Visit to Black Lake First Nation, SK with FacetoFace Ministries
By Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon
At the invitation of Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas, several young adults led by FacetoFace Ministries travelled to Black Lake, SK in the Athabasca region of northern Saskatchewan, from February 16 to 22, 2019. The purpose of the trip was to learn about the Dene community, and to assist the local parish in helping prepare several candidates for the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. (The candidates were not able to participate in the summer celebration of Confirmation earlier in the summer at the Pine Channel Spiritual Pilgrimage.)
Chief Coreen Sayazie and Father Cornelius Ngurukwem, SMMM, graciously received us to the parish and the Black Lake community.
Jon Courchene led the Face-to-Face Ministry team (below, left), with the capable assistance of Daniel Pashula (below, right):
The week began with getting involved in the communities activities. As it was the spring break and the Winter Carnival, school was closed, and thus the young people of the community played various sports in the school gym. Men of the community also provided for the group an opportunity to enjoy “ice-fishing” on Black Lake, and experience the ‘chill’ of high speed ski-doo travel.
Jerome Montpetit (top, left), Paul Bentler (top, right), and Benjamin Gerwing (bottom, centre) get dressed for the ski-doo and ice fishing excursion on Black Lake.
Celebration of BAPTISMS
Unexpectedly, there was a request to celebrate several Baptisms. Along with the Pastor, Fr. Cornelius, these were celebrated on Tuesday evening, February 19. The candidates included several new-borns and children. Confirmation celebrations continued into the early summer. One of the families came in from nearby Fond-du-Lac, about two hours away by winter road.
Celebration of RECONCILIATION & CONFIRMATION
Daniel Pashula seems to have the greatest difficulty with this“Oreo Cookie” ice-breaker activity with the youth (above). Paul Bentler is quite capable at the game – not surprising given his cookie consumption during the week!
The team provides testimonial, skits, and other presentations to prepare the candidates for the Sacrament of Reconciliation before their Confirmation celebration.
Opening Ceremonies, Black Lake Winter Carnival 2019
Following the Confirmation ceremony, the Black Lake Winter Carnival opening ceremonies were held at the band hall. The carnival is held annually during the school winter break, and features programs for both children and adults. It is an opportunity during the harsh and long winter season for the communities in the area to gather for games, cultural festivities, indoor and outdoor activities, and other community events.
The FacetoFace E3 Team for Black Lake were a real blessing. However, all team members said that they received far more than they gave from the generousity, hospitality, and kindness of the Dene community. It will be an experience that will provide much ‘food for thought and soul’ for a long time, including for the FacetoFace leadership and the Bishop of Saskatoon!