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Adult Faith Enrichment participants conclude two-year program

Sun, 07/11/2021 - 10:39

By John Hickey, Evangelization and Mission Leader, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

A commissioning celebration was held June 20 for the graduates of the diocesan Adult Faith Enrichment (AFE) program.

Over the past two years, ten participants attended the newly-created course to grow in their faith and learn how to transmit it to others.

In a program spanning some 15 months of COVID-19 restrictions, AFE participants engaged in a mix of a live program and virtual online elements, including meetings in person as well as over Zoom, and taking part in an online series through the Augustine Institute, where they earned a certificate in core theology.

The breadth of sessions offered over the two years was wide, and included various popular pieties such as the Sacred Heart theology and devotion, Catholic traditions such as iconography, and mission-oriented themes such as evangelization and inter-relgious dialogue, all delivered by local presenters from within the diocese.

During the final retreat and commissioning celebration, participants had an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate their faith enrichment experience over the past two years.

“I signed up for the program because I wanted to do something for me. I wanted to rediscover my faith and meet other Catholics. This whole experience ended up enriching my spiritual life in a way I wasn’t expecting,”described Maria Coupal.

“I took the Lay Formation program in the past, and I was glad to be able to take part in this new AFE program with my wife, Darlene. Its been a big blessing in our own faith life and in our marriage,” said Deacon Ron Johnson of the Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert.

The former Lay Formation program, which ran for some 30 years in the diocese of Saskatoon, was followed by the re-envisioned Adult Faith Enrichment program, launched in the fall of 2019.

Jennifer Petersen took over as co-ordinator of the program in September 2020, in the midst of the global pandemic. Under her leadership the format was adjusted and new content added.

When Petersen left on maternity leave, coordination of the program continued under the leadership of John Hickey of the diocesan Evangelization and Catechesis Office and Sr. Malou Tibayan of the Verbum Dei Sisters.

“When I look back on the year, I see a group of resilient, passionate and truth seeking individuals with an authentic desire to learn more about their faith. I hope they continue to study, grow in their faith and sacramental life, share the gospel and always seek the heart of Jesus!” – Jennifer Petersen, Coordinator

“It’s obvious that the relationships that these guys have formed have had a big impact on the spiritual life of each of them. These people now have a great opportunity to reach others through their infectious faith. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of impact they’ll have over the next few years.” – John Hickey, Coordinator

Graduates of the Adult Faith Enrichment program in 2021 are: Helen Belsher, Kathleen Campbell, Maria Coupal, Catarina Erimondi, Mary Gerwing, Darlene Johnson, Deacon Ron Johnson, Celena Komarnicki, Marion Laroque, and Victoria Paez. (Participant Shawn Arthurs also journeyed through most of the AFE program, but had to leave the program before it was completed.)

Related article: “Adult Faith Enrichment program resumes in season of change”

Photos from the 2021 retreat and commissioning celebration:

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Annual pilgrimage held at Holy Rosary Shrine, Reward, SK

Sat, 07/10/2021 - 05:14

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Prayers for reconciliation and healing were part of the 2021 Reward pilgrimage, as parishioners from throughout the area gathered July 4 at the outdoor grotto next to historic Holy Rosary Church.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen joined priests from several parishes in the region for the annual outdoor Mass at the shrine.

Praying of the Rosary, Marian hymns, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the traditional procession of parish banners was again part of the pilgrimage, which started 89 years ago in the area known as St. Joseph’s Colony.

History of the Reward Pilgrimage

The Roman Catholic parish at Reward has its beginnings in the heart of Saint Joseph’s Colony, which was established by German-Russian settlers in 1905. The Holy Rosary Church building was constructed on ten acres of donated land in 1918 for $12,000, replacing a smaller structure. The “church on the hill” is a designated historic site, and features 15 large paintings completed in 1928 by Count Berthold Von Imhoff, depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary.

In 1932 the annual pilgrimage in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary was initiated for St. Joseph’s Colony, with the Holy Rosary Church at Reward chosen as the colony’s pilgrimage site because of its central location. A wooden outdoor grotto was built as the shrine in 1936, with the present shrine altar built in 1966.

Although the parish is now closed, volunteers continue to care for the building and pilgrimage site – with the help of  donations. Parishes throughout the colony continue to assist in holding the annual pilgrimage. I

Parishes and missions of St. Joseph Colony (many of which are now closed) include: St. Pascal, Leipzig (1905); St. Charles, Revenue (1905); Our Lady of Assumption, Kerrobert (1906); St. Henry, Salvador (1906); Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, Handel (1906); St. Michael, Tramping Lake (1906); St. Anthony, Grosswerder (1907); St. James, Wilkie (1909); Sacred Heart, Denzil (1909); St. Joseph, Scott (1909); Our Lady of Holy Rosary, Reward (1910); St. Francis/Sacred Heart, Broadacres (1910); St. John, Salt Lake (1910); St. Mary, Macklin (1910); Holy Family, Ermine (1910); Our Lady of Fatima, Landis (1910); St. Peter, Cosine (1914); St. Donatus, St. Donatus (1914); St. Peter, Unity (1914); Immaculate Conception, Major (1914); St. Eugene de Mazenod, Luseland (1915) and St. Elizabeth, Primate (1916).

 

 

Live-stream video of Mass during the Reward pilgrimage 2021:

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Church to honour grandparents and the elderly on July 25 in what will now be an annual celebration

Fri, 07/09/2021 - 20:17

By B.C. Catholic Staff

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – The Church-wide celebration of World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly July 25 is being called “the first fruits of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year” and “a gift to the whole Church that is destined to continue into the future.”

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life announced the new celebration June 22 and said “the pastoral care of the elderly is a priority that can no longer be postponed by any Christian community.”

March 19 marked the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia on the beauty and joy of love in the family. The same day Pope Francis announced the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, which ends June 26, 2022, on the occasion of the X World Meeting of Families in Rome with the Holy Father.

From this year onward, every year on the Sunday closest to the feast day of Sts. Joachim and Anne (Jesus’ grandparents), the global Catholic Church will honour in a special way all grandparents and elderly people, and Michele Smillie, a coordinator at the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s Ministries and Outreach Office, believes the timing is perfect.

The elderly, especially those in care homes, are “the ones who have felt the pandemic the most,” she said. Meanwhile, with the expansion of euthanasia in Canada, the social narrative can leave seniors “thinking they don’t have much to contribute.”
But that’s simply not true, says Smillie.

“God really uses people with wisdom and the elderly to do a lot of things for him,” she said. Abraham, Moses, Tobit, Elizabeth, Zachariah, Simeon, Anna, and many other powerful Biblical figures made “major contributions in their advanced years.”

Whether it is praying for their grandchildren, keeping a living memory of family history, or doing any number of other valuable tasks, “there is still work to be done in the Lord’s vineyard,” Smillie said.

“You are important. You have a lot to contribute. We need, as a Church, to recognize that,” especially as it celebrates the Year of the Family.

This World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, local parishes are encouraged to involve grandparents and seniors in local Masses July 25 by inviting them to read at Mass, bring up the gifts, or contribute or be celebrated in other ways.
Resources can be found on the Vatican’s Amoris Laetitia Family Year site, laityfamilylife.va.

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, will say Mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral at 11 a.m. that day. It will be streamed live for those unable to attend a celebration in person.

Catholics are also invited to participate by sharing photos of their grandparents or elderly mentors on social media with the hashtag #IAmWithYouAlways.

 

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Face to face with brutal truth

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 13:27

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

“For better or worse, the gravesite findings are bringing us face-to-face with the brutal side of the residential schools,” Regina Archbishop Don Bolen told The Catholic Register the day after headlines screamed 751 more unmarked graves found at the Cowessess First Nation, less than two hours’ drive east of Holy Rosary Cathedral in southern Saskatchewan.

“Words fail,” Bolen began in a June 24 letter to Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme and the community. “The news is overwhelming and I can only imagine the pain and waves of emotion that you and your people are experiencing right now.”

Three years ago the Archdiocese of Regina had put up $70,000 to aid the Cowessess First Nation in a search through records to find the missing and dead. Bolen is still looking for other ways to be helpful.

Delorme reports that members of the Cowessess community recall a priest in the 1960s ordered the headstones removed from the cemetery. “I didn’t know about this until yesterday,” said Fr. Ken Thorson, provincial superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the order that ran the Marieval Residential School and 47 others across Canada.

“If it happened, it’s inexcusable that it happened. I certainly don’t question the memory of the people from Cowessess. But at the same time, I can’t give an answer because I don’t have any information. Whether or not it was an Oblate, what was his name, when it happened — those are things I don’t know yet.”

There’s nothing the Church can do except be as open as possible, said Bolen.

“How do we acknowledge what they’re finding? How do we express solidarity with them at a time when there is room for engagement?” asked Bolen. “There’s an invitation for as many people to be engaged in this work as possible.”

Rather than limiting the Catholic response to religious orders and dioceses directly tied to running residential schools, Bolen hopes to see all of Canada’s Catholics take up the challenge as even more graves inevitably come to light.

“We’re all treaty people,” he said. “Indigenous people don’t have a problem, we have a societal problem…. It would be great if the whole Canadian Church, each in their own context, could ask, ‘How can we become engaged in this question?’ ”

Thorson sees signs that the whole Church in Canada is beginning to acknowledge its past and its responsibility.

“I’ve heard some of the bishops, the openness from some of the bishops that I haven’t heard in recent years,” Thorson said.

“I’m hearing it a little more now and I’m grateful for that. But I think we need to hear it some more.”

Bolen believes all Canadians, including Catholics, should be seeking out a direct relationship with Indigenous people and thinking about how they can respond to the 94 Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015.

“It needs to begin with taking the lead from Indigenous peoples,” he said. “Those Calls to Action, there’s a range of them, right? They invite education. They invite engagement on Indigenous spirituality. And they invite dealing with cemeteries.”

The Catholic response can’t just be about the past. Bolen hopes parishes, Catholic schools and other institutions do more to address the present and future reality of Indigenous Canadians.

“We’re dealing with solidarity and justice issues as Indigenous peoples try to address the many ways in which they are systematically at the losing end in terms of societal indicators of well-being,” he said. “The beauty of the Calls to Action is that they are specific proposals addressed directly to churches that were involved and operating residential schools with Indigenous-led steps that can be taken, for us to move forward from truth to apology to amends to engagement to trust to reconciliation.”

Resource: Residential schools background (Archdiocese of Toronto)

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Oblates pledge transparency over residential schools

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 13:19
Former Cowessess Chief has doubts

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – In the wake of the Cowessess discovery of up to 751 unmarked graves, Western Canada’s Oblate missionary order is embracing a new level of transparency, making more documents about daily operations at the order’s 48 residential schools across Canada available.

“Without a full review of the existing historical documentation from our order’s involvement, the truth of residential schools will not be fully known,” provincial superiors Fr. Ken Thorson of the Oblates’ Lacombe province and Fr. Luc Tardif of the Notre-Dame-du-Cap province said in a “Joint Statement of Commitment” issued the day of the Cowessess discovery.

The new documents to be made available to researchers and First Nations are the Codex Historicus, a kind of journal of daily activities, along with photographs, human resources records and teacher profiles.

Related Article: “Religious orders to expand access to residential school records”

The new Oblate commitment to openness and transparency hasn’t quite won over former Cowessess Chief Terrance Pelletier.

“They lawyered-up,” Pelletier told The Catholic Register. “I’m old enough, I’ve been to school long enough, I’ve dealt with people long enough that I know what that’s all about.”

Pelletier’s suspicions are fuelled by Oblate explanations about how the release of documents has been “complicated by issues of provincial and national privacy laws.”

But Thorson insists the order is not dodging anything or holding anything back.

“It’s always been a question to me why we wouldn’t make them (school records) available. I never really understood it and I don’t understand it now. But we’re making them available,” Thorson said. “We’re not being driven by the lawyers on this.”

The Oblates are being pulled in two directions by their legal obligations and their desire for transparency.

“The issue is around personnel files, of course,” Thorson said. “We have privacy issues we can’t ignore. And yet, the history is there…. Part of their history is potentially located in those files. How do we determine what is appropriate to share. Or how do we determine an appropriate mechanism or a process to determine how we balance those two needs.”

Pelletier intends to put whatever mechanism or process the Oblates come up with to the test.

“I’ve drafted a letter where I’m asking for certain documents. And I’m giving the reasons why I’m asking for certain documents. I want to see if those documents will come,” Pelletier said.

Pelletier sees a strong parallel between what the Cowessess First Nation endured at Marieval Indian Residential School and the history of abuse in Catholic institutions in Ireland. Pelletier has been to Ireland and spoken with Irish abuse survivors.

“What law prevents an institution from providing historical documents that would establish criminal actions? What documents exist that would show what would possibly provide evidence of serial abusers within the Catholic order?” Pelletier asked. “I’ve asked for specific documents. We’ll see if they’re coming.”

Thorson understands that people are not going to simply trust the Oblates to produce records.

“That question would go to an agreed-upon third party,” he said.

The Oblates are committed to rebuilding trust with Indigenous people in all their ministries, parishes and missions, said Thorson.

“I feel mostly for our men who are working in First Nations communities,” Thorson said. “They are on the ground with people that they love and who are really angry right now. They are committed to their people and to the ministry, as are the Oblates.”

Thorson isn’t asking Pelletier and other residential school survivors to trust or forgive the Oblates right now. But he insists the Oblates will not abandon their mission or the people.

“This is where we’re called to be, and not just the Oblates of Lacombe province or the Oblates of Canada, but the (global) Oblate congregation,” Thorson said. “This is a relationship with the Indigenous peoples of Canada that we’re all called to work on, towards healing.”

The Oblates stand by their 1991 apology given at the Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage site in northern Alberta. Thorson is hopeful Indigenous Canadians will see the Pope apologize on Indigenous land.

“It’s clear that this is not something that is simply a photo-op,” he said. “It’s something that would have deep meaning for the Indigenous people of Canada and would truly assist many in the work of healing. It’s something I would like to see happen.”

Resource: Residential schools background (Archdiocese of Toronto)

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Local Church continues to seek a path of purification and healing

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 09:07

By Myron Rogal, Office of Justice and Peace, Diocese of Saskatoon

Many have seen recent media coverage that compares the successful fundraising efforts held for the Cathedral of the Holy Family with the fundraising efforts for the Moving Forward Together (MFT) national campaign that fell short of its fundraising goal.

While such reporting may draw many reactions, expose wounds, or stir feelings of disillusionment, we are each given the challenge to take the information we receive and somehow, someway use it to build the kingdom of God.

While it is sometimes necessary to address what is being reported, it is often more relevant is to take a step back and draw attention to the responsibility that each member of our diocese has in building a culture of truth and reconciliation, alongside the co-responsibility that we all share part of our Catholic citizenship.

The national Moving Forward Together fundraising effort under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) did certainly yield disappointing results.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon volunteered to join the 50 other Catholic entities in the IRSSA effort, even though the diocese of Saskatoon did not operate or have any legal association with residential schools.  Even with the shifting of diocesan boundaries over the years, no residential school sites existed.  Nonetheless, our diocese, like the rest of Canada, still lives in the devastating aftermath of the residential school system, as well as with a history of other harmful colonial practices, some of which continue today in our country. Recognizing that, our diocesan bishops and leaders stepped forward to participate in the agreement – in particular, agreeing to engage in fund-raising and providing “services in kind” for healing and reconciliation. In doing so, the diocese was striving to fulfill a moral duty outside of what the law was asking.

On Dec. 18, 2011, the Cathedral of the Holy Family opened its doors, after a significant fundraising effort both in the local church and in the history of the province. It is important to note, however, that much of the funding was collected through pledges, meaning the total amount of liquid assets needed was not physically fundraised when the doors opened. A second feature of the fund-raising campaign was that significant amounts were raised through large donations offered by local business leaders. This approach resembles the Moving Forward Together (MFT) national campaign under the IRSSA, which was guided by professional fundraisers striving to acquire donations nationally from the business community for several years.

The difference is that this phase of the MFT fundraising was unsuccessful – in part because businesses have their own Calls to Action that they are obliged to fulfill. In fundraising, this is commonly known as a quiet phase of a campaign: many members of the public did not hear about such efforts. Most would not have heard about efforts underway until they were asked to contribute to the MFT campaign in 2013, long after the new Cathedral opened.  ( These were not two existing fundraising campaigns happening at the same time.)

After the first diocesan collection for reconciliation and healing programs in 2013 yielded low results, then Bishop Donald Bolen called for a second collection, which also fell short, in spite of a diocesan-wide effort of promotion.

In recent media reporting, another argument was offered that if the local people cannot raise funds, the Vatican should. Such a proposition would face significant challenges in how the financial operations of the Roman Catholic Church globally are delineated, and even if this was possible, it would do nothing to challenge the hearts of the people in our pews or “move the needle” on social change that the TRC called us to. Furthermore, it would be in defiance of Call to Action #61, which insists on community-controlled initiatives. If the funds are not raised locally, many would be left out as stakeholders, and frankly, it would be a way for local Catholics to “get off easy.”

Although the fundraising efforts were a significant disappointment, the greater and ongoing challenge is the answer as to why the fundraising was a flop, with the answer to that being education. Like the rest of society, the faithful of the diocese remain in the early stages of understanding the colonial legacy that we reside in.

In the TRC Calls to Action, there are specific numbers addressed to the stakeholder churches. “Stakeholder” means those Christian denominations that operated residential schools. The diocese has actively worked to fulfill Calls to Action numbers 49, 59, 60, and 61. Unlike a checklist that we’ve become accustomed to through colonial habits, many of the Calls to Action cannot ever be wholly fulfilled or measured. Rather they are our roadmap. Work on truth and reconciliation did not begin in the diocese at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: many good men and women were working faithfully towards it for decades. The TRC, however, did propel these efforts and continues to do so.

The real work of healing, seeking truth, and working towards reconciliation is a slow process, and the attempt of this article is not to showcase what the Church has done. Healing itself is not a public process.  It is not something that the media can probe into as people seek right relationship with one another.  Many of the individual responses to specific Calls to Action will not show up in news stories because it is only appropriate for the stakeholders involved to know.

Similarly, the media itself does not regularly publish and flash reports on how it is attempting its own specific Calls to Action.

In Saskatoon, we are blessed to have Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. To my knowledge, this is the largest Indigenous Christian parish in the province. At this parish in inner-city Saskatoon, reconciliation has been an ongoing journey that has been happening every day since this faith community was established. Yet again, this is another news story that will not be making the news, lest the bonds of trust that build the sacred relationships of reconciliation be broken.

If one would really like to know what the Church is doing, get involved, your voice is always welcomed, and we need to hear the unique truth that you can bring to the table; we even need to be challenged by you.  We need you to become involved in your parish, to become advocates of reconciliation and assist in building the culture you want to see within your church.  Yet, that is only step one as we each are trusted with a unique apostolic mission.  In this instance, we must go beyond the church to fulfill the Calls to Action in our own lives and equally as important in businesses, institutions, and organizations that we each occupy.

To learn how to become involved in your parish contact Myron Rogal at m.rogal@rcdos.ca (306) 659-5841.

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Visit of Indigenous leaders with Pope Francis will take place Dec. 17-20 – CCCB

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 19:04

By staff of The B.C. Catholic

[Ottawa – Canadian Catholic News] – A delegation of Indigenous people will meet with Pope Francis just before Christmas, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) announced June 27.

The pastoral visit, scheduled for Dec. 17-20, 2021, will include “the participation of a diverse group of Elders/Knowledge Keepers, residential school survivors, and youth from across the country,” the CCCB said in a statement and will take place “in compliance with global travel restrictions.”

The statement came after a June 10 announcement that a delegation of Indigenous people would meet with the Holy Father to foster meaningful encounters of dialogue and healing.

The bishops’ statement said “Pope Francis is deeply committed to hearing directly from Indigenous Peoples, expressing his heartfelt closeness, addressing the impact of colonization and the role of the Church in the residential school system, in the hopes of responding to the suffering of Indigenous Peoples and the ongoing effects of intergenerational trauma.”

The bishops said they “are deeply appreciative of the Holy Father’s spirit of openness in generously extending an invitation for personal encounters with each of the three distinct groups of delegates – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – as well as a final audience with all delegates together on 20 December 2021.”

A small group of bishops and Indigenous leaders will accompany the delegation, said the bishops.

“The Bishops of Canada reaffirm their sincere hope that these forthcoming encounters will lead to a shared future of peace and harmony between Indigenous Peoples and the Catholic Church in Canada,” said the bishops, adding that planning for the visit is ongoing and further details will be announced when they are available.

In their June 10 announcement the bishops said they had been working for more than two years on a pastoral visit with residential school survivors. The visit was stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the bishops pledged to “moving forward with the delegation prior to the end of 2021, in compliance with international travel guidelines.”

That announcement came two weeks after the discovery of remains at a burial site at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, which the statement said serves as a reminder “of a tragic legacy still felt today.”

The bishops said they had “genuinely heard the sincere invitation to engage wholeheartedly with the past and are deeply committed to take truly meaningful active steps together with Indigenous Peoples in view of a future filled with greater respect and cooperation.”

The delegation to the Holy See “represents an important step on the journey of reconciliation and shared healing for Indigenous Peoples and the Church in Canada,” said the bishops.

Preparations for the pastoral visit have included talks with Indigenous people and communities at local and national levels, and bilaterally with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit national organizations, said the bishops.

“With the strong encouragement of Pope Francis, the Bishops of Canada have pledged true and deep commitment to renewing and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land. In recent years, regional and diocesan listening circles have taken place across the country in order to hear the stories from local Indigenous communities and their hopes for the future. Mutual listening is the beginning of our common efforts to bring about shared and long-lasting reconciliation, authentic healing and bridge building.”

The bishops noted that Pope Francis in his June 6 Angelus message “spoke about the shocking discovery of children’s remains at the former Kamloops residential school and, while conveying sorrow and solidarity, emphasized the importance of “walking side by side in dialogue and in mutual respect in the recognition of the rights and cultural values of all the sons and daughters of Canada.”

“It is our hope that these forthcoming encounters – and the important collaboration and partnership that has supported the planning – will lead to a shared future of peace and harmony between Indigenous Peoples and the Catholic Church in Canada.”

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Bishop Mark Hagemoen addresses diocesan efforts under Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 18:29

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

On June 29, 2021, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon wrote a letter to the Catholic community about the diocese’s past participation in fundraising under the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) to clarify a recent news report comparing that disappointing effort to the successful fundraising to build a diocesan cathedral. 

 PDF of message from Bishop Mark Hagemoen – LINK

Although not required to join the 2006 IRSS agreement (since there was no residential school located in the diocese or  operated by the diocese), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon voluntarily signed on to the agreement to “be a part of this settlement process and to support its purposes,” noted Bishop Hagemoen.  “I believe this was both because of the history and ongoing commitment throughout the diocese to build relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” he said.

Those who signed the IRSSA, including the diocese of Saskatoon, committed to a number of items, including contributing finances to services and programs to Indigenous survivors, families, and communities, as follows:

  1. Payment of $29 million in cash, which was directed to programs and services und the supervision of First Nations organizations, and to the “Returning to Spirit’ program. The diocese of Saskatoon’s share of this amount was $25,000.
  2. A “services-in-kind” commitment, whereby various community services and programs worth more than $25 million were organized by the various Catholic entities to be provided for Indigenous communities. The diocese of Saskatoon’s services-in-kind contribution to Restorative Ministry was valued at $43,000.
  3. A final fundraising appeal that was titled the “Moving Forward Together” campaign. This campaign was to also involve not only the 50 entities, but all dioceses in Canada, with a goal to raise $25 million. After two diocesan-wide collections were held, the diocese of Saskatoon contributed about $34,000 to this national effort, which ultimately fell short of the $25 million national goal.

“I understand that the leaders of various Catholic dioceses and groups put their efforts behind each component of the campaign. However, they were disappointed by the results,” said Hagemoen.

“If I was to summarize why the efforts yielded this kind of result, I would say that many of our parishioners, like many non-Indigenous Canadians, have been slow to understand the impact and the legacy of the residential school system, and this seems to be reflected in the response at the time,” Hagemoen said.

The bishop added that he would very much support revisiting this fund-raising appeal today. “The discoveries of grave sites at cemeteries near former residential schools has drawn an even greater awareness of the need for an appeal to support the healing of survivors and their families from the legacy of residential schools. I think Catholic members in our diocese and across Canada would respond with a heightened sense of solidarity and support,” he said.

Related Article: Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish holds four-day memorial wake for 215 children found buried at former residential school

Related Article: Bishop Mark Hagemoen message for Indigenous Peoples Day

Related Article: “The campaign that fell well short”

In the meantime, the diocese continues to support reconciliation and healing called for in the TRC final report, he said, listing several of the TRC Calls to Action that the Catholic Church and the diocese have been working on.

“However, there is much left to address in the Calls to Action,” the bishop admitted, citing in particular the call for Pope Francis to come to Canada to apologize to residential school survivors, their families and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that occured in residential schools. 

Bishop Hagemoen said: “I again state my support for such a visit by the Holy Father to Canada, and I believe that an apology from Pope Francis would bring healing to many and would help to further the journey of reconciliation in our Church and our country.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Bishop Hagemoen also reiterated his own apology:  “I deeply regret and apologize that Catholics were part of this system which was designed to separate children from their families and communities and to assimilate them into a culture the featured a colonial attitude and approach. I deeply regret and apologize for the damage done to children at these schools, which for many included neglect and abuse, and I apologize for the deaths that happened at these schools, with children dying far away from mothers, fathers, grandparents and families, and I apologize to the families and the communities who have not been able to honour children’s burial sites.”

In conclusion, the Bishop of Saskatoon expressed his hopes going forward, saying:  “While it is true that the discovery of graves is exposing the wounds and scars from the Indian Residential School legacy which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission revealed – but it is also raising greater awareness of the work, findings and the recommendations of the TRC, and of the great work still ahead for us and our diocese.”

 

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Polish parish welcomes Bishop Hagemoen for Sunday celebration

Sun, 06/27/2021 - 14:13

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Fr. Richard Philiposki, SChr, and the parish community welcomed Bishop Mark Hagemoen to Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Saskatoon June 27 for celebration of Sunday Mass, followed by an outdoor parish gathering at Pike Lake.

The bishop was welcomed with the traditional gifts of salt and bread, which he blessed at the start of Mass, which had parts in both Polish and English.

During the celebration, Bishop Hagemoen expressed appreciation to Fr. Philiposki and his congregation, the Society of Christ, a religious order that has an apostolate ministry to serve Polish Catholic immigrants and their descendants outside of Poland around the world. Ordained 41 years ago, Fr. Philiposki has served as pastor at several parishes in Canada and the United States. He began his ministry in Saskatoon in August 2020.

PHOTOS:

VIDEO of MASS:

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The campaign that fell well short

Sat, 06/26/2021 - 18:51

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] -Catholics can raise money. Pilgrims to St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal drop more than $15 million into the donation box every year. St. Paul’s, the big Catholic hospital in Vancouver, pulls in more than $20 million a year.

But a 2008-13 Catholic fundraising effort to support reconciliation with residential school survivors, their descendents and their communities failed miserably. That failure is being brought up again and again as Canadians re-examine the Church’s role in running residential schools and its commitments to survivors since the system was exposed and shut down in the 1990s.

Over five years, a campaign to raise $25 million to fund reconciliation efforts managed to actually raise only $3.7 million. The history of that $25-million fundraising effort is not well known.

The commitment arose from the 2005 agreement in principle to consolidate and finalize lawsuits against the federal government and churches that ran the schools, known as the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. All together, the lawsuits represented about 15,000 complainants, but the governments’ and the churches’ liability stretched to more than 85,000 survivors of the school system.

The 2005 agreement obligated the 50 Catholic Church entities (mainly religious orders, but also a few dioceses) to pay $29 million in cash, set up a $25-million set of community services and programs and to organize a “best efforts” fundraising campaign to raise another $25 million.

The campaign was called Moving Forward Together. The Catholic groups taking it on kicked in $2 million to hire a team of fundraising professionals. A board was set up to oversee the fundraising effort. It included former Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine, then-Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber, Sr. Donna Geernaert of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax and Inuit leader Mary Simon. The high-priced fundraising professionals went out to corporate Canada and philanthropists to get the fund going.

After five years and just $3.5 million, Weisgerber and his board colleagues pulled the plug on the consultants and tried going directly to the people in the pews. Envelopes were printed and bishops mostly got behind a voluntary collection on the weekend of Dec. 8, 2013. That added the final $200,000.

When the Catholics went back to Judge Neil Gabrielson and explained just how badly things had gone, the judge deemed the best efforts requirement fulfilled.

In the wake of the failure, Moving Forward Together co-ordinator Gerry Kelly went from diocese to diocese to get them involved in reconciliation. This yielded scholarships at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Concordia University in Montreal, funds for Kateri Native Ministry in Ottawa, support for Returning to Spirit retreats across Canada and setting up the Talitha Cum Society to help Indigenous women in Vancouver’s downtown.

The money raised by Moving Forward Together went to the Indigenous-led Legacy of Hope Foundation, which organizes and supports education about the residential school system and Canada’s history of colonization.

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Reconciliation guide arrives at a timely moment

Sat, 06/26/2021 - 08:14

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – Recent developments at an unmarked gravesite near a former residential school in B.C. and at another site in Saskatchewan have prompted many questions about certain pieces of Canadian history and what work can be done to make amends.

Less than one month before word of this gravesite hit the news, the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice released a resource aiming to help guide some of those conversations. Listening to Indigenous Voices launched in English April 28 and French May 4.

“Many people deplore the lack of references to Indigenous Peoples in the history taught in Canadian schools. And still others are looking for ways to become true allies,” wrote Nicole O’Bomsawin, Abenaki activist and anthropologist, in the foreword.

She calls this new resource “an indispensable tool” for people who want to “make a difference today in building bridges across ignorance and racism.”

Listening to Indigenous Voices is a study guide created for small group or classroom study and includes 11 structured sessions with information to read, video links, discussion questions, and project ideas. As the title implies, it takes its cues from personal testimonies and cultural stories of First Nations people.

The guide invites participants to gaze at colourful traditional artwork, maps, and timelines, and read about aspects of Indigenous culture and teachings. It also shares Indigenous perspectives on treaties and a timeline of colonization and resistance.

It addresses issues of clean drinking water, welfare, illness, racism, violence, and wages affecting First Nations people in Canada today and historically, as well as past sins linked to residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, and various Canadian laws including an act in 1872 that excluded Indigenous people (and Chinese Canadians) from voting.

Sections that handle subjects such as sexual abuse or violence are marked with a trigger warning.

The guide describes residential schools as “cultural genocide” perpetuated against First Nations people and quotes statistics from the Truth and Reconciliation process. It has been estimated that 3,200 children died in residential schools between 1869 and 1965, although TRC chair Murray Sinclair has estimated the actual number could be closer to 6,000.

The guide also addresses the Doctrine of Discovery and the phrase terra nullius (Latin for uninhabited land) and how those concepts were used to dispossess Indigenous people from land they lived on.

Syilx Okanagan author and artist Jeannette Armstrong offers some insight into how her people think of the concept of land.
“In our language, the word for our bodies contains the word land,” Armstrong writes. “Thus, in my mind, every time I say that word and I refer to myself, I realize that I am from the land.”

This mindset requires “a way of interacting with each other that is respectful to the land and respectful to each other … We live on the land and we use the land and, in so doing, we impact the land: we can destroy it, or we can love the land and it can love us back.”

The second-last session offers some ways non-Indigenous people can become “allies” with their Indigenous neighbours. It suggests recognizing First Nations people as experts of their own histories, establishing relationships, supporting Indigenous-led action without trying to take control of it, listening, learning, leaving selfish motives behind, and speaking up against racism, among other things.

Educator Nikki Sanchez (who is of Pipil, Maya, Irish, and Scottish background) writes that while the history of relations between First Nations people and colonizers is not the fault of people living today, “it absolutely is your responsibility.”

“What happened – what has been done – is not your fault, but where we find ourselves here together – whether we are Indigenous people, whether we’re Settler people, whether we’re somewhere in between – is work we all need to pick up.”

With 203 First Nations communities living in B.C. today, getting to know our neighbours and gleaning some knowledge about their ways of life and how the past has affected today’s realities is only natural.

“There is much work to be done, or should I say bannock to be kneaded,” writes O’Bomsawin, “and we’ll all have to work at it together.”

Listening to Indigenous Voices was released by religious publisher Novalis with endorsements from TRC commissioner Marie Wilson and Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina. For more information visit www.ltiv.ca.

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Saskatchewan Catholic bishops call for justice after unmarked graves found at another residential school site

Sat, 06/26/2021 - 07:48

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan acknowledged the need for repentance and justice, after a new discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of a former Catholic-run residential school on Cowessess First Nation, east of Regina.

“We offer our condolences but we know that this is not enough and our words must move to concrete action,” the bishops said in a joint statement June 24.

The message addressed to “First Nations, Métis, Inuit communities; families and citizens” was signed by Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Ukrainian Eparchial Bishop Bryan Bayda of Saskatoon, Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon, and Bishop Stephen Hero of Prince Albert.

Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan – PDF

Cowesses First Nation leaders announced at a press conference June 24 that 751 unmarked graves had been discovered at the site of the former Catholic-run Marieval residential school. The announcement followed an earlier discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops residential school in British Columbia.

“With the news this morning of the location of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School at Cowesses First Nation, the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan acknowledge that this experience is heartbreaking and devastating for all – and especially residential school survivors, their families and communities,” wrote the bishops, who pointed to the ongoing need to address the Truth and Reconciliation “Calls to Action” and expressed support for the ongoing investigation of such gravesites.

“We are here to listen to you as you communicate those ways we can walk with you in addressing the Calls to Action, rebuilding relations, addressing issues of justice, and working towards a more just society,” stated the bishops’ message.

“We have heard you telling us that healing and reconciliation can only come after the hard work of listening to the truth, a spirit of repentance, concrete acts of justice, and working with you to bring transformation and healing.”

Earlier, Archbishop Donald Bolen also released a letter to Chief Cadmus Delorme and the people of Cowessess First Nation about the discovery at the site of the former Marieval residential school, located in the Archdiocese of Regina and operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

“The grave site work brings us face to face with the brutal legacy of the Indian Residential School system, a product of a colonialist history which has left so much suffering and intergenerational trauma,” said Bolen in the message to the Cowessess community.

“The operation of the Marieval Residential School at Cowessess left many people deeply wounded by various kinds of abuse. As you have communicated elsewhere, Chief Cadmus, even for those of us who were not there or not involved, it is nonetheless the painful legacy that we need to carry. The incredible burden of the past is still with us, and the truth of that past needs to come out, however painful, as only truth can lead to reconciliation. As you said of the grave site, ‘the truth is there.’ Thank you for your courage as Chief and that of your whole community as you seek out the truth and search for a reset that brings an end to racism and opens a path to justice and to healing,” wrote Bolen.

The archbishop again apologized for the failures and sins of Church leaders and staff in the past and pledged “to do what we can to turn that apology into meaningful concrete acts –  including assisting in accessing information that will help to provide names and information about those buried in unmarked graves – and to stand by you in whatever way you request.”

Downtown cathedral marked with paint

Pain, grief and anger at the recent discoveries has led to memorials and protests, including a June 24 incident at St. Paul Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon, in which the church was marked with red paint and the words “We were children” written on the front doors.

“When people are confronting, when wounds are torn open again, anger and associated emotions are legitimate,” Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen said of the incident. “But we can’t end up in a circle of hate and violence.”

“How do we move forward in a way that is helpful and constructive, and of course honours people’s anger and need to grieve? That’s a journey and a process we need to be patient with,” Hagemoen said.

In a message for Indigenous Peoples Day June 21, Hagemoen also pledged to continue the walk of reconciliation.

“As a bishop and as a citizen, I have learned many things from Indigenous, Inuit and Métis peoples – in fact, they have taught me to be a better bishop and pastor. I pledge that I and our diocese will continue to walk a path of reconciliation and healing,” he said.

“We must walk in love and friendship as sisters and brothers. I again ask us all to renew our ongoing commitment to building relationships of honour and respect, and to continue to take concrete steps on this journey of healing that must involve all of us,” Hagemoen concluded

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Performing arts funding announced for new St. Frances Cree Bilingual School

Sat, 06/26/2021 - 07:42

Submitted by Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana

Reclamation of Indigenous language and revitalization of Cree culture for youth in Saskatoon is getting a boost thanks to an enhanced partnership between Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

At a recent event at St. Frances Cree Bilingual School on McPherson Avenue, members of Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana announced plans to support Indigenous performing arts education at the new St. Frances school that is expected to open in the fall of 2023, on the corner of 7th Street East and Grosvenor Avenue.

“St. Frances Cree Bilingual School is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action and aligns perfectly with Rotary’s belief in the value of friendship and mutual respect in building community,” said Lorne Braithewaite, Nutana Rotary president.

“The Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana has addressed the Calls to Action in a number of ways over the past few years, and we know it will take several generations to arrive at a place of true reconciliation. This project gives us the opportunity to continue our work for the long term.”

“St. Frances has become an award-winning, internationally-recognized Indigenous language and cultural school,” said Diane Boyko, Board of Education chair for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

“I really believe the new facility, and support of programming like we are announcing today, will give the students the support and inspiration they deserve. Music and the arts are tangible ways to both express and experience Indigenous culture. We’re very thankful to have partners like Nutana Rotary to walk with along this journey,” Boyko said.

Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana officials said that they invite everyone — “rotarians and non-rotarians alike”—to support the establishment of Indigenous performing arts education at St. Frances by volunteering, sharing news of the partnership, and through financial contributions.

Parents and children from St. Frances School attended the recent announcement about performing arts funding. (GSCS photo)

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Background Information: St. Frances Cree Bilingual School × Indigenous Arts and Identity Partnership: A Project of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools & Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana

What is it?

A partnership to support Indigenous Performing Arts Education at St. Frances Cree Bilingual School.

How does this partnership address the TRC Calls to Action?

Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana is an ally and supporter of the community development and language retention goals at St. Frances Cree Bilingual School. Rotary was inspired to support a learning focus that will foster the development of Indigenous student voice and identity.

What are the project components?

  • Dramatic Arts: Students will learn Dramatic Arts theory and skills with a focus on Indigenous literary themes.
  • Music: Students will participate in music education with a focus on expression and healing.
  • Performance and Production Technologies: Students will learn the processes and skills to present musical and dramatic performances through performance and production skills.

Why are we focussing on Indigenous Arts?

The arts foster students’ imagination, creativity, and problem solving, enhancing students’ ability to innovate and collaborate. The Rotary Indigenous Arts and Identity Program aims to build student resilience, identity and communication skills by providing students access to diverse Performing Arts learning opportunities.

How will Rotary support the partnership?

  • Community Participation Leadership Forum: Rotary members will collaborate with family and community members to provide program leadership.
  • Partnership and Resource Development: Rotary will help to provide specialized equipment, resource people from artistic communities, and relationships with program partners.
  • Program and Performance Supports: Rotary will play an important role in the production aspects of the program.

How can you assist?

Make a financial contribution to the campaign. Volunteer your time and expertise. Spread the word.

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Religious orders to expand access to residential school records

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 18:51

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – Two Catholic religious orders are committing to make their historical records more accessible in the wake of the Kamloops Indian Residential School discovery.

The Sisters of St. Ann, one of the parties involved in operating Canadian residential schools, have reached an agreement that will see improved access to their records.

The order released a statement June 23 saying they have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal B.C. Museum that will “provide enhanced access” of their “private archival records” to the museum and to the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC.

“We affirm our commitment to collaborate in finding the truth and will assist in the process in whatever way we can,” said president Sister Marie Zarowny.

Museum board chair and acting CEO Daniel Muzyka called increasing Indigenous access to the records of the Sisters of St. Ann a “positive step” along the path of “truth-finding and reconciliation.”

Thanks to the agreement, the parties say the sisters’ records will be made accessible to the Tk’emlúps te Secwe’pemc Nation, which has requested them following the discovery of the remains of 215 bodies in an unmarked graveyard near the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Members of the Sisters of St. Ann taught at a handful of residential schools, including in Kamloops from 1890 to 1970.
The memorandum of understanding comes into effect July 1.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who provided administrators and teachers to the Kamloops residential school (and operated a total of 47 others), pledged in a June 24 statement to “disclose all historical documents maintained by us and in our possession, in accordance with all legislation, about our involvement.”

They said since the apology they gave the First Nations of Canada in 1991, the Oblates have tried to make their historical documents available, with some progress “complicated by issues of provincial and national privacy laws.”

They are seeking guidance from “expert organizations” to sort out what information they can release according to privacy laws and now are promising to do so swiftly, acknowledging delays in this process “can cause ongoing distrust, distress, and trauma to Indigenous peoples.”

The Archdiocese of Vancouver has said all records it holds regarding residential schools were submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2013 and remain available for review.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller repeated his commitment to transparency of records June 2. (Find more information about the archdiocese’s response and reconciliation efforts is at rcav.org/first-nations).

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Bishop announces further pastoral appointments and clergy updates

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 17:09

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Bishop Mark Hagemoen June 25 announced further pastoral appointments and clergy updates, with most changes effective July 31, 2021.

“Please join us in welcoming the new priests to our diocese, continue to pray for those in transition, and for the international clergy as we await their arrival,” Bishop Hagemoen said in his announcement to the diocese. The latest updates follow an earlier round of pastoral appointments and updates released May 21.

PDF – Bishop Hagemoen June 25 announcement – a second round of clergy appointments and updates

PDF – Bishop’s May 21 announcementfirst round of clergy appointments and updates

PASTORS

Fr. Prosper Abotsi

Fr. Prosper Abotsi is appointed Pastor at St. Anthony Parish, Lake Lenore; St. Ann Parish, Annaheim; and St Gregory Parish, St. Gregor. Fr. Abotsi has been serving as the Parochial Administrator of this cluster of parishes since January 2021, and has been serving as the Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Humboldt since 2019.

 

Fr. Benjamin Ezekwudo

Fr. Benjamin Ezekwudo, is appointed Pastor at St. Michael Parish, Cudworth; Canadian Martyrs Parish, Middle Lake; and St. Benedict Parish, St. Benedict. SK. Fr. Ezekwudo is from the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria, where he has worked in high-school administration and has been serving as a priest for 11 years. He is expected to arrive in the diocese and begin his appointment in August.

Fr. Daniel Louh, SMA

Fr. Daniel Louh, SMA, is appointed Pastor at Sts-Martyrs-Canadiens (La paroisse des Sts-Martyrs-Canadiens) in Saskatoon effective July 31; and Associate Pastor at St. Mary’s Parish, Saskatoon, effective Dec. 4, 2021, Fr. Louh will be assisting at St. Paul Co-Cathedral until December. He arrived in the diocese on May 9, 2021, and is from the Society of African Missions after serving as Pastor in several parishes and African countries of Niger, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Liberia.

Fr. Jean Baptist Murhumwa

Fr. Jean Baptiste Murhumwa, is appointed Pastor at Sts. Donatien et Rogatien, Prud’homme; St. Denis, St. Denis; and St. Philippe Neri, Vonda. Fr. Murhumwa will also provide sacramental ministry to St. Thomas More College. Fr. Murhumwa has served as Pastor of Sts. Martyrs- Canadiens, Saskatoon, since his arrival in the diocese in 2015.

 

Fr. Andrew Wychucki

Fr. Andrew Wychucki, who is returning from a one-year sabbatical, is appointed Pastor at St. Aloysius, Allan; St. Alphonse, Viscount; and St. Mary, Colonsay. Fr. Wychucki will also provide ministry to the prisons.

ASSOCIATE PASTORS

Fr. John Ezeoruonye

Fr. John Ezeoruonye is appointed Associate Pastor at St. Augustine Parish, Humboldt. Fr. Ezeoruonye is from the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria, and has served as a priest for 19 years. He is expected to arrive in August.

Fr. Michael Magaji

Fr. Michael Magaji is appointed Associate Pastor at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Saskatoon, effective Dec. 4, 2021, or later date of arrival. Fr. Magaji is from the Diocese of Kafanchan, Nigeria where he has served as a priest for 19 years in various assignments including Episcopal Vicar.

 

Fr. Alfredo Medina Ramos, CSsR

Fr. Alfredo Medina Ramos, CSsR, is appointed Associate Pastor at St. Mary Parish, Saskatoon upon arrival (anticipated in July) until December, 2021. Fr. Alfredo was ordained to the priesthood May 27, 2021, in Mexico, and exercised diaconal ministry at St. Mary Parish this past year.

BISHOP DELEGATES

Fr. Ken Beck – Delegate for Retired Clergy

Fr. Gerard Cooper – Delegate for Finance

 

Fr. Peter Ebidero – Delegate for Fidei Donum  Priests

 

Fr. Joseph Salihu – Delegate for Ecumenism and Interfaith

 

 

 

Fr. Binu Rathappillil, VC – Delegate for Clergy Formation

 

GREATER SASKATOON CATHOLIC SCHOOLS (GSCS)

Fr. Stefano Penna –

Delegate for GSCS Board, Teacher and Staff Support

 

Fr. Matthew Ramsay –

Delegate for GSCS Religious Curriculum and Spiritual Direction Support

 

CLERGY UPDATES

Fr. Martin Augustin, SDB (Manickanamparambil) was appointed by his bishop to the Christ the King Syro-Malabar Catholic Community as of May 1, 2021, in place of Fr. Antony Plogen who was given a new assignment in London, Ontario. The Syro- Malabar Community worships out of St. Michael Parish, Saskatoon.

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Priest’s statue removed from Saskatchewan cemetery

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 08:18

By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen is honouring a request made by the Star Blanket Cree Nation to remove the statue of Fr. Joseph Hugonard from the Sacred Heart Catholic cemetery in Lebret, Sask.

Hugonard founded the Lebret Indian Industrial Residential School in 1884. The school was in operation until 1998, and it was helmed by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Grey Nuns until the early 1970s.

Star Blanket Chief Michael Starr told CBC News that his community was “communicating with the local parish and the archbishop” and those talks bore fruit as “they’re going to move that statue away, to take it down.”

The archdiocese in a statement said the group of “affected parties, which includes Star Blanket First Nation, the town and the church, have agreed that the statue will be removed.”

It went on to state that “these conversations have been greatly helped by Indigenous members of the parish in Lebret, who have been instrumental in facilitating dialogue.”

On June 21, the statue was officially removed and placed in storage. A key component of the discussions yet to come is determining where the statue goes next. There was an initial inclination to move it to the Lebret Museum, but, according to the Archdiocese of Regina, “there are concerns that the museum’s structure would not be sufficient to bear the weight.”

According to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), the Hugonard statue was situated at the entrance of the residential school until 1990, when it transferred to the cemetery.

The FSIN is on board with the removal of the statue.

“The statue of Fr. Hugonard is a reminder of a horrific time for many First Nations People,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a June 11 statement. “The statue needs to be removed to ensure our people are not traumatized. This statue is a distasteful representation of the residential school era. In no way should that be commemorated. Acts of genocide were committed against First Nations children at the hands of Church officials.”

On June 18 the Saskatchewan government announced it would provide the FSIN with $2 million to aid its research into undocumented residential school deaths.

Meanwhile in Calgary, there appears to be a strong desire to change the name of Bishop Grandin High School.

Bishop Vital Grandin, the first Bishop of Edmonton (then known as St. Albert diocese) is widely regarded as a chief builder of the residential school system and the Catholic Church itself in Western Canada.

The Calgary Catholic School District (CSSD) invited parents, students, staff and other stakeholders to engage in a survey on the “ThoughtExchange” platform June 4-8. It was revealed that 79 per cent of the close to 1,600 participants agreed the name of the school should be changed.

One of the supporting comments reads that “renaming the school helps to heal,” and that “we should all be committed to fixing the wrongs of the past, and that includes removing triggers for people’s & family’s past traumas.”

A rare comment expressing support for the name remaining claims removing Bishop Grandin as the namesake “does more damage than good.” This commenter also wrote, “let’s not sweep history into the closet. Let it remain public as a lesson into our past. Hiding does not heal. Acknowledgment, with truth, is best.”

The final decision is expected to be announced by CCSD at the end of the month.

Edmonton earlier this month agreed to change the name of the Grandin LRT station and to remove a mural of Grandin displayed in the station.

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Hundreds of graves discovered at Saskatchewan residential school site

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 15:12

By Mickey Conlon, The Catholic Register

[Cowessess First Nation – Canadian Catholic News] – The Cowessess First Nation will put a name to each of the hundreds of bodies found at the unmarked graves on the former Marieval Indian Residential School, vows Chief Cadmus Delorme.

“We will put a headstone and a grave to each of them,” Delorme said at a June 24 news conference to announce the discovery of hundreds of bodies on the southeast Saskatchewan First Nations’ lands.

The chief announced the discovery of up to 751 unmarked graves at the site of the Catholic residential school on its territory, the news coming almost a month after the discovery of 215 children’s bodies buried at another residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

The graves at Marieval — which Delorme said were not part of a mass grave — were discovered by ground-penetrating radar which the First Nation, with the help of Saskatchewan Polytechnic, had been using since earlier this month on the grounds of the cemetery. He also said it’s not yet certain if all the bodies are children from the school. Delorme also stressed there could be a 10-per-cent margin of error, so he was working on the assumption there are “over 600” bodies buried at the site.

“We always knew there were graves here” through oral history passed along from elders in the community, he said.

The Marieval school, located about 140 kilometres east of Regina, opened in 1898 and was run by Catholic missionaries and funded by the federal government until 1968, when the government took over full control before handing over responsibility for the school to the Cowessess First Nation in 1987. It closed in 1997 and was demolished in 1999.

The graves had been marked in the past but in 1960 the headstones were taken down by Catholic Church representatives, said Delorme.

“We didn’t remove the headstones, that’s a crime in this country,” he said.

By putting a name to each and every person buried there, “we want to make sure we keep that place so we can heal,” said Delorme.

“A lot of the pain we see in our people comes from there,” elder Florence Sparvier, a knowledge keeper in the Cowessess community, said at the press conference.

Sparvier attended the Marieval school and recalled how the children were not treated very well by the Oblates and the nuns who ran and taught at the school.

“They made us believe we didn’t have souls,” the 80-year-old Sparvier said.

Regina Archbishop Don Bolen called the news of the unmarked graves “overwhelming.”

“I can only imagine the pain and waves of emotion that you and your people are experiencing right now,” he said in a statement addressed to Delorme and the Cowessess First Nation following the news conference. “The incredible burden of the past is still with us and the truth of that past needs to come out, however painful, as only truth can lead to reconciliation.”

Bolen noted that Delorme had first approached him about the cemetery three years ago, when they began discussions about fulfilling one of the “calls to action” in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission — to assist First Nations with residential school gravesites. In 2019, the Archdiocese of Regina paid $70,000 to help Cowessess identify unmarked graves and add fences and trees to the Cowessess Cemetery.

“I know that apologies seem a very small step as the weight of past suffering comes into greater light,” said Bolen, “but I extend that apology again and pledge to do what we can to turn that apology into meaningful concrete acts — including assessing information that will help to provide name and information about those buried in unmarked graves — and to stand by you in whatever way you request.”

The discoveries of the Kamloops and Marieval graves — “and there are more to come,” said Chief Bobby Cameron, chief of the FSIN (Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations) — have pushed forward the calls to enact true reconciliation.

“These stories will come out,” said Cameron. “Canada will have to work with us on reconciliation. Our people deserve more than apologies and sympathies. We deserve justice.”

Cameron added: “There must be immediate change.” He called on governments “to work with us — and they are.” That includes releasing all records pertaining to residential schools.

Archbishop Bolen has visited the Cowessess grave site, said Delorme, “and has committed to what we want.”

“We have full faith the Roman Catholic Church will release our records,” he said, while also acknowledging the federal government “can move quicker but they are making progress.”

Delorme also called for a papal apology, one of the Calls to Action from the TRC report, a call that has reverberated across the nation since the Kamloops discovery.

“The Pope needs to apologize for what has happened…. an apology is one stage of many in the healing journey.”

Letter from Archbishop Donald Bolen to Chief Cadmus and the People of Cowessess First Nation – LINK

Message from Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan – LINK

Related: Apology part of Bishop Hagemoen message for Indigenous Peoples Day – LINK

Related: Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Saskatoon, holds four-day memorial wake for children who died at residential school – LINK

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Nitōhtem Partnership signed between Catholic school division and Wanuskewin

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 13:55

By Derrick Kunz, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools

On May 31, 2021, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) and Wanuskewin Heritage Park Authority (WHPA) signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding aptly titled Nitōhtem, meaning: “my friend.”

The purpose of this MOU is to facilitate collaboration and to aid in the creation of research opportunities and programs that support First Nations land-based learning and innovative teaching practices.

The foundation of this MOU is to undertake activities that will support land-based learning and the access to Indigenous science as well anthropological, and geological learning practices that are oriented within Indigenous natural law.

This collaboration will support children’s access to the WHPA site, and will facilitate enhanced learning experiences for kindergarten – Grade 12 students from GSCS schools. The agreement seeks to remove social and developmental impediments for children by establishing effective and respectful working relationships.

 

“I was thrilled to see all the good work that is going to happen,” said Diane Boyko, Board of Education Chair at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. “It only happens because of relationship, and relationship is something that both the school division and Wanuskewin has had in common for a very long time.”

“We’ve been part of trading partners for 6,000 years amongst different tribes, and this trade now extends to the newcomers,” said Felix Thomas, Board Chair for Wanuskewin Heritage Park. “The partnership, the friendship and the relationships that are built here will thrive for another 6,000 years because of champions like the Catholic school board.”

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Pope Francis to elderly: The Church needs your prayers like ‘a deep breath’

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 13:39

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

“Think about it: what is our vocation today, at our age? To preserve our roots, to pass on the faith to the young and to care for the little ones. Never forget this,” the 84-year-old pope said.

He said that it does not matter how old one is, whether one works or not, and whether one has a family or is alone.

“Because there is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren. You just need to set out and undertake something new,” he commented.

In his message ahead of the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on July 25, Pope Francis referred to his own advanced age, and quoted his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom he called “a saintly elderly person who continues to pray and work for the Church.”

“‘The prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it perhaps more effectively than the frenetic activity of many others.’ [Benedict] spoke those words in 2012, towards the end of his pontificate,” Francis said. “There is something beautiful here. Your prayer is a very precious resource: a deep breath that the Church and the world urgently need.”

“I was called to become the Bishop of Rome when I had reached, so to speak, retirement age and thought I would not be doing anything new,” he noted. “The Lord is always — always — close to us. He is close to us with new possibilities, new ideas, new consolations, but always close to us. You know that the Lord is eternal; he never, ever goes into retirement.”

In January, Pope Francis established the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, to take place annually on the fourth Sunday of July, close to the feast of the grandparents of Jesus, Sts. Anne and Joachim.

This year the celebration will fall on Sunday, July 25, 2021, and Pope Francis will offer a Mass with the elderly in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the occasion.

The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life has assembled a “pastoral kit” for parishes and dioceses with suggestions for how to celebrate the first grandparents’ day.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the dicastery’s prefect, said during a press conference June 22 that the day “is meant to be a great celebration. And truly, we need it. After such a difficult year, we need to celebrate grandparents, grandchildren, young, and old.”

The theme of this year’s grandparents’ day is “I am with you always,” taken from Matthew 28:20.

“This is the promise the Lord made to his disciples before he ascended into heaven,” Francis explained in his message. “They are the words that he repeats to you today, dear grandfathers and grandmothers, dear elderly friends.”

“‘I am with you always’ are also the words that I, as Bishop of Rome and an elderly person like yourselves, would like to address to you on this first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly,” he wrote. “The whole Church is close to you — to us — and cares about you, loves you and does not want to leave you alone.”

Pope Francis noted that his message came after the difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic, which “swept down on us like an unexpected and furious storm,” and was a time of trial especially for the elderly.

“Many of us fell ill, others died or experienced the death of spouses or loved ones, while others found themselves isolated and alone for long periods,” he said. “The Lord is aware of all that we have been through in this time. He is close to those who felt isolated and alone, feelings that became more acute during the pandemic.”

The pope encouraged people to visit their grandparents or other elderly or sick people, saying that they would be like “angels” to them.

He also urged the elderly to pray with the psalms and to read a page of the Gospel every day.

“We will be comforted by the Lord’s faithfulness. The Scriptures will also help us to understand what the Lord is asking of our lives today. For at every hour of the day (cf. Matthew 20:1-16) and in every season of life, he continues to send laborers into his vineyard,” he said.

As part of the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, the Vatican has also granted a plenary indulgence to those who participate, either by attending a related spiritual event or by physically or virtually visiting the elderly, sick, or disabled on July 25.

An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins that have already been forgiven. The usual conditions for a plenary indulgence, which must be met, are that the individual be in the state of grace by the completion of the acts, have complete detachment from sin, and pray for the pope’s intentions. The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion, up to about 20 days before or after the indulgenced act.

The Apostolic Penitentiary said that the indulgence could also be gained by the elderly, sick, and anyone who cannot leave their homes for a serious reason, by uniting spiritually to the spiritual events of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, “offering to the Merciful God their prayers, pains or sufferings of their lives,” while following the words of the pope on that day through television, radio, or the internet.

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Restoring Indigenous languages considered a step in “righting past wrongs” of residential schools

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 13:24

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

When news of the 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Residential School landed in Edmonton, an Elder at the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples wanted to put out a statement in Cree. The problem is that so many survivors of the residential school system lost their language when they were children in the schools.

So the Edmonton Elder turned to Sacred Heart pastor and Oblate missionary Fr. Susai Jesu to translate the statement from English.

Jesu is from India, where he spoke the tribal languages of the sub-continent. When he got to Canada, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate gave him a year to concentrate on learning Cree. It’s a humbling and delicate thing for him now to be asked to help his parishioners express themselves in their own language. He gave it his best shot but asked the elder who brought him the request to check it with Cree elders who may speak other dialects.

Since leaving the Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay communities 700 kilometres north of Regina, Sask., to become pastor of Sacred Heart more than a year ago, Jesu has placed as much emphasis and energy as he can on language-centred programming at the parish. There is regular recitation of the rosary in Cree, plus Cree and Dene language courses at the parish tied in with study of Indigenous spirituality.

“An action plan is emphasizing and putting effort into language and teachings,” Jesu told The Catholic Register. “That, at least in my heart, I have taken seriously since coming here.”

Related: “Revitalizing languages key to implementing United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples” – LINK

Related: “Helping the Catholic Church rediscover and protect Indigenous languages” – LINK

Could Catholics across Canada offer help to Indigenous communities fighting to retain their languages? “For me, the bigger question would be how could we fund it,” Jesu said.

“Reparations could be language learning,” said the retired Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas, Archbishop Emeritus Sylvain Lavoie. “That could be as good a place to start as any. Helping people find their buried children is one, but also help learning their language.”

Lavoie spent two years trying to learn Cree but starting in his 60s and balancing his duties as a bishop, he found it difficult.

But he recognizes how deeply connected language and culture are. Reversing the effects of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called a “cultural genocide” will require repairing the damage done to Indigenous languages.
From funding language immersion programs to setting up university chairs for Indigenous linguists, there’s no shortage of ways Canadian Catholics might serve Indigenous communities trying to recover their language, Lavoie said.

Cree language guide and former Oblate missionary Steve Andreas, who has designed and taught courses in Cree at Blue Quills University, recently proposed a $200,000 video and audio media project in support of Cree language and culture.

“Governments and sadly to say bishops (some I have asked in the past) and religious congregations who worked for generations in residential schools (some I have asked in the past as well) ‘like the ideas’ but don’t always connect the dots,” Andreas said in an e-mail.

Andreas cautioned against a piecemeal approach that would simply add language recovery to an atonement checklist for Canadians.

“Having respect is of utmost importance as a beginning step for the Catholic Church,” he said.

Land, culture, the environment and language are all of a piece for most Indigenous people.

“Certainly the revitalization of Indigenous languages is important, but it has to be seen in the context of what language really means,” Andreas said. “It is not an isolated topic. It is interconnected with everything that is sacred and profound… The language of a nation is not something in isolation. It connects and carries the ancient ancestral knowledges, carries the ceremonial knowledge, it is spiritual and deeply tied to culture and identity. It is sacred because it comes from the sacred.”

For reconciliation plans to be taken seriously, the Church will have to be engaged in a range of issues, said Andreas.

“How about the Catholic Church especially using their moral authority for putting pressure on governments to honour the treaty right to education and to stand in solidarity, supporting the initiative of original, sovereign nations of this land to receiving the funding to create unique, Indigenous-led immersion educational centres… without having to be under the authority of the Catholic Church,” Andreas said.

Canadian Catholics don’t have time for endless agonizing over how and when to address the residential school history, said Andreas.

“Now is the time to embrace this opportunity to make amends,” he said. “Restitution is necessary, not merely sympathies and apologies. We must make things right — right the wrongs. That’s how good relationships are built and restored.”

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