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

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Retreat! When running away is for the win

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 13:07

ThinkCatholic

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?

Nope.

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,
Amen
St Kateri, pray for us.

(Find “ThinkCatholic” by Ryan LeBlanc online at thinkcatholic.weebly.com )

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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:  uwitness2family@skeparchy.org

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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STM Academic Mass includes investiture of new president

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 15:06

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Dr. Carl Still, PhD, was officially installed as the 12th president of St. Thomas More College Sept. 29, 2019 during an annual Academic Mass.

Still, who joined the philosophy department at STM in 1995, and later served as department head, also served as dean of STM College from 2006 to 2016, and served as interim president after the retirement of Dr. Terrence Downey in 2018. The college’s board of governors subsequently appointed Still to serve as president of STM for a five-year term, effective May 1, 2019.

Dr. Gertrude Rompré, Director of Mission and Ministry for St. Thomas More College welcomed those gathered for the celebration. Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided at Mass. Special guests included three members of the Basilian order, which first established the federated Catholic College at the University of Saskatchewan in the 1930s: Fr. Ron Griffin, CSB; Fr. Terry Kersch, CSB; and Fr. George Smith, CSB (STM’s 10th president). Fr. André Lalach of the STM chaplaincy team and Fr. Sami Helewa, SJ, of Campion College in Regina also concelebrated Mass.

Harry Lafond, STM Scholar in Indigenous Education, introduced Elders Patricia and A.J. Felix who led prayers on behalf of the new president.

The investiture of the Catholic college’s 12th president began with a smudging ceremony introduced by Harry Lafond, STM Scholar in Indigenous Education, with prayers for Dr. Still led by Elders Patricia and A. J. Felix of Sturgeon Lake First Nation, who are members of STMs Advisory Circle on Indigenous Spirituality and Reconciliation.

Marie Stack, Chair of the STM Board of Governors then asked Dr. Still to pledge himself to the mission of St. Thomas More College “in light of its commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition, inspired by St. Thomas More, Blessed John Henry Newman and the charism of the Basilian Fathers.”

Dr. Still also committed himself to work to create an inclusive community at STM, to promote a partnership of learning and growth with students “which addresses the synthesis of faith and reason in all aspects of the human condition,” to foster the creative discovery of truth and its open dissemination, and “to share in Christ’s service to the people of God,” ensuring that the efforts of the college remain directed to the good of all humanity.

The new president was then vested with the academic gown of the STM College president.

The annual Academic Mass also included the commissioning of the wider St. Thomas More College community by Bishop Mark Hagemoen. Addressing students, staff, members of the worshipping community, board of governors, the STM corporation, alumni and friends, the bishop asked to community to also re-affirm their commitment to the mission and work of St. Thomas More College for the coming year.

Gallery:

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Video: Bishop Mark Hagemoen in conversation with four young adults about “Christus Vivit”

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 16:23
Addressing the themes, messages and challenges of Pope Francis’ post-Synod Apostolic Exhortation – “Christus Vivit” (Christ is Alive)

Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon recently sat down with four young adults to discus Christus Vivit – Pope Francis’ message to youth, which came out of the “Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment” held in October 2018.

Full video:

Pope Francis writes: “I have let myself be inspired by the wealth of reflections and conversations that emerged from last year’s Synod. I cannot include all those contributions here, but you can read them in the Final Document. In writing this letter, though, I have attempted to summarize those proposals I considered most significant. In this way, my words will echo the myriad voices of believers the world over who made their opinions known to the Synod. Those young people who are not believers, yet wished to share their thoughts, also raised issues that led me to ask new questions.” (Christus Vivit #4)

Participants in the video conversation with Bishop Hagemoen are:  

Video Excerpts:

To assist in viewing and in using the video for discussion of “Christus Vivit,” Bishop Hagemoen’s conversation with four young adults is also available in nine short sections (click on title):

Part 1 – Introduction / General Impressions of “Christus Vivit” (6:30)

Part 2 – Characteristics of the Young / Respect for Elders (5:57)

Part 3 – Priorities and Hope / The Saints (9:06)

Part 4 – Synodality and its Meaning for Youth Ministry (7:14)

Part 5 – The Sexual Abuse Crisis (7:57)

Part 6 – Section 143 – “Live!” / Human Sexuality (4:43)

Part 7 – Youth Ministry and “Christus Vivit” (9:22)

Part 8 – Vocation and Discernment and “Christus Vivit” (8:07)

Part 9 – Themes in “Christus Vivit” (6:52)

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Olive Branch Marriage and Family Ministry will accompany those dealing with separation and divorce

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 13:58

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Madeline and Peter Oliver of Saskatoon have established Olive Branch Marriage and Family Ministry to assist those who are navigating separation or divorce, in a vision inspired and formed in the context of the 2015 Synod on the Family and Pope Francis’ follow-up document Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).

“We accompany individuals and families in a non-judgmental posture that involves healing and transformation as they navigate the experience of separation and divorce.” – Mission statement, Olive Branch Marriage and Family Ministry

“Madeline and I have prayerfully been reading Amoris Laetitia one little piece at a time, reflecting on it to see what it is that Francis is speaking into the reality of marriage,” says Peter, describing the inspiration for the Olive Branch ministry.

Madeline also notes: “In the document Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis says that we need to set up centres of mediation and reconciliation. That is what we are proposing with the Olive Branch.”

Earlier this year, at the suggestion of Bishop Mark Hagemoen, the couple gathered an advisory committee that helped to clarify their vision for the ministry. The advisory committee included Fr. Peter Ebidero and Fr. Matthew Ramsay from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, as well as “four lay people who brought the wisdom of their experiences with marriage and divorce to the committee,” describes Peter.

“That was an excellent process, really trying to refine what it is we were about,” he says, highlighting the mission statement generated by the committee: “We accompany individuals and families in a non-judgmental posture that involves healing and transformation as they navigate the experience of separation and divorce.”

The Olivers are intent upon reaching out as a pastoral presence and a resource to those who are separating or divorcing, in a spirit of respect and accompaniment, while honouring the Church’s teachings on the sacrament of marriage.

“What the Synod on the Family began to talk about and what Pope Francis has talked about in Amoris Laetitia is to engage people where they are, under an umbrella of gradualism,” describes Peter. “We don’t give up on the ideal – the indissolubility of marriage – but we meet and respect people in the reality of their lives, and try to help them to find a way forward a way that is a response to the will of God, a way that speaks into their reality, and invites the possibility of listening to each other, and listening to the Spirit’s action in their lives.”

The ministry envisioned is unique in many ways, adds Peter, saying the couple has not been able to find anything similar in terms of Catholic ministry being offered in other areas of Canada or the United States. The Olive Branch will not provide marriage counselling or offer legal advice but rather will offer perspective and a guiding presence, always with an eye to healing and transformation, and to what God is calling each couple to in the midst of their difficult situation.

Logo for the new ministry: “We made the decision to call ourselves the ‘Olive Branch’ – there is life in that, and the hand is an expression of support – and it is ‘Marriage and Family Ministry’ because it is grounded in the value and integrity of marriage.” – The Olivers

The Olivers also stress that the vision for the Olive Branch ministry is to accompany people as they do their own navigating through their difficult situation. “We would offer an opportunity to slow things down and ask ‘what needs to happen here, what have you looked at, have you considered the possibility of reconciliation,” describes Peter.

“Perhaps they don’t know about things like Retrouvaille (a program for couples struggling in their marriage) or other different options, or more positive ways to address the situation,” adds Madeline, noting that the legal process is not by nature healing or reconciling.

“There are so many realities unfolding in the lives of couples who are moving toward divorce,” observes Peter. “It would be fair to say that great numbers of those individuals feel judged by their encounter with the Church  – or they take shame onto themselves and make a decision to avoid Church.”

The result, says Madeline, is that often the Church is not part of this painful journey. “If your spouse dies, there is a funeral and people bring casseroles, offer support; there is a huge grieving, and the Church is part of that. But if you and your spouse break up, there is nothing. Yet you and your spouse have had a deeply grieving situation that is not recognized, is not honoured or acknowledged.”

Located at Queen’s House in Saskatoon, the Olive Branch ministry is being sponsored by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In a letter of support for the ministry, Oblate Provincial, Fr. Ken Thorson, OMI, wrote: “Peter and Madeline’s proposal has touched our hearts and reminds us of the missionary call issued by the Church at its highest levels.”

Divorce was also a reality for St. Eugene de Mazenod, founder of the Oblates, said Peter, noting that Mazenod’s parents were divorced, and so much of his ministry to the marginalized grew from his own family’s suffering.

Reflecting on working together as a couple, Madeline says: “We are excited about being able to offer this ministry, to be present to people, wherever they find themselves in their struggle in life – and it is a natural fit for us to work together.”

Peter adds that the new Olive Branch ministry is an opportunity for the two to respond to the challenge of living the sacrament of their own marriage. “The sacrament invites us not to just be a presence to our families and a presence to each other, but also a presence to the world,”

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For more information about Olive Branch Marriage and Famly Ministry, contact Peter and Madeline Oliver, Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal, 601 Taylor Street West, Saskatoon, SK; (306) 361-9318 or (306) 260-6213; pmolivebranch@gmail.ca  or see the website: www.olivebranchministry.ca

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Growing up near Mother Teresa: “To us, she was already a saint”

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 15:51

By Agnieszka Ruck, B.C. Catholic

Canadian Catholic News

[Vancouver – CCN] – He was about 10 years old when he first met St. Teresa of Calcutta.

Hedley Morris grew up attending the first Sunday school opened by the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. Back then, Mother Teresa was a common sight on the streets of his neighbourhood.

“When we were growing up, to us she was already a saint. She was doing such good work,” said Morris. “You could see the holiness and dedication. It was so obvious.”

He would often see the Missionaries of Charity, in their iconic white saris with blue stripes, reciting the Rosary as they walked down the street. Later, as he grew up, Morris would hear objections hurled at the work the sisters were doing and speak in their defence.

The Feast Day of St. Mother Teresa is marked on Sept. 5.

“Jesus and his followers had his detractors, and so did she,” he said. “My brother and I always said to her detractors: ‘Walk in her shoes for one month, in the humility of Calcutta, and then you will change your mind. After that month, stay back when a monsoon hits. And if you still have anything bad to say about her, then you are really hard-hearted.’”

He moved to Canada in 1981 and is now a member of St. Paul’s Parish in Richmond, BC, but he never let go of his admiration for the woman who changed his hometown and the world.

“She was a living example of God’s love. She was a conduit, and a very good one at that.”
Since their foundress was canonized three years ago, the Missionaries of Charity serving in Vancouver have made rare exceptions to their otherwise silent service among the poor. On one day a year they offer a banquet after Mass on or near her feast day Sept. 5.

Morris arrived for that special event this year with his wife, a woman not from Calcutta but with a strong devotion to the city’s famous saint.

“I pray to her every day,” said Teresa. She said she was given the name Theresa when she was baptized as an infant, but changed the spelling to Teresa some years ago. She carries a prayer card with an image of Mother Teresa everywhere she goes.

“She’s a really good example of charity and love, so I just pray to her so that I can be a little bit like her. Not all, but a little bit.”

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, who celebrated the Mass, said in his homily Mother Teresa showed the world that sainthood isn’t about doing extraordinary acts or elaborate gestures.

“Mother Teresa was able to do much good to those in greatest need, for she saw in every man and woman the face of Jesus Christ,” he said.

“She knew that we are all willing to love in the abstract – even the poor, sick, addicted, disabled – but we draw back in the concrete, before the flesh and blood people on the street, the sick in our communities, and the lonely in our families,” he said. Then, quoting her: “It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home.’”

He also described Mother Teresa as a “contemporary witness” to the dignity of human life. “We honour her memory when we accompany, respect, and console the suffering and dying among us.”

Local Missionaries of Charity singing at Mass. (Photo by Agnieszka Ruck, BC Catholic – CCN)

Honouring Mother Teresa, whether in life or after her canonization, has always been a joyful event for Sister Christena Angela Barwa, MC.

The Missionary of Charity said she always knew she wanted to become a sister, as four of her aunts were nuns. But it was during her high school years, after she read a book about Mother Teresa’s work, that she caught a six-hour bus to a mission run by the woman and announced she wanted to join.

The sisters kindly told her to go home and finish her high school studies before making such a big decision. She did just that.

As a novice, she was deeply moved by recollections led by Mother Teresa. “She used to tell: ‘Be only all for Jesus through Mary. Cling to Mary, she is your spiritual mother. She will guide you. She will lead you. She will direct you. Nothing to worry about. The first is to be faithful to your vocation.’ This most inspired me.”

When the sisters learned that Mother Teresa, who was often travelling, was coming to visit the convent, it became full of joy.

“When Mother was coming, everybody would know,” she said. “When Mother was coming, all the sisters, it didn’t matter what they were doing, they would leave all the work. The bell was ringing, and Mother was coming in. The big black board, they would draw a picture and flowers and a welcome. Mother, you could see how she enjoyed it. Everyone started singing and rejoicing.”

Mother Teresa visited the Archdiocese of Vancouver in 1988. She was canonized a saint of the Catholic Church in 2016.

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Historic central Alberta church vandalized

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 15:40

By Kyle Greenham, Grandin Media

Canadian Catholic News

[Edmonton – CCN] – Police are investigating after a historic Catholic church in central Alberta was vandalized and priceless items were destroyed.

The front doors of St. John the Baptist Church, 120 kilometres south of Edmonton, were pried open during the break-in. The head of a 100-year-old statue of the baby Jesus in his mother’s arms was severed. A statue of St. John the Baptist, the tabernacle, a couple of vases and roughly 20 candle holders were also damaged.

“I was in disbelief when I heard what happened,” said Liza McKenzie, administrative secretary for several rural Alberta parishes including St. John the Baptist Church. “It’s so far from anything. There’s no way someone could just happen to come upon it. And to know they broke our statues, it’s just so hard to believe.”

The break-in occurred some time between Sept. 18, when workers cleaned up the cemetery grounds, and Sept. 22, when RCMP were notified.

Laurie Everson reported the incident to police after noticing the church’s doors were wide open. She was visiting the neighbouring cemetery.

“It was so sad to see,” said Everson. “I just can’t believe that someone would come in just to damage stuff in a church. They didn’t take anything, they just wanted to bust everything up. Some of those statues were so old and so nice to have.”

Police say there isn’t much that they can do without witnesses or reports of suspicious activity, said Bernie Szott who lives in Daysland, close to the church. “We don’t have a clue really who could have done this.”

St. John the Baptist Church was built in 1910 and closed in 1987. A single Mass is held at the church every year around the Nativity of St. John the Baptist feast day on June 24.

Rev. Carlos Nunez, who celebrates the annual Mass, has asked for prayers that police will find those responsible for the vandalism or that they will turn themselves in.

Church vandalism is still relatively rare in the Archdiocese of Edmonton, but crime in rural areas has been a growing concern in Alberta.

In October, Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church, east of Nisku, AB, was broken into and vandalized. In April, a thief was caught on camera at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Red Deer.

“It’s sad that people would do these kinds of things,” said archdiocesan spokesperson Lorraine Turchansky. “This highlights the need for us to be more vigilant.”

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Canadian bishops gather for annual plenary Sept. 23-27: meeting to make their voices heard

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 14:30
At a time when the ‘moral fabric’ of the country is changing, Canadian bishops grapple with confronting a post-Christian worlddview

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Cornwall, Ontario – CCN] – Religious persecution, the continuing fallout from past sexual abuse, reconciliation with First Nations and an ongoing commitment to “our missionary zeal”, were among the grand themes that emerged at the start of the annual Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) Sept. 23, 2019.

At the annual meeting, which continues until Sept. 27 at the NAV Centre in Cornwall, ON, CCCB President Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil stressed that although Canada is seen around the world as setting a good example on human rights, recent government policies at all levels and recent court rulings “have shown contempt for those moral beliefs of Christians which run counter to the thrust of other, ostensibly more progressive, social views.”

“The moral fabric of our country is well in the process of being reshaped,” Bishop Gendron said, citing the Ontario court of appeal’s unanimous decision to uphold a decision that overrides conscientious objections in medicine and require doctors to make effective referrals for euthanasia or abortion.

“While moral setbacks such as these are reason for deep concern, it remains important as faith leaders to make our voices heard,” he said. “We all recognize the need to gain a better grasp of the philosophical undercurrents which give almost exclusive authority to a post-Christian worldview.

“When the governments and courts of this land lead their citizens down morally erroneous paths, it is incumbent on us as shepherds in Canada to provide our flock with additional spiritual and intellectual resources,” he said.

While he lamented the moral reshaping underway, he did not shy away from addressing two large issues that the Catholic Church is dealing with – past sexual abuse of the young and reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

Addressing the issue of sexual abuse

“Perhaps nothing has hurt our credibility as teachers and witnesses of the Gospel more than sexual abuse committed by clergy, religious and laity, and its devastating effects on victims, their families and ecclesial communities, which we continue to feel deeply,” Gendron said in his President’s Report during the first session of the Plenary Assembly.

After asking how “we can repair the enormous damage?” he said: “The CCCB and individual bishops in their respective dioceses have taken up this challenge and initiative with seriousness of purpose.”

He added that as a follow up to last year’s Plenary Assembly, a Standing Committee for Responsible Ministry and the Protection of Minors and Adults has been established and will be meeting in a “few months’ time.”

The 2018 CCCB document Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse, published in October 2018, was to be the focus of further discussion at the 2019 conference to examine and hear about the initiatives being undertaken to further protect minors.

Gendron outlined the ways in which the church can further initiatives and new relationships with Indigenous peoples that he has witnessed.

“We were recently summoned to this task, confronted with the stories of survivors deeply affected and even traumatized by the sins and sometimes misguided ways of those priests and religious who ran the former Indian Residential Schools on behalf of the government,” he said.

Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

Issues related to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples were discussed over the course of the conference, with an emphasis being put on action and not just words.

“It must go beyond superficial offerings,” Gendron said. “It must touch Indigenous Peoples and make a real difference in their communities and lives.”

Palliative Care

An ad hoc committee on palliative care reported that a kit being developed focused on alleviating suffering through palliative car will hopefully be ready by 2021, reported Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith.

The kits, which are expected to include three- to five-minute videos as well as other written tools, are to be used as resources by parishes and are part of a collaborative effort of the CCCB and other Catholic institutions and social agencies. It is expected that once the resource kits are developed as parish resources, similar initiatives will be undertaken to develop educational resources about palliative care for use in schools and for healthcare personnel.

Mission Month

One of the issues discussed in detail at the CCCB conference is the Extraordinary Missionary Month, with the theme “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on a Mission in the World” which included a keynote address by Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, president of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

“Our missionary zeal must extend across this vast land from sea to sea to sea,” Bishop Gendron said of evangelization in the Canadian context and within the Church as a whole both at home and abroad.

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Religious persecution highlighted at gathering of Canadian bishops

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 14:18
Recognize a trajectory of religious persecution Evangelical Fellowship of Canada leader warns CCCB plenary

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

[Cornwall, Ontario – CCN] – Religious persecution always has a starting point, a trajectory and like cancer it needs early detection and diagnosis an Evangelical leader told Canada’s Catholic bishops Sept. 24.

Compared to the persecution of Christians elsewhere in the world, “we have it pretty good,” David Guretzki, Executive Vice-President and resident theologian of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, told the annual gathering of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) as part of an ecumenical and interfaith panel on religious freedom.

Most of the current challenges to religious freedom in Canada are “annoyances, inequities and in some cases injustices,” Guretzki said. “In and of themselves they have not prevented the People of God, the Church, from carrying out her mission.”

“They may destroy careers, or inhibit places where the Gospel word may be formed,” he told the more than 80 bishops and eparchs who met in plenary session from Sept. 23-27 in Cornwall, ON.

David Guretzki, Executive Vice-President and resident theologian of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. (Photo by Deborah Gyapong – Canadian Catholic News)

Guretzki gave as examples the refusal of Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) grants to Bible camps and pregnancy care centres; the unjust Trinity Western University Supreme Court decision that denied law students accreditation in law societies even before the law school opened; and the serious injustice Ontario physicians face regarding conscience rights when it comes to euthanasia, abortion and other morally questionable procedures.

He also decried Bill 21 in Quebec forcing public servants, teachers and other government employees to remove any religious symbols or headgear.

Those in power implementing these policies may see them as “tests for future appetites for restrictions on religious freedom,” Guretzki said. This could be “cultural preparation and normalization for a future day when formal restrictions on the practices of religion may be introduced.”

“Religious freedom is still materially operative in Canada, but we sense in our own community that Christians are beginning to experience an emerging level of angst and fear,” he said.

Guretzki named five areas religious communities need to challenge government: conscience protections for those in the medical field; continued denial of CSJ funding on faith and moral grounds; increased bureaucratic pressure in the workplace for people to participate in “ideologically driven events,” contrary to religious beliefs; legislative action against “so-called conversion therapy” that may target normal Christian counselling; and Quebec’s Bill 21.

Rabbi Reuben Joshua Poupko, Rabbi of Beth Israel Aaron Congregation in Montreal and co-chair of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus (CRC) and co-chair of the CCCB-CRC national dialogue told bishops it was a “profound irony” that a rabbi is speaking to a Catholic group “when the single most persecuted group in the world” are Christians and the Catholic Church.

“It is the Christian church being persecuted in places like China and the Middle East,” Rabbi Poupko said. “The tragic irony is that in our culture in North America, if someone were to speak about my faith or the Islamic faith the way Christians are spoken about, they would be completely disparaged for their racism and bigotry.”

The rabbi also acknowledged the lack of support Christians and Catholics receive from around the world for the persecution they face.

While Bill 21 is “an egregious assault on religious freedom, it does not affect too many Jews,” he said. Though the bill bans prison guards from wearing religious symbols, “most Jews in prison are visiting their clients.”

The bill also called for the removal of the crucifix in the Quebec National Assembly, “something we mourned greatly because it guaranteed the presence of once Jew in the National Assembly,” he said.

Bill 21 enjoys “overwhelming support” in all parts of Quebec, he said. Since the debate, he has for the first time experienced people shouting at him. Having experienced little anti-Semitism during his 30 years in Quebec, he said the secularism debate has “poisoned the religious environment.”

While the province is still a “welcoming and tolerant society,” the bill “has made certain elements feel emboldened,” Rabbi Poupko said.

Imam Mohamed Refaat, President of the Canadian Council of Imans, spoke of the challenges the Muslim community faces, not only regarding Bill 21 but elsewhere in Canada. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the Muslim community is growing, but running up against zoning regulations that prevent them from building mosques. Present facilities sometimes have to run three or four sessions of Friday prayers to accommodate worshippers, he said. He also spoke of the challenges students have faced in the Peel Region and elsewhere in having public schools accommodate Friday prayers of Muslim students.

Fr. Deacon Andrew Bennett, director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute and program director of Cardus Law, told the bishops Catholics must “live their baptism” and “reject relativism and syncretism.”

“Religious freedom is not simply an inherent freedom we cherish, we have a responsibility to act on it as well as on all fundamental freedoms,” Bennett said.

“Even if all our institutions are taken way, even if we lose our schools, even if we lose our charitable status, even if we’re pushed to margins of polite society, even if the government no longer listens to us, we must never tire of proclaiming the Gospel,” he said.

“The challenge is not from the state or from the media,” he said. “The challenge is the very serious failure to take responsibility for a living public faith for the good of all.”

Bennett said Catholics are “shackled by poor formation” and “fear and anxiety about what the Great Commission calls us to do.”

“We must pray that the Holy Spirit will raise up martyrs and confessors in our country and clergy and faithful will support these witnesses to the truth,” he said.

Bennett called for these confessors and martyrs to speak of the truth of the Incarnation and of human dignity; to combat the lies about faith and lies against human suffering; and the notion that human beings are objects to be dispensed with through abortion or euthanasia.

“You are more aware than me of the responsibility you bear,” Bennett told the bishops. “You share in our Lord’s ministry of self-emptying for the world. You are charged with transmitting the kerygma. You wear the purple and scarlet of martyrdom.”

“Do not be afraid,” he said.

Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, President of the Hindu Federation of Canada, said the Hindu community does not have any specific case where their religious freedom is being undermined or challenged.

He said that when groups feel their practice of religion is being challenged, they should ask whether that tradition poses risks to others; whether it poses a possible health problem; or whether it is against the law of the land.

“We must have a united front whenever one of us is facing difficulties,” he said, noting that a collective voice will “make a difference” in how laws are framed and implemented. “It is a counter-witness when we disagree.”

“When we disagree and we will, it must be based on total understanding of each other’s point of view,” he said. Then we can “agree to disagree and respect each other’s right to be different.”

“I think we have failed at all times to do this. We tend to criticize each other.”

Anglican Bishop Bruce Joseph Andrew Myers of Quebec acknowledged the past wrongs the Anglican Church had committed against religious freedom through its entanglement with the Crown, noting specifically the persecution of Catholics and others after the Reformation.

“Each person is free to practice the religion of their choice, or free not to practice any,” he said.

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Ordaining married men to serve the North is not a “focused issue” says CCCB vice-president

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:28

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

[Cornwall, Ontario – CCN] – Canada will look to the Amazon synod for cues, but so far the issue of ordaining older married men is not a big issue for Canadian bishops, according to Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg.

“This hasn’t really been a focused topic in Canada in that way,” said the Vice-President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) at a news briefing Sept. 23 following the first day of the annual CCCB plenary here running from Sept. 23-27.

Gagnon acknowledged the similarities of the vast Amazon region to Canada’s north – both are sensitive ecological areas, with vast resources, and are home to many differing Indigenous Peoples.

Earlier that day, five bishops of Canada’s northern dioceses shared the progress being made in linking to dioceses in the south for the sharing of personnel, finances and the opportunity for missionary experiences, the archbishop said.

The northern dioceses face huge distances between far-flung communities, most of them made of various Indigenous communities. Like the Amazon region, they face difficulties in transportation, and shortages of priests. Both the Amazon and Canada’s north are sensitive ecological areas with vast mineral resources and vulnerable to exploitation and environmental degradation.

Gagnon said of Pope Francis: “Being a good Jesuit, he raises certain topics and throws them out there, and then there’s a lot of discussion about that on various levels.”

Pope Francis made reference to the issue of ordaining married men when the Western bishops made their last ad limina visit to Rome in 2017, the archbishop said. The pope also raised the issue of “the role of women in the Church at every level.”

“These are things we’ll hear something about in the Synod on the Amazon for sure,” he said. “I think the Amazon synod will have something to say the Church of Canada.”

Several Catholic bishops from Northern dioceses have raised the issue of ordaining married men over the years, because of an acute shortage of priests to minister to far-flung communities.

None of the five bishops from northern dioceses raised the issue on the floor of the CCCB plenary. Instead, Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas requested the bishops in Canada’s south offer more priests on loan. “It’s a big ask,” he said. “There are not extra priests lying around.”

With the support of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Fr. Richmond Diala is providing parish ministry this year in the northern diocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.

Many dioceses have been relying on missionary priests from the global south.

“It is a challenge,” Chatlain said, describing the difficulty of explaining to an African or an Asian priest what to expect when they land in a place like Whitehorse.

The archbishop observed that sometimes God gives a “call within a call” to go north, and if the Lord is encouraging priests to go north, the bishops could help by putting the invitation out and allowing priests to come for a period of two years.

All five of the northern bishops spoke of dioceses encompassing huge territories, serving small Catholic populations, including many Indigenous communities. Transportation is mainly by plane in the northern parts of the dioceses and the cost is high. Other modes of transport, such as snowmobile, or winter roads, can be dangerous, with no gas stations, no motels, and changeable weather conditions.

Bishop Jon Hansen, CSsR, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of MacKenzie-Fort Smith described how his diocese includes the entire Northwest Territories and part of Nunavut and serves 20,000 Catholics with six priests, three religious and many part-time lay pastoral workers. The diocese was linked with the Archdiocese of Edmonton prior to its move from a mission diocese to a normal diocese under the Congregation for Bishops.

Bishop Jon Hansen, CSsR, was ordained and installed as bishop for the northern diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith in March 2018. (Photo by B. Currie, courtesy of Mackenzie-Fort Smith diocese)

MacKenzie-Fort Smith now has a lay missionary from the Toronto archdiocese who is involved in sacramental preparation and adult faith formation. The diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith is looking forward to welcoming two new priests from Toronto as well, Hansen said. “It is a feeling of tremendous gratitude for the generosity I have witnessed to this point.”

Bishop Héctor Vila of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Whitehorse also spoke of the difficulties in serving 8,500 Catholics, 20 per cent of whom are Indigenous, in a huge geographical area. A positive development is that several Catholic families are in the diocese “leading a missionary life,” he said.

Archbishop Gerald Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan said his massive territory has one large parish in Grand Prairie, AB. The rest of his diocese consists of very few small towns and many small communities. Among them are four different First Nations and four Métis communities.

Because of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the cost of maintaining aging buildings, and the cost of travel, the diocese struggles to afford the essentials, he said.

The Grouard-McLennan diocese partners with Toronto, he said. One concern is the cathedral, built in the 1940s, has a small and dwindling congregation. Its basement hall needs renovations to remove mold, improve access and bathrooms.

Bishop Robert Bourgon of Hearst- Moosonee diocese also spoke about the challenges facing northern dioceses. Hearst-Moosonee was created when the predominantly Francophone diocese of Hearst was merged with the predominantly Cree diocese of Moosenee (where there is some English spoken). It has 28 parishes and 22 active priests.

“We have similar problems with transportation and buildings falling apart,” he said. Bourgon  noted that Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario is not the only community in his diocese  without drinking water. “They have to buy it (water),” he said.

Living in the north is a constant struggle, he said. Medical services are virtually non-existent; and food and other essentials are extra costly.

Bourgon said his diocese had nine reserves that were not served. “We’re working with them,” he said. “We ask them what they wanted.” One reserve where a church had burned down and services ceased, found a new place for a chapel, and the bishop blessed it and now the community again has Mass every Sunday, he said.

Another reserve has starting using the school for services. “I just did a confirmation with 38 confirmands, children and adults,” he said. “There is a tension in the communities I serve,” Bishop Bourgon said. “The people generally feel the church is the heart and soul of the community. If they lose the church, they lose the soul of their community.”

He related how the people tell him: “We’re Catholics… ’We’ve been Catholics for 400 years. Don’t let all this stuff come in. Just continue to be Catholic and we’ll be with you.”

In 2016, the Holy See officially transferred six missionary dioceses in northern Canada (including the now merged Hearst and Moosonee dioceses) who were previously under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples, to the common law of the church after studying ways to support these dioceses in Canada.

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Ursuline Sisters transfer ownership of residence to Emmanuel Care

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 16:16

Media Release from the Ursulines of Prelate / Emmanuel Care

The Ursulines of Prelate announced Sept. 25, 2019 that they have transferred ownership and management of St. Angela Merici Residence and Corporation in Saskatoon to Emmanuel Care.

Emmanuel Care is a sponsor/owner of various Catholic facilities throughout Saskatchewan, including 12 Catholic hospitals and nursing homes and two seniors independent and assisted living facilities (Trinity Manor at Stonebridge, Saskatoon and Trinity Manor at Westerra, Regina). Emmanuel Care is accountable to the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan, who are its corporate members.

“We are very pleased to transfer St. Angela Merici Residence to Emmanuel Care, a Catholic organization that shares with us very similar values and a history of service for all,” said Sr. Anne Lewans, General Superior of the Ursulines of Prelate. “We believe this transfer will allow St. Angela Merici Residence to continue its mission of service for the community far into the future. It will be a tangible example of our legacy for many years to come.”

Scott Irwin, President & CEO of Emmanuel Care said: “Emmanuel Care is honoured that the Sisters have entrusted us with the opportunity to ensure that St. Angela Merici Residence continues to meet unmet needs and serve our community well into the future.”

Irwin added that he expects no change to the governance and/or operations of the facility as a result of this transfer. “St. Angela Merici Residence will continue to provide exceptional care and service as it has in the past, both to the Ursulines as well as to our other residents who come to call this home.”

St. Angela Merici Residence will continue to be governed by its existing board of directors and led by its administrative team. “We want the residents and staff of St. Angela Merici Residence to rest assured that it will be business as usual and that the legacy of exceptional care will continue unabated.” Irwin said.

He expressed Emmanuel Care’s great gratitude to the board, administration, staff and volunteers of the residence, noting that, “we are very excited to have the opportunity to work with and get to know all of the people who have made it such a great and unique place.”

Rick Riel, Chair of the Board of Directors of St. Angela Merici Residence also expressed gratitude to the sisters. “On behalf of the Board of Directors of St. Angela Merici Residence, Inc., I would like to express our profound appreciation to Sr. Anne and the Ursulines for their foresight in creating St. Angela’s Residence and for their trust in each of the board directors that they appointed to carry out their vision for this facility. We are excited to work with Emmanuel Care and look forward to ensuring that the residence continues on the course that the sisters have so expertly set out.”

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Moral distress is an early warning system

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 15:28

By Dr. Mary Heilman, CHAS Bioethicist

Dr. Mary Heilman, PhD,
CHAS Bioethecist

[Reprint of SaskEthics, an Ethics Newsletter for Catholic Healthcare Organizations in Saskatchewan, September/October 2019]

Over the past year or so, I have had an amazing opportunity to speak to staff throughout our province on the topic of moral distress. Moral distress is the range of feelings we experience when we feel forced to act in a way that is out of sync with our personal values. The first few times I offered a quick fifteen-minute session on this topic, I was not sure what type of response I would receive. I was humbled by how much it resonated with all of our team members.

I heard from nurses, care aids and pharmacists, from phlebotomists, house keepers, and administrative assistants, all of whom shared stories of experiences that had left them feeling angry, frustrated, hopeless or full of anxiety. For many, just knowing that their experience was not abnormal and that it had a name was comforting.

As hard as it is to hear about the moral distress of others, I have to admit that I found these stories to be heartening. Knowing that our staff members have had these experiences tells me that the people we work with are bringing their whole selves into their work and remaining engaged with those they care for.

The moral distress we all feel at times is like an alarm bell that alerts us to the fact that something is not quite right. In some situations, it is because we need to spend some time in personal reflection sorting through what is going on. In others, it is because we need to advocate for change.

I believe some moral distress can be good because it is the first step on the path to innovation. After all, we need to know that something is wrong before we can find a way to fix it. For example, many healthcare professional feel distress when working with aggressive patients because it leaves them feeling torn between providing care and ensuring the safety of their team. This distress signals that being the target of violence is not “just part of the job,” and has led many to embrace the OHS #IWillReport campaign to track workplace violence and advocate for change.

To learn more about moral distress, please access Dr. Tracy Trothen’s presentation from the 2018 CHAS convention at: Session 2: How Do We Know What’s Right? Moral Distress – PDF

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Information about 2019 CHAS Convention:

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Why the Church won’t tell Catholics who to vote for

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 13:23

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

As we approach the upcoming federal election, Catholics are forced to answer the question, “How does my faith inform my politics?”

As citizens, we have the right to vote based on our values, and as Catholics we have the duty to do so.  Any suggestion that we should refrain from “imposing” our Catholic values on a pluralistic society is non-sense.  Those who do refrain from voting according to their own values simply let others “impose” their values on the rest of us unchallenged.

Simply put, politics is about imposing our values on society.  And democracy, while imperfect, is more or less the best way we’ve figured out how to go about imposing our values on each other peacefully.  The principles of both democracy and Catholicism insist that we vote our values.

But, if this is the case, wouldn’t it be easier if the Church did the calculus for us?  The Church is, after all, the expert on Catholic values.  Isn’t it?

Well, yes.  Which is why the Church can tell us how to vote.  I am using the term “how” in a very specific way.  By it, I do not mean the Church can tell us which party deserves our vote. But the Church can help us to make a decision informed by our faith by making clear which issues are of utmost importance, and how we might make a faithful discernment when such issues are not dealt with in a satisfactory way by any one party or candidate.

Now, even Catholics who think that the choice of which party a Catholic should vote for in the next election is obvious tend to agree that the Church cannot pronounce that choice from the pulpit (or any other organ of the Church, such as a website).  On this, all seem agreed, though we might do well to consider why this should be the case.

If, for example, the only reason the Church should not make such pronouncements is because it could get in trouble with the state (e.g., by losing charitable status), one solution that presents itself is to provide an endorsement of the preferred party in ways that are clear enough for any Catholic who is paying attention to know what is being suggested, but ambiguous enough to be able to avoid the charge of having directly endorsed that party.  Such a solution asks a priest, bishop, or diocese to walk a tightrope.  Too far one way and the faithful might vote for the wrong party.  Too far the other way and legal troubles await.

Within this construal, the only thing preventing the Church from making the desired pronouncement is fear of running afoul of the authorities.  But there are other even more important reasons why the Church will not tell us who to vote for.

Consider the following situation.  A given party fully supports Catholic teaching on an issue of utmost importance, but has an ambiguous relationship with many other elements of Catholic teaching.  The Church endorses that party because none of the other issues rise to the level of importance as the one on which the party and the Church are in full agreement.  Catholics vote en masse for the party and it forms the next government.  That government then fails to keep its policy promises on the issue of utmost importance while governing in a way that is objectionable according to many other Catholic values.

In such a situation, what happens to the Church’s credibility?  How likely are the faithful to pay attention the next time the Church tells them how to vote?  Or how to do or think about anything else?  And what does the party (and the other parties) learn from the experience?

Not only is the Church’s credibility harmed in this situation.  Parties simply love issues on which they can reliably get votes without ever having to follow through in terms of policy.  They may even benefit from leaving the issue unaddressed in order to get the same votes next time around.

Do not misunderstand me.  None of this is to say that any Catholic who voted for the party in question voted poorly.  That party may well have been the best option available to an informed Catholic conscience.  The point here is that, even if it was the best option available to an informed Catholic conscience, it is still not helpful for the Church to offer an endorsement.  An individual who votes for what ends up being a bad government can say, “I did my best with the information I had, and I did not and do not will for things to turn out as they have.”  The Church does not have that luxury.

Nor does any of this mean that the issue of utmost importance is any less important.  It remains essential for Catholics to pursue justice and good public policy on such an issue with fervor and commitment.  And in so doing, they should enjoy the full support of the Church.  Just because the Church can’t pronounce on parties does not mean she cannot pronounce on issues, or even policies.

But beyond the legal and even prudential reasons we have already discussed, there is another, perhaps even more fundamental, reason why the Church cannot and will not tell Catholics who to vote for.

Scripture is quite clear that we are not, as the Psalmist says, to put our trust in princes.  In the Old Testament (1 Samuel 8), God is loathe to give Israel a king like the other nations and warns them of what life under a king will be like.  And in the New Testament (Matthew 22) Jesus famously tells us to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

This latter passage is often, and correctly enough, interpreted to mean that Christians should pay taxes, obey any just laws, participate in civic life, and other such things that make one a good citizen.  That is not wrong.  But there is a subtext here that is easy to miss.  Implied in Jesus’s phrasing is that there are things that do notbelong to Caesar.  This is actually of some importance.

There is a temptation as old as politics itself to see in politics the mechanism for the salvation of the world.  One of Caesar’s titles was “soter” – savior.  One thing Jesus would not have us give to Caesar is that title.  That one belongs to God.

We see this temptation constantly in contemporary political culture.  Every election, it seems, it the most important in living memory.  Every election will decide the destiny of the nation.  This issue, this candidate, this party, this year.  These things are painted in almost apocalyptic terms.

It can become so bad that we begin to see all of life through the lens of politics.  It becomes our chief organizing principle.  And when it is, Christ isn’t.  The biblical term for this is idolatry.

In 1925, Pope Pius XI established the Feast of Christ the King.  In a time when nationalism, communism, and secularism increasingly threatened many of the world’s most powerful nations, the Church reminded us that the powers of this world are ephemeral.  Christ is the King, not only of our hearts, but of the world and of history.

It is the role of the Church to remain above politics.  To remind us that politics is not our final end and that no politician, party, platform, or policy is our savior.  This does not mean that Catholics do not participate in politics.  It does not mean they should not work diligently on political campaigns that they are convinced in conscience will contribute to the common good, or that they should not pursue justice for the unborn, the elderly, the foreigner, the poor, the widow and the orphan through political means.  Rather, it means that they are free to do so without the burden of having to save the world through that necessary but imperfect mechanism.  And free to live well in a world that is so much more than a political battlefield.

Politicians and elections and issues come and go.  They are important.  But they are not the most important.  If the Church does not remind us of that, who will?

 

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Annual diocesan Administration Day includes updates, information and a new Pastoral Plan

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 13:07

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Pastors, Parish Life Directors, ministry leaders and parish representatives from across the diocese recently gathered with Bishop Mark Hagemoen Sept, 20 at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon to launch another ministry year.

The annual diocesan Administration Day opened with celebration of the Eucharist, followed by a presentations that included introducing new clergy who have recently arrived in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, as well as new lay staff at parishes across the diocese and at the Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen and priests from across the diocese presided at Mass to open the annual Administration Day. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

This year’s annual diocesan Administration Day included the launch of a new three-year Pastoral Plan focused on the mission “Proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom,” with six priorities identified for particular focus: drawing people into a deepening intimacy with Jesus Christ; focusing on Sunday celebrations (“Make Every Sunday Matter”); discerning God’s call to each person to share in the mission and life of the Lord (“Embrace Your Priesthood”); building and supporting family and community; promoting healing (growth, service, ongoing conversion); and “Moving from Maintenance to Mission” through sound financial and administrative practices.

More details at: Mission and Goals

An image of the new Pastoral Plan’s mission and goals presented by Bishop Mark Hagemoen at Administration Day 2019.

MC for the day was Marilyn Jackson, the newly-named Director of Ministry Services for the diocese. Jackson’s new role, and that of Director of Operations Theresa Campbell were described during another Administration Day session.

Director of Operations Theresa Campbell (left) and Director of Ministry Services Marilyn Jackson explained their areas of responsibility in the diocese.

Tasks previously part of a single position have been split, expanded and redefined with their appointments this summer, the two directors explained.

As Director of Ministry Services, Jackson continues to oversee Evangelization and Catechesis in the diocese (a role she previously filled in the diocese), as well as the offices of Restorative (Prison) Ministry, Hospital Chaplaincy, Youth Ministry, Adult Faith Enrichment (previously known as Lay Formation), Justice and Peace, and the JOY (Justice and Outreach) Program. She also provides connections for family and life services and ministry partners in the diocese.

As Director of Operations, Campbell oversees the offices of Communications and Migration (Refugee Sponsorship) and the Msgr. Michael J. Koch Resource Library, as well as coordinating the work of administrative staff that includes the Executive Assistant to the Curia, an administrative assistant, and the receptionist at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. Campbell also serves as the Diocesan Coordinator of Care (who implements diocesan safeguarding policies and training), as well as providing oversight of policy, technology (IT) and web services in the diocese, and facilities management for the Catholic Pastoral Centre.

HR Manager Patrick Clarke spoke about navigating different conflict styles.

Administration Day also included a presentation on navigating conflict styles by Human Resources Manager Patrick Clarke, an introduction to the Development and Peace/Caritas Canada Fall Action Campaign on “care for our common home” with a focus on the Amazon, and an update on revisions to the diocese’s Covenant of Care safeguarding policies.

Diocesan Development and Peace representative Bernice Daratha and Saskatchewan Development and Peace Animator Priva Hang’andu spoke about the upcoming Fall Action Campaign.

Financial administrator Tanya Clarke presented information about “The Finance Five” in the form of a game show played by St. Augustine, Saskatoon Pastor Fr. Kevin McGee, Parish Life Director Brigid Fuller, and Parish Pastoral Council Chair Celeste Woloschuk on the topics of clergy moves, insurance, clergy benefits, charities and politics, and charity law and best practices.

Financial information for pastors and parishes was highlighted by Financial Administrator Tanya Clarke at Administration Day, presented in an engaging after-lunch “game show format.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen and Theresa Campbell reviewed the most recent updates to the safeguarding and safe environment policies in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, highlighting the most recent changes, and plans for future training.

Covenant of Care, Allegations of Serious Misconduct Protocol, and Code of Conduct: CLICK HERE

Bishop Mark Hagemoen and Director of Operations Theresa Campbell spoke on updates to the diocesan safeguarding policies.

Administration Day also included updates from Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard, who is the new diocesan coordinator of the diocesan Office of Migration (refugee sponsorship); as well as from Jennifer and Blair Carruthers, coordinators of the Adult Faith Enrichment Program (previously known as Lay Formation); and from Vocations Director Fr. Daniel Yasinski and Director of Seminarians Fr. Colin Roy.

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New diocesan Pastoral Plan focuses on evangelization

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 12:04

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

At an annual diocesan Administration Day Sept. 20, Bishop Mark Hagemoen unveiled a Pastoral Plan for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon focused on the mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ.

“Evangelization must permeate everything we do — everything we do proclaims Christ and God’s Kingdom,” said Bishop Hagemoen, announcing the promulgation and rolling out of the new Pastoral Plan.

The bishop challenged Pastors, Parish Life Directors, ministry leaders and parish representatives from across the diocese of Saskatoon to use the proposed three-year plan as a way to reflect upon strengths, gaps, and new directions.

The mission statement “Proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom” is identified in the Pastoral Plan, along with six priorities — beginning first and foremost with: “Draw People into a Deepening Intimacy with the Lord.

“Whether it is a parish of five families, or 15,000, the task and the mission of Christ is fundamentally the same,” he said. “Ultimately, everything must involve  the call to evangelization.”

 

 

Greg Chatlain, Director of Education for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, was one of the facilitators for the eight-month planning process undertaken by the Diocesan Pastoral Council (which includes representatives from parishes of all sizes from across the diocese, as well as pastors, religious, and other leaders).

“What you are seeing today is the result of many hours of wrestling and discussion, and of challenging each other to come up with those things that we all need to work on together,” Chatlain said at the Administration Day launch.

Reason for developing a Pastoral Plan

Bishop Hagemoen described why the first task that he gave to the newly-formed Diocesan Pastoral Council was to discern the needs and challenges facing the Church, and to produce a Pastoral Plan for the diocese and its parishes.

“As I travelled the diocese I was hearing different expressions from the parishes that we have in the diocese of Saskatoon — dreams, hopes, concerns — as you can probably guess, some of the concerns especially in the rural area were around issues of viability,” explained the bishop.

“At the same time, Saskatoon has had the highest growth rate of any city in Canada, which has an impact on our parishes and communities, so there is need for planning for growth.”

In both cases, one cannot just plan for improving viability or for growth, without a vision, goals and priorities, he said. “Especially in the Church, especially in ministry, if it doesn’t come from the mission of Christ and the Church, then all we would be doing is enlarging our maintenance.”

Bishop Hagemoen cited the insight he heard from a Parish Pastoral Council chair at a small rural parish: “Bishop Mark, we love our church, we put a lot of work into our church and we will continue to do that, but we are exceedingly concerned that we are putting 95 per cent of our effort into maintaining our building and very little into the mission,. We know that if we keep doing that, we won’t last, we will die… we want to, and we need to, engage in mission.”

The six priorities/ goals

Click on each goal for more detail

  1. Draw People into a Deepening Intimacy with the Lord!  –  Supporting a deepening friendship and intimacy with Jesus Christ
  2. Make Every Sunday Matter  – Focusing on our Sunday celebrations
  3. “Embrace Your Priesthood”  –  Discerning God’s call to each person to share in the mission and life of the Lord
  4. Build and Support Family and Community  – Strengthening and supporting families and marriages, vocations support
  5. Promote the Healing Journey in the Lord – Healing, growth, serving, ongoing conversion
  6. Move from Maintenance to Mission. – Helping parishes proclaim Christ in everything

“We are only beginning — the coming months will see the rolling out of this,” Bishop Hagemoen said of the Pastoral Plan. “This is not meant to be a quick fix or a quick experience, check off a couple of things — that is not what it is meant to be.”

He added that he takes his responsibility as bishop seriously, and that he sees the plan as a way to move forward and deepen engagement with the mission of proclaiming Christ and the Kingdom of God, “I am building on the faith life of a great diocese,” he said.

At the diocesan level, the Pastoral Plan will assist in moving forward in ministries and programs to assist parishes and provide resources. As next steps for parishes, the bishop proposed the following:

  • Personally and prayerfully review and consider the Pastoral Plan, the mission and goals
  • Review and discussion at parish level
  • Review by parish and finance councils; parish ministry people; general parishioners
  • Possible discussion at deanery level
  • Determine parish priorities/tasks given strengths and gaps
  • Seek supports and resources

Working poster outlining the Pastoral Plan’s mission and goals: PDF of poster

 

 

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2019 Bishop’s Annual Appeal begins: “Resources Support the Mission”

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 13:07

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The need to provide resources to support the mission of the church in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon was the focus of a Bishop’s Annual Appeal Orientation and Training Day Sept. 11 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal Orientation and Training Day started with celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Representatives from across the diocese gathered for the morning-only session, which included celebration of the Eucharist with Bishop Mark Hagemoen, and presentations about the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, including best practices, statistics and an overview of materials, such as this year’s “Our Faith in Action” video, which highlights a few of the many ministries and services funded by the Appeal.

“The mission comes first and it orients everything, but the resources are important,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in his homily. “The resources support the mission… we need to bring all of our resource to bear in support of that mission.”

In visiting a number of rural parishes across the diocese in recent months, Bishop Hagemoen reported that he has heard a similar message from parishioners who have said: ““Bishop, we love our churches, but we don’t just want to maintain our buildings. If that’s all we do, we will die. We have to engage in the mission of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen thanked parishes, pastors, volunteers and donors for their participation in the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is about bringing to bear the needed resources to support the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ through his Church, said Hagemoen.

Gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal support catechesis and sacramental preparation and support, vocations promotion, youth retreats and mission experiences, RCIA evangelization, and Adult Faith Enrichment, as well as funding seminarian education for future priests, and orientation for international missionary priests.

Other ministries supported by donations to the Annual Appeal ensure a voice for the most vulnerable through justice and peace advocacy, addressing such issues as abortion, human trafficking, poverty, truth and reconciliation, euthanasia, and conscience rights.

The impact of the Appeal is also experienced in such healing ministries as Retrouvaille (help for marriages in trouble), Transitions (ministry to the divorced and separated), Miscarriage Awareness ministry, Mourning to Dawn grief ministry, healing circles and parenting programs at the prison, and visits to the sick, the dying and the bereaved through hospital chaplaincy.

“This is very practical work – but I do say this as well: this is holy work,” the bishop said of the efforts that volunteers, parish leaders and pastors put in to the Annual Appeal.

During the morning event, Bishop Hagemoen expressed his appreciation to all those who assist with the Appeal and his hope that all might participate. “The issue is not about how much we give. The issue is that we all participate. Every gift has value.”

“The Lord calls us to bring our lives to bear on this: the mission is as important as ever,” he said. Three new areas of support introduced last year continue, noted the bishop, namely a fund to help support the building of new churches, a fund to support the renovation of existing church buildings, and assistance for the northern Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.

Don Gorsalitz, Director of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation, announced the 2019 goal for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal: $1.405 million. He also described how revamped goals last year meant that double the number of parishes achieved their BAA goals in 2018.

Both Gorsalitz and the bishop noted the willingness and generosity of parishes in the city to increase their Appeal goals last year, in an effort to offset a reduction in the goals of struggling rural parishes. “Rural parishes expressed great appreciation for that,” added Hagemoen.

Priests, parish staff, ministry leaders and Bishop’s Annual Appeal volunteers from across the diocese attended the Sept. 11 orientation day. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Gorsalitz, along with Bishop’s Annual Appeal Manager Cathy Gilje, and Stewardship Coordinator Jocelyne Hamoline, reviewed the factors that ensure a successful Appeal, such as follow up, personal story telling, and home visits. They also provided practical information about the BAA materials, the Appeal database and the eight-week schedule and process that parishes are asked to follow.

Several speakers described ministries that are supported by gifts to the BAA: Marilyn Jackson, Director of Ministry Services in the diocese and coordinator of Evangelization and Catechesis; Jennifer and Blair Carruthers, coordinators of the Adult Faith Enrichment Program (previously known as Lay Formation; and Jackie Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy.

Jackson described work underway to assist parishes in finding effective catechetical resources for sacramental preparation, including a pilot project in one parish to implement a new program.

Jennifer and Blair Carruthers spoke about the impact of the newly-named Adult Faith Enrichment Program.

Blair and Jennifer Carruthers gave a report about the recent first weekend of the newly-renamed Adult Faith Enrichment Program (previously known as Lay Formation) and the impact it is already having upon participants. The coordinators stressed that there is still time for interested adult Catholics to enrol in the program, offered one weekend a month from September to May over two years. Those interested can contact Blair or Jennifer Carruthers at (306) 659-5846 or jcarruthers@rcdos.ca

Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator Jacqueline Saretsky described how the hospital chaplains and volunteers make it a priority to visit patients from out of town who may not have local support when they are admitted to Royal University of Saskatoon City Hospitals. In addition to ministry in hospital, Saretsky described administrative tasks, such as recruiting and training volunteers, increasing awareness about hospital chaplaincy in parishes, and offering the Dying Healed workshop developed by Life Canada to empower participants to recognize the impact their caring has on the lives of those who are ill, suffering, or dying. The Dying Healed program is available to parish communities by contacting Jackie Saretsky at jsaretsky@rcdos.ca  or (306) 659-5839.

Stewardship Coordinator Jocelyne Hamoline shared the story of her best friend, who was in hospital a year and a half before her death, and described the vitally important role of Hospital Chaplaincy, funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Hospital chaplains and chaplaincy volunteers regularly visited, brought Holy Communion, and “lifted her up in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so she could have a peaceful passing.”

This was also a powerful witness to members of the patient’s family, who did not attend church, added Hamoline. “That is evangelization…. When we support the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, we are supporting evangelization. We are meeting people where they are at, and we are there for them as a faith community.”

In the past, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal orientation session has been part of a broader Administration Day in the diocese – this year, the two events are separate. Administration Day, which will include the launch of a new Pastoral Plan for the diocese, will be held Friday, Sept. 20 at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon.

Watch this year’s Our Faith in Action video:

 

 

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Resources for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal 2019 were distributed Sept. 11. The Annual Appeal will begin in parishes later this month. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

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Join the Conversation – Anglican/Roman Catholic Dialogue

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 21:40

By Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier

The National Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue, coined ARC Canada, has begun exploring a new document entitled Walking Together on the Way – Learning to Be Church Local, Regional, Global.

ARC Canada’s mandate is to bring the Agreements and Study documents produced by ARCIC (Anglican—Roman Catholic International Commission) to our Canadian context and find ways to share the gifts and insights in these texts with the people in our parishes as well as our local pastoral leadership. ARC Canada’s most recent project, completed last year, was an innovative collection of stories featuring lived Anglican/Roman Catholic  experiences in Canada which was published online at https://churchesindialogue.ca/en/newstoriestotell

The new document Walking Together is unique in at least a couple of ways.

One, it is the longest, most substantial text ARCIC has produced in its 50-plus years of work. It also tackles the most complex and most contentious questions between our two traditions, i.e. the governance and authority structures in our two communions, with its respective processes of decision-making.

There is much that we agree on in matters of faith. The most visible and salient differences between Anglicans and RC’s reside in the governance and authority structures. Delicate and challenging as it was, ARCIC III has done incredibly important work in this new text which merits our utmost attention and engagement.

Two, Walking Together is the first ecumenical document that applies the methodology of Receptive Ecumenism, a concept that originated with the Roman Catholic theologian Paul Murray. Whereas traditional ecumenical dialogues would engage from a place of “this is what we do best in our church and you need this in yours.” Receptive Ecumenism reverses the question: “What are we lacking in our tradition that is much better developed/done in yours and that we can learn from?” Walking Together is illustrating how radically this can change the tone and direction of the conversation, providing new avenues for engagement.

In order to bring this significant document to the prairies, a modest study group has been formed of ecumenically-minded Anglicans and Roman Catholics in Saskatchewan.

The 20-plus participants come from Regina, Saskatoon, Fort Qu’Appelle, Humboldt, Muenster, North Battleford, Rosthern, and Kenaston.

The group is equally divided between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, including both clergy and lay representatives. The group calls itself SaskARC and was formed at the personal initiative of the two Anglican ARC Canada members from the prairies, Rev. Dr. Iain Luke and Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier.

At a recent meeting the group elected Abbot Peter Novecosky as its Roman Catholic co-chair. All Saskatchewan bishops (Anglican, Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic) have been informed of the group’s existence and have been invited to contribute input, prayers and direction.

To date the SaskARC group has met three times. Meetings include learning about the history of Anglican—Roman Catholic relations and dialogue, and beginning to explore Walking Together.

The large membership is deliberate, in order to accommodate life’s interruptions which can prevent attendance while still having a good group composition for each meeting. Participation via video-conferencing is a possible future avenue, and written reflections/responses are also welcomed.

The document Walking Together can be accessed online at https://iarccum.org/archive/ARCIC3/2018-05-21_arcic-iii_walking-together-on-the-way_en.pdf

The SaskARC group remains open to new participants. Those who are interested are asked to e-mail Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier at marlise_14@sasktel.net

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Upcoming Amazon synod raises questions for Canadians says Archbishop Bolen

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 20:33

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

CCN – The Amazon Synod of Bishops in Rome next month challenges Canada regarding her own relationship with Indigenous Peoples and the environment says Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina.

In Canada, “there’s been a great deal of focus on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Archbishop Bolen said. “What I’m focusing on these days are the societal indicators of health and well-being.”

“Indigenous peoples are systematically on the losing end of access to health facilities, clean water, and education,” he said. They are on the losing end of “incarceration rates, addiction rates and unemployment rates.”

“We have a problem and it’s not an Indigenous problem, it’s a Canadian problem,” he said. “We need to find a new way of walking together.”

“I’ve come to realize we have much to learn from Indigenous Peoples on living on the land in a healthy and sustainable way,” the archbishop said.

The upcoming synod offers an opportunity for Canadians to consider the relationship between Canada and the pan-Amazonian region, Bolen said in a recent interview.

Archbishop Donald Bolen also addressed the connections between Canada and the Amazon in a keynote address Sept. 14 at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon: “What is happening in the Amazon – both to the environment and to Indigenous People – what is happening to the Amazon rain forest is of vital importance to all of us.”

“How are we affected by the current crisis in the Amazon? That invites us to look at the environmental impact and degradation of one of the big lungs of the earth, as the Amazon is on fire right now.”

It invites Canadians to consider the question, “How are we implicated?” said the Archbishop of Regina, who pointed specifically to Canadian mining companies operating in the Amazon region.

These lead to questions on “what can we do as a church, societally, in our communities, our families, our personal lifestyle,” he said.

In Canada, the boreal forest covers 40 per cent of the country’s land mass and is home to many Indigenous Peoples which have their own economies, Bolen said.

Though no Canadian bishops have been invited to participate in the Amazon synod, Bolen is part of a delegation organized by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States (JCCU) to attend a parallel event in Rome entitled ‘La Tienda de la Casa Comun.’

‘La Tienda de al Casa Comun’ is organized by the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) along with religious congregations, and institutions. It will offer conferences, vigils, prayer, testimonies and artistic presentations as well as chances for participants to interact with the synod fathers from the nine countries encompassing the Amazon region.

Joining Archbishop Bolen from Canada will be Sr. Priscilla Solomon, CSJ, an Ojibway from Sault Ste. Marie and a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Cecila Calvo of the JCCU Office of Justice Ecology will lead the delegation that will also include Rodney Bordeaux, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in Rosebud, ND, and Richard Coll, a staff member of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. They will be in Rome from Oct. 15-21.

This will not be Bolen’s first experience with REPAM, a Pan-Amazonian group of church organizations. He had been invited to participate in a conference REPAM organized last March in Washington, D.C. organized by REPAM, that brought together representatives from four or five biomes or ecological areas from around the world.

“The pan-Amazon region is a biome; the Canadian boreal forest is a biome,” Bolen said. There were others from the Congo Basin, from Southeast Asia and others from Europe and North America. Also attending were Indigenous leaders from the Amazon.

Out of that conference, a number of questions surfaced. “What is happening in the Amazon, to the environment and to Indigenous Peoples?”

“We took the lead from Laudato Si’ to listen to the suffering of the earth and the suffering of the poor,” Bolen said, noting the environmental degradation in the region.

“We did hear powerful presentations about the way if deterioration in the Amazon continues at the current pace, it’s going to have a massive impact,” he said. “Scientists are concerned the Amazon is coming to a tipping point, creating conditions so hot and dry, the forests cannot regenerate.”

They also heard presentations from Indigenous peoples who are being marginalized, moved off their land, and experiencing human rights abuses, he said. “New political leaders are not responding to the needs of the people.”

Indigenous communities are affected by the building of dams to generate power for mines that disrupt the flow of rivers, and affect both aquatic and human life, he said. “The region is suffering from the insatiable demand for oil and minerals.”

The conference also asked them to reflect on whether there are parallel challenges in their own biomes. In Rome, Bolen and the JCCU delegation will continue these reflection in the parallel event “La Tienda” to the Amazon synod in October.

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“Extravaganza” held to launch Development and Peace fall awareness campaign on crisis in Amazon and “Care For Our Common Home”

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 20:23
Regina’s Archbishop Bolen provides keynote address

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

At a recent Development and Peace gathering in Saskatoon, Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina provided background and context about an  upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon. He also challenged his listeners to consider how the ecological crisis in the Amazon has similarities and connections to what is happening in Canada.

CCN Interview with Archbishop Bolen about the upcoming Synod on the Amazon: Synod Raises Questions for Canadians

The Sept. 14 “Campaign Extravaganza” event at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon was held to launch the Development and Peace Fall Action Campaign “Care for Our Common Home,” which focuses on raising awareness about the impact of commercial activities in the Amazon rain forest on Indigenous Peoples and on the global ecosystem.  The annual awareness campaign includes reflections related to Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, (Care of Our Common Home), and the 2019 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.

“What do we need to be paying attention to? What are the parallel issues in Canada?” Bolen asked the crowd during his keynote address about the issues to be addressed at the upcoming Synod. Responses included: threats from mining, carbon emissions, climate change, forest fires and the issues affecting our Indigenous Peoples.

Judging by any or all of our societal indicators of health and well being, our Indigenous Peoples are “on the losing end,” stressed Bolen. “We are a society that has an embedded racism.” Canada is being challenged to face that sad reality and to work to overcome it, he said.

As with the Synod on the Amazon, part of our response to ecological challenges facing Canada and the globe in part has to be to learn from the wisdom of Indigenous brothers and sisters, he added. “They have had a healthy way of living with the land that we do not.”

Describing the ecological crisis facing the Amazon, and the impact globally of threats to creation, Bolen echoed Laudato Si’ when he stressed that when there is a “price to pay” for ecological exploitation and degradation that benefit wealthier nations and corporations, it is almost always the poor who end up paying that price.

However, “Laudato Si’ does not invite us to despair,” asserted Bolen. “It invites us as people of faith to trust that God is at work, and also to be mindful that God calls us in solidarity to walk with others who are suffering.”

The land is a gift from God that must be protected for ourselves and for future generations, he added, stressing the importance of the prophetic work of Development and Peace in raising awareness about ecological crises facing “Our Common Home.”

Bolen also pointed to those who have observed that the post-Synod period will in the long run be far more important than the pre-Synod preparations. “How are we going to live that experience deeply and well?”

Other features of the Sept. 14 “Campaign Extravaganza” at STM, organized by the Development and Peace/Caritas Canada Saskatchewan-Keewatin Le Pas region, included speakers Chris Hrynkow, Norm Lipinski, and Priva Hang’andu (a new regional animator for Development and Peace/Caritas Canada); displays; a dinner; and an evening coffee house.

 

 

Upcoming Workshops:

Related to the Development and Peace/ Caritas Canada Fall Action Campaign, two information workshops are planned in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. Facilitator of the workshops will be Priva Hang’andu, Regional Development and Peace/Caritas Canada animator.

Workshops will be held at:

  • SASKATOON– 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at St. Anne Parish, 217 Lenore Drive, Saskatoon, SK. To RSVP or for more information contact Betty at bejandy@shaw.ca or Joanne at stecklerjoanne15@gmail.com or call 1-888-234-8533.

 

  • BRUNO– 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20 at St. Bruno Parish, 700 Kirby St., Bruno, SK. To RSVP or for more information contact Victor and Lucille Granger at luci.gran@hotmail.comor Priva at phangandu@devp.org or call 1-888-234-8533.

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