on “The Ethics of Hospitality” where I asked participants to brainstorm some of the ways that they prepare for guests. Whether they were putting clean sheets on the bed, pulling out a casserole or clearing their schedules for the weekend, all the preparations came down to 3 key needs that hosts hope to meet for their guests: shelter, food and relationships.

Hospitality remains foundational to healthcare because it is only when people feel secure and nourished that they can enter into the relationships necessary for healing. As the hosts of healthcare, it is our job to remove any barriers that might get in the way of that process.

For example, consider the barriers that are faced by someone who does not speak English when they first enter a hospital. What can we do to help them feel welcome? Perhaps we need to ensure our signs are in multiple languages and/or depict pictures of the places a person may try to access, or perhaps we need to place a greeter at our door. We may also want to offer them a quick tour to ensure they know where they can access washrooms and drinking water, or provide them with the information needed to ask for a translator.

Is your hospital or care home a welcoming place? How do care for your teammates to ensure they feel welcome at work? How do you as a team extend that same sense of welcome to those in your care?

If you would like to learn more about the ethics of hospitality, please visit this link for the SHA’s November Ethics Exchange: www.stpaulshospital.org/news/nov-2022-ethics-exchange (video of presentation, below).

 

 

 

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Outcry grows against mental illness as grounds for medically-provided euthanasia

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 13:00

By Terry O’Neill, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – In a little more than three months, federal law will permit Canadians who are mentally ill to access the country’s already permissive assisted-suicide regime on the sole grounds that they are suffering from a mental disorder.

They will not have to show that their illness is a fatal one, nor that their death is imminent, but only that they find their mental disorder to be so unbearable that they should be allowed to have themselves put to death.

As the March 2023 deadline for expansion of assisted-suicide eligibility draws ever closer, Catholics from across the country are raising their voices in opposition. In Vancouver, for example, Archbishop J. Michael Miller recently described the law as “morally depraved.”

Any hope that the federal government would reverse course appeared to be dashed in late October by the Liberal government’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos.

Duclos released a little-noticed statement on Oct. 20, 2022 that not only appeared to ignore the Special Joint Senate-Commons Committee on MAiD (medical assistance in dying)  request for more time to study the issue, but also embraced the recommendations of a government-appointed “expert panel” which reported in May that the government did not need to undertake any new legislative protections before opening assisted suicide to the mentally ill.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says the Liberal government is working to implement recommendations to allow euthanasia on the sole grounds of mental illness. (Twitter image, The B.C. Catholic – CCN)

But at least two panel members, Jeffrey Kirby and Ellen Cohen, resigned before the panel released its report to protest its failure to recommend adequate safeguards.

Kirby, a retired professor in the department of bioethics at Dalhousie University, told The Toronto Star that he believes “more people will end up being approved for MAiD and having MAiD performed than is warranted” because of that failure.

Similarly, Cohen, who worked for 30 years in the field of mental health, wrote in an essay that she felt the panel’s recommendations did not contain sufficient safeguards. “I could not legitimize the process and I also could not condone the conclusions of the panel,” she said.

Deepened concern

While the Catholic Church opposes all forms of assisted suicide, the looming expansion of eligibility requirements has sparked renewed and deepened concern.

“Next March, unless the government is forced to change its mind, persons suffering solely from mental illness will become eligible for euthanasia,” Archbishop Miller said in his homily at the White Mass for health-care professionals Oct. 29.

“In six years, Canada has gone from totally banning euthanasia to one of the most permissive euthanasia regimes in the world,” Archbishop Miller said. “And even more access could be coming, including allowing ‘mature minors’ to request it.”

“The only way now to minimize the damage to human dignity caused by such morally depraved laws is to work to ensure that palliative care is affordable and accessible to every Canadian,” he said.

Every diocese in Ontario has now joined the pro-palliative-care “No Options, No Choice” initiative, which the Christian Medical and Dental Association of Canada launched in October. The initiative seeks to persuade provincial governments to spend more on palliative care, mental-health treatments, and social and housing supports to ensure that Canadians don’t choose Medical Assistance in Dying [MAiD] out of despair and frustration.

Lives can still be saved

“Am I saying this is going to eliminate MAiD altogether? Probably not,” Deacon Larry Worthern, executive director of the association, said in an interview with The Catholic Register. “But how many lives will be saved in the interim?”

Also in Ontario, the Saint Elizabeth Health Care foundation, with funding from ShareLife and support from the Catholic Charities arm of the Archdiocese of Toronto, opened a special “HopeLine” service on Nov. 11 to provide information about access to palliative care.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops formally told the joint parliamentary committee in May that it opposed assisted suicide and the expansion of eligibility to the mentally ill.

“The legal expansion of eligibility for MAiD will only serve to erode the respect for the essential dignity of the human person and the common good of society, which must be committed to protecting and safeguarding vulnerable individuals and those without a voice,” said the submission, signed by CCCB president Bishop Raymond Poisson.

While the committee heard many similar presentations from individuals and organizations opposed to allowing the mentally ill access to assisted suicide, the majority of its senators and members of Parliament reported in June that they supported the expert panel’s finding that sufficient policies were already in place, or were being developed, to enable the practice to proceed. At the same time, the committee asked for more time to conclude its own study of the issue.

Warnings not being heeded

A minority of the committee members issued a dissenting report, charging that legislation of this nature needs to be guided by science, and not ideology. “We have been warned by several experts that if MAID MD-SUMC [Medical Assistance in Dying where Mental Disorder is the Sole Underlying Medical Condition] is implemented as planned, it will facilitate the deaths of Canadians who could have gotten better, robbing them of the opportunity they may have had to live a fulfilling life,” the dissenters said.

Among the problems they cited was the difficulty of determining whether a patient’s desire for suicide is a symptom of their illness, or whether it is a distinct phenomenon known as suicidal ideation, or having suicidal thoughts.

“I think what is happening is that the government is throwing people with suicidal ideation under the bus,” Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said in an interview with The B.C. Catholic. “So when a symptom of your condition is suicidal ideation, and they are offering you euthanasia, obviously, there’s a big problem here. What they really need is treatment, not death.”

(Pixabay photo)

MP Michael Cooper (CPC St. Albert–Edmonton) told The B.C. Catholic that he and the other two MPs who signed the dissenting committee report said it is extremely difficult to determine whether someone suffering from a mental disorder is irremediably ill. By law, however, for someone to be eligible for assisted suicide, a person must have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition.”

“The train has left the station, there’s no question,” Cooper said. “The government has set in motion this significant expansion without study, without consultation, without safeguards, and (despite) evidence from experts that, in cases of mental illness, it’s not possible or at least very difficult to determine irremediability.”

Process was a failure

MP Michael Cooper (Submitted photo, The B.C. Catholic – CCN)

Cooper said the May expert-panel report offered no safeguards or practice standards. “So in that regard, the expert panel failed to produce a report on the very issues that they were tasked to producing recommendations on,” Cooper said.

“Their only safeguard was to say that these decisions, in respect to eligibility [where the sole ground was mental disorder] can be decided on a case-by-case basis. In other words, these decisions are going to be made on the basis of guesses and hunches.”

Cooper said that even in the unlikely event that the special joint committee’s final report in February recommends additional legislative safeguards, Parliament will have no time to enact them before the March implementation date.

“The Liberal government has created an untenable situation,” he said.

Ottawa psychiatrist Dr. Sephora Tang was one of the originators of the physician-led MAiD to MAD initiative in 2020 to inform the public about the dangerous expansion of euthanasia eligibility. Dr. Tang said told The B.C. Catholic that the regulations expected to be in place in March will fall far short of needed protections.

She said the inadequacies start with federal legislation that lets physicians make subjective determinations of when mental illness qualifies for euthanasia and without minimum standards of treatment before ending a patient’s life.

Wrongful deaths inevitable

Dr. Sephora Tang (Submitted photo, The B.C. Catholic – CCN)

“When you apply this inadequate framework to people who are suicidal as a symptom of a mental disorder and who are unable to receive or who decline treatment, even for reasons of poverty or inaccessibility due to long wait lists, you get state-sanctioned and -facilitated suicide for people who under different circumstances would have gotten better and lived to see a better day.”

Doctors who were previously expected to prevent suicide will be asked instead to facilitate it, she said. “In a health-care system as fractured as our own, with many people struggling simply to survive, Canada’s expanding laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide will lead to many wrongful deaths in a terribly conceived social experiment.”

Dr. Tang said it is not too late for the government to put on the brakes “before the MAiD train crashes. Parliament has the power to change course if they have the will and the leadership to travel down another track.”

But will they? she asks. “The fates of many lives are perched precariously on political thrones. If things proceed to March 2023 with no changes, as the government to date seems poised to do, the government will have taken away the last legal tool that I and my fellow psychiatrists rely upon to keep our patients alive long enough to recover from their illness.

“Our work in caring for patients which has already been extraordinarily difficult with limited resources will become harder still.”

She said it may be that Canadians don’t fully grasp the significance of the negative consequences the expanded MAiD law will have on society. “But one day,” she said, “I think we will begin to realize and grieve how terribly our country has erred in its approach, but not before many more lives have been lost to a destructive ideology.”

How MAiD became MAD

Critics have long used the deceptive euphemism “MAiD” (Medical Assistance in Dying) for what is legally permitted homicide – the killing of one person by another.

Now, since the March 2021 passage of Bill C-7, which allows the assisted suicide of persons who are not actually dying, it is clear that continued use of an expression describing someone as “dying” is also factually incorrect. More-honest alternatives do exist.

Some Canadian doctors noted this in 2020 when, concerned about the expansion of eligibility criteria, they said in a public declaration that a better description of the then-looming law would be “Medically Assisted Death.” They dubbed their lobbying effort the “MAiD to MAD” project.

The doctors warned that the law would make Canada “the world leader” in administering death. “We watch in utter dismay and horror at how the nature of our medical profession has been so quickly destroyed by the creation of misguided laws,” they declared.

The federal government is now beginning to employ another bewildering acronym connected with the scheduled March 2023 allowance of mental illness as a sole criterion for accessing assisted suicide: “MAiD MD-SUMC,” short for “Medical Assistance in Dying where Mental Disorder is the Sole Underlying Medical Condition.”

Matthew Marquardt, a lawyer who is executive director of Toronto-based Catholic Conscience, suggests a more truthful description: “SAD” for “socially assisted death.”

“I settled several years ago on the term … because I am unwilling to accept complicity in helping to ‘sell’ voluntary or acquiescent suicide to vulnerable people, particularly through the use of sunny, euphemistic terms like ‘MAiD,’” Marquardt said in an interview with The B.C. Catholic.

“The friendly packaging of socially promoted suicide using cute terms like ‘MAiD’ smacks very strongly to me of an insidious plan to reduce the public-health and welfare ‘burden’ by offering cheaper and quicker means of emptying hospital and palliative-care beds, rather than accepting our loving Creator’s invitation to accompany those on their journey back to him.”

He urged Canadians not to accept assisted suicide as a fait accompli. “The Church teaches, and has always taught, that we have a personal responsibility to do what we can to improve the conduct of our societies,” Marquardt said.

“Instead of resorting to poison needles, we can look after our aging parents in our homes, especially if we pursue social policies that encourage the use of multi-generation homes, as many cultures do. We can also simply sit with friends, praying with them or simply being present to them, and support home visitation groups by parishes and others.”

Timeline of a slippery slope to death

June 2016: Euthanasia (Medical Assistance in Dying) becomes legal in Canada for persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable. Critics warn of a slippery slope that will lead to ever more permissive regulations.

March 2021: Bill C-7 becomes law, removing the eligibility criterion of a reasonably foreseeable natural death and permitting assisted suicide when mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition, effective March 2023. The law also allows eligible persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable and who have a set date to receive MAiD to waive final consent if they are at risk of losing capacity in the interim.

May 2022: A report from a Liberal-hand-picked “expert panel” finds only that some practices and standards surrounding the mental-illness criterion need to be refined and that “no new legal safeguards are required.”

June 2022: Parliament’s Special Joint [Senate-Commons] Committee on MAiD tables an interim report on the mental-illness criterion, supporting the expert panel but also asking the federal government for more time to complete its own review because “there is still work to be done on this complex issue.” Three members of the committee issue a dissenting report calling on the government to halt and reconsider the expansion of MAiD.

October 2022: The Quebec College of Physicians recommends to the Special Joint Committee that MAID regulations be expanded to allow infanticide for severely ill newborns.

October 2022: Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos sends a letter to the joint committee explaining that the Liberal government is working with the provinces and territories “to support the implementation of the panel’s recommendations” and that he expects sufficient “practice standards and training modules” to be in place by March 2023 to allow the expansion of MAiD eligibility, on the sole grounds of mental illness, to proceed. He does not specifically reply to the Committee’s request for more time.

February 2023: Scheduled completion date for the work of the Special Joint Committee, which is also looking into calls to extend MAiD to “mature minors.” Even if it calls for stricter legislative controls, insufficient time would remain for such amendments to be enacted before the scheduled March 2023 expansion of eligibility for MAiD.

March 2023: Medical staff will be allowed to facilitate the deaths of persons through “Medical Assistance in Dying where Mental Disorder is the Sole Underlying Medical Condition” (MAID MD-SUMC).

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CWL providing assistance to survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 06:35
Twelve more backpacks for Hope Restored

By Diane Cote, Catholic Women’s League

[Editor’s note: Saskatoon City Council has now approved the request of Saint Anne CWL, proclaiming that Feb. 22 will be marked as “Saskatoon Human Trafficking Awareness Day.”]

Members of Saint Anne Catholic Women’s League (CWL) Council in Saskatoon hosted the presentation of 12 backpacks to Joeline Magill, Executive Director of Hope Restored Canada on Nov. 18, 2022.

With support from the local CWL council, the backpacks were newly-assembled by IWIN (I’m Worth It Now) situated in Calgary, Alberta.  “Prayer Warrior” bracelets were left with Saint Anne CWL organizers to distribute to members of their council. Each backpack contains a matching bracelet.

Saint Anne CWL members are currently working on educating fellow parishioners on the seriousness of human trafficking in our city and province.  Ultimately, council members hope to see that the Saskatoon civic government will align with the federal government in proclaiming Feb 22 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

The last installment of backpacks was received by members of Holy Spirit and St. Augustine parishes in June of this year.

Related: What is IWIN? IWIN, working with human trafficking investigators, provides backpacks to survivors who are entering a wrap-around program to support them emotionally, physically and spiritually.  IWIN also raises awareness about the atrocity of human trafficking and its prevalence right here in our home country of Canada by providing volunteers with the opportunity to participate in a Red Sand Prayer Service. To find out more about IWIN, please visit www.iwininitiative.ca . What is Hope Restored?

Based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Hope Restored is a charitable organization guided and led by compassionate people who care deeply about the restoration and empowerment of all people, especially those who have been impacted by sexual exploitation and trafficking. Among a range of services, Hope Restored operates an eight-bed safe house in Saskatoon for women and girls fleeing trafficking. To find out more about Hope Restored, please visit www.hopetrestoredcanada.org

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Jesuits offer Trudeau their Haiti expertise

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 16:25
Canada to lead Core Group in troubled Caribbean nation

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – As Canada prepares to take the lead among the Core Group trying to solve Haiti’s anarchic and violent crisis, Canada’s top Jesuit is offering Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a precious resource — 55 Haitian Jesuits, including 35 currently in the troubled Caribbean nation.

“We could bring some of the Haitian Jesuit leadership into the conversation,” Jesuit provincial superior Fr. Erik Oland told The Catholic Register. “These are very smart, highly educated men who have pastoral skills. Give them a voice. Let’s have a conversation.”

In a Nov. 22, 2022 letter to Prime Minister Trudeau — also sent to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan — Oland and Haitian Jesuit superior Fr. Jean-Denis Saint-Felix tell Trudeau the Canadian Jesuits are “deeply troubled” by a Haitian crisis of “unprecedented dimensions.”

Owing to a history of missionary work by Quebecois Jesuits in the 20th century, Haiti’s Jesuits are part of the Canadian province of the world’s largest Catholic order of priests.

Since the assassination of Haiti’s then-president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, and the IMF-directed cuts to fuel subsidies in September of this year, Haiti has suffered constant protests, often devolving into riots, a blockade of the country’s largest fuel depot by about a dozen street gangs who call themselves the G9 Family and Allies, gangs in control of roads demanding payment for passage, broad daylight kidnappings, a cholera outbreak and a declaration from the World Food Program that nearly half the country (4.7 million people) are facing acute hunger. On top of these woes, there is almost complete lawlessness and an uncountable death toll from gang violence.

“Our brother Jesuits report connections between the gangs, the government and the business elites, with gang violence being wielded in service of the ruling powers with impunity,” reads the letter to the prime minister.

Most of all the Jesuits are asking Canada not to lead the Core Group (Canada, the United States, France, Brazil, Spain, Germany, the European Union, United Nations and Organization of American States representatives) down the path of military intervention and occupation.

“The Jesuits oppose military intervention but stand ready to assist legitimate reform efforts that can build lasting peace in Haiti,” said the letter to Trudeau.

The Canadian government needs to find new Haitian voices to engage with, said Oland. Dealing with the same political and business elites will only produce the same results, he said.

“This is a crisis. Something needs to be done, but a quick fix is not the way,” he said.

The Jesuits in Haiti run 17 Fe y Alegría schools; the rector of the national Catholic University is a Jesuit; the Jesuit Refugee Service assists migrants at three locations along the border with the Dominican Republic; Jesuits pastor two parishes; and the Jesuit spirituality centre is a hub for conversations and reflection on many issues.

“Right across the board in doing what Jesuits do, we are engaged at significant levels in the culture,” said Oland.

A similar letter to U.S. President Joe Biden, Senate and Congressional leaders has gone out from the Jesuit Conference headquartered in Washington.

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Tackling global issues with nature as our guide

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 10:01
COP gatherings held to discuss ways to protect creation

By Erin Dueck, Catholic Saskatoon News

Have you ever walked by the river, swam at a beach, camped in a park, or experienced nature in a special way?

Most people would agree that our planet is full of beautiful landscapes and creatures to explore and see. If you are like me, you just can’t wait to get outside whenever and wherever you can. Immersing oneself in nature is generally a peaceful and calming experience, yet there is always so much going on! From the buzz of insects in the air to the flow of the rivers and the slow growth of new leaves to the microbes in the soil, everything has a role and a purpose.

Erin Dueck reflects on the call to care for creation (Submitted photo)

One of the most incredible and impressive parts about the natural world is the inter-dependency and harmony between each aspect. Society does not always do a great job of teaching us this, but we are designed  to act just as nature does – to serve others by using our greatest and most unique gifts, skills, and talents.

I believe that through nature, God is guiding us in amazing ways, but we must be willing to spend time marvelling in His creation and doing what we can to sustain it, including the Earth and us as people.

From the individual level to the international level, all actions taken to protect creation make a difference.

Over the next couple of months, national leaders are gathering for three Conference of Parties (COP) to discuss ways to conserve precious areas of the world. (See: www.ducks.ca/stories/biodiversity/meet-the-cops/)

There are several international agreements (COPs) that exist to address environmental issues and they differ according to the area that they are aiming to protect. Two of the three 2022 COP conferences (COP14 and COP27) started in early November 2022 and the third (COP15) is set to begin in early December.

COP14 is focused on protecting wetlands and waterfowl habitat, COP27 is working towards combatting climate change, and COP15 is concentrating on conserving biological diversity. Ironically, the number does not have to do with the focus area, but rather the number of times that the specific convention has been held.

Therefore, the next time the ‘Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’ (COP15 in December 2022) meets, it will be titled ‘COP16’ instead. This also means that there have been significantly more international meetings to discuss climate change than wetlands or biodiversity. The frequency of each COP meeting varies according to coordination and necessity rather than on a set timeline (ie. annual).

The COP conferences are important in many ways, not only for the progress in addressing environmental issues, but also for international unity. Coming together from various parts of the world allows for numerous perspectives to be brought to the table and a variety of voices to be heard.

No matter what the global issue is, it is certain that people are suffering different experiences and consequences. Hearing and understanding the lives of other people helps us to grow in ways that we might not have thought to be possible.

For example, in Western society people often chase whatever item they want at the lowest cost possible. However, it is not uncommon that the cheapest items are also the most taxing to someone or something else in another part of the world. Clothing/textiles and single-use plastics are some of the most destructive industries that society relies on currently.

By engaging in international discussions, even as citizens that are not directly involved, we can learn how to be more appreciative of what we have and understand the experiences of other people. This may lead us to think more consciously about the actions we take with regards to how, what, where, and why we purchase certain items. Perhaps it is possible to re-use or re-purpose items in new ways or obtain goods that have been previously used by someone else instead of buying new. At the very least, items might be able to be sold, donated, given away or recycled. Each individual action, no matter how small, is a step in a positive direction, reconciling our relationship with others and with the environment – both of which I consider to be God’s beautiful Creations.

By being immersed in nature, we are presented with the opportunity to slow down and reflect on what is truly important.

Erin Dueck (Submitted photo)

Growing up, I spent a lot of time outdoors with my family and friends, but I don’t think I had this realization until the summer of 2017, when I worked at St. John Bosco Wilderness Camp for the first time. I won’t go into detail about the numerous benefits of summer camps here, but it was through hiking and canoeing in the boreal forest and Canadian Shield in Northern Saskatchewan/Treaty 6 territory that I truly came to appreciate the incredibility of the wilderness, the beauty of nature, and the necessity for protecting all aspects of the Earth.

Now I know that dirt, bugs, and going outdoors is not for everyone, but I hope that in your own way, you can challenge yourself to always grow in new ways, serving others by using our greatest and most unique gifts, skills, and talents. Through each individual effort, we can work towards greater inter-dependency and harmony.

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(Erin Dueck is a member of St. Philip Neri Parish, Saskatoon and is actively involved in Project Timothy, a youth mentoring program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon)

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Faith holds in spite of scandals

Sat, 11/19/2022 - 13:07

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] –  John Swales, survivor of years of horrific sexual abuse at the hands of London, Ont., priest Barry Glendenning, doesn’t want Catholics to walk away from their Church over another round of abuse revelations emanating now from France. He wants the Church to change.

“This doesn’t feel good,” Swales told The Catholic Register. “It doesn’t feel good that people are asking, ‘Why am I listening to this person preach?’ That’s a terrible thing to have to (ask yourself). ‘Why give them your money? Why publicly identify yourself as Catholic?’ ”

Though Swales himself is unlikely to occupy a pew on Sunday morning given his altar boy experience and then his years of fighting Church lawyers for a settlement, he doesn’t think faith should be sloughed off.

“I’m a bit of an agnostic today. However, I accept and remind myself that people are entitled to believe what they believe and there is a value in that. It actually fills me with great sadness,” he said of the idea that people would exit the Church over abuse scandals.

There are podcasts with names like “How to Leave the Catholic Church.” There’s a constant stream of Twitter advice counselling Catholics that it’s time to leave. Were they a Church, ex-Catholics and disengaged Catholics would be Canada’s largest Christian denominations — larger even than the 25 per cent of Catholics who regularly and publicly worship.

In 2019 Angus Reid asked Canadians, “What kind of a job do you think the Catholic Church as a whole has been doing in addressing this Catholic clerical sex abuse issue?” Catholics were divided. Fifty-two per cent said a poor or very poor job. Former Catholics were not divided. Ninety-three per cent said the Church was failing to meet the challenge.

A recent tsunami of clerical abuse scandals enveloping Italy and France, and reaching right into the College of Cardinals is not about to change any minds in the ex-Catholic camp.

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, a high-ranking official in the Dicastery for Doctrine of the Faith where abuse cases are investigated and punishments meted out, has admitted he abused a 14-year-old girl when he was a 43-year-old priest, 35 years ago (see: Vatican News item)

One of Ricard’s French colleagues was thought to have resigned in 2020, two years before the mandatory retirement age of 75, because of ill health.

It turns out Bishop Michel Santier was ordered into a life of prayer and penance after a Vatican investigation into him for pressuring two young men into sex. When Santier told Catholics in the Diocese of Créteil, in the suburbs east of Paris, that he was leaving because of ill health, nobody at the Vatican contradicted him.

French bishops’ conference president Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort earlier this month revealed that 11 French bishops, including Ricard, have been accused either of sexual misconduct themselves or of covering up the misconduct of others.

Related: Diocese of Saskatoon historic case review released in July 2021 (LINK)

Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon safeguarding and Covenant of Care (INFO)

As excruciating as it is to hear the stories coming out of France, it’s not going to change anything for Opus Dei member Isabelle Saint-Maurice.

“I am not following these people who did soil the message of the Gospel. I am following Christ through the Church,” said Saint-Maurice. “The Church is not these singular people, even if they are numerous. I am not following these people. I am following Christ and I’m following the message of Christ. If I follow this message, I will do good. I will sow good. This is what the Church needs.”

As a teenager growing up during Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, Saint-Maurice remembers a time when people all around her were deciding the Church didn’t deserve their trust.

“But, I saw my parents. I saw them strong, happy, solid. This is what they gave us. We received a nice unity in the family. We had a lot of fun. We learned how to live and how to struggle in life,” she said.

Saint-Maurice’s parents were also members of Opus Dei. Of her six brothers and sisters, only one has drifted away from the Church. For Saint-Maurice there is no alternative to the Catholic Church.

“It is because we receive the sacraments. Christ left us the means to be united with Him through the Mass, the Communion, the sacrament of Penance. This is something I am looking for,” she said. “I am looking for Christ, who is there and maintains His presence through the Church.”

Growing up in the 1990s, Archdiocese of Regina theologian Brett Salkeld has never known a time when there weren’t sex abuse scandals attached the the Church. And the stories of predator priests weren’t remote, far off news stories either. The priest who baptized him in Gerald, Sask., was a serial abuser who targetted his uncle.

For Catholics of Salkeld’s generation, the Church is a choice.

“By the time I made a genuine commitment to my Catholic faith in my later teens I had already lost any sense of innocence around this question,” Salkeld said in an email. “My commitment to the Church was, I guess you could say, made with full knowledge. I have never had any of my illusions on this point shattered by subsequent revelations.”

Salkeld is not shocked by the revelations in France.

It seems to me highly probable that any country that has not had a reckoning yet has one coming,” he said. “The problem seems more or less universal, inside and outside the Catholic Church. It is my hope that every revelation gets us closer to a world that is safer for potential victims everywhere.”

While Salkeld’s attachment to the Church is not dependent on the moral character of priests and prelates, he points out that child abuse and sexual predation do not define the clergy as he knows them.

“I have had great friends and mentors among the clergy, both pastorally and academically. I know that, however widespread this rot is in the Church, the vast majority of the clergy are good and faithful servants,” he said.

Why stay is a question Concerned Lay Catholics co-founder Cathie Pead asks herself often.

“I stay because it is MY Church,” she writes in an email. “I stay because lay people are the ones who are going to fix this. And I stay for Pope Francis and for the good priests who liberated me from clericalism.”

Swales recognizes there are good priests who have suffered through the decades of sex abuse convictions since the Mount Cashel stories hit Canada’s crime pages in the 1980s.

“The shroud of oppression that they have to carry is just incredible. It’s huge,” he said. “When priests say, ‘This is (B.S.), it has to stop,’ that’s when accountability will take place. The present approach isn’t working, so there has to be a different way.”

Swales would be happier to see the Church changed, rather than the Church diminished.

“Ignoring the problem and pretending that somehow the Church is holier than thou, it’s problematic. How about just accept the reality of the situation. This is bad stuff. It’s been going on forever,” he said. “My life was ruined. I’m now at university at 63 years of age, trying to do what I should have done when I was 20.”

Swales is a fourth-year King’s University College student, finishing out a Bachelor of Social Work degree. He hopes to pursue a Masters of Social Work and continue work he has begun helping other abuse survivors.

He’s tempted to cheer on the diminishment of the Catholic Church, but resists the temptation. “There’s an angry side of me that might say, ‘You know, what did you expect?’ But I’m not sure that that’s helpful,” he said.

Intuition tells him what needs fixing in the Church.

“When power and control is the focus of the Catholic…” But he leaves that thought unfinished, tired of re-stating old arguments.

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Diocese of Saskatoon clergy gather for Study Days featuring enrichment, fraternity and prayer

Sat, 11/19/2022 - 12:35

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Clergy from across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon gathered Nov. 14-17 at Elk Ridge near Waskesiu, SK, for prayer, reflection, fraternity and inspiration.

The Clergy Study Days included keynote sessions by Archbishop Emeritus Terrence Prendergast, SJ, speaking on The Call to Community, Accountability and Authentic Witness, as well as addressing the New Evangelization in the Year of Matthew (Year A). Archbishop Prendergast is retired archbishop of Otttawa-Cornwall, and former archbishop of Halifax.

“Supporting our Vocation in a Missionary Climate” was the theme of session presented by Rev. John Lemire of Timmins, ON, president of the Ontario Diocesan Vocation Directors Association, a member of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops Commission for Priests and the President of the Diocesan Vocation Directors of Canada.

Study Days also included a presentation by Msgr. John Renken and David Stack on canonical and civil statutes of incorporated parishes, and a “Bishop’s Forum” with Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

More information about Clergy Study Days speakers: PDF

Gallery of photos:

Photos by Fr. Binu Rathappillil, VC, and Fr. Darryl Millette

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Vatican will do whatever possible to broker cease-fire, pope says

Sat, 11/19/2022 - 12:16

By Catholic News Service staff

[Vatican City – CNS] – The Vatican is willing to do whatever it takes to broker a cease-fire and bring an end to the war on Ukraine, Pope Francis said.

“We are continually watching as the situation evolves” concerning ways the Vatican’s diplomatic efforts could help, he said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Vatican News published the interview Nov. 18.

The Vatican Secretariat of State is working diligently every day, looking at every possibility and “giving weight to every opening that could lead to a real cease-fire and real negotiations,” he said. “The Holy See is willing to do everything possible to mediate and end the conflict in Ukraine.”

“We are trying to develop a network of relationships that will foster a rapprochement between the parties, to find solutions. Also, the Holy See does what it must to help the prisoners,” he said, as well as provide humanitarian support “for the people of tormented Ukraine, whom I carry in my heart along with their suffering.”

Asked about the prospects for reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine, the pope said, “I have hope. Let’s not resign ourselves, peace is possible.”

“But we must all strive to demilitarize hearts, starting with our own, and then defuse, disarm violence. We must all be pacifists,” he said.

Real peace comes only from dialogue, he said. “You don’t get it with weapons because they don’t defeat hatred and the thirst for domination, which will reemerge.”

Commenting on the string of wars countries around the world have engaged in over just the last 100 years, the pope said, “It is absurd.” But what makes it even more infuriating and sad is knowing that “behind all these tragedies are the lust for power and the arms trade.”

“When empires grow weak, they seek to wage war to feel strong, and also to sell weapons,” he said.

“I was told that if no weapons were made and sold for one year,” he said, the savings would be enough to eradicate world hunger. “Instead, the vocation to destroy always prevails, which results in wars.”

“Never ever ignore that there are millions of people and children dying of hunger. No one can be indifferent,” he said.

People who are fortunate to have enough to eat each day must make it a priority to never waste food and water, and to teach children to do the same, he said.

The pope again appealed to the international community “to work to truly eliminate world hunger, which is a scandal, a disgrace, as well as a crime.”

The reporter also asked Pope Francis to reflect on his pontificate since March will mark the 10th anniversary of his election.

“Every day I reflect on my life,” he said. St. Ignatius of Loyola recommended an examination of conscience at least once a day, “not to know what sins one has committed, no, but to realize what is happening to us and around us.”

Sometimes the human heart or conscience is like a road that is so busy that no one notices what is going on, he said. “Instead, it is important to stop, perhaps at the end of the day, and observe what we are experiencing.”

That way people can understand all the blessings they receive, he said, as well as their good deeds and all the bad things they think and do.

It is important to understand “in what spirit” one is living, he said, “for example, with a willingness for conciliation, friendship, fraternity or falling into the temptation of revenge, quarreling, bullying.”

Asked if he was happy to be the pope, he said, “Thanks to my vocation, I have always been happy in the places the Lord has put me and sent me. But not because ‘I won something,’ I won nothing. This is a service, and it is what the church asked of me.”

“I did not think I would be elected, but instead the Lord wanted it,” Pope Francis said. “Therefore, onward. And I do what I can, every day, trying to not ever come to a standstill.”

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Religious sisters among those pushing for loss and damage fund at COP27

Sat, 11/19/2022 - 12:01

By Doreen Ajiambo, Catholic News Service

[Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt – CNS] – As the United Nations climate conference COP27 drew to a close, the European Union proposed a potential solution to the ongoing issue of a loss and damage fund, in which some countries would compensate nations most damaged by climate change.

The EU proposal, put forth Nov. 18, 022 on what was scheduled as the last day of the conference, suggested that such a fund be from a “broad donor base.” The British news agency Reuters reported that could mean high-polluting emerging economies like China would have to contribute to the fund, rather than just rich nations that have historically contributed the most to global warming. Reuters added that deals at U.N. climate talks must be made with support from all of the nearly 200 countries involved.

Catholic religious sisters were among thousands of activists pushing for world leaders to commit to reducing emissions and finance loss and damages resulting from climate change to the Global South.

“Let’s act now or never. We don’t need any more talks because we know the situation,” said Sister Durstyne Farnan, an Adrian Dominican sister from Michigan. “World leaders must quickly agree on ways of fighting climate change to save the planet from damage,” she said, noting that it’s going to be important for “wealthier countries like the United States” to “find a way to work with other partners in the world, especially small islands that are being washed up and washed away.”

Farnan, who has been participating in street demonstrations at COP27, said it was unfair for wealthy nations to fail to implement climate mitigation funds while funding fossil fuel companies.

“We have a responsibility as religious to speak and at least be present at the events of COP27. We have many of our sisters in the Global South, and they have already told us what’s happening to their land — there is drought and floods, and people have lost livelihoods due to climate change,” she told EarthBeat, the environmental project of the U.S.-based National Catholic reporter.

Comboni Missionary Sister Paola Moggi, whose congregation has a significant presence in 16 African nations, said she was perplexed that the inclusion of loss and damage in the COP27 agenda remains a “hot issue” and “political game” that developed countries are not willing to discuss.

“What I see is that negotiations are very difficult here, and the progress is very slow because interests, especially financial interests, prevail,” said Moggi, representing VIVAT International, a faith-based organization working to bring the voice of grassroots communities to the U.N. “The special focus on finance and the debate on the loss and damage of financial facilities can be addressed not only from the material point of view but also from an immaterial point of view — cultural and spiritual damages need to be considered.”

Sister Ernestine Lalao, representing her congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd from Madagascar, pleaded with wealthy nations responsible for the climate crisis to sympathize with those in developing countries who are excessively affected by climate injustices, and to agree to compensate them.

She said Madagascar is one of the countries in the world most affected by human-induced climate change, although it produces few greenhouse gas emissions. She said the country had experienced famine, cyclones, forced displacement, and loss of lives and livelihood due to the impact of climate change.

According to the CDP, a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for management of environmental impacts, Africa produces less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, the report indicates that China is responsible for 23%, the U.S. for 19% and the European Union for 13% of global greenhouse gases.

“Let the fruits of all negotiations and promises be put into action, and action is very urgent,” Lalao told EarthBeat. “Everyone on this planet has a great responsibility for this great global challenge in the fight against climate change. Developed countries are really invited to support underdeveloped countries like Madagascar, which is among the most victimized by climate change.”

Moggi said Catholic sisters “can bring an alternative perspective of spirituality to this COP so that we overcome the technological bias that is present here.” She called for solidarity and prayers before the delegates unveil a final document that sets out their core objectives for tackling the climate crisis.

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Opportunity, frustration for COP27 delegate

Sat, 11/19/2022 - 11:57
Decision-making lacking at climate conference says Canadian delegate

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – For 21-year-old Development and Peace activist Yusra Shafi, being at the COP27 meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, is “an incredible opportunity,” but sometimes an incredible opportunity to be frustrated.

“I do have a sense of frustration about how things have been going so far. I haven’t really seen a lot of decisions being made,” the fourth-year University of Toronto psychology student said at the halfway mark of the two-week round of United Nations-sponsored climate negotiations.

Shafi isn’t there just to soak in the atmosphere or wave the flag for Catholic climate change efforts. She wants to learn, to connect with people and places suffering life-altering effects of climate change and to bring home from Egypt a message from the front lines of the battle to save the planet.

“It’s incredibly important for people of faith to be represented here,” she said. “To do whatever they can with the platform they have and to embed the spirit of advocacy in the teachings and in the opportunities that they present to their people. We all have to step up. We all have that moral responsibility to act as soon as possible.”

Development and Peace-Caritas Canada deputy director Luke Stocking envisions Shafi coming home with a message and with the energy the Development and Peace movement needs.

“One of our strategic orientations is renewing our movement,” Stocking said. “Within that, a priority of youth and young adult engagement.”
Shafi was chosen to go to Egypt by the ecumenical, Kairos-led For the Love of Creation campaign.

In addition to backing Shafi’s trip to COP27  – with Development and Peace as a partner in the Kairos Christian social justice coalition – Development and Peace has ensured that Hanta Manana Rarivoarinoro of the Development Council of Andohatapenaka in Madagascar can attend the global climate talks. With Development and Peace’s help, the CDA has launched over 51 small projects in Madagascar, helping families cope with drought and flooding, improving farming techniques and installing solar power.

An old slogan Shafi heard from a Colombian representative attending the meetings in Sharm El Sheikh — “If not now, when? If not us, who?” — has become Shafi’s battle cry in Egypt. Which is why Shafi’s frustration isn’t just with the national delegations or even the oil and gas lobbyists who have flooded the meeting halls at COP27. She’s aware that not many Catholic dioceses or parishes in Canada have taken up the Laudato Si’ Action Platform — a Vatican-sponsored program of practical measures for Catholic engagement on climate change.

“We all need to step up. It’s not just a case of the Catholic Church or parishes. We all have a collective responsibility,” she said.
Stocking understands Shafi’s frustration with her own Church.

“On the whole, the Church in Canada has not adopted and integrated the message of Laudato Si’ in the way that those of us who really believe in its message would like,” he said. “Can we do more as Development and Peace? Sure.”

Stocking hopes when Shafi comes home she will speak to Development and Peace members, parishes, youth groups, even staff about her experience.

“People like Yusra, a lot of very talented, engaged young adults come to Development and Peace through educational institutions,” Stocking said.
Handing the baton off to Shafi and her generation is how Stocking imagines Development and Peace will achieve its goal of “integral communities for integral ecology.”

For her part, Shafi feels she’s found both a home and a launching pad in Development and Peace.

“I was so incredibly prepared (for COP27), just equipped with the knowledge that had come from working with Development and Peace — carrying those perspectives forward,” she said.

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FacetoFace Ministries: United conference fosters encounters with Jesus Christ

Fri, 11/18/2022 - 22:53

By Maria Gursky, Face to Face Ministries

FacetoFace Ministries hosted its annual United Conference Oct. 29-30 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, with keynote speaker Sr. Helena Burns of the Daughters of St. Paul breaking open the teachings of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in an engaging and practical way.

The United Conference hit record-breaking numbers of 394 individuals gathered for a weekend of growing in faith and experiencing community. Highlights included adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praise and worship, the keynote talks by Sr. Burns, and time for fellowship.

FacetoFace Ministries desires that youth across Western Canada find fulfillment in a life in Christ, and strives to provide encounters with Jesus Christ that inspire the response to become saints.

(Photo courtesy of FacetoFace Ministries)

This year’s United Conference drew youth from the Diocese of Prince George, BC, from Clearwater Academy in Calgary, AB, and from Humboldt Collegiate Institute in Humboldt, SK as well as many more local families from Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary and beyond.

United is a chance for youth to come together from across Canada to be united and supported in living out their faith in today’s world. One participant shared that “it was so reassuring seeing how many people are just like me, a young Catholic looking to find community and learn about the faith.”

Many youth look forward to this annual conference as a chance to reconnect with friends made through other FacetoFace programs such as Ignite summer camps and the online WORD Bible Studies.

For many, the weekend was an enriching faith experience. FacetoFace works to foster encounters with Jesus Christ through offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well as creating a moment of encounter through Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Worshipping God in a church with nearly 400 people sharing in Eucharistic Adoration is an incredibly inspiring and encouraging experience. Many participants shared that this time spent with Jesus was the highlight of the weekend.

“At adoration I really felt the love of God touch me and the atmosphere was amazing,” said one participant.

Sr. Helena Burns of the Daughters of St. Paul was the keynote speaker for this year’s United conference. (Photo courtesy of FacetoFace Ministries)

Sr. Helena Burns gave three keynote sessions about Theology of the Body: an introduction to the teaching, a reflection about how God is the only One who can truly satisfy our desires, and a third talk about the masculine and feminine genius.

Many participants commented that Sr. Helena’s words were encouraging, giving them a new perspective, and deepening their faith. One participant shared: “The talks given set a fire within my heart to live a better life through the teachings of the Catholic Church and Theology of the Body.”

(Photo courtesy of FacetoFace Ministries)

FacetoFace was blessed to welcome in other local speakers for breakout session talks in the afternoon, including Ken and Janelle Yasinski, Arnel Vicente, Matthew Courchene and Fr. Warren Dungen. The wisdom, encouragement, and practical suggestions shared in the breakout sessions were well received by participants.

The annual United Conference is also an opportunity for collaboration with other youth and young adult programs in our province and beyond, including NET Ministries of Canada, Newman Theological College, and St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission. Having these organizations present at the Conference is beneficial for the youth attending – exposing them to different options available while providing a fantastic advertising opportunity for the organizations!

Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided over Sunday mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Family Oct. 30, addressing the United Conference participants who joined the parishioners and encouraging the youth to continue living out their faith.

All glory to God for a successful United Conference!

For more information about the mission and work of FacetoFace Ministries, visit the website at f2f.ca.

 

Eucharistic Adoration was a high point of the United weekend. (Photo courtesy of FacetoFace Ministries)

 

(Photo courtesy of FacetoFace Ministries)

(Photo courtesy of FacetoFace Ministries)

 

(Photo courtesy of FacetoFace Ministries)

 

Live-stream video of Sunday Mass with Bishop Hagemoen during United:

 

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Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal presented to K of C State Chaplain Fr. Ed Gibney

Fri, 11/18/2022 - 22:10

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Fr. Ed Gibney, State Chaplain for the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus, was among those honoured Nov. 18 in Biggar for dedication and service in the spirit of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The pastor of St. Gabriel Parish, Biggar and Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Landis, Gibney was among some 40 recipients of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal recognized in a ceremony at the Bigger community centre, emceed by local MLA and Speaker of the House Randy Weekes.

 

Hon. Russell Merasty, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, presented the awards, which are among some 7,000 Jubilee Medals being awarded across the province this year to honour Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years as Queen of Canada, from her coronation in 1952 to her death this year.

(Photo by Dale Meier)

“Seventy years of service is truly remarkable. A platinum jubilee is unprecedented and deserves significant recognition, and so special events and programs have been initiated throughout the commonwealth to celebrate the late queen’s extraordinary lifetime of service,” said Merasty.

The Lieutenant Governor described how in the past such commemorative medals were distributed nationally, noting that this year is the first time in  Canadian history that a royal occasion has been commemorated with provincial medals. Saskatchewan is among six provinces in Canada that have instituted a provincial Platinum Jubilee Medal “to commemorate Her Majesty’s devotion to service, while celebrating the dedicated service of people like each of you here today,” he said.

“It is important to honour those who help to make our province better and to honour those whose achievements inspire us all … and this afternoon we celebrate very deserving people who have enriched our province in countless ways.”

After a career as an artist and sculptor and long-time involvement in the Knights of Columbus — including serving as State Deputy for Saskatchewan — Fr. Edward Gibney discerned a vocation to the priesthood, studying for several years at Pontifical Beda College in Rome. Gibney was ordained a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon on June 29, 2017. Since then, he has served the parishes in Biggar and Landis. His commitment to the Knights of Columbus continues in his current role as State Chaplain.

 

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