Diocese of Saskatoon joins country in preparing to mark first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on “Orange Shirt Day” Sept 30, 2021
“Let’s walk and talk.”
The Diocesan Council for Truth and Reconciliation (DCTR) is encouraging parishes and individuals to take time to reflect together on the hurt and damage of the residential school system and Canada’s colonial history, as Canada marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Sept. 30.
The new federal holiday builds upon “Orange Shirt Day,” which has been marked on Sept. 30 in recent years, as a way to honour those who attended residential schools and to raise awareness about what was suffered and lost. Wearing orange was prompted by the experience of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, who as a six-year-old arriving at residential school in 1973 had her beloved orange shirt immediately taken away. “On Sept. 30, orange is worn to show that no child should have their culture and faith stripped from them,” summarizes Myron Rogal, coordinator of Justice and Peace in the diocese of Saskatoon and a member of the DCTR.
“Let’s walk and talk”
With that history in mind, the DCTR is suggesting to parishes and individuals that people find a partner or friend and go for a walk on that day, taking some time to reflect on three questions:
- Were you ever rejected when going to school and how did that change you?
- In what ways have you seen Indigenous people rejected in your life?
- The next time you are tempted to judge instead of listening, what action will you take?
The DCTR’s mandate in the diocese of Saskatoon is “to provide a forum for listening and sharing, through stories and prayer” and “to raise awareness throughout the diocese about injustice issues, and barriers to reconciliation, and to discern a way to walk together on a path of understanding, education and action, fostering relationships in the light of the Gospel.”
Established in 2012 as a result of a promise made by the Catholic diocese at the national Truth and Reconciliation event held in Saskatoon, the DCTR is a “sharing and consultative circle” of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people providing guidance to the bishop and the diocese.
Message from the bishop:
In a Sept. 10 message, Bishop Mark Hagemoen encourages the diocese to prepare to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Sept. 30, and to pray for residential school survivors and their communities. “I encourage all of our parishes and Catholic communities in our diocese to observe this day with prayer and solemnity.”
Bishop Hagemoen adds: “I again pledge that I and our diocese will continue to walk a path of reconciliation and healing. The Gospel inspires us to walk in love and friendship as sisters and brothers of our One Creator, in His Son, Jesus Christ our common Saviour and Redeemer. I again ask us all to renew our ongoing commitment to building relationships of honour and respect, and to continue to take concrete steps on this journey of healing that must involve all of us. “
The bishop will celebrate Mass at 9 a.m. on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Thursday, Sept. 30 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, 123 Nelson Road Saskatoon, with the Mass also live-streamed at saskatoonmass.com
Following Mass, priests from across the diocese will gather for a “Day of Recollection” with presentations by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI.
“I hope that other parishes will plan to celebrate Mass or other form of devotion or prayer service for the intention of this day,” says Hagemoen in his message to the diocese.
“I encourage our parishes, deaneries, and other Catholic communities to be creative about other ways to honour this day, either through education and/or service opportunities, or by joining with other larger civil ceremonies being planned by the City of Saskatoon and various townships, and with the Saskatoon Tribal Council.”
Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action: LINK
The Saskatoon Tribal Council has organized a concert to coincide with the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day, to be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 at Sasktel Centre, in honour of residential school survivors. The Every Child Matters Community Concert will include musical performances by Gord Bamford, Charlie Major and George Canyon as well as speakers, fiddle music and drum groups. Tickets are $35: https://sasktelcentre.com/events/ECM2021
Resources from the SK Chamber of Commerce: LINK
Meanwhile, fund-raising efforts continue for the Catholic TRC Healing Response, launched earlier this summer by the five Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan in support of residential school survivors and their communities. Online giving can be directed to individual diocese or eparchy efforts at: dscf.ca/catholic-trc-healing-response/. Funds raised will go to support residential school survivors and their communities, in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and in consultation with Indigenous leaders, elders and groups.
PRAYER for RECONCILIATION and HEALING
O God, Creator and Father of all, with humility we your children acknowledge the relationship of all living things. For this we thank You, we praise You and we worship You.
We call on you, Great Mystery, the Word made Flesh – our Teacher, Prophet and Brother – to open our hearts to all our brothers and sisters, and with them to grow in the wisdom, honesty, courage and respectfulness shown in the Sacred Teachings.
Give us the vision and honesty to recognize that the we are all brothers and sisters of one human family, created and sustained by the One Creator.
As we deal with many challenges, may we never give way to fear and anger, which can be the source of division and threat amongst peoples.
We look to how God always gives to us a remedy for sins of prejudice and intolerance.
We see in God the Creator of all things, One who always provides and is generous – even given the abuses we have heaped on one another and on the earth.
We see in the Son, Jesus Christ – the innocent Victim who pours His life blood out from the Cross for all peoples.
We see how the Holy Spirit is God’s gift, alive in our world today – inspiring vision and hope that we can have the same mind and heart of God!
O Creator, show us the way to healing, forgiveness and reconciliation, and a renewed fellowship. +Amen