Members of the Saskatoon delegation to papal visit events July 25-26 were among the pilgrims joining Pope Francis at Lac Ste. Anne – including Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Life Director Debbie Ledoux and parishioner Sandra Harper. (Photo by Bishop Mark Hagemoen)
A diocesan delegation travelled to Edmonton July 25-26 to participate in events with Pope Francis.
The pilgrimage group from Our Lady of Guadalupe Indigenous parish witnessed the papal apology at Maskwacis, as well as joining Pope Francis on his pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen also joined other bishops from across Canada in celebrating Mass with Pope Francis July 26 at Commonwealth Stadium.
In a message from Edmonton July 25 to a Saskatoon local event at St. Mary School, papal visit pilgrims reflected on hearing Pope Francis apologize for the Church’s involvement in Residential Schools:
Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioner Sandra Harper said: “Today when I was able to listen and to hear our pope, I felt very good about the words he had for us, and I felt that they were very genuine, and that he is a very compassionate person who understands our issues and came to the table with a good open heart and so I was very pleased.”
“I was happy that he used the words ‘forgive me,’ because as a Catholic, as a practicing Catholic, it is important to me to hear that he understands that we needed to hear him say that, because the wrongs that we experienced, that a lot of us experienced, through the residential schools was very vast… that is part of the healing journey,” Sandi Harper said.
Sandra Harper also noted the pope’s message included that the opposite of love is indifference, stressing that on the road to reconciliation, we must overcome indifference to the sufferings of others. “If we could concentrate on the loving relationship that we need, then reconciliation is more able to happen.”
“Today was so awesome,” said Debbie Ledoux, Parish Life Director at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish who led the diocesan delegation to papal visit events in Edmonton. “The pope’s visit to Canada on our sacred ground was amazing.” She noted that she too felt Pope Francis had “genuine and compassion and love that he sent us all as Indigenous People.”
Debbie Ledoux added: “I am a Survivor and this did more for my healing journey than has been there for a long time now.”
Bishop Hagemoen said that he was touched by the Holy Father’s humility, echoing his April apology, in which Pope Francis stressed the need for the church to be in a place of humility and to come to the foot of the cross. “Tomorrow we go off to prayer, and we pray, pray, pray and see what God will continue to do, because there is a long journey ahead,” said Hagemoen on the evening of July 25, the day of the papal apology. “We have heard many times that reconciliation is a process, it’s a great journey, and people are at different places, so we are looking forward to the journey, tomorrow and beyond.”
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A memorable celebration of 100 years of pilgrimage on the sacred hill at Mount Carmel was interrupted by a thunderstorm Sunday, July 17, resuming after the rain stopped.
The morning began with hundreds filling the side of the hill under the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to pray the Rosary, sing hymns and begin the celebration of Mass with Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, of St. Peter’s Abbey, and a number of priests from throughout the region.
(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSU, and Bishop Mark Hagemoen process in to the Sunday Eucharist July 17 marking the 100th Anniversary Pilgrimage to the Mount Carmel Shrine west of Humboldt, SK, in the former St. Peter’s Abbacy, now in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
As a prairie storm rolled in from the west bringing lightning, wind and a downpour of rain, a temporary “pause” of the celebration happened after the homily to permit the pilgrims gathered on the hill to find shelter. A somewhat reduced number resumed the celebration some 45 minutes later, concluding the Liturgy of the Eucharist once the storm had passed.
The Mount Carmel choir, led by the choir of St. Scholastica Parish, Burr, provided music ministry throughout the event – including during the wildest moments of the storm.
Pilgrims take shelter from the rain. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
Before Mass began, local educator and author Norman Duerr of Humboldt presented a brief history of the Mount Carmel pilgrimage in St. Peter’s Colony.
“A special place and a special time – we are blessed to be here today,” Duerr said, welcoming pilgrims to the event. “One hundred years ago on Sept. 10, 1922, this Mount was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
“Today we pay tribute to the Benedictines who had the vision and the foresight to set aside this Mount as a place of pilgrimage and prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel,” Duerr said.
During the program, Norman Duerr spoke about the history of the pilgrimage. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
He urged those in attendance to appreciate the beauty, the view, and the sacredness of the site – a sacredness that extends back many generations. “The hill we stand upon today has been here for some 9,000 years,” born at the end of the last ice age, he noted. “Today, I think, it is also appropriate to recognize that this Mount was also a sacred site for the Indigenous People…. A place for them where heaven and earth could meet, and the human and the divine could symbolically touch hands.”
(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
In his homily, Bishop Mark Hagemoen began by reflecting upon the Gospel account from Luke of Martha and Mary. “We have Martha, who is busy doing many good things that she knows and thinks that the Lord is calling her to…. yet in the midst of the way of Martha, we have the way of Mary,” he said, adding that the Mount Carmel pilgrimage is about “the way of Mary” — the way of Mary the sister of Martha as well as the way of the Blessed Virgin Mary — a way focused firmly on Jesus Christ.
“On this 100th anniversary it is good to pause on this mountaintop and think about what is truly important,” Hagemoen said, thanking the Benedictines and all those who have worked to create this place of pilgrimage. “We are sustained by what it means to truly be a people of the covenant, a people called to be the disciples of Jesus.”
The bishop noted that the 100th anniversary celebration comes at a “prophetic and providential time,” with Pope Francis about to arrive on this land on a penitential pilgrimage of reconciliation and healing. The issues that the Holy Father will address during his visit to Canada will be a message for the entire world, said Hagemoen, especially given the sinfulness and strife that have so often been part of the encounter of cultures and the meeting of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in every nation.
“This is a time when our religion and our spiritual life can be called into deeper and ongoing conversion,” Hagemoen said, describing how this involves moving away from pride and triumphalism “to a place where the faith is made fully manifest” in the humility of the cross. “So let us on this day be renewed in what it means to be on the place of the ultimate fruitfulness, the place of the cross.”
In his apology April 1 to the Indigenous delegation that travelled to Rome, Pope Francis spoke about the call to be in relationship, Hagemoen said. “He recognized the Indigenous history and culture that connects with respect for one another, respect for the Creator, respect for the land and all creation. All of this is given by God and we are in relationship… let us never forget that call to relationship and the call to honour the gift.”
At the top of the Mount Carmel hill, Bishop Mark Hagemoen blesses the fields with the Blessed Sacrament. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
Mass concluded with Bishop Hagemoen carrying the Blessed Sacrament to the top of the hill to bless the surrounding fields and countryside. After Mass, pilgrims came forward for special blessings, with those in attendance invited to spend time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as well as to pray the Stations of the Cross around the base of the hill.
History of the Mount Carmel site:
Sept. 10, 1922 – The pilgrimage site is dedicated with some 3,500 in attendance from throughout St. Peter’s Colony.
1928 – An Italian-made white carara marble 2.5-metre-high statue of Mary holding the child Jesus was erected and blessed. The statue’s pedestal was struck by lightning in 1937 and 1950.
1938 – Stone mason and architect Antonion Molaro constructed the chapel from local stone.
1939 – Stations of the Cross, designed by Antonio Molaro, were canonically erected.
2019 – Lightning pole replaced and solar-powered light installed.
Video of Mass
(Photo of the pilgrimage site dedication Mass in 1922, courtesy of St. Peter’s Abbey, Muenster, SK)
From the Archives:
A report about the first pilgrimage held on Mount Carmel in 1922
The following account of the first pilgrimage made at Mount Carmel on Sept. 10, 1922 appeared in the St. Peter’s Bote, a German language newspaper published by the monks of St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, and translated by the late Sr. Celine Graf, OSU, entitled “Mount Carmel now a holy hill.” Some 3500 attended that first pilgrimage in 1922, which featured a make-shift chapel.
“Last Sunday, Sept. 10 (1922), nearly all the priests of St. Peter’s Colony and thousands of people from all areas of the diocese took part in a most imposing celebration on Mount Carmel, the heart of St. Peter’s Colony.
The weather was favourable. The hill was blessed and dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, under the title “Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” At the same time, Mary Queen of Heaven, was openly acknowledged by all present as patron and protectres of St. Peter’s Colony.
From now on, the Sunday after the feast of Our Lady of the Scapular, which the Church celebrates on July 16, a festive Mass will be celebrated annually on Mount Carmel to express publicly our appreciation and thanks to our dear Mother of God for her great intercession for us before the throne of God. Next year this feast will be held on July 22 (1923).
The day before (the first pilgrimage in 1922), the men and women of the Carmel parish prepared the Mount for this beautiful celebration. Under the leadership of their zealous pastor, Fr. Matthew Michel, they erected a temporary chapel and altar and decorated the hill with trees.
On Sunday morning in the various churches of the colony, an early Mass was celebrated to make it possible for people to attend the 11:00 am celebration of Mass on the hill. Thus, the good people came in throngs to show their love and attachment to our Mother of Mount Carmel and to receive from her hands blessings for themselves and their loved ones.
From all directions came hundreds of cars: from Muenster and St. Gregor, from Annaheim and Lake Lenore, from Dead Moose Lake and Pilger, from Fulda and Willmont, From Humboldt and parishes from the south, from Bruno and Dana, from Leofeld, Bremen, Cudworth, St. Benedict, and St. Leo. From everywhere they came, feeling themselves fortunate to be able to take part in this memorable celebration.
Already long before the opening of the festive celebration, the hill began filling with people who were enthralled at the view from the summit. Everyone wanted to spot their church, their elevator, or this or that village. At the foot of the hill, in all directions, were parked the cars and other means of transport. It was a glorious sight.
High Mass began at 11:00. Abbot Michael Ott was vested in his pontifical robes, as were all his assistant prelates….
The first action was to bless Mount Carmel. Through this blessing the hill was dedicated to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Abbot Michael prayed in Latin as he walked around the hill, accompanied by all the priests, and sprinkled it with holy water.
The men’s choir of St. Peter’s Church, under the direction of Mr. Pitzel and Mr. Schaeffer of Humboldt, vigorously sang the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise. This was followed by two Marian hymns in German.
After blessing the hill, Abbot Michael preached a festive sermon in which he reminded pilgrims of the significance of the feast and admonished them to remain firm in their love for the Mother of God, and to followe her example. Mary, among all the creatures who came from the hand of God, is the richest in love and a mighty helper in all our needs and petitions. Here on this hill, he said, we want to greet our Mother annually; we want to thank her for all the blessings she obtains for us, and we want to beg her for continued favours and help. That she will continue always to look graciously upon the people of St. Peter’s Colony, we now want to consecrate ourselves to our heavenly Queen forever and take her as our patron and protectress.
The abbot then knelt down with the whole assembly of about 3,500 people and prayed the blessing in German. This was followed by the litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After this, Abbot Michael gave a short talk in German to complement what he said previously in English.
At the end of Mass, the Annaheim choir accompanied by horns and drums, sang the Te Deum with great enthusiasm.” – St. Peter’s Bote, Muenster, SK
A Discernment Circle that has been meeting since March in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has formally announced its vision for local participation in a national Indigenous Reconciliation Fund established by the Catholic Bishops of Canada for healing and reconciliation projects.
In a celebration at Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal in Saskatoon on Friday July 15, 2022, Discernment Circle members unveiled a covenant statement that articulates the spirit, intent, and commitments of the initiative to invite and propose local reconciliation and healing projects to be supported by the national Indigenous Reconciliation Fund.
The covenant statement is grounded in the context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It also references the ancient biblical concept of “right relationship” with the One God and Creator, with all peoples, with the Land and all Creation; as well as the Indigenous nehiyaw principle of miyo-wîcêhtowin, or “possessing good relations founded in relationship among people, the sacred laws, and the Creator.”
“Our covenant statement describes how we will stand together in hope and action as we speak and share, so that others may come forward as we all continue the healing journey,” said Discernment Circle co-chair Dr. Gordon Martell, superintendent of education with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.
“Launching and celebrating this vision is another step on that journey. We have great hope for the projects and initiatives that will eventually unfold because of this step,” he said.
Discernment Circle members and guests gathered for a liturgy July 15 to celebrate and launch a covenant statement articulating the Circle’s vision for supporting projects through the Catholic TRC Healing Response fund. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
The outdoor celebration on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River July 15 opened with a welcome and land acknowledgement by MaryAnne Morrison, a member of the Discernment Circle who also serves on the Diocesan Council for Truth and Reconciliation, followed by a smudging ceremony and drum song by Elmer Tootoosis, and an opening prayer by Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen.
“We pray that You will continue to send your Great Holy Spirit upon the members of this Circle and all peoples, as we hear Your call to us to a true unity that also honours diversity, a true harmony that also realizes the great diversity of gifts and of spiritual ways,” said Bishop Hagemoen in his opening prayer. “We especially acknowledge the spiritual ways of the Cree and other Indigenous and Métis people that are part of this land and territory.”
Discernment Circle members Carol Zubiak and Sandra Harper (l-r) participate in the July 15 liturgy to launch the groups covenant statement.
Circle member Carol Zubiak of the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission proclaimed scripture readings from Ezekiel 11:19 and Hebrews 8:8-12. Circle member Deacon Harry Lafond of Muskeg Lake First Nation – who also provides pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Prince Albert – offered a reflection during the outdoor liturgy.
Covenant is about total commitment, Lafond said, similar to the covenant that exists in a marriage. “We are aspiring in our diocese to work towards that 100 per cent commitment for all of us… to understand how we are all related, and to move forward in a holy way, a sacred way, with God as our witness and God as our guide and God as our support system.”
Deacon Lafond added that this is about “moving forward and looking to the generations that follow us, and teaching those generations the importance of covenant… to celebrate the diversity of who we are as Canadians, who we are as Catholics, and who we are as community and family,” he added.
“It is a journey, it is not an event,” he said.
Circle members Deacon Harry Lafond and Cecile Smith
Members of the Discernment Circle then proclaimed the covenant statement, before offering up their intercessory prayers. The event concluded with a sign of peace, a closing prayer and a blessing from the bishop, followed by a round dance and a social gathering.
We – the people of our One Creator tasked with coming together to discern and facilitate local projects and initiatives on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – enter into and commit to this Covenant, which finds its meaning in the ancient biblical concept of right relationship with the One God and Creator, with all people, with the Land and all of Creation; and in the nehiyaw principle of miyo-wîcêhtowin, or possessing good relations founded in relationship among people, the sacred laws, and the Creator.
This Covenant is also inspired by the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Under the guidance of the Great Holy Spirit, we shall seek to respect and nurture healing and right relationship between all peoples – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – and to celebrate, honour, and share cultural histories and be faithful stewards of the spiritual and temporal gifts that the Creator has entrusted to us – as established by the founding treaty relationships among our peoples.
Our motivation and meaning will also feature humility and the journey from apology to reconciliation (see Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57: 17). It will be celebrated in ceremony and ritual.
We acknowledge and commit to honour the sacredness of one another as we deal with the long discourse and journey of reconciliation. As we consider and engage in projects, we commit to the ministry of presence and accompaniment.
We promise and commit to nurture right relationship through sharing, respect, love for each other and the Creator. We will accept each other’s visions and beliefs. We will assist the Church family to understand itself and move forward in reconciliation. We will invest in relationships with each other and engage in meaningful conversations with each other and with the Church.
We also seek to contribute to establishing Indigenous theological and ceremonial foundations in the Church, and to an enculturation between Catholic and Indigenous ritual and spirituality. We also seek to foster reclamation of Indigenous culture, language, and identity.
We stand together in hope and action as we speak and share so that others may come forward as we all continue the healing journey.
– Discernment Circle for Catholic TRC Healing Response, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon
Elmer Tootoosis participated in the prayer service July 15 at Queen’s House, Saskatoon.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen greets Elder Irene Sharp, a member of the Discernment Circle, at the July 15 celebration.
RELATED: Bishop Mark Hagemoen announces five-year Catholic TRC Healing Fund goal of $1.25 million to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors and their communities as part of the national $30-million commitment – Letter from Bishop Hagemoen – PDF
Catholic dioceses across Canada, in their continuing journey of seeking reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, have voluntarily committed to contributing $30 million over five years in new funding to facilitate further reconciliation efforts. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has committed $1.25 million over 5 years as part of this Canada-wide effort, and has already begun fundraising and financing initiatives (dscf.ca/trc), notes Bishop Mark Hagemoen.
The national Indigenous Reconciliation Fund is an arms-length, federally-incorporated not-for-profit registered charity with its own independent national Board of Directors, initially comprised of four Indigenous members.
The purpose of the Fund is to:
Independently approve funding requests from Diocesan/Regional Reconciliation Committees that are consistent with the Fund’s granting guidelines;
Independently manage the receipt of funds and send monies directly to support approved reconciliation projects and initiatives; and
Independently, annually report to dioceses and the public on the flow of money into the Fund and out in support of approved projects.
Indigenous Reconciliation Fund General Criteria & Granting Guidelines:
The national Fund has established General Criteria and Granting Guidelines to assist Diocesan/Regional Reconciliation Committees (or their equivalent) in their local engagement of and discernment with Indigenous groups.
The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund’s Board of Directors will review all grant applications and disburse funds to projects and initiatives that meet the guidelines and are within the budget of the monies contributed to the national Fund by a diocese or region.
Among other details, the General Criteria and Granting Guidelines for the Fund state that all Indigenous Reconciliation Fund grants are to be made in support of local projects and initiatives related to:
Healing and reconciliation for communities and families
Culture and language revitalization
Education and community building
Dialogues involving Indigenous Elders, spiritual leaders and youth with focus on Indigenous spirituality and culture.
Discerning Local Needs: Diocesan/Regional Reconciliation Committees
The intention for the national Fund is to have local dioceses work with local Indigenous groups and organizations to identify priorities and meaningful reconciliation work to be funded by the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund.
To this end, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon established the “Discernment Circle” of Indigenous representatives and leaders which has been meeting since March 2022. It includes 13 First Nations members and 2 Métis members as well as non-Indigenous representatives. The group includes Elders, Residential School Survivors and the children of Survivors, as well as local educators and community leaders.
In addition to co-chairs Gordon Martell and CeCeBaptiste, Discernment Circle members are: Shirley Arcand, Kelly Cardinal, Honey Constant, Dolores Greyeyes-Sand, Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Sandra Harper, Gilbert Kewstep, Deacon Harry Lafond, Deacon Dan Lamoureaux, Lyndon Linklater, MaryAnne Morrison, Myron Rogal, Irene Sharp, Delores Smallchild, Roddy Stone, and Carol Zubiak.
The diocesan Discernment Circle has been discussing and discerning reconciliation initiatives that will have a meaningful local impact. Under the terms of the national Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, dioceses can recommend funding these local initiatives to the extent of the funds the diocese has contributed to the Fund.
Work-to-date of the Discernment Circle has included:
Reviewing and discussing funding principles and themes;
Discussion and development of a “Statement of Covenant”;
Review and reflection on the apology of Pope Francis given to the Indigenous delegation to the Vatican on April 1, 2022;
Discussion of possible general project categories.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen joined parishioners from across St. Joseph Colony in the western regions of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon July 10, 2022 for the annual pilgrimage to Holy Rosary Shrine and Church at Reward, SK.
The pilgrimage started in 1932 — in the depths of the Great Depression — to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for help and protection, and it has continued as a gathering of faith and community for 90 years.