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Ministry to Tourism offerings will focus on those who are retired

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 15:01

By Fr. Ralph Kleiter, Ministry to Tourism, Saskatoon

Ministry to Tourism over the last number of years has served travelers today with all kinds of travel programs around the world. The intent has been to help people discover the sacred in reflective travel during an increasingly secular age. I too have learned a lot by travelling with them.

I have learned that many people only begin to plan serious travel upon retirement, generally in their early or mid sixties (and today this is happening even later in life).

I admire those who are willing to venture out at this time knowing that to travel means it will often require a change in one’s perspective.

My experience also indicates that when people have not been able to travel during their working years because of family commitments, they will not suddenly acquire the mind-set to become travelers when the pension cheques arrive. Travel has a highly cultural component that we intentionally develop over the years, which pushes us to change and to plan, including provision for the necessary finances.

When we venture out into the world that is still open to visit today, retirees sometimes find themselves in a very foreign landscape. Their values and insights even their faith may seem to be in the midst of society’s peripheries. Some retirees find this uncomfortable while others find it opportune.

Furthermore, I have observed that health issues, which frequently arise during later years, is a primary barrier to travel, even more so than finances. To travel, especially overseas, a reasonably stable health is necessary. Yet, I sadly often observe that some simply use this as an excuse and prefer to wait around so they are at home for when the inevitable illness arrives. It requires a lot of common sense, trust and determination to rise above this thinking.

Decision to move forward with a Ministry to Tourism Retiree’s Enhancement Program

I have decided that, God willing, I ought in my remaining time and with my travel experience to continue offering, especially to retirees, clearly designed opportunities to “Discover the Sacred in Reflective Travel” sensitive to their different backgrounds but always adding enrichment and joy to their retirement. This will in turn be an example and gift to their families and friends.

We are living in an aging society where deep concerns are felt at all levels. There are many resources available to help address this contemporary reality.

I have long been a fan of Leonard Doohan, Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies at Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington In the early 1990s he helped me facilitate a “Retreat at Sea” on an Alaskan Cruise for some thirty people based on his acclaimed book, “Leisure – A Spiritual Need.”

Another of his books, “Enjoying Retirement” is a gem, as it helps people prepare for retirement and holistically live these retirement years which today can easily be 20-30 years of our lives. In the introduction he writes: “This book is for a new kind of retiree – including the baby-boomer generation – who seeks to deal with retirement years not as an end of usefulness but as a major period in life…”  Doohan maintains that this time is an important occasion for each of us.

“Retirement is a time for a new beginning, a time to face change and transition with a renewal of commitment to those values felt deep in our hearts. Retirement is an opportunity to appreciate the gift of time like never before and to use our time well……..” – Leonard Doohan

Therefore, in 2020 and 2021, Ministry to Tourism’s travel enrichment programs will focus on themes often developed by Leonard Doohan and others. In hearing of my plans, Doohan writes: “This sounds wonderful. There are few people with your experience to integrate the joys of tourism with the cultural enrichment of travel and the depth of spiritual insight.”

When possible, guest presenters will support the focused themes of travel programs. Other tools will also enhance the experience of integrating and enriching the entire cruise/tour for retirees… but always with lots of fun.

A different pair of lenses is required to move travel from simply a “tourist” experience, touching here and there without fully focusing in any depth or greater enjoyment. More investment in time and details are obviously required.

I have travelled extensively on all modes of travel. I have come to believe that the best over-all value in travel today can be found on cruise lines. I speak from experience having served as a staff member on many cruise ships.

For seniors, a cruise setting supports their objectives such as stability, good variety, mobility convenience, accessible health professionals and exceptional enrichment opportunities. In short, a cruise offers more time that can support moving beyond simply being a tourist. Leonard Doohan says he thinks that “retirees would find this a safe, enriching and thought provoking experience.”

I have selected several cruise possibilities for 2020 and 2021. All are 12-16 days, allowing some personal options before or after the cruise. The details of a respective Ministry to Tourism Retiree’s Enhancement Program will be provided before final commitment.

Upcoming in 2020

A unique travel program with Crystal Cruises is available June 19-July 3, 2020. This cruise to the Land of the Midnight Sun features the “North Cape Brilliance” past the Arctic Circle during the extended summer sunlight sailing from London (Dover) to the Fjords of Norway and as far north as the North Cape terminating in Oslo. An option to extend the cruise by 11 days after Norway from Copenhagen to Baltic ports, including St. Petersburg, is also available, July 3-14, 2020.

Although there will be countless opportunities for many life-enriching moments, Ministry to Tourism will also be offering during “Sea Days,” a time for private gatherings on the cruise. The focus of the “Sea Days” program will be Leonard Doohan’s work-Enjoying RetirementLiving Life to the Fullest. Based on Doohan’s research and feedback from retirees, each 45 minute session will conclude with helpful suggestions to live this time in an enriching and enjoyable way. Suggestions about what to do, what to avoid and what to think about will be offered.

Besides the cruise’s superior enrichment programs addressing body, mind and spirit, the small party will have the opportunity and challenge “to approach this stage in life with enthusiasm and anticipation, developing this stage in life—as much as a third of life for many—for its own sake as the best period in our lives and as a time to enhance our lives with values that mean the most to us.” (from Introduction to “Enjoying Retirement” by Leonard Doohan)

Info about another Ministry to Tourism offering: Paris and Lourdes

For more information about this program, other possibilities, or about Ministry to Tourism, contact Rev. Ralph Kleiter, 314-619 Saskatchewan Crescent West, Saskatoon, SK S7M 0A5, Canada; e-mail: website: or telephone (306) 244-3747.

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‘Lead, kindly light’ – Pope Francis names John Henry Newman a saint

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 15:07

By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Service 

[Vatican City – CNS] – Nearly two centuries ago, John Henry Newman was England’s most well-known Anglican priest, until he risked everything to become a Catholic. Today he has become a saint.

As Pope Francis named Cardinal John Henry Newman a saint Sunday, he told Catholics that the goal of life is a transforming encounter with Jesus.

“The ultimate goal is not health or wellness, but the encounter with Jesus … He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts. Only an encounter with him can save, can make life full and beautiful,” Pope Francis said at the canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 13.

Pope Francis officially recognized John Henry Newman (1801-1890), Mariam Thresia Chiramel (1876-1926), Marguerite Bays (1815-1879), Giuseppina Vannini (1859-1911), and Dulce Lopes Pontes, SMIC (1914-1992) as saints.

The canonization was attended by Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, along with delegates from the Church of England.

“Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession,” he said.

Pope Francis read a quote from one of  Newman’s sermons describing the holiness of daily life: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not… The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence… with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man.”

Newman was a 19th century theologian, poet, Catholic priest and cardinal. Born in 1801, he was before his conversion a well-known and well-respected Oxford academic, Anglican preacher, and public intellectual.

Newman’s 1845 conversion to the Catholic faith was controversial in England, and resulted in the loss of many friends, including his own sister who never spoke to him again.

He became a priest in 1847 and founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England. He was particularly dedicated to education, founding two schools for boys and the Catholic University of Ireland. His “Idea is a University” became a foundational text on Catholic higher education. He was a prolific author and letter writer. Newman died in Birmingham in 1890 at 89.

St. John Henry Newman is Britain’s first new saint since the canonization of St. John Ogilvie in 1976.

“Let us ask to be … ‘kindly lights’ amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, ‘stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others,’” Pope Francis said in his Oct. 13 homily, quoting parts of Newman’s “Meditations on Christian Doctrine.”

Along with Newman, Pope Francis canonized four women.

Mother Mariam Thresia Chiramel (1876-1926) was an Indian mystic and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family. The Syro-Malabar Catholic foundress received the stigmata and would sometimes levitate during prayer.

Giuseppina Vannini (1859-1911) religious sister from Rome known for founding the congregation of the Daughters of St. Camillus dedicated to serving the sick and suffering.

Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, SMIC (1914-1992) founded the largest charitable organization in Brazil providing healthcare, welfare, and education service. Nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, she is the first Brazilian-born female saint.

Pope Francis said that these three religious women saints show us that the consecrated life is “a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world.”

“Saint Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress; she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving,” the pope said. “That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life.”

When Marguerite Bays (1815-1879) was diagnosed with advanced cancer in 1853, she prayed to the Virgin Mary to be able to suffer with Jesus rather than to be healed. However, on the day that Blessed Pius IX proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Sept. 8, 1854, she was miraculously healed.

“On the journey of life, purification takes place along the way, a way that is often uphill since it leads to the heights,” Pope Francis said.

“Faith calls for journey, a ‘going out’ from ourselves, and it can work wonders if we abandon our comforting certainties, if we leave our safe harbours and our cosy nests. Faith increases by giving, and grows by taking risks,” he said.

The canonizations took place as the Church celebrates an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” dedicated to prayer and reflection on the missionary work of the Church, as well as the Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian Region, taking place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27.

“The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask him, only if we say to him: ‘Lord, I believe you can heal me. Dear Jesus, heal me from being caught up in myself. Free me from evil and fear,’” Pope Francis said at the canonization.

How a miracle through Cardinal Newman saved a mother and baby in a dangerous pregnancy 

“Thanks be to Cardinal Newman and to God that I was cured and Gemma was born completely healthy.” – Melissa Villalobos, whose healing was part of Newman’s canonization cause. (Catholic News Agency photo)

(Melissa Villalobos spoke to the podcast, CNA Newsroom, for a Cardinal Newman episode, which can be found here. This article is an adaptation of that conversation. Kate Veik contributed to this report.)

By Mary Farrow, Catholic News Agency

[Chicago – CNA] – When Melissa Villalobos first heard about Cardinal John Henry Newman, she had no idea the pivotal role he would play in her life, nor the pivotal role she would play in his cause for sainthood. The Catholic wife and mother from Chicago stumbled into a show about Newman on EWTN “just by accident” in 2000, while she was getting ready for work and ironing her clothes. She was struck by what the show had to say about him.

“These priests and scholars were talking about him and his life and what a holy man he was, and what a tremendous influence he had on the church and on other people in his life,” Villalobos told CNA.

“I was really taken by it and I thought, ‘This man is so amazing,’” she said. But it wasn’t until a year later, when her husband brought home two holy cards of Cardinal Newman, that Villalobos’ devotion to him really began.

She displayed one of the cards in the living room, the other in her bedroom, and “I would pass by his image every day, and I would look into his eyes and I would pray to him and I would just talk to him as a mother,” she said. “And I felt like his expression was matching my emotions at the time. If I felt sad for some reason he looked sympathetic, if I felt joy, he looked pleased, and I just felt like we were really living life together,” Villalobos recalled.

She invoked Cardinal Newman often, and considered him one of her closes spiritual friends. Eventually she started looking up his writings online, and described the experience like “finding gold in the backyard.”

“He was every bit as holy and loving as I had suspected he was by looking at his face. He had such a tremendous affection for ordinary people, which I discovered by reading his letters, and I felt like I could be one of those ordinary people in his life.”

Born in 1801 in London, John Henry Newman was originally an Anglican priest before his conversion to Catholicism in 1845 at the age of 44. He would soon become a renowned Catholic priest, theologian, poet, homilist, and, in 1879, a cardinal. His works are considered among the most important contributions to the thought of the Church in recent centuries.

His conversion to Catholicism was controversial in the birthplace of Anglicanism, and he lost many friends as a result, including his own sister, who refused to speak to him again. Newman was also a devoted educator and founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England in two locations. He died in Birmingham in 1890 at the age of 89. The Vatican announced his Oct. 13 canonization date in July 2019.

The more Villalobos learned about Newman, the closer she felt to him, and she would eventually come to rely on his intercession in a major way.

In 2013, more than a decade after first hearing about Newman on EWTN, Villalobos was pregnant with her fifth child and was experiencing serious complications. In her first trimester, Villalobos started bleeding continuously, and she learned she had a condition called subchorionic hematoma, a blood clot between the placenta and the uterine wall that causes the placenta to be “partially ripped and detached from the uterine wall.” “It was a life-threatening problem because I could hemorrhage to death,” Villalobos recalled.

The prognosis was grim. There was no cure to be found in medicine or surgery. Villalobos was ordered to be on strict bed rest to give her baby the best possible chance. She did the best she could, but Villalobos was still caring for her other four young children in the meantime. On the morning of May 15, less than a week after being diagnosed with the condition, Villalobos woke up in a pool of her own blood.

With her husband away on a work trip, Villalobos debated when she should call 9-1-1. She decided to give her kids some breakfast first, and then she locked herself in the bathroom to figure out what to do. But by then, Villalobos had lost so much blood that she collapsed on the floor.

“Unfortunately though, somehow I did not have my cellphone with me,” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”

She considered shouting for one of her kids to bring her phone, but worried that the shouting would cause more bleeding or a miscarriage. Desperate, she called out to her old friend, Cardinal Newman. “I said, ‘Please Cardinal Newman, make the bleeding stop.’ And just then, immediately it stopped. And I stood up and I smelled roses that filled the bathroom air.”

The smell of roses is often considered the “scent of holiness”, with many stories of saints leaving a rosy scent in places where they have intervened in prayer. “And I said, ‘Oh Cardinal Newman, did you just make the bleeding stop? Thank you!’ And then there was this second burst of roses. And I knew I was cured, and I knew Gemma my daughter was ok,” Villalobos said. Villalobos had an ultrasound scheduled for that afternoon, and the doctor found what Villalobos attributes to Cardinal Newman’s intercession: the bleeding had completely stopped.

“The doctor saw that there was no more bleeding and he was amazed, and he said, ‘the baby looks perfect.’”

It was vastly different than Villalobos’ previous experience in the pregnancy.

“The doctors (had) said you will probably miscarry if you’re lucky, the placenta could barely hold up to the third trimester, and she’ll be born but she’ll be really small and she’ll have medical problems,” Villalobos recalled. “Thanks be to Cardinal Newman and to God that I was cured and Gemma was born completely healthy.”

Villalobos said she waited until after Gemma was born to report the miracle to Fr. Ignatius Harrison, the postulator for Newman’s cause for canonization. After receiving her letter, Fr. Harrison came to Chicago to meet with Villalobos, her husband, Gemma, and the doctors.

He examined medical records and conducted interviews, and told Villalobos to keep the potential miracle a secret until it could be investigated by the Vatican. She got brief updates about twice a year, she said, but for the most part, she did not really know how the cause was advancing, she just prayed with her family that Newman would soon be canonized.

“There was really no one to ask to say, ‘Well how does this usually work?’ You know sometimes if you’re going through something in your life you say ‘Oh, well how did it work for you?’ But there was no one to ask to say ‘Well, when you were miraculously cured, how long did it take to hear from the postulator?’” she said.

Then in February 2019, Villalobos received the news that Pope Francis signed the degree recognizing the miracle.

“I’m surprised at how many people tell me that they’re happy to know that God still performs miracles,” Villalobos said, “I’m glad they know that. I feel like I’ve known that, and I want other people to know that God has never abandoned us. I know it’s hard to believe in miracles because we don’t always get what we want, but we know that God the Father in his love always gives us what’s best for us.” Villalobos, Gemma, and the rest of the family traveled to Rome to be there for Newman’s canonization, which will take place this Sunday.

“I just love him dearly and I hope that anybody who needs help, whether you’re a mother, or a student…or a convert, he can really touch the lives of so many people. I just hope they’ll reach out to him and see a friend in him. He’s so loving and amazing.”


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Election discernment event in diocese of Saskatoon focuses on issues from a Catholic perspective

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 08:53

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic News Service

Federal election issues from a Catholic perspective were up for discussion at an event Oct. 9 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, as the country prepares to go to the polls on Monday, Oct. 21.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen hosted the event at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, which included video excerpts from a recent Federal Election Debate from a Catholic Perspective, hosted by the Archdiocese of Toronto.

A discussion followed on Catholic teaching and the issues facing voters, led by Bishop Mark Hagemoen, with input from Myron Rogal, coordinator of Justice and Peace in the diocese of Saskatoon; Cristin Dorgan Lee, vice-principal at St. Michael Community School in the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools division; and Fr. Joseph Salihu, pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Saskatoon.

The video debate from Toronto featured candidates representing five political parties: the Conservatives, the Green Party, the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, and the People’s Party of Canada. Questions from a Catholic perspective were posed on topics that included poverty, Christian persecution, life issues, and the environment. Only a brief mention was made in the Toronto debate of issues related to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples — an area addressed more fully at the Saskatoon event by Cristin Dorgan Lee.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen introduced the evening, presented the panel of speakers and provided concluding remarks before a question and answer session at the Oct. 9 event in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon (Photos by Timothy Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News.)

A number of election reflection resources were available during the event, including the CCCB Federal Election Guide, a “For Heaven’s Sake, Vote!” booklet from Novalis, and a compilation of Catholic teaching and party positions on a number of issues, created by the diocese communications office using resources from Catholic Conscience.

In a letter to the faithful Oct. 10 Bishop Mark Hagemoen clarified that while no political party can  be promoted at any Catholic Church, “it is certainly appropriate to make available the positions of all political parties on moral and social issues.”

He concluded: “For Catholics, voting is not only a duty, but should be done well. A key feature in carrying out one’s duty and responsibility to vote is to exercise and inform one’s conscience. This is particularly important because we are called to be voices that speak to virtue, healing and decency in politics and social engagement. We are also called to be mindful of both our needs and goals, and those of others — especially those who are unable to speak for themselves.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen presents one of the election resources shared at the Oct. 9 diocesan event in Saskatoon.

Myron Rogal, coordinator of Office of Justice and Peace, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

Fr. Joseph Salihu, St. Augustine, Humboldt

Cristin Dorgan Lee, Vice-Principal St. Michael Community School


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Mike Gormley will speak at St. Anne Parish Mission in Saskatoon

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:16
By Clark Jaman, St. Anne Parish, Saskatoon Mike Gormley will be visiting Saint Anne’s Catholic Church in Saskatoon from Houston, Texas, to deliver a parish mission Oct. 22 to 24, beginning at 7:00 p.m. each evening.    Michael Gormley is the producer and cohost of Catholic podcasts Catching Foxes and Every Knee Shall Bow. He holds a Master of Arts in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He currently serves as the Coordinator of Evangelization at St Anthony of Padua Parish, a Catholic megachurch in Texas. 
Talk One will confront false images of God the Father, in particular, that thing we call “Catholic guilt.” Rooted and grounded in the endless mercy of God from the first talk, the Talk Two will lead to repentance by asking one question: “What is that one thing that is keeping you from a better relationship with God?” The final talk, Talk Three, hones in on two things: how to stay free of that one thing, and how to take faith to the next level. St. Anne Catholic Church is located at 217 Lenore Drive, Saskatoon, SK.

For more information on the parish mission visit
To learn more about Mike Gormley visit 

To sample Mike Gormley’s speaking, check out: 


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In Exile – Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI: “Grieving as a Spiritual Exercise”

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 06:50
Grieving as a Spiritual Exercise

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI

In a remarkable book, The Inner Voice of Love, written while he was in a deep emotional depression, Henri Nouwen shares these words: “The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to try to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart. In your head you analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down into your heart. Then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds.”

He’s right; your heart is greater than your wounds, though it needs caution in dealing with them. Wounds can soften your heart; but they can also harden you heart and freeze it in bitterness. So what’s the path here? What leads to warmth and what leads to coldness?

In a remarkable essay, The Drama of the Gifted Child, the Swiss psychologist, Alice Miller, tells us what hardens the heart and what softens it. She does so by outlining a particular drama that commonly unfolds in many lives. For her, giftedness does not refer to intellectual prowess but to sensitivity. The gifted child is the sensitive child. But that gift, sensitivity, is a mixed blessing. Positively, it lets you feel things more deeply so that the joys of living will mean more to you than to someone who is more callous. That’s its upside.

Conversely, however, if you are sensitive you will habitually fear disappointing others and will forever fear not measuring up. And your inadequacy to always measure up will habitually trigger feelings of anxiety and guilt within you. As well, if you are extraordinarily sensitive, you will tend to be self-effacing to a fault, letting others have their way while you swallow hard as your own needs aren’t met and then absorb the consequences. Not least, if you feel things deeply you will also feel hurt more deeply. That’s the downside of sensitivity and makes for the drama that Alice Miller calls the “drama of the gifted child”, the drama of the sensitive person.

Further, in her view, for many of us that drama will only begin to really play itself out in our middle and later years, constellating in frustration, disappointment, anger, and bitterness, as the wounds of our childhood and early adulthood begin to break through and overpower the inner mechanisms we have set up to resist them. In mid-life and beyond, our wounds will make themselves heard so strongly that our habitual ways of denial and coping no longer work.  In mid-life you realize that your mother did love your sister better than you, that your father in fact didn’t care much about you, and that all those hurts you absorbed because you swallowed hard and played the stoic are still gnawing away bitterly inside you. That’s how the drama eventually culminates, in a heart that’s angry.

So where does that leave us? For Alice Miller, the answer lies in grieving. Our wounds are real and there is nothing we can do about them, pure and simple. The clock can’t be turned back. We cannot relive our lives so as to provide ourselves with different parents, different childhood friends, different experiences on the playground, different choices, and a different temperament. We can only move forward so as to live beyond our wounds. And we do that by grieving. Alice Miller submits that the entire psychological and spiritual task of midlife and beyond is that of grieving, mourning our wounds until the very foundations of our lives shake enough so that there can be transformation.

A deep psychological scar is the same as having some part of your body permanently damaged in an accident. You will never be whole again and nothing can change that. But you can be happy again; perhaps more happy than ever before. But that loss of wholeness must be grieved or it will manifest itself in anger, bitterness, and jealous regrets.

The Jesuit music composer and spiritual writer, Roc O’Connor, makes the same point, with the added comment that the grieving process also calls for a long patience within which we need to wait long enough so that the healing can occur according to its own natural rhythms.  We need, he says, to embrace our wounded humanity and not act out. What’s helpful, he suggests, is to grieve our human limitations. Then we can endure hunger, emptiness, disappointment, and humiliation without looking for a quick fix – or for a fix at all.  We should not try to fill our emptiness too quickly without sufficient waiting.

And we won’t ever make peace with our wounds without sufficient grieving.


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

Now on Facebook

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Catholic political newcomer lands with a splash with Catholic Conscience initiative

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 16:27

By B.C. Catholic Staff, Canadian Catholic News

[Vancouver – CCN] – When more than 1,000 people filled a downtown Toronto theatre Oct. 3 for the largest, non-partisan, live-audience event of the federal election campaign, it was a gratifying moment for Matthew Marquardt. His fledgling organization Catholic Conscience had a role in making it happen.

Marquardt is president of Catholic Conscience, the new kid on the block of political action groups in Canada, and his organization has been partnering with the Archdiocese of Toronto in preparing citizens for political participation and supporting them in engaging civic society.

This election, the organization is distributing “Conscience Cards,” one-page explanations of Catholic social teaching and how it relates to issues, as well as party platform analyses.

It also launched a Catholic get-out-the-vote campaign in Toronto. Sunday, Sept. 22, was Catholic Action Day, and CC worked with groups and parishes to have homilies on the importance of voting and contributing as Catholic citizens.

The get-out-the-vote effort is timely considering the low numbers of Catholics who have voted in past elections. Angus Reid reports non-practising Catholics voted in higher numbers than weekly Mass-goers in 2015.

Marquardt says the fact the Toronto debate’s 1,000 free tickets were snapped up within 48 hours “speaks to a deep hunger in the Catholic community for more civic and political engagement through the faith.”

The organization has high aspirations, hoping to spread across Canada and eventually to other Western democratic nations. “Everywhere the Holy Spirit and Mary, the Chairwoman of our Board of Patron Saints, can help us reach,” said Marquardt.

They’re already gearing up for the next four-year cycle of municipal, provincial, and federal elections, in Ontario and beyond. One hopeful sign is that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has asked to distribute Catholic Conscience material to its 94 parishes (as well as to adapt the Catholic Conscience resources as a printable resource). The Catholic Conscience organization also has eyes on next year’s U.S. presidential elections. “We seem to be gaining momentum,” Marquardt said.

Considering the Ontario-based organization only made its initial appearance in the 2014 Ontario election and the 2015 federal campaign, it’s not a bad start.

“Catholic Conscience has really been the work of the Holy Spirit,” said Marquart, a parishioner at St. Patrick’s Parish in Toronto where in 2008 he and another parishioner were urged by their pastor to start a parish social justice committee.

As committee members gained new skills and understanding, Marquardt was in a lay formation program developing a new understanding of Matthew 25 and the parable of the talents. He ended the program by giving a 15-minute talk on Rights and Responsibilities of Catholics in Elections.

For Marquardt, who has a background in policing, engineering, and business law in Canada and the U.S., the convergence of what he was learning was powerful. “It became clear to me the best answer to the recent devolution of politics in the democratic West,” as well as growing secularism, consumerism, and individualism, was the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

Working with members of Pax Christi and its mission of promoting non-violence, the committee organized all-candidate meetings at Toronto parishes for the 2014 Ontario municipal and provincial elections.

“Those worked very well for a time,” said Marquardt. Emphasizing respectful, non-partisan discussion, they aimed at “shifting the whole democratic conversation toward the Gospels and the social teachings of the Catholic Church.” Their efforts “proved to be very appealing both to Catholics and to candidates for public office.”

They got a further boost when in preparation for the 2015 federal election they received encouraging responses from major candidates like MPs Chrystia Freeland and Adam Vaughan.

“Many candidates expressed relief at being able to answer questions and share their views in a respectful, non-partisan environment,” said Marquardt. “Our audiences helped wonderfully, by listening respectfully and in many cases taking notes.”
Over time, however, reality crept in, as parties began to discourage candidates from engaging with community groups and tightly controlling party messages from the top.

It became more and more difficult to get candidates to attend meetings, he said, and on several occasions candidates who had accepted invitations backed out due to “scheduling conflicts.”

One Saturday in February 2017, a discouraged Marquardt went to morning Rosary at his parish and “consecrated the whole thing to Mary.”

“As usual, Mary did not disappoint,” he said. Within a month, several young professionals – lawyers, students, and project managers among them – had shown interest. A few weeks later, a bright, energetic and qualified young man named Brendan Steven appeared.

Steven had been involved in federal party politics and worked as a Conservative speech writer before becoming troubled by what he saw as an extremely toxic political environment.

Marquardt and Steven both recognized “too many parties, too many politicians, were focused much more intently on dividing and conquering voters, with a view to gaining and then clinging desperately to elected office, than on serving the common good through their constituents.”

Marquardt and Steven found themselves in very close agreement on the nature of issues facing democracy in Canada and elsewhere, and under Steven’s inspiration began to take on a much broader mandate.

The organization was rebranded as Catholic Conscience in 2017, shifting focus from individual candidates to political parties with the idea of forming Catholics in the full range of the social teachings of the Church and sending them out for participation in all aspects of civic life.”

Within weeks members were giving talks on Catholics’ obligation to political participation. They shared the Church’s views of proper organization of society and social institutions, from government to business to media. They explained responsible approaches to news consumption and effective service as a Catholic in a political party.

Amid the rise of growing hatred and polarization in politics – one recent poll suggested 25 per cent of Canadians “hate” their political opponents – CC emphasized “loving thy neighbour and respectful dialogue and collaboration in politics, in the spirit of Pope Francis and the Most Gentle Shepherd.”

It’s a long-overdue message, and broad-based support is coming from all age groups and walks of life, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, he said.

“Our message is directed to all people of good will. And there are a lot of those who agree fundamentally with the Church’s moral and social teachings.”

For Marquardt, the “crowning jewel” of the organization so far has been its relationship with the Archdiocese of Toronto, which has been supportive from the start. Last spring, discussing the upcoming federal electioln with the communications office, CC planted the seed for what would become the successful archdiocese-sponsored debate at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The organization also provided about 30 blue-shirted members who served as the bulk of ushers and volunteers for the event.


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Political parties squeeze out pro-life candidates

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 16:08

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

As potential federal election candidates who hold pro-life views on abortion are squeezed out by some of the federal political parties, pro-life candidates are getting support from a surprising source.

“Proudly pro-choice” Christy Clark, the former Liberal premier of British Columbia, is slamming some of Canada’s federal political parties for marginalizing Canadians who hold pro-life views on abortion by making it difficult for them to become political candidates or dropping them as candidates if their pro-life views come to light through social media posts.

Clark, who was B.C. premier from 2011 to 2017, made her comments about pro-life candidates on Facebook and Twitter, following the English language federal leaders debate on October 7.

And she said the efforts in some parties of blocking people with pro-life views from being candidates is robbing Canadians from having good people who disagree on that issue from being involved in public life through politics.

“The talk about abortion rights during the debate really bugged me,” Clark said. “(Green Party leader Elizabeth) May and (Conservative leader Andrew) Scheer have both said they won’t change the laws on abortion, and then both took heat for allowing candidates to run with them who are pro-life. So what?”

While Clark said she personally is “proudly pro-choice”, she said that within her governments there were pro-life members who contributed significantly to the well-being of the province of British Columbia.

“I’m proudly pro-choice, but as a leader, I worked with lots of people in my caucus who disagreed with me on that. They weren’t dangerous radicals from the alt-right. They were just people with deeply held, very different views from mine. And they accepted that limiting access to abortion was not on our party’s agenda.

“We were united around one thing: growing our economy. The result? Many of those same people whom (NDP leader) Jagmeet Singh and (Liberal leader) Justin Trudeau apparently want to bar from holding public office made huge contributions to making B.C. better.”

Both the federal NDP and governing Liberal parties have all but banned pro-life activities within their parties if elected government, even when it comes to potential private-members bills being put forward by members of their caucuses. Conservative leader Scheer, himself a Catholic, has said that while he personally holds pro-life views on abortion, he has “promised” that a government led by him would not reopen the abortion debate in Canada, although he wouldn’t stop MPs from putting forward private-members bills.

The Green Party’s position is a little more confusing, as leader May has in the past said she can’t stop party members from trying to advance private members’ bills on the issue. But the party has since put out a number of statements indicating the party is staunchly pro-choice. As well, some Green candidates who have expressed anti-abortion views in the past remain as party candidates in the Oct. 21 federal election, yet a Catholic candidate in the eastern Ontario region has been dropped by the party allegedly for making past anti-abortion statements on Catholic blog sites.

Former Green Party candidate Marthe Lépine has been dropped by the party in the Glengarry-Prescott-Russell riding over comments she made online about abortion, party spokesperson John Chenery said. He added that the “Green Party will always fight for access to timely, safe, legal abortions” and that “Ms. Lépine does not support this position, so she has been removed as a candidate.”

Lépine, who will now campaign as an independent even though her name will still be on the federal ballot as a Green Party candidate because the party missed the deadline to have the ballot changed, told the Catholic Register that she was surprised the Greens had scuttled her candidacy because she was vetted by the party before getting the greenlight to run as a party candidate.

She said she complained a lot to the party about the lack of resources when it comes to campaign materials such as signs, and she thinks it was that act of complaining within the party that led the Greens to latch onto her pro-life views as an excuse to dump her.

“I don’t preach about pro-life issues. I have my own opinion,” Lépine said, adding that what attracted her to the Green Party was its positions on the environment.


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Palliative care follow up and expansion needed

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 17:26
Palliative care funding becomes more urgent as courts chip away at euthanasia /assisted death safeguards

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – The Catholic Church in Canada is doubling down on its efforts to encourage increased government and societal support for palliative care as the best way to help Canadians experience a “dignified natural death” as a barrage of Canadian court decisions continue to chip away at the existing safeguards surrounding euthanasia and assisted-dying.

“There has been minimal (government support) for palliative care,” said Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon, the new president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). “There is a great need in Canada for more palliative care, be that of a religious nature or not.”

Gagnon said palliative care and assisted dying are not two equal options for Canadians nearing the end of life – palliative care respects the dignity of human life, and assisted dying does not.

“You can assist a person in their last days of life to die with dignity in a supportive way that respects the importance of life (with palliative care),” Gagnon said. “The very notion of euthanasia is contrary to that.”

The Catholic Church has been at the forefront of advocating for more societal support for palliative care options in Canada.

The CCCB participated in 2018 public consultations on palliative care co-ordinated by Health Canada in response to the passing of Bill C-277 (the Development of a Framework on Palliative Care Canada).

One of the issues with palliative care in Canada is that while the federal government establishes a framework for health care in the country, it is the province’s that provide health services in Canada which has led to major differences in how palliative care is funded in healthcare budgets across the country and how palliative care services are delivered.

The CCCB’s submission, developed with the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute among others, emphasized the importance of the spiritual care dimension in palliative care, and “strongly emphasized that palliative care is not to include euthanasia or assisted suicide, or what is being called in Canada ‘Medical Assistance in Dying’ (MAid),” a CCCB statement said.

The CCCB is further emphasizing the importance of palliative care as a means to turn Canadians away from legally sanctioned medically-assisted euthanasia by emphasizing palliative care’s importance at the parish level across the country.

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said a CCCB ad hoc committee is working with other Catholic institutions and social agencies to develop information tools about palliative care that can be shared at the parish level and then potentially with school and healthcare providers in the future.

“We have done a lot on this issue,” Smith said, adding that what the CCCB is trying to do is create easy-to-understand information at the local parish level about the Church’s position on the importance of palliative care. “We want this to encourage them in the advocacy of palliative care,” he said, adding at this point the CCCB hopes to have palliative care kits available by 2021 across the country.

All of this is happening at a time when court decisions, most recently in Quebec this September, have been eroding the “foreseeable death” requirements for medically-induced suicide that has been part of Canadian law since the federal government allowed for medically-assisted death as a health care option in Canada following a previous Supreme Court of Canada decision.

On Sept. 11, 2019, Quebec Superior Court Judge Christine Baudouin struck down the requirement in federal law that a person’s death be “reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for euthanasia. She also struck down a similar clause in Quebec’s euthanasia law that requires an illness to be terminal. Her ruling said the existing 2016 federal law infringed on Canadians’ fundamental rights and the judge allowed requests by two people to have a doctor end their lives despite the fact that neither are terminally ill.

The Quebec government has indicated that it will not appeal the ruling, while the federal government has stated it is reviewing the ruling.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told the Catholic Register at the time of the decision that the federal government had planned a five-year review of its euthanasia laws by June of 2020. “What’s the purpose of a review if courts think it is their purview to strike down portions of the law?” he said.

Opening up euthanasia to those with psychiatric conditions was among three areas to be reviewed, but the court has effectively paved the way for this by removing the requirement that death be reasonably foreseeable, Schadenberg said.


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How (not) to vote like a Catholic

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 15:12


By Dr. Brett Salkeld, Archdiocesan Theologian, Archdiocese of Regina

If I manage to achieve my goal with this piece, I will have left many of my readers unsettled.  I will be critiquing two prominent approaches to voting as a Catholic that are oversimplified and misleading.  They do, however, have the advantage of being clear and simple.  People like clear and simple things.  Especially when faced with difficult choices and imperfect options.  My goal is to make us uncomfortable with these too simple approaches.  And people don’t like being made uncomfortable.

Political parties and lobby groups love these clear and simple approaches because they can use them to make the case that voting for this or that party is an uncomplicated question from the point of view of Catholic Social Teaching.  Both sides of our contemporary political spectrum play this game.  One approach is used to suggest Catholics must vote for left wing options and the other is used to suggest Catholics ought to vote for the right.

When Catholics accept these oversimplified approaches, we blunt the prophetic power of the gospel in the realm of politics and end up reading our faith in light if our political categories when it should be the other way around.  We also end up imagining, to the delight of the parties, that any of our fellow Catholics who vote differently than we do are being unfaithful because we have been convinced to identify our vote with the way a Catholic should vote.

In this way, we manage to reproduce the divisions in our political culture within the Church itself.  Have you ever wondered why, for instance, right-wing Catholics sound more like secular right-wingers and left-wing Catholics more like secular left-wingers than we sound like one another?  That is a scandal!  We often spend much more energy trying to convince our fellow Catholics to make the political compromises we felt we had to make in order to vote (and then sometimes fail to perceive them as compromises at all!) than we spend trying to convince the parties we support to more fully embody the gospel.

No wonder the parties love these approaches!  They allow the parties to present themselves as “the Catholic option” to those Catholics already within their ranks without ever having to change their policy in the face of the demands of the gospel.  Christian witness is domesticated, and politics goes on as usual.

To the approaches themselves:

Many readers will have heard of Cardinal Bernardin and his “seamless garment.”  The basic idea is completely unobjectionable, even laudable.  Catholic teaching on the dignity of human life is of a piece, and one cannot choose to emphasize one element of it while ignoring or downplaying others without destroying the integrity of the whole and compromising the prophetic witness of the gospel.  (Pope St. John Paul II said as much in Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), listing a significant slate of life issues about which the Church is deeply concerned.)  And so Catholics cannot be, as is often asserted, “single-issue voters.”  Any discernment must take into account the full range of Catholic teaching.

The problem, of course, is that there is no political ideology in the contemporary west that comes close to encompassing Catholic Social Teaching on issues related to life and the dignity of the human person.  There is no “seamless garment” vote to be had.  Not that anyone ever supposed there was.  The “seamless garment” was not designed to tell us which party to vote for, but to give us a context and a vision from which to work for better options.

But the left craftily seized on the idea that Catholics must not be “single-issue voters” in order to downplay the importance of abortion and justify voting for pro-abortion politicians because other policies supported by those politicians ostensibly favoured Catholic values on other important questions.  It is this kind of logic that, when taken to its extreme, leads certain Catholics to make remarkable claims to the effect that voting for even pro-abortion extremists is a “pro-life” vote.

And so the broad Catholic moral vision, which should remind Catholics not to marginalize any life issue in their voting, came to be used to marginalize the pre-eminent life issue of our time.  The “seamless garment” was supposed to increase the credibility of the Church’s witness by showing the coherence and beauty of the Catholic attitude towards human life.   Instead it has been co-opted to compromise that witness.  It has been used to salve many consciences into treating a vote for a pro-choice politician or party not as a devastating compromise that is sometimes necessary in a very complicated situation with no genuinely good options (more on this later in the series), but as a minor inconvenience about which there is not much to be done.

Keenly aware of this dynamic, many who are committed to fighting the evil of abortion reject the language of “seamless garment.”  This is a shame because, properly understood and applied, it is one of the best tools available for understanding and living Catholic Social Teaching as citizens.  Indeed, our pro-life witness on abortion is only enhanced in the eyes of our fellow citizens when it is accompanied by demonstrable concern for the lives of all vulnerable and marginalized people.

Which brings us to our second approach.  If the problem on the left is a marginalizing of abortion (and now, among other things, assisted suicide), the problem on the right is an artificial isolation of those issues from the rest of Church teaching.  Because abortion is such a serious attack on the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable, and because of the staggering scale on which it is practiced in contemporary culture (hard cases such as those involving threats to the life of the mother or sexual violence make up a tiny percentage of abortions), parties on the right have learned that all they need to do to reliably get the votes of many pro-life voters is be marginally more pro-life than the increasingly vociferous pro-choice left.  This does not set the bar very high.

The approach here is that, since abortion is such an important issue, the single overriding concern for Catholic voters is where a party or candidate stands on this question.  Its proponents are careful to avoid more detailed questions on matters such as what actual pro-life policy might be brought forward and how successful it might be in practice, or how the position on abortion is related to other questions essential to the Catholic voter.  Instead, a Catholic voter is given a straightforward calculus that ignores all questions of policy or consistency.  Because abortion is the most important human rights issue of our time (and I do not deny that it is), even a marginal difference in the stated position on it is considered enough to not only justify, but even demand the vote of any serious Catholic.

Notice how this approach functions in remarkably the same way as the “seamless garment” theory explored above works on the left.  In either case, the Catholic voter is convinced that this is the only real “Catholic” option available.  And in either case, the voter is encouraged to put more energy into convincing fellow Catholics that this vote is morally required of them than into challenging the party’s anemic pro-life platform.

It may seem, at this stage, that I am suggesting that a Catholic can vote for neither position.  But, unless we choose to spoil our ballots or stay home, we must vote for one or the other.  I am not saying we should not vote, but that we should vote with our eyes open and our noses held.  We should not vote based on an uncritical acceptance of one of the two narratives critiqued above.  When we do that, we hamper our witness and import the division in the world inside the walls of the Church.

But if these approaches are insufficient to inform our decision-making – if, in fact, they cripple our political impact – what does the Church suggest instead?  It is to this question that we will turn in our next instalment.

This column is published courtesy of the Archdiocese of Regina It is Part 2 of a series:

Part 1: Why the Church Won’t Tell Catholics Who to Vote For

Part 2: How (not) to vote like a Catholic

Part 3: The Lesser of Two Evils?

Part 4: Voting Like a Catholic – Tools for Discernment



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Pope Francis prays for ‘daring prudence’ during Amazon synod

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 09:27

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – At the opening Mass for the Amazon synod Sunday, Pope Francis prayed that the Holy Spirit would give the bishops prudence, wisdom, and discernment to help the Church in the Pan-Amazonian region be renewed by the fire of faith.

“Prudence is not indecision; it is not a defensive attitude,” he said in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 6. “It is the virtue of the pastor who, in order to serve with wisdom, is able to discern, to be receptive to the newness of the Spirit.”

“Fidelity to the newness of the Spirit is a grace that we must ask for in prayer. May the Spirit, who makes all things new, give us his own daring prudence; may he inspire our Synod to renew the paths of the Church in Amazonia, so that the fire of mission will continue to burn.”

The Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region is taking place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27, 2019. Bishops, priests, lay experts, and religious men and women, will meet to discuss issues of importance to the Church in the Amazon, including a lack of priestly vocations, ecological challenges, and obstacles to evangelization.

Present at the Mass Oct. 6 were the synod fathers and the 13 cardinals created in a consistory Oct. 5.

In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to the Old Testament episode of the burning bush to show that “God’s fire burns, yet does not consume.”

“It is the fire of love that illumines, warms and gives life, not a fire that blazes up and devours. When peoples and cultures are devoured without love and without respect, it is not God’s fire but that of the world,” he said, condemning the times people have colonized others instead of evangelizing them.

“May God preserve us from the greed of new forms of colonialism,” he continued. “The fire set by interests that destroy, like the fire that recently devastated Amazonia, is not the fire of the Gospel. The fire of God is warmth that attracts and gathers into unity.”

Francis reflected on St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, in which the apostle says: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.”

Addressing bishops, the pope said they are not bureaucrats and their episcopal ordination is not an employment contract, but “a gift of God.”

This gift, he explained, is for service of others, not for personal gain. “We received a gift so that we might become a gift.”

“To be faithful to our calling, our mission, Saint Paul reminds us that our gift has to be rekindled,” the pope stated, adding that the status quo smothers the missionary fire.

There is also, he said, a kind of destructive “fire” that wants everything and everyone to be the same. It “blazes up when people want to promote only their own ideas, for their own group, wipe out differences…””

Instead, “the fire that rekindles the gift is the Holy Spirit, the giver of gifts.”

He quoted St. Paul again, who says, “do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, but take your share of suffering for the Gospel in the power of God.”

“Paul asks Timothy to bear witness to the Gospel, to suffer for the Gospel, in a word, to live for the Gospel,” he said. “To preach the Gospel is to live as an offering, to bear witness to the end, to become all things to all people (cf. 1 Cor 9:22), to love even to the point of martyrdom.”

Praising especially those martyrs who died in the Amazon, he said, “for them, and with them, let us journey together.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led a traditional Marian prayer, the Angelus, from a window in the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

He reflected on the day’s Gospel passage, which contains the apostles’ request to Jesus to “increase our faith.”

“A beautiful prayer, which we must pray a lot during the day,” the pope commented.

He explained that in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus gives his disciples two images of faith: the mustard seed and the willing servant.

Jesus “wants to make it understood that faith, even if small, can have the strength to uproot even a mulberry tree; and then to transplant it into the sea, which is something even more unlikely,” Francis explained, with reference to Jesus’ words in the Gospel passage.

“But nothing is impossible for those who have faith,” the pope continued, “because they do not rely on their own strength, but on God, who can do everything.”

He said the faith of a mustard seed is a faith that is humble in its acceptance of its own littleness and need for God, abandoning itself to him with complete trust.

“It is faith that gives us the ability to look with hope at the alternating vicissitudes of life, which helps us to accept defeats and suffering, in the awareness that evil never has, will never have the last word,” he stated.

The measure of this kind of faith is service, having the “attitude of availability of the servant,” he continued.

“This attitude towards God is also reflected in the way of behaving in community: it is reflected in the joy of being at the service of one another, finding in this its own reward and not in the recognitions and the gains that can be derived from it.”


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Sisters of the Presentation of Mary say farewell to Discernment House

Sun, 10/06/2019 - 12:52

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

For decades the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary have opened their doors at Discernment House in Saskatoon, sharing their life, their charism, and their home with young women, offering retreats, and welcoming friends and visitors.

That Discernment House hospitality was very evident during a come-and-go tea Oct. 5, 2019, held as a way for friends to join in bidding farewell to the well-loved building on University Drive, which has been sold with a possession date at the end of the month.

Friends and supporters gathered to share memories, to take a last look around, to enjoy many treats, and to hear the plans of the Sisters in the days ahead – which include keeping a presence in Saskatoon at a new, smaller home in the Willowgrove area.

Many items from Discernment House are also being prepared for an online auction – including such things as interior doors, etc. The online auction will begin Oct. 12.

Sr. Lise Paquette, PM, (left) with some of the earliest Discernment House live-in participants, left to right: Sr. Reanne Letourneau, PM (1989), Crystal Hampson (1988-89); and Sr. Evelyne Nedelec (1987-88).

“This has all been good – very good,” said Sr. Lise Paquette, PM, reflecting on the impact of Discernment House on the lives of many young women, retreat participants (both men and women), and their families. “But we had to do this before it becomes too difficult.”

A handout provided to visitors at the Saturday afternoon tea related how in 1968, the Sisters of the Presentation found “a roomy, solidly-built place, very well situated with a character of simplicity and of poverty which is good to find in a religious house.” The occasion for the observation was the blessing of the congregation’s two houses, located side-by-side in the Nutana neighbourhood of Saskatoon: one serving as a residence for Sisters taking university classes, the other for the religious formation of their newest members.

The two houses had a similar size and style and were joined together into one connected building in the summer of 1969. In 1972, one side became a residence for female university students, and in 1980, vocational retreats started at the Saskatoon house.

In 1986, the Sisters were preparing for a General Chapter, in the midst of a focus on “the awakening of vocations.”

In response, the Sisters of the Presentation decided to convert their formation house into what became known as Discernment House. It became a residence for young women to share community and prayer life with the Sisters, a place to discern their baptismal call.

Popular weekend retreats continued to be offered a few times each year until 2019, which along with the live-in program, has helped to form men and women for the Church and for the world, impacting thousands of young women and men.

At a prayer service during the Oct. 5 event, the sisters and their guests prayed for vision, wisdom, courage, trust, love and grace.

The service ended with words from the founder of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, Marie Rivier: “Lord, stay with us, without you, we are only weakness. Stay with us so that we might be strong, humble, grateful and ardent in our love; because it is you alone who are our strength, our light, our guide, our way and our term, the end and beginning of our journey.”

More photos:



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Debate tackles issues close to Catholics

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 20:07

Editor’s note: Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen and other local responders will discuss election issues 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family at a public event that will include viewing portions of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s “Election Debate from a Catholic Perspective.”

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Canadian Catholic News

[Toronto – CCN] – Catholics of Toronto staked their election flag in the territory of reasoned, respectful debate at the largest, non-partisan, live-audience election event of 2019.

The #CatholicVote2019 debate from a Catholic perspective, produced and hosted by the Archdiocese of Toronto on Oct. 3 attracted about 1,000 people to the John Bassett Theatre in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre downtown, but also went live to thousands more as it was livestreamed in parish halls, offices and homes from coast to coast. During the event that ran just over two hours about 1,000 screens were tuned into the debate, some of them representing an audience of over 150 people watching on large screens at their parishes.

The whole point was to present a Catholic approach to politics that relies on reason and discernment, Cardinal Thomas Collins said before the debate got underway.

Election issue discussion with Bishop Mark Hagemoen and other speakers will include viewing of portions of the Toronto debate: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon: Voting as Catholics

“We need to have people engage in rational discourse with one another in a courteous way,” the Archbishop of Toronto told The Catholic Register. “They can still disagree. They can still feel passionately about what they say and they may passionately disagree with the positions taken by others. But they should be able to discuss and continue the conversation.”

Too often politics today devolves into shouting and a tragic failure to listen, Collins said.

“When we shut down the conversation by, for example, calling people names or something then what more do we say? The conversation ends,” he said.

The debate featuring the five national parties was also an opportunity for Catholics with a stake in particular issues to put questions to the politicians.

In pre-recorded videos projected on a large screen behind the candidates Sr. John Mary, Toronto superior of the Toronto Sisters of Life, posed questions about abortion, palliative care and euthanasia; Carl Hétu, national director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, asked candidates about persecution of Christians worldwide; Office of Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto director Deacon Rudy Ovcjak asked about refugee policy; teacher Jeff Cole and and Grade 11 student Emmerson Garces from Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School challenged the politicians on climate change.

“And why should they not have their voice heard and their questions presented before the people in power?” Collins asked.

“This country would be a colder and darker place were it not for people of faith,” said Cardinal Collins. “Their voice should speak out loudly. All of these issues are important for us because they are matters of faith and reason, and people on the ground are going to be asking the questions.”

On the issues, none of the five parties could commit to writing abortion back into the criminal code, though Conservative Party representative Garnett Genuis, MP for the Alberta riding of Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, trumpeted that his party would allow its members to express their views at March for Life rallies and on social media. Genuis also hammered the Liberals on their 2018 summer jobs policy requiring employers to certify that they do not actively oppose abortion.

People’s Party candidate David Haskell claimed his party already has legislation written that would ban third-trimester abortions, but the party has no elected MPs .

On refugees, NDP candidate for Hamilton Centre Matthew Green called for the next government to scrap the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, pointing out that his ancestors, escaped slaves who travelled the underground railway to Canada, were the first Christian refugees to Canada. Both Genuis and Liberal MP for Vaughan-Woodbridge Francesco Sorbara claimed they would dramatically expand private sponsorship of refugees, a program dominated by Church groups.

Genuis drew applause by promising to revive the cancelled Office for Religious Freedom headed by an ambassador. Sorbara was hit with a negative outburst from the audience when he said the Office for Religious Freedom had been “ineffective.”

Green Party candidate for Don Valley East Dan Turcotte was handed the perfect foil in Haskell, who said there was “room for doubt” about climate change.

“We need to end our subsidies for fossil fuels,” Turcotte said. “We have the most beautiful country in the world and we need to be leaders.”

The event, hosted by Don Newman, was largely ignored by national media, with only the National Post and French-language CBC Radio-Canada sending reporters. Coverage was extensive in major faith-based media, including live broadcast of the debate by Salt+Light TV.

View the Oct. 3 Federal Debate from a Catholic Perspective at: Toronto Archdiocese on YouTube

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Candlelight Rosary Procession held in downtown Saskatoon

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 19:19

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

On a windy Saturday evening Oct. 5, 2019, hundreds joined in an annual Rosary Procession from St. Paul’s Cathedral up 5th Avenue and along Spadina Crescent in Saskatoon, following statues of Our Lady and of the Child Jesus , carrying candles, praying and singing together.

The prayer event has been organized for the past several years by the local Filipino Catholic community on the first weekend of October, to mark the month of the Rosary and to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (marked on Oct. 7).

This year’s Rosary Procession followed celebration of Mass with Bishop Mark Hagemoen, St. Paul rector and pastor Fr. Stefano Penna, and associate pastor Fr. Paul Oshin.

The Rosary Procession, conducted with traffic support from Saskatoon Police Service, was a powerful public witness along Spadina Crescent, where many were gathering in the park for a “Light the Night” walk held later that evening to celebrate, honour and remember those whose lives have been touched by cancer.

More photos:

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Partisan politics not on agenda for Canadian Catholic Church affirms new CCCB president

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 16:53

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – The Canadian Catholic Church has a lot to say about some of the biggest issues facing voters when the federal election is held Oct. 21, but one thing the Church has no intention of doing is getting directly involved in partisan politics.

In an age of significant social and moral change within Canadian society — everything from the legal right in certain circumstances for Canadians to medically take their own lives, to protecting the unborn and the erosion of religious freedoms in matters of conscience — the Canadian Catholic Church will always speak out, but will not engage in any form of partisanship in the political process, says the head of the Catholic bishops’ conference.

“That is not the role of the Church,” Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon said. “The Church does not get involved in partisan politics.”

Gagnon, who became president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) on Sept. 27, said the Church will always make its views known on important social and justice issues by making statements on the issues of the day and through direct actions such as preparing briefs as an intervenor in court cases and providing delegations to speak at government forums during policy debates. However, engaging directly in the political process in a partisan manner is not the way for the Church to proceed, he said.

“The Church has a lot to say on these things,” Gagnon said. “On freedom of conscience, on many of these important cases we maintain intervenor status. That’s a contribution to the larger discussion in society.”

As in the past, the CCCB has prepared an election guide for the Oct. 21 vote. It calls Catholics’ participation in the political process not only a right as a citizen but “a duty.”

View or download the CCCB election guide: English PDF or French PDF

Find more resources on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon website: ELECTION including news of a public event with Bishop Mark Hagemoen and a number of other speakers addressing the issues of this election, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.

New CCCB President Gagnon steps into balancing act

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – Like anyone starting a new job, Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon concedes there is going to be a learning curve involved as he settles into his new role as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) for the next two years.

But Gagnon has shown since he first joined the priesthood in 1983 that he’s a quick study.

Of particular concern to him is to make sure his new role as CCCB president doesn’t adversely affect his ability to maintain the service he provides as Archbishop of Winnipeg.

“It is above and beyond being a bishop, you have to strike some kind of balance,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon, who is adding the role of CCCB president to his existing duty as Winnipeg’s Archbishop, is not a novice when it comes to learning how to strike such a balance. He served as CCCB vice-president for two years under former CCCB President Lionel Gendron before being elevated to the CCCB presidency at the end of the annual CCCB Plenary in Cornwall, Ont., on Sept. 27.

“I’ve been involved as vice-president and I’ve observed the commitment involved of being president. It is another level of commitment,” he said in a phone interview from his home diocese on Oct. 3.

He sees his role as CCCB president as being a facilitator, of making sure that the collective decisions and initiatives of Canada’s bishops are acted upon with the support of the CCCB.

“The role of the president is not to come with any kind of platform or agenda,” Gagnon said, but to follow through on CCCB permanent council and executive decisions.

“My job is really to kind of facilitate the decisions,” he said. “I don’t come in with a list of different things for the CCCB to do.”

Gagnon, born in 1948 in Lethbridge, Alta., moved to British Columbia with his family when he was young before studying philosophy, history and English at Simon Fraser University and completing a B.C. Teaching Certification in 1976.

Eventually he undertook his seminary studies at Pontifical Beda College in Rome from 1978-1983 and was ordained into the priesthood in 1983. He was installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Victoria in B.C. in 2004 and then as Archbishop for Winnipeg in 2013 by Pope Francis.

While Gagnon said he doesn’t enter his new role as CCCB president with a direct agenda, there are issues the CCCB has championed that he is eager to continue moving forward.

One that he feels is of unique importance is continuing partnerships and resource sharing between the Canadian Church’s northern and southern dioceses.

“Some of the northern dioceses cover such large areas of land with very little people, they don’t always have the resources to do all the work they want to, and that is where partnerships with some of the larger southern dioceses where we can assist is very important,” Gagnon explained, adding it is also important in the ongoing efforts of reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous communities.

Although the issues that the CCCB brings forward in its annual plenary sessions “will change from year to year,” issues at the forefront at this September’s plenary included ongoing discussions and advocacy for religious freedom and continuing efforts to address abuse of minors.

Gagnon said there is a strong, ongoing determination to continue to review all Church activities through the lens of protecting minors and how to best implement the directive to put the well-being of minors at the forefront of all Church activities.

“Ultimately it is up to each diocese in the Church and they can require a lot of assistance in continuing this commitment and in sharing best practices, which is why we have established a working group to help monitor greater conformity in reaching these goals and offering supports,” Gagnon said.





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New app offers ethical guideposts for health care workers

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 16:40

By Agnieszka Ruck, B.C. Catholic

Canadian Catholic News

[Vancouver – CCN] – One of the most challenging things Hazel Markwell has ever done is hold the hand of a dying child.

Markwell, a bioethicist and a former chaplain at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, discovered that working among very sick children in neonatal and pediatric intensive care units was “one of the most life-altering and life-changing experiences” of her career.

“When you’re working with children, you have to be practical. Children like to play. They like to express their fears in a different way. It’s very much an experience of immediacy.”

Markwell now works as an ethics and policy adviser for the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada, but she knows what it’s like to need immediate answers and support in difficult situations. That’s why she believes a new app called the Health Ethics Guide can help people on the front lines of health care.

“The guide speaks about the role of a child as being a participant as much as she can in decisions, and it speaks about supporting the parents in the worst possible experience that a parent could possibly have,” said Markwell.

“The guide helps by always turning us back and never leaving the patient, emotionally or physically.”

Her testimony is one of many featured in the Health Ethics Guide app, created by Edmonton-based Covenant Health and the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC).

The app is a simpler and more accessible version of a Health Ethics Guide first published by the CHAC in 1991, revised in 2000, and updated again in 2012. The document tackles various ethical questions in a health care environment, including patient care, human dignity, end of life issues, and even governance and administration.

“Every day within our work as sponsors, board members, or leaders, we will engage the ethical questions,” Gordon Self, chief mission and ethics officer for Covenant Health, told The B.C. Catholic.

“The healing ministry of Jesus and concern for the marginalized, that’s very much a part of our Catholic tradition, our ethos,” he said. “The guide is as much a reflection of our identity as Catholic healthcare as much as an instructional document.”

National Catholic Health Care Week is celebrated this year for the first time, from Oct. 6-12: SUMMARY

SaskEthics column from Dr. Mary Heilman: “Moral distress is an early warning system”

Since the Health Ethics Guide app launched earlier this year, it has been downloaded about 200 times on Apple devices and more than 50 times on Android devices.

“It uses very down-to-earth language,” said Bob Breen, executive director of the Denominational Health Association and the Catholic Health Association of B.C.

The app discusses “fundamentals of Catholic faith and how we can use that to guide the care we give.”

CEO of Covenant Health Patrick Dumelie said the app is less a list of rules and “do nots” and more a “guidepost” to support health care workers in challenging times.

“It tells us we need to go out and serve others and find ways of creatively doing that while staying true to who we are and what we believe.”
Self hopes more health care professionals across the country will find the guide a helpful tool to understand the published ethics manual in a more accessible, hands-on way.

The guide covers emerging ethical issues, like assisted suicide, as well as “perennial” topics, like fair treatment of health care staff and how to respect patients of other cultures when it comes to end of life customs or linguistic barriers.

Self said there are talks of creating a French language version. He hopes the app gains momentum among Catholics in health care – or anyone interested in learning more about the intersection of health, ethics, and faith.

The Health Ethics Guide app can be downloaded free from the App Store or Google Play.


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Soon-to-be-Saint John Henry Newman: An honest man’s faith journey

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 16:23

By Agnieszka Ruck, B.C. Catholic

Canadian Catholic News

[Vancouver – CCN] – Brilliant homilist. Poet. Theologian. Convert. Champion of education. Cardinal John Henry Newman is widely known for many achievements, and he’ll soon be known for one more.

On Oct. 13, 2019 in Rome, Cardinal Newman will be declared a saint.

“Cardinal Newman presents to us an honest man’s journey in faith, a faith that grew and increased, came into a remarkable clarity,” Fr. John Horgan, pastor of St. Pius X Parish, said at a Vancouver event in honour of the future saint Oct. 2.

More than 90 people gathered at the John Paul II Pastoral Centre to hear four experts, including Father Horgan, celebrate Newman’s contributions to the Church.

The future saint’s journey did not start in Catholicism. Born in London in 1801, Newman was first introduced to a version of Calvinism by his mother. At age 15, he experienced a personal conversion and went on to study at Trinity College in Oxford. By 1825, he was ordained an Anglican priest.

Newman preached at St. Mary’s (a university church) and became known for sermons that were earnest, sharp, and full of illustrations. He quickly gained a loyal following.

“Newman’s motto was ‘heart speaks to heart,’” said David Klassen, a philosopher and instructor at St. Mark’s, Corpus Christi, and Catholic Pacific colleges. “He was really and personally present in his way of speaking and writing.”

Newman also emphasized the importance of embracing one’s faith for oneself, said Klassen. “Throughout his life, Newman encouraged a thinking faith, not just a passive acceptance.”

Newman’s continued studies of theology eventually led him to Catholicism. Not without many challenges and ostracism, he became a Catholic in 1845. “Newman always insisted that conversion must come about only when someone felt bound by conscience to take the step,” said Klassen.
Fr. Michael Shier knows something of what it must have been like for Newman to become a Catholic. He is an Anglican-turned-Catholic priest himself.

“It was in 1994 that Pope John Paul II ruled that women cannot be ordained into the priesthood. A year later, the Church of England proceeded to do just that,” Shier said. He and others were deeply distraught over that change in doctrine and a few other shifts in Anglican teaching. They looked to the Catholic Church to take them in.

“Our cries reached the ears of Pope Benedict,” who in 2009 proclaimed that Anglicans wishing to become Catholics could be embraced fully into communion with the Church while keeping some of their liturgical and spiritual traditions.

Pope Benedict allowed for the creation of ordinariates, which function like dioceses, for the former Anglicans. The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter includes all Anglicans-turned-Catholics in North America and was created in 2012 – the same year Shier and a dozen other members of his congregation became Catholics.

Entering the Catholic Church was a powerful experience for Shier. “We can echo Newman’s sentiments of his conversion: ‘it is like coming into port after a rough sea, and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption,’” he quoted.

Anglican ordinariates didn’t exist in Newman’s time, and Shier wonders what would have been different if they had been. “Traditionally a former Anglican would have to leave behind and abandon everything that smelled of Anglicanism,” he said. “Pope Benedict saw things differently. He asked us not to abandon, but to bring back to the Church the treasures of the Church.”

Cardinal Newman plays an important role in Shier’s community; he admitted to using large excerpts of Newman’s vivid sermons in his own preaching.

“His gift to us is seeing the interrelatedness of doctrine and devotion,” Horgan said. For example, Newman’s devotion to Mary, which had roots before his conversion to Catholicism, was based on reason and in love.

“Newman was convinced that belief in Mary was a safeguard for belief in the incarnation itself. Where Mary is not honoured, so is her son ignored and misunderstood,” said Horgan.

“He composed many ardent prayers and poems to the Blessed Mother that are expressions not only of the best of 19th-century English writing, but the tender affection of a son towards his mother.”

Horgan brought relics of Cardinal Newman to the event Oct. 2.

“My hope and prayer is certainly that all of us turn to his example, especially to his words, so that we may find guidance and strength in our own journey,” he said.

Germain McKenzie, a theologian and assistant professor at St. Mark’s and Corpus Christi Colleges, said there exists some speculation Cardinal Newman might not just be named a saint Oct. 13. There is a movement to also have him declared a doctor of the church.

Michael Goco, president of the Newman Association of Vancouver, said Newman is “praised for his humility, unstinting care for souls, and contributions to the intellectual life of the Church.”



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John Henry Newman saw a need to integrate religion into intellectual life

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 14:47

Editor’s Note: Blessed John Henry Newman will be canonized a Saint on Sunday, Oct. 13. This is a talk about Cardinal Newman given at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon by historian and archivist Margaret Sanche in 2001, to mark the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the first Newman organization at the University of Saskatchewan.

By Margaret Sanche, Archivist, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

“A university is the place to which a thousand schools make contributions; in which the intellect may safely range and speculate, sure to find its equal in some antagonistic activity, and its judge in the tribunal of truth.  It is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge.” – From The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman.

It is always risky to use a brief quotation to exemplify the thought of any person, and particularly so in the case of someone like John Henry Newman, whose discourse developed and changed over many years and whose writings were prolific, varied in genre and vast in scope.  He wrote much about university education, the unity and wholeness of all knowledge, the need to integrate religion into academic life and the importance of educating lay people to live faith-filled lives in an increasingly faith-less world.

This weekend the college community will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the first Newman organization at this university and it seemed to be a good idea to use this occasion to focus briefly on this extraordinary man and to reflect on why he was chosen by Catholic university students to be their patron.

Around the globe, people are preparing to celebrate the canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman on Sunday, Oct. 13, with events in England and in Rome. Find more about Newman’s life, teachings, and his canonization as a Saint at: NEWMAN CANONIZATION

John Henry Newman was born into an Anglican family on Feb. 21, 1801 in Chelsea, England, not far from where St. Thomas More was born over three hundred years earlier.  From an early age John had a passion for God and spiritual matters, and experienced his “first conversion” at the age of 15.  Throughout his life, he felt a strong sense of being part of God’s larger and unknowable plan and this gave him strength during many periods of trial and difficulty.

One of his well-loved meditations begins with this idea:

“God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission–I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. . . .”

Newman was ordained an Anglican minister in 1825 on completion of his studies at Oxford and, in 1828, at the age of 27, he returned to Oxford as vicar of St. Mary the Virgin Church and tutor at Oriel College.

This was the home base from which he would become an outstanding religious thinker and essayist, and probably the most influential theologian of Victorian England.  During these Oxford years, Newman played a key role in the spiritual renewal within the Anglican Church known as the “Oxford Movement.”

He and his colleagues began in 1833 to disseminate their ideas and discoveries on the origins of the Church of Christ in pamphlet form, called “Tracts for the Times.”  The purpose of the tracts was to bolster the position of the Anglican Church, but Newman’s studies of the Fathers of the Church led him to the conclusion that the Roman Catholic Church was the “One Fold of Christ.”

He was received into the Catholic Church on Oct. 9, 1845 at the age of 44, while completing “An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,” one of his most important works.  In May, 1847 he was ordained to the priesthood and later became a member of the Oratorian Foundation of St. Philip Neri.

In the years following his conversion, Newman continued to write on matters concerning the Church — this time focusing on the Catholic Church, but bringing the many gifts of his Anglican experience to his reflections.

In his considerations of the nature of the Church as the mystical body of Christ, he turned more and more to the need for an educated laity.  Catholic educator Paul Chavasse writes:  “In Newman, wherever we look, we see a concern to create of the laity an active force that would be at work both in the church and in the world at large.  For this task the laity needed to be properly educated and equipped, and Newman saw this work of education as one to which he was particularly called.”

Many of Newman’s views caused controversy; time and again he was drawn into debates about his ideas and at one point had to defend himself on a charge of heresy.  It was not until the final decade or so of his life that much of what he had striven for and struggled with came to fruition and that many of his ideas were accepted as valuable.

Newman was named a cardinal of the church in 1878 at the age of 77. He died August 11, 1890 at the age of 89. Pope John Paul II declared him ‘Venerable’ in 1991 and in 2001, the Church celebrates the centenary of his birth. His motto “Heart speaks to Heart” was adopted by the many Catholic student groups formed in his name.

Newman’s ideas about education were mirrored in the federated college model of Catholic higher education developed by the Basilian Fathers here in Canada – a model on which St. Thomas More College was founded in 1936.

In Newman’s ideas on faith, education, and the role of the laity, the Basilians found a kindred spirit — and, as noted by Basilian Richard Schiefen in a talk given at this college in 1991, over the years the Basilians have found affirmation for their own philosophy of Catholic education in the writings of Newman.

Although much of Newman’s writing, when taken out of its historical context of time, place and politics, might seem to be irrelevant to present day experience, his fundamental ideas are still very much worthy of study and reflection today.  Indeed, Newman was called the “unseen guide” of the Second Vatican Council, as his thought played a significant part in much of the work of the council, and his ideas on education and faith and reason have been present in recent papal encyclicals.

John Henry Newman, priest, thinker, writer, ever-learning and seeking to understand, continues to be a challenging and thought-provoking patron for Catholic university students.

Newman had insisted that a higher education without God was an incomplete education. It was for this reason that he worked for the establishment of houses or centers for Catholic students on university campuses in Ireland and England.  The first Newman Club was established at the University of Pennsylvania in 1892.  The Newman Club idea spread to other universities in the United States and Canada where Catholic students were beginning to attend secular universities in increasingly large numbers.

Newman chaplaincy and the teaching of Scholastic Philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan began with the coming of Fr. Basil Markle from Toronto in 1926 at the invitation the Newman Society, a group formed by Saskatoon Catholics to bring a Catholic presence to the provincial university.  The first Newman Hall – the original white house – was built in 1927 and the first meeting of the Newman Club was held in the fall of 1928.  Over the years, thousands of students from all the colleges of the university have participated in this Catholic student organization and have been served by the chaplains and campus ministry team associated with it.

Today, the focus of Newman Centre is still closely related to the ideals and the spirit of John Henry Newman.  Newman Centre and its campus ministry team continue to sponsor a program with intellectual, religious and social dimensions, as well as encouraging community service involvement by students.

Cardinal Newman had envisioned a special place for Catholic students, where “the intellect may safely range and speculate” and where “the collision of mind with mind and knowledge with knowledge” could occur from a faith perspective in the larger, secular university setting.   Newman Centre and St. Thomas More College have worked together over the years to provide such a place at the University of Saskatchewan.




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Retreat! When running away is for the win

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 13:07


By Ryan LeBlanc, E.D. Feehan High School Chaplain

The Grade 9 members of the Feehan Family were recently on retreat. What’s that? They gathered in large, medium and small groups, and as individuals, to take a break from regular school routine, to build good relationship with each other, and to reflect on this moment of transition into the high school journey.

Sounds like a good idea. But why do we always do this, with every student, at the beginning of their Grade 9 year and at the end of their graduating year? Why do we call it a retreat? Isn’t that what you do when you’re losing? Are you calling us a bunch of losers?


The idea of retreat is a very important part of Christian tradition. Other cultures value time away to hit reset and realign with what’s really important. Indigenous traditions of the sweat lodge and the vision quest might have some similarities; I don’t know too much about those teachings. I do know that before Jesus got to his work of teaching and healing, he went off by himself for a while, and that prepared him to live for others all the way to the cross.

But the word “retreat” – what did that mean to the first Christians who used it to describe their time away? In the ancient world where Christianity started, and the medieval world where it went mainstream, military strategy depended on retreat. If you think of a crowd of thousands of men with pointy sticks trying to kill each other, with no texting, loudspeakers, or heads-up displays, you realize that armies could not easily change direction or approach or position as their commanders wanted them to. Imagine the first wave of a swords-and-shields attack, and it’s pretty crazy – everyone’s running and yelling and their kilts are flapping and limbs are flying… “For Scotland!”

But after that first wave, the commanders see what the enemy is trying to do and they want to respond to it. Maybe there’s a weak point, or maybe reinforcements are coming, or maybe the terrain is different than what they expected. But they can’t yell their instructions to their soldiers because the battle is utter chaos.

So they sound a retreat.

In a retreat, the army disengages from the battle, pulls back and regroups. The soldiers catch their breath, and the commanders relay any changes in the orders. It’s like a time-out in sports.

It has nothing to do with losing, instead it is called to make sure of victory. A retreat meansthat, after we gather and regroup, we’re going to attack again in a better way.

A retreat is not a rout, when the army is losing and the soldiers are running for their lives. It is on purpose, and it’s for the win

OK, so how is today’s experience for the Grade 9s like a retreat?

Well, they’ve made it a month into high school, and for all of us, high school is a struggle. They expected some things and were surprised by some things. They won some points and maybe took some hits. It’s a good time to disengage, take some time, and make sure they’re doing what leads to victory.

Because it is a struggle. Each of us is battling things that nobody else can see. Not swords and shields, but we’re fighting against bad spirits, or what I call evil inspirations.

Discouragement. Loneliness. Fear. Trauma. Bitterness. Envy. Laziness. Selfishness. These are powerful enemies, and it takes energy and strategy to win the victory.

The Feehan Family names victory as “I belong to the Feehan Family. Who I am makes a difference.” Today, the Grade 9s will be spending time on each part of our school motto, to receive the strength and the focus it gives us. Belonging. Identity. Agency. These are the good things we purify ourselves to see and to live. These help us win the victory.

Today, please join me in praying for the grade 9 members of our family. And also spend a moment to reaffirm what you really believe about yourself – that you belong, that you are loved, and that you make a difference in every moment you live.

Let us pray:
+Come Holy Spirit,
You are welcome here.
Fill the hearts of the grade 9 students,
With your power and healing.
You know how our battle has gone,
And you know what each of us needs.
Do not let us weaken,
but give us the strength we need
To embrace and live out
our own beautiful struggle.
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
Who gave you to us, and
In the sight of our loving heavenly Father,
St Kateri, pray for us.

(Find “ThinkCatholic” by Ryan LeBlanc online at )


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“Praying for our children” – St Monica is a model for parents

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 12:35

By Deborah Larmour

Director of Family and Life Office, Eparchy of Saskatoon

Family and Life Office Bulletin – October 2019

“The future of the world passes through the family” – St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 79

I heard a talk recently about the importance of praying for our children.  The speaker said that he is repeatedly asked by parents about what to do when children have apparently abandoned their faith and/or refuse to attend church as young adults.

This is unfortunately an all too common problem. His primary recommendation to parents was relentless intercessory prayer, along with pursuit of personal formation and holiness, as well as working to maintain connection and relationship with our kids (I call this accompaniment with conviction and direction, driven and guided by love).

It is, however, really easy to be discouraged—I know this from personal experience.  None of us have been perfect parents and our awareness of this becomes incredibly painful as we watch our children turn from the true faith we have done our best to raise them in.  Our hope is in Christ and we must never lose hope. This is beautifully described in the verse by J.R.R. Tolkien from the Fellowship of the Rings:

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

It may seem that our children are rejecting their ‘eternal crowns’ offered to them through the sacramental life of the Church, but we, through prayer, and sacrifice (offering up our suffering and even choosing to fast, deliberately depriving ourselves of some good thing for the sake of our kids) can bring about a real difference.

St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine would be a great prayer partner and co-intercessor in this quest for our children’s salvation.  We can find novenas to her in this regard at the following website: St. Monica Litany or we can try this simple prayer from Brandon Vogt

“St. Monica, I need your prayers. You know exactly how I’m feeling because you once felt it yourself. I’m hurting, hopeless, and in despair. I desperately want my child to return to Christ in his Church but I can’t do it alone. I need God’s help. Please join me in begging the Lord’s powerful grace to flow into my child’s life. Ask the Lord Jesus to soften his heart, prepare a path for his conversion, and activate the Holy Spirit in his life. Amen.” (Word on Fire resources)

Other prayers can be found on the Family and Life website: Prayers (see especially the tab labelled “Praying for Our Children”).

Learn more about this amazing Saint and Prayer Partner:

1) St. Monica’s example converted her husband and mother-in-law. Even though the fourth-century saint was a Christian, her parents gave her away to a man named Patritius. Both he and his mother were pagans and had violent tempers. St. Monica endured this with patience and kindness, and her example eventually led to their conversions to Christianity.

2) She prayed for her son St. Augustine for 17 years before his conversion. Much of what St. Monica is known for is her persistence in prayer. Her son, St. Augustine of Hippo, lived a life of immorality, most notably that of lust and impurity, before converting to Catholicism. Throughout these years, she endured a tremendous amount of suffering. Augustine rejected her on multiple accounts, but she continued to love, pray and nurture her son throughout his wayward time.

3) She felt discouraged, but never gave up. St. Monica cried many times over her son’s transgressions, but received affirmation from God on several accounts. St. Monica had a dream in which she wept over her son, and a figure told her that he was still with her. In his autobiography, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, St. Augustine wrote: “it was my soul’s doom she was lamenting…” The figure in her dream told her to be at peace, and “see that where she was, there I was also.” She also received encouragement from a local bishop, who told her that “God’s time will come.” He added, “Go now, I beg you; it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

4) She knew her purpose in life. St. Monica wept, prayed and sacrificed for her son for many years. Her greatest desire in life was to see her son’s conversion to Catholicism, and once this happened, she believed her purpose in life had been fulfilled. She said to Augustine just a few days before she came down with a fever that caused her death: “My son, speaking of myself, nothing earthly delights me any longer. I do not know why I am still here or why I should remain here. I have no further earthly desires.”

5) She is the patron saint of wives, mothers, conversions, alcoholics and abuse victims. Especially in a time where conversion is needed in our world and we see the tragedy of abuse in our Church, St. Monica is a great example of faith and hope. God’s grace is infinite, and he will never abandon us, even if it seems as if he is not present. Let us look to St. Monica’s example of persistence—that God will never abandon us, even in the hardest of times.

Click here for more information about St. Monica: Website

If anyone is interested in working with me to form an online Eparchial prayer group praying specifically for our children or other family members, where we could share not only our concerns but also answered prayers, please email me (Deborah Larmour) at:

God Bless, and St. Monica, pray for us.

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Reconciliation: “We’re not there yet” says Senator Murray Sinclair

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 11:57

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Canadian Catholic News

[London, ON – CCN] – Canada is barely off the starting line when it comes to reconciliation with its Indigenous people, Senator Murray Sinclair told a packed hall at King’s University as the Catholic college kicked off its annual Veritas series of public lectures.

“It’s not going to happen in my lifetime,” the 68-year-old Sinclair declared at the Sept. 26 lecture.

As a judge, Sinclair led the five-year Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Canada’s residential schools, culminating in a landmark 2015 report into the history and future of Indigenous relations with Canadian government and society.

The fact that reconciliation isn’t a headline issue during this year’s federal election campaign, despite government and business determination to build a new pipeline for Alberta bitumen, is just one indication that “we’re not there yet,” Sinclair told his London, Ont., audience.

In the absence of serious changes by governments, it will be the courts who increasingly define the Indigenous-government relationship, according to Sinclair. From the Royal Proclamation of 1763 through all the treaties signed since Confederation, the courts are going to apply the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to find solutions to long-standing failures to provide Indigenous Canadians with the same level of services and protections as the rest of Canada, he said.

“This history is not going to stay in the past,” said Sinclair. “It is going to get critical.”

The most important message Sinclair had throughout his nearly two-hour presentation was his warning that reconciliation is going to take a long time, said Tracy Sillaby of the Chippawa of Georgina Island First Nation and an Indigenous educator with the Thames Valley District School Board in London.

“With reconciliation, we’re not done. We’re just beginning,” Sillaby said. “It just doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take a long time. Everybody has to get that message.”

In a talk aided by music videos produced by Aboriginal youth, Sinclair placed his hope in future generations and in education.

“It’s not going to happen in my lifetime,” he said. “Along the way, we’re going to have lots of fights.”

Summing up the history of residential schools that removed children from their families and institutionalized them, Sinclair explained how the residential school system developed post-Confederation to cut the tie between Indigenous children and their identity. Without family life or their own language and culture, Indigenous children couldn’t answer the basic questions all children ask, “Where do I come from and where do I belong in the world?” he said.

“It’s about belief. It’s about faith. It’s about acceptance,” Sinclair said.

“The residential schools story is about where we come from,” Sinclair told his mostly white audience. “We need to understand how things are out there.”


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