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Updated: 15 hours 37 min ago

Quebec court decision striking down euthanasia safeguards “terrible news” say opponents

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 20:43

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA (CCN)—Euthanasia opponents and disability rights activists have expressed horror at the Sept. 11 Superior Court decision striking down key safeguards in Canada’s and Quebec’s euthanasia laws.

“It’s absolutely terrible,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

“What it does is it takes away the one little protection that existed for people with psychiatric conditions. They could get it only if their natural death was reasonably foreseeable and it did prevent people with psychiatric conditions from dying with euthanasia.”

“It’s terrible news,” said Dr. Catherine Ferrier, president of the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia. “I do geriatrics,” the Montreal-based family physician said. “All my people would be eligible.”

“It’s open season on the disabled,” said Ferrier. “Anyone disabled can now ask for euthanasia.”

Quebec Superior Court Judge Christine Baudouin struck down the federal law’s requirement that death be “reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for euthanasia, as well as a similar clause in Quebec’s euthanasia law requiring the person be terminally ill in order to qualify.

Ruling the law infringed the plaintiffs’ fundamental rights,” the judge allowed Jean Truchon, 51 and Nicole Gladu, 73, to request to have a doctor end their lives. Neither are terminally ill but suffer from incurable and painful medical conditions. The judge also gave the federal and Quebec governments six months to amend their laws.

Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet (TVNDY), a project of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, blasted the decision as a “discriminatory double standard that limits access to suicide prevention for people with disabilities.”

TVNDY said the court applied the “presumption of competence” to the plaintiff’s request for euthanasia, when the wish to die made by a non-disabled person is “proof of suicidality, if not incompetence.”

The court also failed to ask why the plaintiffs’ pain management was ineffective, nor did the court address the availability of good palliative care, TVNDY said. The organization also pointed out the lack of choices a disabled person faces in where and how they live.

“The judge’s description of the plaintiff’s situation invoked pity, but ignored the role of discriminatory public policy in depriving M. Truchon and Mme. Gladu of choice in where and how they live,” said TVNDY director Amy Hasbrouck in a news release. “The court erroneously blames M. Truchon’s lack of independence on his disability. But the fact is that he could live independently but for policies that favour institutional care over consumer-directed community-based services.”

“Better dead than disabled: that’s the message of this ruling,” said Ferrier.

“This is a country where disabled people don’t have the health care, housing, employment and transportation they need. We don’t offer them all of these other things that they need but we offer them death.”

Disabled people don’t see their lives as “totally unbearable” and “not worth living,” but “it’s hard to fight that if that’s how everyone else sees them,” Ferrier said.

Schadenberg pointed out the federal government had planned a five-year review by June of 2020. “What’s the purpose of a review if courts think it is their purview to strike down portions of the law?” he said.

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

The safeguard requiring that those receiving euthanasia be 18 or older is probably the next one to fall to a constitutional challenge, he said. The third area under consideration is that of advance directives that would allow patients with a dementia diagnosis to request euthanasia once they are no longer competent.

On the same day as the Quebec decision, a Dutch court cleared a doctor of any wrongdoing in the euthanasia of dementia patient against her will three years ago. In this case, the family members had to hold the woman down so the doctor could administer the lethal dose.

Euthanasia for psychiatric reasons continues to grow in Belgium and the Netherlands, Schadenberg said.

Both Ferrier and Schadenberg have repeatedly warned against opening the door to euthanasia and assisted suicide at all.

“We knew this was going to happen,” said Ferrier. “The safeguards have been a bit of a joke from the beginning.”

Not only has the euthanasia lobby been pushing for euthanasia on demand, people in the Quebec government promised to “improve” the law once they had put it in place, she said.

Ferrier said she believes the safeguards were added, “otherwise they never would have got the law passed.”

“I have no doubt from the beginning this was the plan,” she said. “Get the law in place and then start removing the safeguards.”

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Saskatoon couple gives $650,000 to campaign to build Saskatoon’s first hospice

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 21:29
The most recent gift announcement for the Close to Home campaign included a reflection on the impact of  music therapy 

“I have witnessed individuals living their last days and weeks from a place of power. Even while they are confined to a bed, their strength diminishing, they are living their lives, making things rights with each other, with others, sharing words of love and forgiveness, challenging others to live lives of deep meaning – and dreaming still.” – Ruth Eliason, Music Therapist

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

The impact of holistic care and the healing power of music provided a touching context for a recent gift announcement for the Close to Home campaign to build Saskatoon’s first stand-alone hospice.

The latest gift to the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation’s $20 million Close to Home campaign was announced at a media event Sept. 10: $650,000 from local philanthropists Gord and Jill Rawlinson, owners of Rawlco Radio.

Left to right: Lecina Hicke, CEO St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation; Pam Leyland, President of Rawlco Radio; Karen Barber, Executive Director of St. Paul’s Hospital; Ruth Eliason, St. Paul’s Hospital Music Therapist; and Todd Rosenberg, Volunteer Close to Home Campaign Co-Chair, unveil the donation from Gordon and Jill Rawlinson. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Funds raised in the Close to Home campaign will help to build the Hospice at Glengarda now under construction in southeast Saskatoon – as well as to renovate the existing palliative care ward at St. Paul’s Hospital, and to establish endowment funds that will strengthen palliative care education and holistic services available to those facing end-of-life.

“Hospice care and holistic care are an incredibly important facet of end-of-life care services,” said Close to Home campaign co-chair Todd Rosenberg. “Holistic care means that we will provide such services as spiritual care, bereavement care, art therapy, the healing arts program – all very necessary ingredients in dealing with the whole person, not just their specific end-of-life medical symptoms.”

One aspect of that holistic care is music therapy.

Ruth Eliason, a music therapist working with Palliative Care Services at St. Paul’s Hospital, opened the media event by singing her composition “Where the Heart Is” to showcase the type of music she creates with patients and families. Later in the program, she described the role of music in holistic care.

“I have had the privilege to walk with many patients and family members, using music to ease their experience at end-of-life,” she said. “When patients come into our care, we honour and acknowledge that they do so as a whole person: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.”

Music is a wonderful way to integrate that holistic approach, because for many, music is an important facet of life, and is easily adapted to varying energy levels, abilities and situations, Eliason explained.

Probably the most common way to use music therapy is in reminiscence, she said.

Ruth Eliason, Music Therapist

“Music has a powerful way of bringing back memories. Whether it is a song from the summer of 1956, or the lullabies we remember or a child, or the first dance song at one’s wedding – hearing familiar music can transport people and help them re-visit a positive memory or recall a time or place in their history.”

Music therapy can also aid in relaxation, with gentle music and visualization exercises providing patients with tools to be able to reduce anxiety. “Often images that patients choose for a visualization exercise are a special place at home, a favourite spot or a vacation spot. For many in hospital it may have been weeks or maybe months since they were able to visit their home, so being able to visualize a familiar place can be very comforting,” described Eliason, saying music can facilitate that visualization.

“Music is also accessed to tap spiritual strength. Music touches our spirit and can be a familiar expression of one’s faith,” she said. “To be able to choose a meaningful spiritual song to be shared among family can support that expression of faith, and remind people of the strengths that are already there, waiting to be accessed.”

Music is also used as a tool for “life review,” Eliason continued. “I believe that part of coming to the end of one’s life in a healthy way does involve making sense out of – and reviewing – the events of the past that have shaped one’s life. Music is a powerful way to do this, either through pre-composed music, or through song writing.”

Music is also important in what Eliason described as “legacy work” – answering the deep need for a person to know that they have made a difference in the world, and that they will be remembered.

“One of the most touching things I have had the privilege to do was to record the heartbeat of a patient, and then to record a song to accompany that heartbeat,” she said. “This is a tremendously moving and personal gift that a patient can give and share with their family and it can be a really wonderful and vibrant reminder of who that individual is.”

Music is also part of rituals and services that are part of life for those in hospital or palliative care – including such things as weddings or memorials held at the hospital. “Music is intertwined into some of those very special markers in one’s life.

Holistic palliative care strives to ensure that those facing the end-of-life are able to experience what matters most, she said. “I have witnessed individuals living their last days and weeks from a place of power. Even while they are confined to a bed, their strength diminishing, they are living their lives, making things right with each other, with others, sharing words of love and forgiveness, challenging others to live lives of deep meaning – and dreaming still.”

“Often, as individuals nearing the end of their lives, the little things become big things – the important things – like holding the hand of someone you love, or hearing a grandchild’s laugh, having a few bites of a favourite dessert, listening to a beautiful piece of music, celebrating a Rider’s win, watching the birds outside the window. If you think about where our heart is, It is wrapped up in these many small moments that make up the life that we love.”

Eliason concluded by speaking on behalf of the patients and families that she works with, and on behalf of countless individuals who will use the Hospice at Glengarda after it opens: “I would thank donors for their generous gift from the heart… this generosity will make a tremendous difference for so many in our community, helping provide patients and their families with a welcoming and safe place at the end of life.”

Chris Boychuk, past board chair of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, also recognized all that is made possible because of the commitment of those in the community.

“As part of the Foundation’s work we have had the privilege of helping to realize the mission, vision and values of the founders of St. Paul’s Hospital, the Grey Nuns. Since 1982, the Foundation has raised close to $69 million to help continue the mission, vision and values of those sisters,” he said.

“We have been consistently humbled by the generosity of the community in supporting this campaign,” Boychuk added, thanking all those contributing to the Close to Home campaign and acknowledging the passion and dedication of volunteer campaign chairs Todd Rosenberg and Dr. Vivian Walker, and of honorary campaign chairs Gene and Adele Dupuis.

Newly-appointed CEO of St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, Lecina Hicke , also thanked all those who are so passionate about the cause of strengthening palliative care and constructing Saskatchewan’s first free-standing hospice, including donors, as well as the campaign chairs, the St. Paul’s Hospital board, the Foundation, hospital leadership and “our many partners and all wonderful staff, care givers, patient advocates and community members who have lent their time and talents to this project.”

Hospital Executive Director Karen Barber said she was deeply moved by the generosity of donors such as Gordon and Jill Rawlinson, noting that “St. Paul’s has a long history of compassionately caring for the most vulnerable in our midst. The Rawlinson’s gift to our Close To Home campaign will help us to support Saskatchewan residents in their time of need, and will help people live their lives to the fullest, as they journey toward end of life.”

Left to right: Karen Barber – Executive Director of St. Paul’s Hospital, Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU, of the Ursulines of Prelate, and Lecina Hicke, CEO St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, at the most recent gift announcement for the Close to Home campaign for the Hospice at Glengarda. Saskatchewan’s first stand alone hospice is being constructed at the site of the former Ursuline Sisters’ residence on Hilliard and Melrose street, across from St. Francis Xavier parish. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

Construction on the Hospice at Glengarda began in May of this year. Close to Home Campaign Co-Chair Todd Rosenberg says fundraising is progressing very well with more than $18.5 million in community support raised to date.

To make a donation, or learn more about the Close to Home campaign, contact St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation at 306-655-5821 or visit http://www.CloseToHome.fund.

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Where the Heart Is

Composed and performed by Music Therapist Ruth Eliason, 2019

Standing on the dock, looking at the stars

See the sky light up with Northern lights

I always feel at home, whenever I am here

My roots run deep –

 

Walk into the room, streamers in the air

Blow the candles out, hear the young ones cheer

I look into the eyes of the family that I love

My heart fills up, and all at once I know –

 

I’m grateful for these moments and the life I share with you

I’m grateful for this province and the land, the people too

I’m grateful for my family, the people I call friends

I’m grateful for the chance to give – to make a difference

You ask me where my heart is – it’s here.

 

Give more than you take, momma told me once

The table’s big enough for everyone,

It doesn’t cost a thing to be compassionate

My life gives back, and all at once I know –

 

I’m grateful for these moments and the life I share with you

I’m grateful for this province and the land, the people too

I’m grateful for my family, the people I call friends

I’m grateful for the chance to give – to make a difference

You ask me where my heart is – it’s here.

 

Construction of the Hospice at Glengarda started this summer. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

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Search for God should be ‘first apostolate’, Pope Francis tells Augustinians

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 15:07

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Vatican City – CNA] – Pope Francis told members of a men’s religious order Sept. 13 that the first goal personally and in their apostolates should be an orientation of their hearts toward God, who is Love.

“Your hearts always reaching out to God. Always! Each member of the community should be oriented, as the first ‘holy purpose’ of every day, to the search for God,” the pope told about 150 members of the Order of Saint Augustine.

Order of Saint Augustine logo. (Catholic News Agency – CNA)

“This ‘direction’ should be declared, confessed, witnessed among you without false modesty,” he continued.

“The search for God cannot be obscured by other purposes, although generous and apostolic. Because that is your first apostolate. We are here – you should be able to say among yourselves every day – because we walk towards God. And because God is Love, we walk towards Him in love.”

Members of the Order of Saint Augustine, also referred to as Augustinians, live as mendicants directed by the Rule of St. Augustine. The order was gathered in Rome for its general chapter.

In the order’s audience with Pope Francis, he noted a writing of Fr. Agostino Trapè, now deceased, who was prior general of the Augustinians from 1965 to 1971.

Fr. Trapè wrote that according to the Rule of St. Augustine, “charity is not only the end and means of religious life, but it is also its center: from charity it must proceed and charity must be oriented, with a perennial movement of circular causality, every thought, every affection, every attitude, every action.”

Pope Francis advised thinking on a meditation St. Augustine once gave on the Church as “‘mater charitas,’ a mother who cries for the division of children and calls and calls for unity of charity.”

St. Augustine wrote to St. Jerome about the experience of charity in community, the pope noted. St. Augustine said he finds it “very natural to abandon myself entirely to the affection of such people, especially when I am oppressed by the scandals of the world: in their hearts I find rest free of concern, being convinced that there is God in it.”

“Dear brothers, this is also the challenge and responsibility for you today,” the pope urged, “to live in your communities in such a way as to make the experience of God together and be able to show it alive to the world!”

He explained that this is a big responsibility and asked them to focus on living their community life well, so that they can show God to the outside world “in a clear, courageous way, without compromise or hesitation.”

“You Augustinians have been called to bear witness to that warm, living, visible, contagious charity of the Church, through a life of community that clearly shows the presence of the Risen One and his Spirit,” he said.

He quoted his 2018 apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world, Gaudete et exsultate, saying, “Community life … is made up of many small daily details … The community that preserves the small details of love, where the members take care of each other and constitute an open and evangelizing space, is the place of the presence of the Risen One who is sanctifying it according to the plan of the Father.”

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Religious freedom and evangelization top agenda for CCCB plenary

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 14:51

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

[OTTAWA – CCN] – When Canada’s Catholic bishops meet for their annual plenary Sept. 23-27, 2019, religious freedom and overseas missions will top the agenda on the first days of their assembly in Cornwall, Ontario.

Missing from this year’s public agenda is any discussion of the clerical abuse crisis that continues to dog dioceses around the world.

Last year, the sexual abuse crisis loomed high on the agenda of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) plenary in the wake of the McCarrick scandal in the United States, the unprecedented open letter of Archbishop Viganò, the former Nuncio to the United States, and the release Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on historical sexual abuse in dioceses in that state.

At its September 2018 plenary, the CCCB published the long-awaited document entitled Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation that had been in the works since 2011 and which built upon the Canadian bishops 1992 document From Pain to Hope. That 1992 document was among the first of its kind to deal with the clerical sexual abuse crisis that was first emerging at that time.

The new document deals with the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults and focuses on care of victims.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, who chaired a three-day summit on clerical sexual abuse in the Vatican last Feb. 21-24, described the new Canadian document as an example for other episcopal conferences.

Religious Freedom and Freedom of Conscience

This year, the CCCB plenary will address current challenges to religious freedom and freedom of conscience through an interfaith and ecumenical panel of Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu representatives.

Evangelization and Overseas Missions

Evangelization and overseas missions will also figure prominently in this year’s plenary, gathering of about 80 bishops and eparchs from across Canada.

Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, is the keynote speaker.

The Pontifical Mission Societies represent the Catholic Church’s official overseas missions in evangelization and charitable works and are under the direct supervision of the Pope.

Archbishop Dal Toso will speak on the theme “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on a Mission in the World” adopted for the Extraordinary Mission Month of October 2019.

Update on Development and Peace review

The Canadian bishops’ own overseas development arm, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace/Caritas Canada (CCODP), has been undergoing a joint study with the CCCB of 52 of its overseas partners. A number of dioceses and the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) suspended contributions to CCODP in early 2018, because some projects funded by CCODP were being carried out by partners that were also advocating for abortion or engaging in activities contrary to Catholic teaching.

Though none of the projects were found to be problematic, funding to those 52 agencies, CCODP has ceased funding projects through those partners while the study is ongoing.

Last year, the bishops received a preliminary report on the study, following which those dioceses withholding monies and the CWL released funds to CCODP.

On Sept. 9, CCODP said in a news release that two phases of the joint study begun in Mid-May 2019 have been completed.

“As had been agreed by the CCCB and CCODP, the review is being conducted by the firm Deloitte with the objective of providing recommendations to ensure greater alignment between CCODP and the CCCB and to identify potential solutions,” the release said.

Deloitte Canada, a consulting and accounting firm, is preparing its final report and recommendations and will present it to representatives of the CCCB and CCODP at the end of September, the release said.

Northern Dioceses / Indigenous Peoples / Youth Day

The CCCB plenary will include a discussion of Canada’s northern dioceses that only recently moved to being normal dioceses under the Congregation for Bishops from a status as missionary dioceses.

Also, on the agenda, ongoing efforts for reconciliation with and pastoral care of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

The bishops will receive reports on the 2019 World Youth Day in Panama last Jan. and on the 2019 International Youth Forum Sept. 14-15 in Chennai, India.

CCCB leadership

Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil will chair his final plenary as he wraps up a two-year term as president. Traditionally, the presidency alternates between a French language speaker and an English-language speaker and if the pattern follows previous years, the current vice-president, Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg, will assume the role of president for the next two years.

Though the bishops are free to depart from the previous pattern, if it holds, the French-language co-treasurer Archbishop Luc Cyr of Sherbrooke will move into the position of vice-president. The other co-treasurer is Bishop Terrence McGrattan of Calgary. There will be an election during the plenary of a new co-treasurer.

The bishops will also approve a budget for the CCCB secretariat that helps them engage in their common activities. The CCCB secretariat is a registered charity under the name Concacan Inc. In 2018, it reported a total revenue of $8,243,506 in revenue, including more than $3 million as gifts from other registered charities – the contributions the various dioceses make to support the secretariat. Concacon spent more than $5 million carrying out charitable purposes, including the advancement of the Roman Catholic religion. It reported spending $1.3 million in management and administration.

Guests and Media Coverage

About 20 guests, including ecumenical and interfaith partners, and heads of various Catholic associations have been invited to the public session on Monday Sept. 23 to noon on Sept. 24. Accredited media will also be present.

For the first time, Salt and Light TV will be live-streaming the public sessions on the internet via https://saltandlighttv.org and via its Facebook page. Salt and Light will also broadcast the daily Masses and Evening Prayer (Vespers) and a daily media briefing in both English and French.

 

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Attacks on religious beliefs “disreputable” says former religious freedom ambassador

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 13:52

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA (CCN)—Attacks on the religious beliefs of any political candidate are unacceptable says Canada’s former ambassador religious freedom.

“I think it’s thoroughly disreputable that any party would attack anybody for what they hold to be true, whether moral beliefs, or religious beliefs,” said Andrew Bennett, the director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute and Canada’s former Ambassador of Religious Freedom. “If we are going to enjoy a genuine common life as Canadians we have to be willing to recognize deep differences in our society and people are going to believe different things.”

“Not only that, but we need, if we truly believe in religious freedom, we need to expect that our public figures, our political leaders have as much right as anyone else to live both publicly and privately according to their deepest-held beliefs.”

Recently, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has come under attack for his Catholic faith, particularly on the issues of abortion and traditional marriage. Premier Jason Kenney faced similar attacks during the Alberta election.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale unearthed a 2005 video of Scheer opposing the redefinition of marriage, released it on Twitter, asking” “To be a leader for all Canadians, the Conservative Party leader should now end his lifelong boycott of Pride events and explain whether he would still deny same-sex couples the right to marry, as he said in Parliament.”

“Scratch the criticisms slightly, and it exposes a far more distressing concern that anti-Catholicism is alive and well in Canada,” said Phil Horgan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League. “The fact that the media continues to advance these arguments further discloses that the truly acceptable prejudice in Canada remains anti-Catholicism.”

But Bennett sees the attacks on Scheer of a piece with Quebec’s secularism law banning the wearing of religious symbols in public by public servants, police officers, teachers, judges and other representatives of the state. In a recent campaign appearance in the province, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, a baptized Sikh, was shown without his turban.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, is a baptized Sikh.

“The law on secularism in Quebec is an absolute affront not only to religious freedom but also to the promotion and development of our common life,” said Bennett. “In the upcoming election, one thing we have to be very clear on in this debate on what is acceptable in terms of open expressions of faith is that the Quebec approach is the wrong approach, because it marginalizes people of deep religious conviction, and it enforces this closed secularist view as the only acceptable belief system is secularism. And secularism is not neutral.”

“We have to remind people that our faith is not simply a private matter,” said Bennett. “As Catholics, through our baptism, we have an understanding that our faith is public.”

“We’re called to live out our faith in the public square,” he said. “In living out our faith in the public square, we have to be willing to take stands on our faith that are difficult and uphold that which is good and true.”

Horgan said attacks on Scheer and other prominent politicians seem to “suggest that the underlying message is that ‘Catholics or others need not apply for high public office,’ or perhaps that ‘Catholics need not apply for any public office,’ or that ‘Catholics or others should check their religiously formed beliefs based on natural law principles at the door of the public square, in order to participate in public debate.’”

“Is the new normal that even in circumstances where a politician’s public position is made known, that his private faith adherence excludes him from office?” Horgan asked. “Are we excluding people of faith from public life?”

“It’s interesting how history repeats itself,” said Bennett. “Look at what John F. Kennedy had to suffer in the United States in the 1960s: this anti-Catholicism and the idea that if he was elected president he would somehow do the pope’s bidding.”

“We’re seeing a version of that in attacks on Andrew Scheer’s Catholicism, because he may or may not hold certain views that are commensurate with his Catholic faith that somehow that is a threat to peace, order and good government,” Bennett said.

“They’re not attacking Jagmeet Singh for being Sikh,” said Alissa Golob, co-founder of It Starts Right Now. “That would be considered racist, bigotry. But it’s perfectly acceptable to attack Andrew’s Catholic beliefs, just because he’s a practicing Catholic and doesn’t have positions that are contrary to the Catholic faith that we’re used with Justin Trudeau.”

Jack Fonseca, director of political operations for Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), sees a tactical motivation for the attacks on Scheer, as a voter suppression tactic to demoralize the Conservative base and get them to stay home or vote for a fringe party.

“Scheer did exactly what they hoped he would do,” said Fonseca. “He distanced himself from his own beliefs and his own socially-conservative base.”

Fonseca said he was alarmed by a recent interview in which Scheer said he will “oppose” any measures to reopen the abortion debate. “That implies he will order his caucus to vote against it, too.”

Alissa Golob, co-founder of It Starts Right Now, disagrees, arguing Scheer has consistently supported the rights of backbench MPs to bring forward private members’ legislation and for free votes on conscience matters.

When Scheer says his government will not reopen the abortion debate, “that means the 30 or so cabinet ministers and not back bench MPs,” she said, noting Scheer has defended the right to free expression in his caucus.

Bennett notes most of the party leaders — including Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May – have at times expressed religious beliefs.

“We have to be willing to recognize deep differences in our society, and people are going to believe different things,” Bennett said. “If we truly believe in religious freedom, we need to expect that our public figures, our political leaders have as much right as anyone else to live both publicly and privately according to their deepest held beliefs.”

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Climate change and oil/gas production identified as election issues

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 13:37

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA (CCN)—A recent Angus Reid Institute poll reveals Canadians want to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to preventing climate change and producing oil and gas.

In a Sept. 5 poll, Angus Reid revealed nearly 70 per cent of Canadians see dealing with climate change as a top priority in the upcoming federal election Oct. 21, 2019. Yet that same poll shows 58 per cent place a top priority on oil and gas development.

“While different Canadians may lean further to one side of the ‘economy-versus¬-environment’ discussion, in most cases this does not mean they’d ignore the other side completely,” said Angus Reid’s website.

“Among those who said the next federal government should prioritize climate change efforts, three-quarters (75%) want at least some investment in the oil and gas sector. And among those who say the energy industry should have the next government’s main focus, four-in-five (80%) would still wish to see at least some investment in climate change efforts.”

The poll revealed 25 per cent view the Conservative Party as the best to lead on the climate issue, while an almost similar number 23 per cent said the Green Party would be best. Eighteen per cent of respondents named the governing Liberals while 10 per cent chose the NDP.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops justice and peace commission releases election guide reflecting on key ethical and moral issues for voters to consider:

2019 Federal Election Guide (English)

Guide des élections fédérales de 2019 (French)

“One of the most unfortunate things about the upcoming election is we may see another big divide in the country,” said Joe Gunn, executive director of the Oblate Centre at St. Paul University. In speaking with Oblates from Saskatchewan and Alberta, Gunn said he has heard about the hardship families are experiencing after job losses in the oil and gas sector.

“Places like Saskatchewan and Alberta are concerned about fossil fuel development,” Gunn said. “I would be surprised if Liberals win a seat in either of those provinces.”

“We’ve had these kinds of divisions in Canada in the past, and they make it a hard country to govern,” he said. Gunn said the Oblate Centre will also be keeping an eye on issues such as the welcoming of refugees and migrants; poverty reduction; and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

While Canadians are divided over the Liberal government’s new carbon tax, with opposition highest among those who plan to vote conservative, 54 per cent of Canadians say Canada should do more to meet the targets agreed to in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Canada remains unlikely to meet these targets set by the previous Harper Conservative government.

Polls show the election race tightening, with the Liberals gaining on the Conservatives after dipping in the polls in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal that led to the resignation of former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould over pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to grant the company a deferred prosecution on corruption charges.

While life issues such as abortion and euthanasia may not be top of mind for national pollsters, for Catholics like Alissa Golob, co-founder of It Starts Right Now, ensuring pro-life candidates are elected is a key priority.

Alissa Golob, co-founder of It Starts Right Now. (Photo: Canadian Catholic News – CCN)

“It’s going to be a very tight election,” Golob said. “The polls have the Conservatives and Liberals neck and neck. Catholic voters should first and foremost, not only vote for, but also volunteer for the pro-life candidates who have the greatest chance of winning, so we can tip the scale in their favour.”

While the Liberal and the NDP parties do not allow prolife candidates or free votes on life issues, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, while pro-choice herself, has said she would not prevent a Green Party MP from re-opening the abortion debate. Peoples Party Leader Maxime Bernier has said he would allow free votes, but also that he supports abortion until the last trimester.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has disappointed some pro-life advocates because he has promised his government will not bring forward legislation on abortion.

“The government means the 30 or so cabinet ministers and not back bench MPs,” said Golob, noting Scheer has defended “freedom of expression, and the right to bring forward bills that are important to them as well as free votes.”

Golob said she recognizes that no party has a majority of pro-life MPs, so consequently no Prime Minister could bring in legislation to defend life. “That’s why it’s important to elect as many prolife MPs as possible.”

“The Liberals did have a free vote policy but if Justin Trudeau is defeated, hopefully that policy will return,” Golob said. Prior to 2016, the Liberal Party had a minority of pro-life MPs who traditionally were allowed to vote their consciences on non-government bills.

Right Now has identified 50 swing ridings where they are actively supporting pro-life candidates.
“A lot of people are nervous, and excited, but know it’s crunch time, because how we act in the next 40 days will impact the results of the election,” Golob said.

Another Angus Reid poll conducted at the end of August, revealed 52 per cent of respondents were uncommitted to voting for any particular party. Some of those uncommitted voters had supported the Liberals or other parties; others had not voted at all in the previous election.

“Chief among the core issues for uncommitted voters: improving health care access and the transparency and honesty that they expect from a federal government,” Angus Reid said on its website. “On both of these issues, seven-in-ten uncommitted voters allotted a score of six or seven on a seven-point scale.”

The Institute predicted both health care and ethics related to the SNC-Lavalin scandal will play a big role in the election, as will discussions of a proposed national pharmacare program.

The research organization Cardus Family will be watching for any party platforms calling for a national daycare program, an issue that has been raised by several political parties over the years.

“I haven’t seen it raised in a substantial way,” said Peter Jon Mitchell, acting director of Cardus Family. “It could emerge as an issue.”

A new study of Statistics Canada data shows Canadians rely on a variety of types of non-parental childcare: 51.9 per cent use daycare centres or pre-school; 25.6 have a relative look after their child; five per cent have a non-relative look after their child; and 20.4 per cent leave their child with a family child care home. Slightly more than nine per cent use before or after school programs and the rest find other arrangements.

Despite child care policy being a provincial arrangement, the federal government has allocated a $7.5 billion transfer over 11 years to the provinces to fund only one type of centre-based daycare.
“If you’re going to spend that money, put it in the hands of parents so they can choose the option that’s best for them,” Mitchell said. “We say that child care is the care of a child, no matter who does it. Our previous research has found most parents would prefer to have one parent care for their kids.”

Mitchell said he sees some advantages to the Liberals’ Canada Child Benefit that puts non-taxable money into the hands of parents to “spend as they see fit.”

“It’s been linked to a drop in child poverty,” Mitchell said. “When it was introduced in 2016, it was seen as a step away from universal daycare.”

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Bishop Mark Hagemoen Blog – Summer 2019 events across the diocese

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 21:28
Summer Spiritual Pilgrimages in the Diocese

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Diocese of Saskatoon

Spiritual pilgrimages are a great feature in the summer season in the Diocese of Saskatoon. They occur across the diocese and province as soon as schools close. They are opportunities for spiritual devotion and community celebration. They are also occasions when people from across different areas of the province and beyond can celebrate their common fellowship in our One Lord, and gain inspiration from the legacy of faith of persons who have gone before us, who have contributed through their lives of faith, service, and devotion – evident also in the presence of the various churches and pilgrimage sites.

 

The 87th Annual Pilgrimage to Reward featured a group of pilgrims who walked from Unity to Reward (above). The trip was roughly 34 kilometers, and featured times of prayer and petition, and remembering in solidarity those faithful from the area who have gone before us in faith, prayer, and life – as the faith was lived in this western area of the area known at St. Joseph’s Colony and the Saskatoon diocese.

The walking pilgrims departed from St. Peter’s Parish in Unity, SK, at 10 am on the Saturday, July 6 – the day before the Sunday gathering at Reward. The walk was about 8 hours in all.

Fr. Greg Roth behind the wheel of his Charger, providing support to the walking pilgrims.

Fr. Greg Roth led the pilgrims in his Charger through the country roads leading to the Reward church site. Fr. Greg would drive ahead every 2 kilometers for the entire 34 kilometer trip, to make sure traffic was aware of the walk, and to address any needs of the pilgrims along the way. Fr. Greg walked several kilometers himself – changing places with Matthew Witzany behind the wheel.

A model of Holy Rosary Church was on display this year at the Reward shrine site.

 

A scale replica of Holy Rosary Church was built by Roy Kappel. Originally on display at the heritage museum in Lloydminster, the model has now been donated back to the Holy Rosary pilgrimage site. Completing the detailed model involved about 1,500 hours of work.

Celebration of Sunday Eucharist July 7, 2019 at the Holy Rosary Shrine at Reward.

Blessing of the graves at the cemetery of Holy Rosary Church at Reward, after the pilgrimage Mass.

The annual pilgrimage at the Mount Carmel shrine, west of Humboldt, was held two weeks later, on July 21. Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, and several Benedictines from St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster were on hand for the celebration. Music ministry was provided from a choir from St. Scholastica Parish in Burr, SK.

Proclamation of the Word at Mount Carmel Mass July 21, 2019. 

Carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession to the top of the hill at Mount Carmel Shrine for the blessing of the fields.

Clergy “Sports Days” held at St. Peter’s Abbey, Muenster, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus of Saskatchewan

The annual “Clergy Sports Days” were again held at St. Peter’s Benedictine Abbey on July 15 and 16, 2019. There was a good turnout of clergy from the dioceses of Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert.

The clergy played a surprisingly intense and competitive series of sports, including soccer, volleyball, and basketball. The previous evening featured ping-pong and board games. The bishops tried to quell the competitiveness – but, alas – this effort was in vain.

Annual celebration at St. Ann Seniors Home

I again had the privilege of celebrating with the residents and community of St. Ann Seniors Home in Saskatoon on the Feast of St. Joachim and St. Ann – July 26, 2019.

Sisters Margaret Beaudette and Dianne Naud – Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada (below) – attended the Mass. Both have worked in the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, NWT, for decades, providing education, counselling, and ministerial support in several parish communities. They visited Saskatoon during the time of the St. Ann celebration.

Mass and Luncheon Celebration at Columbian Manor

Another of our Catholic senior facilities – Columbian Manor – was the site for a gathering and celebration this summer. The residents of Columbian Manor includes several priests and religious. The Manor has plans to expand. On Aug. 5, residents and community supporters came together for a mid-summer celebration of the Eucharist, and a community event.

Monsignor Stan Urbanoski and Monsignor Ray Senger concelebrated at the Mass, along with Fr. Michel Bedard. Celebration of the Eucharist was followed by a lunch-time banquet at Columbian Manor. There was a large turn-out at the annual event.

Blackstrap Youth Camp – operated by the Knights of Columbus

On July 25, 2019, I again had the opportunity to celebrate the Mass for the leaders and campers at Blackstrap Youth Camp, run by the Knights of Columbus at Blackstrap Lake, south of Saskatoon.

The Camp Coordinator, Julien Dale, led a capable team of councillors and youth leaders. Julien started his first year as a teacher with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools this September.

Several campers enjoy their ‘gourmet camp meals’ at Blackstrap. Meals feature a competition for who goes first – a very spirited and fierce competition!

Our Lady Queen of Peace Polish Catholic Church 100th Anniversary Celebration August 11, 2019

Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church (north of Prud’homme) was constructed in 1918-1919. Many former residents gathered for a centennial celebration at the church in August.

There was a very large turn-out and a festive mood as many recalled their days celebrating at the church. The views are stunning – as one looks south from the entrance of the Church one can see rolling prairie farm landscapes. The power and the blessing of the land is evident, and certainly contributed to the faith and spirit of the pioneers of the church community.

It was a pleasure to have Monsignor Stanley Urbanoski and Fr. Denis Phaneuf join regional pastor Fr. Colin Roy concelebrate at the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy.

 

Community members gathered for celebration of the Eucharist at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church. The interior of the church is in very good shape, and features most of the original liturgical elements.

Following the Mass, a procession to the cemetery adjacent to the followed, which featured blessing of the grave sites.

Bishop Bryan Bayda’s father, Joseph Michael Bayda, joined the celebration.

The cake was so large, we couldn’t finish it!

Dedication of Statue of St. Mother Theresa on the Feast Day of St. Mary Parish, Macklin The Nativity of Mary – the Mother of Jesus  – September 8, 2019

The weekend of Sept. 7-8 2019 was a time of special celebration for the parishes that make up the north-west region of the diocese. For St. Mary Parish in Macklin, the feast-day of the Parish was also the occasion to celebrate a significant ‘pro-life’ saint of the Church – St. Mother Teresa. The community is demonstratively pro-life.

The Mass and dedication of the statue was on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Health Care facility. The statue is located on the grounds where many religious sisters prayed the ‘Stations of the Cross’ as they lived and worked at St. Joseph’s facility. In attendance was Jean Morrison – President and Executive Director of Emmanuel Care.

Statue of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta holding a small child.

 

Fr. Binu Rathappillil, VC, addresses the congregation at the beginning of the Sunday Eucharistic celebration and dedication/ blessing of the statue of St. Mother Teresa.

The homily at the event celebrated St. Mother Teresa as an example of the power of one holy person’s “YES” to giving themselves to Christ and caring for the beloved little ones – especially those on the peripheries. It was also the occasion to invite the community to get ready to receive the upcoming “Diocesan Pastoral Plan” soon to be promulgated in the diocese.

Local musicians lead the celebration of the Mass for the Parish feast day.

Blessing of the statue at the beginning of the Eucharistic liturgy.

Applicants to the Permanent Diaconate Program

Paul Wheeler, Nicholas Blom, Ryan LeBlanc and their wives, Ely, Maureen, and  Monique gathered for an informal dinner at my residence on Sept. 5, 2019.

Receiving New Clergy in our Diocese to Serve our Parish Communities

The Diocese of Saskatoon continues to be blessed by the clergy who come to serve our Diocese. This summer several priests arrived from Ghana, Nigeria, and India to serve our parish communities.

A New Clergy Formation program was recently held for newly-arrived priests in the diocese of Saskatoon (left to right): Fr. Prosper Abotsi (Associate Pastor for Humboldt cluster); Fr. Santhosh Thekkekulam, VC, (Pastor for Wilkie cluster); Fr Jerome Ogunleye (pastor for Wadena cluster); Fr. Francis Appiah-Kubi (pastor for Fox Valley cluster); Bishop Mark Hagemoen; Fr. John Abban-Bonsu (Associate Pastor, Holy Spirit, Saskatoon); Fr. Habila Musa (Pastor for Rosetown cluster); Fr. Paul Oshin (Associate Pastor, St. Paul, Saskatoon); and Fr Clement Arthur (Pastor, St. Michael and St Peter the Apostle, Saskatoon). – Photo by Kiply Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News.

 

 

The spring and summer season was a time of experiencing an abundance of God’s blessings and the experience of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a striving and faithful People of God. ministry and blessing.

The Diocese of Saskatoon continues to reveal so many ways in which love and dedication to Christ and the Church is evident in the many activities and devotions of dedicated and zealous people.

I look forward to the upcoming Fall season as we introduce our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, and propose to our parish communities pastoral goals to help our communities and diocese continue to engage in the life, mission, and ministry of Jesus Christ.      

                                                                        In Christ,

+Mark Hagemoen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bishop Mark Hagemoen Blog – Deanery Visit July 2019

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 20:36
Visit to the Parish Communities of the Wadena Deanery

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon

From July 8 to 14, 2019, I visited the Parishes of the Deanery of Wadena. The deanery is located in the eastern-most area of the diocese, and has been a part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon for just over 20 years.

The first visit was to St. Theresa’s, Lintlaw. The community gathered from early evening Mass. A cemetery blessing followed.

Fr. Emmanuel Banahene at St. Theresa, Lintlaw, SK

 

St. Theresa Parish, Lintlaw, July 7.

 

Blessing the graves at St. Theresa cemetery, Lintlaw, SK.

Fr. Emmanuel Bahanene introduces the evening townhall meeting at St Joseph’s Parish in Kelvington:

Town Hall Meeting with the Bishop at St. Joseph Parish, Kelvington on July 9, 2019.

On Wednesday morning July 10, St. Mary’s Parish in Wadena gathered to celebrate morning Mass, followed by Eucharistic adoration – a regular event for the parish.

The community of Our Lady of Poland Parish in Fosston is very proud of their church. Following a visit to the Church and cemetary blessing, a community meeting was held at a local community hall.

Pastoral visit to Fosston, SK.

 

Community members gather for a picture at the blessing of graves held at the Fossten cemetery.

 

Blessing the graves at Fosston, SK.

 

Community of St. George Parish in Naicam gathered with their pastor Fr. Charles Nweze for a luncheon and meeting following the celebration of Mass.

St. Felix Parish, Archerwill:

Fr. Charles Nweze at St. Felix Catholic Church, Archerwill, SK

 

Visit to St. Felix, Archerwill in the Wadena deanery.

Rex Mundi / Christ the King Camp: 

The Rex Mundi Camp was another stop during this visit. The outdoor recreation facility and ‘camp’ is located north of Nobleville, and just within the Prince Albert diocese. It now operates as a rental facility for various church and community organizations who can offer their own family and youth programs.

Fr. Charles Nweze and Fr. Travis Myrheim of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert at the Christ the King / Rex Mundi Youth Camp chapel at Marean Lake, SK.

Fr. Travis Myrheim of Prince Albert diocese serves on the Rex Mundi board, and assists with some of the programs. 

A small chapel-church is a feature of Rex-Mundi, as well as an outdoor shrine to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Lawrence Parish in Nobleville:

There was a gathering of the community at St. Lawrence, Nobleville for evening Eucharist, followed by the blessing of the cemetery and a luscious pot-luck dinner. Many summer vacationers from areas cottages in the ‘lake country’ gather at the church for the celebration.

Parishioners at St. Lawrence, Nobleville, SK, prepared for the potluck dinner.

The blessing celebration at the adjacent cemetery followed the Mass. The evening was a blustery on this part of wild prairie. The weather and setting certainly gives a sense of the grandeur and immensity of God’s creation on the prairie.

The community gathered at Christ the King Parish in Rose Valley, where following Mass we had a wonderful pot-luck lunch. Following the lunch, we travelled to the Rose Valley parish cemetery for a blessing service.

Parishioners at Christ the King Parish in Rose Valley.

Parishioners of Christ the King Parish in Rose Valley join in prayers at the cemetery.

Following the lunch, we travelled to the Rose Valley parish cemetery for a blessing service.

Parish visits at Foam Lake, Wynyard, and Wishart:

Community at Christ the King Parish in Foam Lake gathers following morning Mass July 13.

Following the Mass we travelled to Sheho, where we visited the former site of the Church, and celebrated a cemetery blessing. A parish luncheon and meeting followed back in Foam Lake.

Prayers at Sacred Heart cemetery at Sheho, SK.

A cemetary blessing was also held at the Foam Lake cemetery with Pastor, Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu, Pastor of: St. Mary, Wynard; Christ the King, Foam Lake; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart.

A Town Hall Meeting with representatives of the three parishes was held at St. Mary Parish, Wynyard, after a Friday evening celebration of Mass.

Parishioners from St. Mary, Wynyard, Christ the King, Foam Lake and Immaculate Heart of Mary, WIshart , at celebration of the Eucharist on the evening of Friday, July 12 at St. Mary Catholic Church, Wynyard.

 

Parishioners from Foam Lake, Wishart and Wynyard participated in the Town Hall Meeting with the Bishop July 12 at St. Mary, Wynyard, SK.

The deanery visit concluded with the celebration of evening Mass with a pot-luck dinner and community meeting at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Wishart.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Wishart, SK.

 

The parish features an outdoor Stations of the Cross. This station is the “Death of Jesus on the Cross.”

 

Preceding Mass in Wishart was a blessing of the cemetery several kilometers outside of Wishart.

 

Gravesite of Fr. Richard Kunka, who served the parish in the late 1960’s, and who died in 1972.

 

 

Bishop Mark Hagemoen celebrated Eucharist with Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu and parishioners at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Wishart, SK.

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Bishop Mark Hagemoen Blog – Spring 2019

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 19:52
Visit to Yellowknife for Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council gathering in June 2019

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon

In early June 2019 I joined the members of the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council in Yellowknife for our annual meeting.

The Council was established in 1998 by the Catholic Bishops of Canada. It encourages Aboriginal leadership in Catholic Christian communities, supports healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and advises the Canadian Bishops on a variety of indigenous issues.

Flying into Yellowknife – still ice on Great Slave Lake on June 13!

 

This distinctive Cross sits above the “Trapper’s Lake Retreat Center” of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. The center was the site for our meetings.

 

Chief Ernest Betsina welcomed and greeted the members of the Council to Chief Drygeese territory of the Yellowknife Dene Nation.

 

View from “Trapper’s Lake Retreat Center”: the reteat house of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, located 10 kilometers outside Yellowknife, NWT.

 

Members of the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council are:

  • Fibbie Tatti, Yellowknife and Dettah, NWT (co-chair);
  • Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Diocese of Saskatoon (co-chair);
  • William Angalik, Arviat, Nunavut;
  • Bishop Jean-Pierre Blais, Diocese of Baie-Comeau, Quebec;
  • Bishop Marcel Damphousse, Diocese of Sault Ste.Marie, Ontario;
  • Gary Gagnon, Edmonton, Alberta;
  • Archbishop Peter Hundt, Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland;
  • Deacon Rennie Nahanee, Vancouver, BC;
  • Melanie O’Neil, Toronto, Ontario;
  • Paul Soucie, Ottawa, Ontario;
  • Dennis Whitford, Grand Prairie, Alberta.

Members of the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council in session.  

 

Staff from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops also attend the meeting: Kyle Ferguson and Tracy Blain.

 

Council members prepare to celebrate Holy Eucharist at St Kateri Tekawitha Church in Dettah, about 40 minutes from Yellowknife.

 

Deacon Rennie Nahanee of Squamish First Nation near Vancouver, BC., proclaims the Word of God.

Committee members had the opportunity to participate in “Aboriginal Days” celebrations, which began with Sunday Eucharist and a community meal at the Yellowknife River traditional site.

 

Pausing for a photo after Mass at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church, in Dettah – about 40 minutes from Yellowknife on Great Slave Lake.

 

Several of the bishops were available for Confessions before Mass.

 

This year’s Aboriginal Days was dedicated to the conclusion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Children, and its “Calls to Action” that were features of its concluding report.

 

Drummers from the Dettah community with Chief Edward Sangrese.

 

 


Members of the Dene community proclaimed the Word of God.  Bishop Marcelle Damphousse looks on as Cecilia Rabesca proclaims the 2nd Reading.

 

William Angalik is the first Inuit representative on the Council. He lives in Arviat, Nunavut.

 

The bishop celebrants are joined by Jim Lynn of Dettah. Jim works for the Diocese of Mackenzie – Fort Smith in its Chancery Office and Archives.

Anglophone Safeguarding Conference Irish Pontifical Institute, Vatican, July 1-5, 2019

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Diocese of Saskatoon

Bishop Robert Bourgoin (Diocese of Hearst-Mosonee) and I represented the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at this year’s conference, which aims to develop awareness and best practices for Catholic dioceses and organizations regarding ‘safeguaurding’ in relation to all ministries and activities run by Catholic organizations.

The aim of the conference is to improve all protocols in ensure the safety of young people of vulnerable adults, and to also facilitate dialogues amoungst dioceses and Bishops assemblies in anglophone dioceses about developing safegaudring ‘best practices.’

Some of the insights and learnings included the following:

  • Safeguarding of Children is becoming an increasingly complex and urgent issue, especially due to the expansion of technology;
  • Awareness of the need of initial on ongoing for clergy and religion on the topic of safeguarding. Formation and education is an ongoing feature in our education support, and will address the following themes
  1. Developing best practices re: safeguarding;
  2. Contextual challenges: living in a culture where abuse of women, children, and vulnerable adults continues to expand;
  3. Developing expertise regarding: a) dealing with the trauma of victims; and b) responding appropriately to those who are guilty of abuse.
  • The challenge of implementing and overseeing consistent ‘best practices’ amoung various diocesan and religious entities;
  • Being ‘victim-focussed’ when complainants come forward;
  • Review of “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” by Pope Francis.

 

Gathering for the celebration of Eucharist during the Conference at the chapel of the Irish Pontifical Institute.

 

Rock Your Roots: National Indigenous Day Walk for Reconciliation June 21, 2019

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Diocese of Saskatoon

On Friday June 21 organizations from across Saskatoon joined in the annual ‘Rock Your Roots’ walk in support of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

The event was very well attended. Thousands of people walked through downtown Saskatoon. The atmosphere was festive, while respectful.

I was very pleased to see so many of our Catholic schools well represented. Many church groups were also present.

Stopping for a picture at the gathering with Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark.

Celebrating Confirmation and First Eucharist across our diocese

June saw the conclusion of the celebrations of the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

These celebrations are truly an occasion of important celebration with the faith communities and parishes of our diocese.

The celebrations are also great opportunities for me in my role as bishop to share dreams and hopes for our diocese, as well as communicate to our young people how God calls them – and how our bishop and diocese needs them – to discover and share their God-given charisms and gifts in service of the life and mission of Jesus Christ.

Confirmation and First Holy Communion celebration at St. Patrick Parish in Saskatoon.

Confirmation and First Holy Communion celebrated at St. Mary Paish in Wynyard.         

Other photos from Confirmation/ First Eucharist celebrations in the diocese:

 

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Parish Feast Day celebration and dedication of Mother Teresa statue held at St. Joseph Park, Macklin

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 18:56

By Fran Stang, St. Mary Parish, Macklin 

Catholic Saskatoon News

The faith community of St. Mary Parish in Macklin, SK, welcomed Bishop Mark Hagemoen on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, as he joined the parish community at the grotto in St. Joseph’s Park to celebrate the feast day of their parish with Mass and a special ceremony to dedicate a new feature in the park.

St. Joseph’s Park has been in existence since the 1930s when the Sisters of St. Elizabeth built the former St. Joseph’s Hospital on the property and added the park as a place of respite and prayer for the Sisters. The grotto was built in 1932 with a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes (carved in Oberammergau, Germany) as the focal point.

Over time, as the number of Sisters living in St. Anthony’s Convent and nursing at St. Joseph’s declined, upkeep of the park was neglected. In 2009, a committee was formed to restore the park and make it available to the residents of St. Joseph’s Health Facility as well as the public.

Many hours of work have been spent in rejuvenating, enhancing and maintaining the park to make it a place of peace and serenity as once was the vision of the Sisters. There is a paved walkway along which are the Stations of the Cross. The thirteenth station is marked with a statue of the pieta.

The park committee in conjunction with Macklin-Denzil Pro-Life decided that a monument to St. Mother Teresa would be a fitting addition to the park. St. Mother Teresa was a great advocate for unborn children and the poorest of the poor. She said that the world’s greatest poverty was abortion. Generous support from donors enabled the successful completion of the project. A statue of St. Mother Teresa was commissioned and placed in the park.

The celebration Sept. 8 started with the unveiling and blessing of the statue of St. Mother Teresa by the bishop.  Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Hagemoen and Fr. Binu Rathappillil, VC,  followed by a barbecue and fellowship in the parish hall.

 

 

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Deacon begins new role as full-time Executive Director of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 15:53

Catholic Saskatoon News

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation recently announced that Fr. Deacon Shawn Panio joined the Foundation on Sept. 3, 2019 as full-time Executive Director/Director of Development.

Shawn comes to the GSCS Foundation with extensive education and work experience in business, counselling, advancement, Catholic ministry and Catholic education.

Shawn and his wife Sandra were born and raised in Saskatchewan then moved to Ontario for career opportunities. Shawn and his family are excited to return to their Saskatchewan roots.

Shawn Panio is a Bi-Ritual Deacon within the Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic churches. He has a degree in business, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He has completed diplomas in psychology, counselling and therapy-related areas. He has a diploma in Theology and is completing his Master’s of Divinity.

Shawn has worked in senior leadership roles in the banking and financial industry for many years and has worked for several non-profit organizations in advancement and executive leadership roles. Most recently Shawn worked in the Ontario Catholic School system as a School Chaplain.

Shawn says he is thrilled to bring his wealth of experience and his love of the Catholic faith and Catholic education to this position of leadership at the Foundation.

 

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Diaconate training and formation session held at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster for aspirants from Regina and Saskatoon dioceses

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 14:14

Formation is underway for three men from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon who are discerning a call to the Permanent Diaconate.

The three aspirants to the diaconate from the Saskatoon diocese — Paul Wheeler, Ryan LeBlanc and Nicholas Blom — recently attended a learning and training session with three aspirants from the Archdiocese of Regina — Rob Two, Ken Fahlman, and Martin Kondzielewski. The formation session was held at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster from Sept. 6 to 8, 2019.

Although a number of deacons from other dioceses have served here, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has never before ordained permanent Deacons.

A 1998 Vatican declaration about the Formation of Deacons states: “The permanent diaconate, restored by the Second Vatican Council, in complete continuity with ancient tradition and the specific decision of the Council of Trent, has flourished in these last decades in many parts of the Church — with promising results, especially for the urgent missionary work of new evangelization.”

As with other Holy Orders, the discernment process for Permanent Deacons involves both the candidate and the faith community. The permanent diaconate is open to married men 35 years or older, or to single men over 25 years of age.

The permanent diaconate is open to married men over 35 years of age, and single men over 25 years of age – but details about how permanent deacons are formed and how they function varies from diocese to diocese. After a  discernment process launched by then-Bishop Donald Bolen, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon began planning for a permanent diaconate program in 2015.

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New group begins Adult Faith Enrichment journey

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 09:50

A glimpse of our first weekend together at Adult Faith Enrichment at Queen’s House! Bishop Mark Hagemoen shared a beautiful autumn morning with us!Stretch and grow with us!There are 3 streams available: Diocesan, Aboriginal & Eparchial. You can still join our 2 year journey!Contact Jennifer and Blair Carruthers (306) 659-5846 or e-mail jcarruthers@rcdos.caMore details at: https://rcdos.ca/adult-faith-enrichment #faithenrichment #adultfaithenrichment#faithformation #spiritualgrowth #transformation #yxeretreat #yxecatholic #inspire #yxe #queenshouse#stretchandgrow #journey #retreat #newevangelization #aboriginalfaith

Posted by Adult Faith Enrichment Program – Saskatoon RC Diocese on Sunday, September 8, 2019

Video and photos by Teresa Bodnar Hiebert

The Adult Faith Enrichment Program started a two-year journey with a new group of participants on the Sept. 6-8, 2019 weekend.

There is still time to register for the 2019-21 diocesan Adult Faith Enrichment Program: call coordinators Jennifer or Blair Carruthers at 306-659-5846 or e-mail: jcarruthers@rcdos.ca

Held at Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal in Saskatoon, the program begins this session with a new name, and a new group of participants who will meet one weekend a month from September to May for two years, deepening their understanding of the Catholic faith and their relationship with God.

Previously known as Lay Formation, Adult Faith Enrichment has a diocesan stream, as well as a stream of participants from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, and an Indigenous Catholic stream jointly presented by the diocese of Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Keewatin Le-Pas. The three streams each have their own paths in the program, as well as joining together for some programs.

Find more information at: Adult Faith Enrichment or call Blair and Jennifer Carruthers at (306) 659-5846 or e-mail jcarruthers@rcdos.ca

Jennifer and Blair Carruthers are coordinators of the Adult Faith Enrichment Program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. (Photos by Teresa Bodnar-Hiebert)

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Sister Power: Dominican sisters in B.C. generate their own electricity

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 05:36

By Agnieszka Ruck, B.C. Catholic

Canadian Catholic News

[Garibaldi Highlands, B.C. – CCN] – When you spend hours in prayer kneeling on sustainably sourced pews and looking out a floor-to-ceiling view of the Garibaldi Highlands, it’s hard not to care about your environment.

The Dominican sisters at Queen of Peace Monastery have discovered that praying in a chapel with a stunning view of mountains and woods has made a genuine impact on their spirituality and how they go about their daily lives.

The inspirational view in the chapel. (Photo by Bishop Mark Hagemoen)

“Sitting and praying in front of the beauty in the chapel has extended and opened my prayer more and more,” said Prioress Sr. Claire Marie Rolf, OP.

The Dominican sisters at prayer. (Photo by Bishop Mark Hagemoen)

Since moving into Queen of Peace, the “tent of her heart” has opened to embrace not only family, friends, Catholics, and other Christians, but the planet as well.

“It’s all a part of God’s loving plan, that we be stewards, that we love creation the way he loves it,” said Rolf. “It’s so full of beauty! You begin to cherish it and to hear its groaning, its suffering.”

This has led to changes big and small at the monastery 30 kilometres north of downtown Squamish. First, the sisters are installing a micro hydroelectric project in Pilchuck Creek, which runs through their property in cascading waterfalls and will easily provide enough clean energy to power their property.

Novices have told Rolf they never expected to be rolling up their sleeves and mixing cement when they entered religious life. Yet, after the environmental studies (which began back in 2011) were completed and the Dominicans received a licence to build this spring, they have been hard at work hauling pipes, moving boulders, and otherwise following the instructions of on-site experts.

Sr. Marie Thomas Lawrie, OP, who made her first profession of vows in 2018, finds the whole process exciting.

“It’s really amazing to be out in the middle of this beautiful wilderness and to realize that rather than bringing in big machines and knocking down trees and having people tromping through the woods, wrecking it, we’re able to take almost a game trail into the woods and build this micro hydro project, where, if you’re standing on the road, you can’t even tell that it’s there,” she said.

Views of the Garibaldi Highlands from Queen of Peace Monastery. (Photo by Agnieszka Ruck – B.C. Catholic / CCN)

“We’re able to do what we need to do to support our community while still respecting the amazing gift of creation that God gave us.”

She said doing the work by hand is a practice embedded in their religious tradition. “It’s always been a monastic thing – hiring experts for the parts that need to be done by experts. But if we are able to do the work, we find a way to do the work … do it with our hands, and do it well.”

Consultant Peter Talbot, who has helped build various micro hydroelectric projects in the area over the years, said the Queen of Peace project is among those with the smallest environmental impact.

“We haven’t done any road building, construction, or blasting,” he said. “If you were to drive up the hill, you wouldn’t see a thing. If you were to walk up the hill and look in a certain place, you might see a tank … or a couple of black pipes near a stream, which are noticeable, but not objectionable.”

In avoiding the use of heavy machinery, Talbot and the sisters have found creative ways to haul cement bags and 200-foot-long pipes with the help of ropes, zip lines, and pulleys. Talbot said he finds the whole process personally rewarding.

“It’s a huge blessing for me to be able to work for them. I believe in the same God they believe in, and to be able to work in a beautiful area that I’m familiar with, with some fabulous people, on a unique project, is really rewarding.”

When it’s all said and done, he said about 2,200 feet of pipe with an elevation drop of 750 feet will be installed on the property. The sisters have been approved to make 86 kilowatts, which will likely power all their needs, and possibly allow them to sell some electricity back to the B.C. Hydro grid.

Building a micro hydro electric project isn’t a cheap endeavour (the estimated cost of the project is currently $400,000) but leads to savings in the long run. A $2.5 million project Talbot worked on for a camp many years ago paid for itself in five to six years. The sisters’ much smaller project will likely also pay for itself in a few years, he said.

He estimates the project will be complete in about a year.

The sisters check the water levels in Pilchuk Creek. (Photo by Agnieszka Ruck – B.C. Catholic / CCN)

The sisters have also found other ways to promote and support sustainable practices. They grow many of their own vegetables and have an agreement with a local organic farmer; he uses a portion of their land to grow his crops and they help themselves to produce without exchanging a dime.

Their chapel and other rooms are furnished with wooden shelves, tables, and pews made from the trees that were cut down during the construction of the monastery.

And when purchasing groceries, the sisters avoid single-use plastics.

In a small gift shop, the sisters sell various handmade items to help support themselves. Those gifts include cards made of recycled paper, and pottery created out of local materials. Potter Sr. Mary Magdalen Coughlin, OP, tries to use only local ingredients in their works and went so far as scooping up granite dust during on-site construction for use in her art.

For Lawrie, this way of life is a hopeful response to a planet that many deem doomed.
“In school or summer camps, there were always talks about ecology, climate change, and the effects that unbridled human industry can and has had on the environment. I got sort of sick of it at one point. It was like: ‘the planet is doomed, it’s our fault, and don’t forget to recycle your bottles,’ which isn’t exactly a message of hope,” she said.

“It’s been a beautiful discovery for me, first in prayer, then in study, to find a language of hope for talking about environmentalism and care of creation, which for me begins by recognizing that, while it’s not one of the seven sacraments, it is a visible sign of an invisible reality,” she said.

“Creation, and that includes us, is really a sign of the glory and beauty and presence of God.”

And that – more so than the trendy eco-friendly movements of B.C.’s outdoor community – is the catalyst behind their hydroelectric project and other eco-friendly efforts.

Rolf puts it this way: “We’re building something beautiful for God. It’s for his kingdom, for the environment, and for clean energy to help sustain our community. It just makes sense.”

Dominican Sisters of Queen of Peace Monastery, Garibaldi Highlands, B.C. (Photo by Bishop Mark Hagemoen)

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John Paul II in Canada – 35th anniversary of historic visit

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 11:41

The front page of a special section of The Prairie Messenger in August 2019: the weekly Catholic newspaper was one of the media outlets closely following the papal visit that September, 35 years ago. (Photo – RCDOS Archives)

By Mickey Conlon, The Catholic Register

Canadian Catholic News

[Toronto – CCN] – Thirty-five years ago this month, Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff to visit Canada. The impact of those 12 days in September hasn’t been forgotten.

Mike Mastromatteo was just beginning his first job in the newspaper world in March 1984, and already the excitement in the offices of The Catholic Register was palpable for a visit that wasn’t to take place for another six months.

Of course, this wasn’t just any visit. Pope John Paul II, the Bishop of Rome since 1978, was coming. It was the first-ever visit of the head of the Catholic Church to Canada.

For 12 days in September, 35 years ago this month, Canada was the epicentre for Catholics as the Polish pope set off on a cross-Canada tour from the cradle of Canadian Catholicism in Quebec City Sept. 9, 1984 and criss-crossed the country — stopping in Trois-Rivieres, Montreal, QB, Toronto, ON, St. John’s, NL, Moncton, NB, Halifax, NS, Midland, ON., Winnipeg and St. Boniface, MB, Edmonton, AB, Vancouver, BC, and an unscheduled stop in Yellowknife, NT, — before departing from the nation’s capital on Sept. 20. (The visit did not include stops in Saskatchewan, the Yukon Territory, or Prince Edward Island).

Pope John Paul II would return to Canada twice more — for a five-hour stop in Fort Simpson, NT, in 1987 and for World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002 — but 1984 was history.

“There was a buzz in the office from the time I first walked in,” remembers Mastromatteo, who was 27 at the time and a recent graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University).

The buzz wasn’t confined to Church media. The daily newspapers were full of stories on the upcoming papal visit and the man who had captured the world’s imagination in six short years.

Here was the first non-Italian pope to sit in the Chair of St. Peter in more than 400 years, a man recognized for his key role in battling communism in his native Poland and beyond, the pope who had significantly improved inter-faith relations, had upheld Church teachings on touchy matters like life issues, the ordination of women and a celibate priesthood while still supporting the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. And he was coming to Canada.

The reverberations from the trip continue to echo in many quarters, something that Fr. Dan Donovan, who shared commentating duties with Peter Mansbridge on CBC’s coverage of the visit, predicted just a year later in his book A Lasting Impact.

“It will remain a special moment in the history of the Canadian people and the Canadian Church,” wrote the former theology professor at the University of St. Michael’s College.

Donovan said the pope’s visit inspired Canadians, and not just Catholics, to be part of something larger than themselves.

“Some thought for the first time in years about the larger questions, the meaning of life and the meaning of their own life, about the mystery of God, about values and priorities, about their hopes and fears,” wrote Donovan.

“Some who had not been practising their religion in any public way began to do so. Others tried to make their involvement a little more personal, a little more genuine.”

For Mastromatteo and The Register staff, the visit was all-consuming.

“I’d say about 75 per cent of the news we handled involved preparations for John Paul II’s arrival,” said Mastromatteo. “It was an exciting time to be working for a Catholic paper.”

But he wouldn’t find the true excitement until his first assignment on the papal tour, which touched down in Toronto and area Sept. 14-15. It was at St. Paul’s United Church on Bloor Street East, where the pope celebrated an ecumenical service. There, he came within John Paul’s sphere and experienced what he had only heard about.

“(I got) within 10 feet of the pope as he made his rounds,” recalls Mastromatteo. “That was the time I really noticed the charisma and magnetism I’d heard so much about.”

Like Mastromatteo, the whole country would soon discover this magnetism as the pope continued on his exhaustive 13,000-kilometre trek from coast to coast (it would have taken in a third coast but for heavy fog keeping his plane from landing at Fort Simpson, though he made up for it three years later with a visit to the community at the end of an American tour and celebrated Mass for 5,000 people).

Those were extraordinary days for the Catholic Church in Canada, that September of 1984, remembers Fr. Jacques Monet, the Jesuit priest who was a commentator with Mansbridge on the first leg of CBC’s extensive coverage of the papal visit.

Monet took part in broadcasts from Quebec City, through Trois Rivieres and Montreal on to Toronto. Monet has many fond memories of the tour, including meeting John Paul at a downtown Toronto hotel. But one thing stood out.

“This kind of witness that people had naturally, that this was a holy time… is the main memory I have of those days,” he said.

For Mastromatteo, there were mostly highs, but there were issues. Just before John Paul’s arrival, there was the threat of a garbage strike in Toronto, “and it gave everybody the jitters,” he said.

“Poor Cardinal (Gerald Emmett) Carter practically begged the city and the union to get it settled, but as it turned out, the province legislated an end to the strike before it even began,” said Mastromatteo.

The young reporter’s highlight was definitely the papal Mass at the former Canadian Forces base that is now Downsview Park. He remembers the media being “treated like royalty” and enjoyed the police escort for the media bus to and from the site. But nothing compared to the pope’s arrival.
“There was a loud shout from the crowd as the pope arrived in a big military helicopter,” he said.
Richard Alway saw it up close and personal. He was one of the lucky few on stage for the papal Mass.

He remembers it as a cold Saturday, the aftermath of a torrential overnight rain. Alway, former president and vice-chancellor of the University of St. Michael’s College and now Praeses of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, took a stroll through the field and recalls the conditions.

“The mud came up over the soles of the shoes,” he said. “The field had been trampled with all the people, so it was like walking through a swamp.”

Yet the people still came. And that was replicated everywhere the pope visited, from the 300,000 who welcomed him at Quebec City’s Laval University on Day 1 through to the 350,000 in Ottawa who saw the pope float in a papal boat through the Rideau Canal on the final day.

Some of the Prairie Messenger coverage of the papal visit in September 2019. (Photo – RCDOS Archives)

The numbers were huge, but one segment of the population took greater pleasure in the papal visit than most: Canada’s Polish community.

It was a good time to be Polish, in Canada and around the world. Poles had been under the thumb of the Nazi regime in the Second World War only to be liberated into the arms of Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union. Yet here was one of their own, Karol Wojtyla, elected pope and on the frontline with Lech Walesa and the Solidarity Movement in the battle against communism, from which Poland and Eastern Europe would finally break free in a few years.

“He’s still called ‘Our Pope,’ ” said Mary Samulewski, whose family has long-time ties to St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in downtown Toronto, the oldest Polish parish in the city.

“Our Pope” had cultivated a relationship with the parish long before the papal visit. As Cardinal Karol Wojtyla he had visited Toronto and St. Stanislaus Kostka in the late 1960s and again in the mid-1970s. So imagine when he was elected pope the excitement that created. Come 1984, it exploded, especially when the parish found the pope was hosting an event for the Polish community that drew 55,000 people to nearby Exhibition Stadium.

“There was a real excitement in the parish to be able to go,” said Samulewski, a retired teacher who calls herself the unofficial historian of the parish. “We had quite a crowd. The kids from our Polish school went in costumes and they had special seating on the floor.”

The event seemed to go on forever, she said. Speeches, entertainment for their guest, it wouldn’t end.

“He had the patience of a saint,” laughs Samulewski about the man who in 2011 would be canonized a saint.

Not surprisingly, throughout John Paul’s pontificate this bond only strengthened at St. Stanislaus Kostka, other Polish parishes in Canada and throughout the world. When the increasingly frail pope began his physical deterioration years later, parishioners took notice and held Masses to pray for his health, said Samulewski.

The bond remains strong to this day, particularly with older Poles who came to Canada after the war or who had lived under communist rule.

“There was something special about this pope. There’s a lot of respect for Pope Francis, but ‘Our Pope’ is still John Paul II,” she said.

When he died in April 2005, it was like the parish had lost a close and cherished friend. Many parishioners who had long ago moved to parishes in the suburbs came home to St. Stanislaus to commemorate the man.

“We’d lost not just a pope but we’d lost someone very close to ourselves,” said Samulewski. “I’m sure a lot of people felt the same, but it was very, very strong in the St. Stan’s community.”

To this day, the parish continues to mark special anniversaries around their pope, and a large portrait of John Paul is a focal point inside the church.

“He sort of became part of the air we breathe in the church,” said Samulewski.

What can’t be lost in all the hoopla that surrounded this papal visit is that Pope John Paul II came to Canada with a message.

He gave 34 major speeches or homilies during his visit and another 15 shorter messages or greetings. A wide range of subjects were broached, from faith and culture, to Mary, to the mystery of God, the family, community, the sacredness of human life, missionary work, technology, multiculturalism, unemployment, the arms race, Canada and the Third World, Indigenous peoples, peace and Jesus.

On Indigenous peoples, the pope foreshadowed what would become a major topic three decades down the road as Canada began the process of trying to reconciliate with its Indigenous people.
He offered support on land rights while also recognizing that the Church had made many mistakes in the evangelization of Canada’s First Nations. While falling short of apologizing for abuses like the residential school system and the Church’s role there, his successor Pope Benedict XVI would eventually offer that apology in 2009.

It was the pope’s many encounters with Indigenous people during his visit that still resonates with Fr. Michael Knox, director of Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, where the pope took part in ceremonies that highlighted the roles of both the First Nations and the martyrs in the Church.

“The visit of St. John Paul II to the Martyrs’ Shrine, both literally and spiritually, set the apostolate on a trajectory that shapes an aspect of its continued mission,” said Knox.

“Literally, its infrastructure, to this day, is largely set to what was required to welcome the pontiff.  And, more importantly, spiritually, his invitation, on that day in 1984, to discover the face of Christ in the First Nations peoples, echoes that disposition found in St. Jean de Brébeuf and his companions, and today continues to invite pilgrims to encounter the loving presence of Christ Jesus in all people and things.”

Alway sees the 1984 visit as a watershed moment for Canada and Catholics alike.

“It was such a large event for Canada as a whole because John Paul was such a charismatic figure that even the secular world was impressed,” said Alway. “He had an impact far beyond the bonds of our own faith. It was sort of at its peak in 1984.”

Mastromatteo said the visit “made it cool to be Catholic” and that the reception from people from all walks of life was a positive reflection on Canada. It showcased “Canada, Toronto, the archdiocese and the Catholic faith on the world stage.”

It would all play out again 18 years later when John Paul returned to Toronto for the final time as he celebrated World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto with hundreds of thousands of young people. It was an older, much more frail pope, who came to Toronto, but the reception was just as great, witnessed by the 800,000 who gathered at Downsview — like in 1984, after torrential rainfalls during the night — to celebrate the closing Mass.

Selection of homilies and messages from Pope John Paul II during his visit to Canada in 1984:

12 September 1984 – Solemn Eucharistic Celebration at St. John’s, NL

14 September 1984, Mass on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross in Halifax

Liturgy of the Word with the Native Peoples of Canada – Homily at Martyrs’ Shrine, Huronia

15 September 1984, Eucharistic Celebration in Toronto

16 September 1984, Solemn Eucharistic celebration in Winnipeg

16 September 1984, Ecumenical prayer meeting in Edmonton

17 September 1984, Celebration of the Eucharist for the development of peoples – Edmonton, AB

Sept. 18, 1984 – Mass dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Abbotsford Airport, Vancouver, BC

CÉRÉMONIE DE BÉATIFICATION DE SŒUR MARIE-LÉONIE PARADIS  (Sept. 11, 1984, Quebec)

9 September 1984, Mass celebrated at «Laval» Catholic University (French)

Celebration in honour of the Virgin Mary at the Santuary of «Notre-Dame du Cap» (French)

20 September 1984, Concelebration of the Eucharist in Ottawa for peace and justice (French)

 

 

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Passion and namesake inspire new students at Newman Theological College in Edmonton

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 08:31

By Kyle Greenham, Grandin Media

Canadian Catholic News

[Edmonton – CCN] – It’s a monumental year for Newman Theological College, which is celebrating both its 50th anniversary and the canonization of its namesake, Blessed John Henry Newman.

And for two new students, their enrolment has also come with some monumental life changes.

Paul Dansereau made the 700-kilometre move from Revelstoke, B.C., to Edmonton with his wife and three children – all under four years old – to study at Newman. He plans to spend the next two years working towards a bachelor’s degree in theology and possibly a master’s degree.

Supporting a family while studying full-time is a daunting task for the 29-year-old. But Dansereau is set to tackle the challenge, driven by his hope of a better future for the Catholic Church.

“Looking at the state of the Church today, the needs of our time, and the call for the new evangelization – nothing fills me with more joy than doing this kind of work” with the Church, he said.

“One of my favourite quotes from [Catholic author] Michael Kelly is that the Church is not something we inherit from previous generations, it’s on loan to us from future generations.
“What we do today is for the Church of the future. What I’m doing today is for the Church of my kids and grandkids.”

As of the 2018/19 winter semester, 282 full-time and part-time students were enrolled at Newman Theological College. The student body is a combination of seminarians, lay people and Catholic teachers studying in the Master of Religious Education program.

A variety of events will be held over the coming year celebrating Blessed John Henry Newman, including a Mass and open house on the English cardinal’s feast day, Oct. 9. Newman will be canonized at the Vatican on Oct. 13. A Newman Theological College alumni reunion is also planned for June 12-13.

Joanne Mahwinney of Wheatley River, P.E.I., is enrolled in the online Master of Theological Studies program. Like Newman, Mahwinney grew up in a different Christian tradition, and the soon-to-be-saint played a pivotal role in her decision to become Catholic.

Her enrolment at Newman Theological College seems particularly providential. It was the University of Prince Edward Island’s annual Blessed John Henry Newman Dinner in Charlottetown that sparked her interest in Catholicism four years ago.

“God’s sense of humour is very evident! I have to thank Newman for where I am now,” said Mahwinney, who was also gifted a book on the 19th-century theologian and cardinal.
“There are so many quotes of his I’ve read so many times because I love the way he worded them.”

At 50, Mahwinney has lived much of her life as a Protestant, a biblical scholar and teacher at the Immanuel Christian School in Charlottetown. Mahwinney’s superiors at the school were supportive of her decision to become a Catholic more than a year ago, and she still teaches there today.

When she graduates with her master’s degree, Mahwinney hopes to immerse herself fully in the faith and to pass her knowledge on to her students.

“I’m amazed at how differently you live your faith and you think your faith as a Catholic,” Mawhinney said, noting the differences in how Protestants and Catholics interpret the Bible, the role of saints and other key theological areas.

“I really want to take the time to think Catholic, to read the Bible through a Catholic lens. And I really liked the sense of orthodoxy I got from Newman. They did not water things down and were committed to teaching the heart of the faith. That’s what I want to learn about.”

As her classes get underway, Mahwinney hopes her studies will apply to her vocation as a teacher “to teach what is true and see their world get so much bigger from it.

“Many people don’t know how to view their faith from a perspective of truth or from a theism that is rational. It’s important for me to learn that for myself and help young people. I want them to know there’s a reason for their faith.”

Paul Dansereau takes his inspiration from Cardinal Newman’s perseverance. In spite of the challenges and persecution he faced, Newman never abandoned his mission to grow and better understand his faith.

“He was a very controversial figure in his own day and age, and there’s so much we can learn from his example today,” Dansereau said.  “It’s pretty cool to be coming to study at Newman right around his canonization.”

Dansereau’s faith development has also come with challenges. He uprooted his family and left behind three jobs in Revelstoke where he worked as a postal worker, kayak guide, and mover for the company he owns with his brother.

He was introduced to Newman Theological College through his local parish. Sister Elaine Biollo, the faith formation director at the Diocese of Nelson, B.C., is a former teacher at Newman.

Dansereau studied online and graduated with a certificate in theology last year. His passion for the Church and his faith only grew through this experience. His faculty adviser, Prof. Stéphane Saulnier, encouraged him to pursue that passion further, even though he was hesitant at first.

“My immediate thought was, I’ve got three kids to raise. There’s no way I can afford to go back to school full-time,” Dansereau said. “But over the course of several months we took it to prayer and the more we thought about it and considered our options, we discovered it was actually feasible and doable. Nothing has filled us with more joy and peace since.”

What will come after his education at Newman Theological College is uncertain, but his dream is to work with a ministry like Dynamic Catholic or Word on Fire, founded by Bishop Robert Barron.

“We’ll see what the Lord has in store. He’s the one who put me on this journey.”

 

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Congregations of women religious call for action in response to climate emergency

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 16:24

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

On the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation Sept. 1, leaders of 64 Congregations of Catholic Sisters in Canada released a statement calling for concrete political action on the climate emergency that is facing the globe.

Two Saskatchewan-based orders – the Ursulines of Prelate and the Sisters of Mission Service – are among the Canadian groups of religious women who signed the statement asking the country’s politicians to take robust, concrete steps to tackle the climate emergency declared by Parliament in June.

Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU, of Saskatoon said that those signing the statement are seeking action, and not just words, from the country’s political leaders.

Sept. 1, 2019 statement by 64 Canadian congregations of women religious: UISG statement

Download the UISG Prayer that accompanies the statement: CLICK HERE

“We are a little community, with older members, trying to do what we can do in little ways – but we need everybody,” said Lewans. The Ursulines of Prelate themselves have taken action, such as divesting from investments in fossil-fuel-based portfolios and rejecting single-use plastics.

Other members of the Ursulines of Prelate (L-R) Sr. Louisa Brost, OSU, Sr. Rosetta Reiniger, OSU and Sr. Madeline Stengler, OSU, at a recent 100th anniversary celebration for their order. Along with the Sisters of Mission Service, the Ursulines of Prelate were one of two congregations of women religious from Saskatchewan to sign the statement calling for political action to address the climate emergency. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

But refusing plastic bags at the store is not going to be enough to address the crisis, she said. “There are big issues that have to be attended to. Our leaders, who have the power and the responsibility of being in leadership, must address this crisis at that level as well.”

The Sept. 1 statement was signed by Canadian member organizations of the International Union of Superiors Generals (UISG), a worldwide organization of superiors of institutes of Catholic women religious. UISG “encourages dialogue and collaboration among religious congregations within the Church and larger society,” according to their website.

“This is a moral issue. There is a moral duty on our part to take care of the planet,” Lewans said. The statement itself begins with a similar declaration: “As women religious, caring for all creation is an essential part of our faith.”

Concrete steps are needed at every level, added Lewans. “There have been many statements, and lots of people have been very vocal – but it is action that we need. We are calling for some real action on the part of our leaders in our country to enact what they have to, to get us all going on the right path.”

The Sisters of Mission Service community of Saskatoon also signed the statement. An active advocate for the care of creation, Sr. Judy Schachtel, SMS, says she is delighted with the statement by congregations of women religious. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Sr. Judy Schachtel of the Sisters of Mission Service, the other Saskatchewan community of religious women that signed this recent statement, said that she is delighted that Canadian religious sisters are taking this action, and have identified the situation as a climate emergency. “It is critical to call this an emergency,” she said, “because that is what it is, and that is what will wake us up. There is some consciousness raising that has to go on.”

Like the Ursuline Sisters of Prelate, the Sisters of Mission Service have also been working to make changes to protect the earth. This has included divesting from investments related to fossil fuels, actively reducing use of water and electricity, recycling and reducing consumption. “All these things are draining the planet: so we are called to reflect on how we can live with mindfulness of that,” Schachtel said. “We are called to recognize that everything is gift to us, and to act in a way that respects the gift, and respects the giver of the gift.”

The Sept. 1 statement from the UISG says: “The drastic changes to our climate brought on by the release of greenhouse gases pose the greatest threat to all living beings. Yet, not enough is being done to address it. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis points out that ‘reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most.’ (169).”

The religious women’s statement urges all politicians running in the upcoming federal election “to acknowledge the climate emergency and to implement an immediate multilevel policy strategy for a just transition to ecologically sustainable living. The actions to address the climate emergency should be concrete, justice-based and stripped of partisan politics.”

Suggested actions in the statement include:

  • Keeping fossil fuels in the ground and ending subsidies to fossil fuel and plastic producers.
  • Redirecting investments and rapidly expanding the renewable energy economy, including investment in retraining for workers affected by job loss in fossil fuel production.
  • Continuing to hold companies to account by putting a cost against the greenhouse gas pollution they produce.
  • Coordinating an intensive and sustained public awareness effort to change attitudes and behaviours.
  • Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and developing climate emergency policies in line with the Indigenous knowledge and teachings.

“We are facing an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to Earth. With so many others on the planet, we hope that politicians will show commitment, leadership and collective wisdom in the movement to protect our planet from destruction. This is the only way forward together,” the statement concludes.

Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU (Photo by Tim Yaworski, Saskatoon Catholic News)

Sr. Anne Lewans described how this action by women religious came about after the Canadian contingent of the international UISG followed up on an annual worldwide meeting held in Rome, which included a discussion of environmental issues and the climate crisis.

“At that meeting, we were challenged to act. And so, as the Canadian French and English groups of UISG in Canada, we surveyed our community members, asking what they are presently doing about this issue, and what they would like to see their community leaders do. This statement came out of that consultation of the members.”

Lewans added that the statement was not meant to exclude any other religious orders, congregations or communities who do not happen to be members of UISG, noting that those who signed the statement did so by virtue of their membership.

“While we are calling everyone else, we also have to do something,” she added. For Lewans, that includes speaking up in public, and doing interviews – even though she would really rather not be in the limelight. She noted that the statement is well timed, with a federal election looming.

“There is an election coming up, and that is a time when we can challenge our candidates to make the care of our earth a priority issue – and not just to talk about it but to address what we can actually do as a society, as a country.”

Pope Francis’ message for the 2019 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation: CLICK HERE

Season of Creation – Prayers and panel discussion Sept. 19 in Saskatoon: DETAILS

In recent years, church leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, have strongly addressed the environmental crisis and the connection between faith and the care of creation. In his papal encyclical Laudato Si’, and elsewhere, Pope Francis has identified a need for conversion in addressing the “care of our common home,” and has identified the exercise of ecological virtues as part of living out one’s faith.

In the 2016 message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, “Show Mercy to Our Common Home,” Pope Francis wrote: “In the light of what is happening to our common home, may the present Jubilee of Mercy summon the Christian faithful ‘to profound interior conversion’ (Laudato Si’, 217), sustained particularly by the sacrament of Penance. During this Jubilee Year, let us learn to implore God’s mercy for those sins against creation that we have not hitherto acknowledged and confessed. Let us likewise commit ourselves to taking concrete steps towards ecological conversion, which requires a clear recognition of our responsibility to ourselves, our neighbours, creation and the Creator (Laudato Si’, 10 and 229).”

The Ursulines of Prelate gathered in June 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their arrival in Saskatchewan. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

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Do not let go of joy, Pope Francis urges youth in Mozambique 

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:11

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Maputo, Mozambique – CNA] – Pope Francis encouraged young people of different faiths in Mozambique Thursday to not give up in the face of their country’s challenges, but to confront them with joy and hope.

“How do you make your dreams come true? How do you help to solve your country’s problems?” the pope asked Sept. 5, repeating questions asked him by Mozambican young people.

“My words to you are these. Do not let yourselves be robbed of joy. Keep singing and expressing yourselves in fidelity to all the goodness that you have learned from your traditions. Let no one rob you of your joy!”

Pope Francis arrived in Maputo, Mozambique in the evening Sept. 4, kicking off a Sept. 4-10 trip to three countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including the island nations of Madagascar and Mauritius.

The interreligious meeting with youth was held at the Maxaquene Pavilion. Maxaquene is a sports club based in Maputo.

Pope Francis entered the pavilion to joyful cheers, singing, and chants of “reconciliation.” The meeting opened up with a song, followed by musical and dance performances by groups of Christian, Mulim, Hindu, and Catholic youth. The pope’s speech was followed by a prayer.

During the encounter, Pope Francis told the estimated 4,500 young people present that “together, you are the beating heart of this people and all of you have a fundamental role to play in one great creative project: to write a new page of history, a page full of hope, peace and reconciliation.”

“I would like to ask you a question,” he added. “Do you want to write this page? When you were singing you sang the word reconciliation.”

He also told them “God loves you, and this is something on which all our religious traditions are agreed.”

“For him, you have worth; you are not insignificant. You are important to him, for you are the work of his hands and he loves you,” he said.

Quoting Christus vivit, his post-synodal exhortation to young people, Francis said “the love of the Lord has to do more with raising up than knocking down, with reconciling than forbidding, with offering new changes than condemning, the love of God has more to do with the future than the past.”

“I know that you believe in this love that makes reconciliation possible and I thank you.”

The pope warned against resignation and anxiety, which he said are two attitudes fatal to dreams and hope.

“These are great enemies of life, because they usually propel us along an easy but self-defeating path, and the toll they take is high indeed… We pay with our happiness and even with our lives,” he said.

It can be easy to give up when things are painful and difficult and everything seems to be falling apart, but that is not the solution, he continued.

He referenced popular Mozambican soccer player “the Black Panther” Eusébio da Silva.

“He began his athletic career in this city. The severe economic hardships of his family and the premature death of his father did not prevent him from dreaming,” the pope stated. “His passion for football [soccer] made him persevere, keep dreaming and moving forward.”

This led him to score 77 goals for his team, Maxaquene, “despite having plenty of reasons to give up…” Francis noted.

He said being part of a team was an important part of da Silva’s success. On a team, everyone has differences, different gifts, he stated, just like at the meeting today. “We come from different traditions and we may even speak different languages, but this has not stopped us from being here together as a group,” he said.

The pope argued that a lot of suffering is caused by people dividing and separating others, choosing those who can “play” and those who have to sit “on the bench.”

You can do something for your country by staying united, building friendships, and avoiding enmity, he said. He had the young people repeat that “social enmity, social division is destructive.”

“‘An old proverb says: “If you want to get somewhere in a hurry, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk with others.’ We need always to dream together, as you are doing today. Dream with others, never against others.”

“Keep dreaming the way you dreamed and prepared for this meeting: all together and without barriers. This is part of Mozambique’s ‘new page of history,’” he stated.

The pope also encouraged young people not to fear mistakes, but to persevere, and to not let worry make them abandon their dreams.

He used another Mozambican athlete as an example: Olympic champion runner Maria Mutola.

She did not win a gold medal in her first three Olympic Games, the pope noted, but on her fourth attempt, the 800-meter athlete won the gold medal in Sydney. And this did not make her self-absorbed. Despite her Olympic gold medal and her nine world titles, she did not forget her people or her roots, he said.

Pope Francis advised young people to listen to their elders and to stay rooted in their history and tradition, saying the older generations have much to offer.

“Sometimes we older people put you in difficulty, we frighten you. We can try to make you act, speak and live the same way we do. You will have to find your own way, but by listening to and appreciating those who have gone before you,” he said.

Noting the two cyclones which struck Mozambique earlier this year, Pope Francis said there is “a pressing challenge of protecting our common home.”

“Many of you were born at a time of peace, a hard-won peace that was not always easy to achieve and took time to build,” he said. “Peace is a process that you too are called to advance, by being ever ready to reach out to those experiencing hardship.”

“How important it is to learn to offer others a helping and outstretched hand! Try to grow in friendship with those who think differently than you, so that solidarity will increase among you and become the best weapon to change the course of history.”

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With prayer, commitment and inspiration, a new school year is launched by Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:08

Priests from the Ukrainian-Byzantine Catholic Eparchy joined priests from the Diocese of Saskatoon at the celebration of the opening Mass with presider Bishop Mark Hagemoen. (Photo by K. Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

“Led by the Spirit” was the theme of the opening day celebration for teachers and staff of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) who gathered together Aug. 30, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon to launch the new school year.

The celebration is the one time during the year that all staff members gather as a community for inspiration.

The day began with an early-morning pipe ceremony in a tipi set up at the entrance of the diocesan cathedral.

Celebration of the Eucharist

Some 2,000 teachers and staff of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) then joined school trustees, special guests, priests from both the Eparchy and the Diocese of Saskatoon, and presider Bishop Mark Hagemoen for celebration of the Eucharist. Music ministry was provided by a choir of musicians, teachers and staff members

In his homily, the bishop noted how the cathedral building that morning was filled with “a powerhouse of gifted and dedicated people” who have been led by the Spirit.

“We are all gathered here today because God call us here, and God sends us forward,” Bishop Hagemoen said.

He shared insights from Pope Francis about Catholic education. Quoting the pontiff, the bishop said that education is always about teaching about humanity.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided at the opening Mass, joined by priests from across the Diocese and Eparchy of Saskatoon. (Photo by K. Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

“Teaching what it means to be a full human being and a full human community is such a feature of Catholic education,” said Hagemoen. “We cease to thrive when we forget that we are in relationship, and that relationship is not static, it is dynamic.”

Teachers and pastors are called to be a “net of support” that helps make relationships trusting, healthy and well, he said. “There is so much doubt, and we need to renew what it means to be in relationship with each other, in relationship with the Lord, and in relationship with all of creation.”

The bishop added: “When we realize that we are led by the Spirit to the God of the universe, to all of creation, to all of humanity, there is a sense that ‘I do have a place in the world. I am not isolated. My truth is not just what I make up.’ What an exciting adventure ahead for young people and for those that support them… as we connect to what Pope Francis calls ‘God who is transcendent, who is Other, and who is among us.”

The Holy Father observes that students need values and hope, and he underscores the role of teachers, added Hagemoen. “He says that teaching is about giving young people – especially ‘trouble-makers’ — value and hope. But what he means by that, is that those ‘trouble-makers’ are treasures, opportunities, not to be rejected… but to be seen as Christ, as people who have rich gifts and goals – yes, with problems, but who need our support.”

“Finally, teachers are those who look in a special way for the little ones who most need our support and mentoring. Pope Francis says: ‘Among our tasks, as witnesses to the love of Christ, is giving a voice to the cry of the little ones, of the poor, so they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that seem at times to treat people simply as mere consumers.’ People are treasures because they are made in God’s image and likeness.. The call is to look at those students and situations that need us the most.”

Bishop Hagemoen also reflected on what he heard from young people during a Youth Synod held early in 2019 at E.D. Feehan Catholic High School.

“I was amazed at the awareness of the students who participated in the Synod, and how they were very well aware of the challenges and issues that some students face, including in their community,” he said. “Our students struggle with very serious issues, including mental health and depression, sometimes addiction, family struggles, body image, self-shaming and a lack of self-confidence, and of course finding hope in the world.

“But the Spirit of the Lord is upon them, and it is upon us, because the Lord has anointed us to bring Good News to the little ones. He has sent us, as he sends Christ, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery and renewed sight to those who are blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. He is alive and well among us! And you give testimony and witness to this light. Thank you for that.”

Finally, the bishop stressed the need for ongoing healing and ongoing conversion, and pointed to the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a great assistance on this journey. “Let us be people who commit to our own life of healing,” he urged.

“May this be a year in which we allow the Spirit to lead us in a profound way,” Hagemoen said, wishing the GSCS community “a year of blessing, a year of adventure, a year of growth.”

Renewal of Commitment

Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and Fr. André Lalach of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon led a Renewal of Commitment for the GSCS teachers and staff assembled at the Cathedral of the Holy Family Aug. 30. (Photo by K. Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

The bishop was then joined by Fr. André Lalach of the Eparchy of Saskatoon to lead all those present in a “Renewal of Commitment.”

The renewal concluded with a shared statement: “Ours is a sacred task: to create Christ-centred, welcoming communities where we nurture faith, encourage excellence in learning, and inspire students to serve others. We renew our commitment to Catholic Education, trusting that the Holy Spirit will help us to walk in the light of the Lord. With confidence, we look forward to serving the students entrusted to us this year.”

Speakers

GSCS School Board Chair Diane Boyko speaks at the opening day celebration. Celebration of Mass for the GSCS opening day of a new school year. (Photo by K. Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

After Mass, the opening day program continued with remarks from the Chair of the GSCS Board of Education, Diane Boyko, who introduced her fellow board members, before reflecting on this year’s theme “Led by the Spirit.”

“We find comfort that God is always with us,” she said. “God is not only with you, God led you here. The Holy Spirit led you here. He led you to Catholic education, to your role and to your vocation.”

The Spirit also helps all to use their gifts, she said. “He takes what we have and he super charges it,” Boyko described. “This should bring a sense of peace and joy deep within each of us… Will you let the Holy Spirit activate your gifts? Whatever your role, you are an important member of the GSCS family and it is important that you realize that.”

Boyko noted that the school division grew by more than 1,000 students last year, and is on its way to growing by over 650 students this year.

“It is so important that we all work together to serve students and families with our unique gifts,” she added. “We need to always be cognizant to the fact that these parents have a choice, a choice that we are thankful for, and we should not take for granted.” Many are choosing what is unique about Catholic schools, she said. “That difference is that we include God and our Catholic faith in all that we do.”

Director of Education Greg Chatlain also spoke, sharing some lessons learned over his 30 years as an educator: a time that has seen educational services change and methods evolve, while technology has transformed the way things are done in the classroom.

In that time, Chatlain says he has come to ever more deeply realize the significance and importance of what Catholic educators do to help develop the whole person. “What we do educating children in the Catholic tradition is really, really important, but also really complex,” he said. “Education is one of the most powerful forces for change in our society,” he added, pointing to one example: the hope in the impact that Treaty Education will have for how relationships in our communities unfold in the future.

Another lesson learned has been the realization that each role is vital and interconnected. “You are the most critical element in Catholic education,” he told staff and teachers. “You have enormous agency in this endeavour.”

At the same time, “we are not all on our own,” he added, stressing the lesson that relationships and collaboration are necessary.

Finally, Chatlain told the assembly that it is “faith that is the foundation and drives all that we do,” stressing the importance of personal faith journeys that are alive and growing. “Faith is our foundation and it needs our focus.”

GSCS Foundation Chair Laurie Karwacki also spoke, sharing a video of student views about what’s special about Catholic education.

Keynote

Keynote speaker: Dr. Ansel Augustine

The keynote speaker for the opening day was Dr. Ansel Augustine, a professor of pastoral leadership from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. He shared anecdotes of his experiences growing up “in the projects,” of finding his way to faith through dedicated mentors, and of his experiences in ministry, working with youth.

“How is God using you in the lives of your students… and are we still allowing ourselves to be used by Christ?” he challenged. “Are we seeing Christ in our young people, and are they seeing Christ in us?”

He echoed Bishop Hagemoen in asserting that some of the most troubled young people “might be our greatest treasure,” adding: “We are called to be of service no matter where we go, no matter who we are… let us look at each other like the child of God we are, and the child of God they are.”

Augustine stressed: “It is not about us, it is about what God does through us” — even in times of struggle, or in times of disaster, like Hurricane Katrina. He shared his own journey, and emphasized to those gathered that each one of them is valued by God and greatly beloved: “If God had a refrigerator, you would be on it!”

At the conclusion of his talk, Augustine was presented with a star blanket, and honoured with a drum song by Delvin Kanewiyakiho, First Nations and Métis cultural consultant for GSCS.

Photo gallery

 

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Pope Francis prays for victims of Hurricane Dorian on flight to in Mozambique for three-nation trip

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 10:55

By Catholic News Agency

[Maputo, Mozambique  – CNA] – Pope Francis arrived in Maputo, Mozambique on Sept. 4, kicking off a six-day trip to sub-Saharan Africa. The pope was greeted by government officials at a welcoming ceremony, with singing crowds lining the streets.

On the nearly 11-hour flight to Africa, Pope Francis offered prayers for victims of Hurricane Dorian, which tore through the Bahamas this week, causing widespread devastation.

The Holy Father encouraged people to pray “for the victims of the hurricanes in the Bahamas, poor people who in one day lost their homes, lost everything and lost their lives.”

The pope also accepted a book authored by La Croix reporter Nicolas Seneze, entitled “How America Wanted to Change the Pope.” The pope joked that the book is “a bomb” and told Seneze that he considered it “an honor that Americans attack me.”

After the pope spoke with reporters, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni clarified that the pope’s remarks were directed at critics, and were not intended to insult American Catholics.

“In an informal context, the pope wanted to say that he always considers criticisms an honor, particularly when it comes from important thinkers, in this case, from an important nation,” Bruni said.

The book purports to describe concerted efforts by conservative Americans to undermine and ultimately replace Francis as pope. It is only available in French.

Over the next two days, Pope Francis will meet with government authorities and Church leaders in Mozambique. He will visit the Zimpeto DREAM center, a medical clinic run by the lay Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, which focuses on  HIV prevention and antiretroviral treatment.

He will also spend two days in Madagascar, where he will meet with civic and Catholic leaders and attend a prayer vigil for youth, among other events.

The pope will make a brief stop in Mauritius, where he will celebrate Mass and meet with authorities before returning to Rome.

Ahead of his trip, Pope Francis said he had a special place in his heart for all residents of Mozambique “who live in tribulation.”

The country suffered grave destruction and loss of life after being struck by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in March and April of this year.

Nearly 700 people lost their lives in the cyclones, and destruction to land and infrastructure was estimated to reach almost $900 million in damages.

The pope is expected to speak about climate change while he is in Africa.

The pope’s trip comes just a month after Mozambique’s government signed a long-anticipated peace and reconciliation accord with the opposition party, Renamo. The peace deal comes after decades of conflict, which followed the 1992 end of a 17-year civil war. The signing concludes years of peace talks.

In his message ahead of the trip, Pope Francis encouraged the people of the nation to pray for “a firm and lasting peace.”

Bishop Antonio Juliasse, the auxiliary bishop of Maputo, is coordinating the pope’s trip to Mozambique.

The bishop told ACI Africa, the Africa-based sister agency of CNA, that he hopes the papal visit “becomes a moment of hope, peace, and reconciliation” for the country.

 

Pope Francis challenges Church in Mozambique to be ‘door to solutions’

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

[Maputo, Mozambique – CNA] – Pope Francis urged Church leaders in Mozambique Thursday to avoid being part of conflicts and divisions, but to go out of their way to visit others and to encourage dialogue and solutions.

“The Church in Mozambique is invited to be the Church of the Visitation,” the pope told Mozambican bishops, priests, seminarians, religious men and women, consecrated, and catechists in Maputo Sept. 5.

The Church in Mozambique, he continued, “cannot be part of the problem of rivalry, disrespect and division that pits some against others, but instead a door to solutions, a space where respect, interchange and dialogue are possible.”

“You, at least the older ones among you, witnessed how division and conflict ended in war. You must always be ready to ‘visit’ to shorten distances,” like Mary did at the visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, he said.

The meeting took place in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the afternoon of the first full day of Pope Francis’ visit to three African countries Sept. 4-10.

Before the meeting at the cathedral, he met privately with a group of people from the port city of Xai-Xai, which is about 139 miles north of Maputo.

In February 2000 the city, which sits on the Limpopo river, was hit by flooding and submerged in nearly 10 feet of water and mud.

Francis told the roughly 2,500 people present, all active in the Church’s ministry, that they “are called to face reality as it is.”

“Times change and we need to realize that often we do not know how to find our place in new scenarios,” he noted, advising people to look to Mary’s ‘yes’ at the Annunciation as an example of what to do.

“The announcement of the incarnation is made in Galilee, in a remote and conflict-ridden region and a little town – Nazareth,” he said.

“It takes place in a house, not a synagogue or a religious place, and is made to a layperson and a woman. What has changed? Everything. And in this change, we find our deepest identity.”

The pope addressed the crisis of priestly identity, noting that what he would say is also applicable to bishops, seminarians, and consecrated men and women.

He said sometimes, without necessarily meaning to, priests can start identifying with their daily activity as priests, with certain activities, meetings, rituals, and with certain important and solemn places.

Instead, he said, the image of Mary, “that simple young woman in her home, as opposed to all the activities of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem, can be a mirror in which we see the complications and concerns that dim and dissipate the generosity of our ‘yes.’”

“Renewing our call has to do with choosing to say yes and to let our weariness come from things that bear fruit in God’s eyes, things that make present and incarnate his son Jesus.”

“The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock,” Francis said.

He drew a contrast between Mary and Zechariah, who, when he was told his wife Elizabeth would bear a son, “could not overcome his desire to control everything.” Instead Mary, “surrendered herself; she trusted.”

The weariness of a priest should not be from expending energy measuring one’s work against one’s “due” from God, he argued, but should be related to the “ability to show compassion.”

“We are to rejoice with couples who marry; we are to laugh with the children brought to the baptismal font; we are to accompany young fiancés and families; we are to suffer with those who receive the anointing of the sick in their hospital beds; we are to mourn with those burying a loved one,” he urged.

“Take this, eat this…” he said. “These are the words the priest of Jesus whispers repeatedly while caring for his faithful people: Take this, eat this; take this, drink this… In this way our priestly life is given over in service, in closeness to the People of God… and this always leaves us weary.”

The pope said he hopes young people will find in their priests an example of how to follow Jesus “radiant with the joy of a daily commitment, not imposed but fostered and chosen in silence and prayer.”

He also encouraged Mozambican women to live out their baptismal call to evangelize.

Pope Francis quoted a catechist, who had spoken earlier in the meeting and said: “‘We are a Church that is part of a heroic people’ that has experienced suffering yet keeps hope alive.”

“With this holy pride that you take in your people, a pride that invites a renewal of faith and hope, all of us want to renew our ‘yes,’” he said. “How happy is Holy Mother Church to hear you manifest your love for the Lord and for the mission that he has given you!”

At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis said a prayer for vocations and led the Our Father before giving his apostolic blessing.

His next stop will be to make a private visit to the Matthew 25 House, a charity run by the local Catholic church with the apostolic nunciature and about 20 religious congregations. It provides warm food and hygienic and health services to street children and youth.

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