Participating in the historic penitential pilgrimage of Pope Francis to Canada

By July 29, 2022August 1st, 2022Bishop Mark Hagemoen's blog

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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