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December 2022

Farewell to Benedict XVI: ‘Humble worker in vineyard of the Lord’

By News

Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen recently reflected on the life and impact of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during a Jan. 3 Mass in Saskatoon to pray for the repose of the soul of the retired pontiff who died Dec. 31 at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery at the age of 95 years.

A number of priests from across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon were among those attending the noon-hour Mass in Saskatoon, which was also live-streamed.

“He was a massive intellectual. He was an academic and theologian. And he was a pastor ­ in particular a shepherd very much informed by his vast experience and his work over many, many years in theology and its implications,” Hagemoen said of the man who served as Pope Benedict XVI from April 19, 2005 until his resignation Feb. 28, 2013.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided at Mass Jan. 3 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, to pray for the repose of the soul of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

In his homily Jan. 3, Saskatoon’s bishop shared a number of quotes and insights from Pope Emeritus Benedict on a range of topics and concerns, from the fundamental right to life to social justice, from safeguarding in the church to the care of the environment, from the New Evangelization to Vatican II, from digital media to the call to follow Jesus Christ’s example of charity and love for others, especially those in most need.

Among the many works and statements of Benedict XVI was the Encyclical Spe Salvi (In Hope We are Saved, 2007) in which he exhorted all the church to embrace joy and hope in spite of all the challenges facing the world, noted Hagemoen.

“God is the foundation of hope,” wrote Benedict XVI in that letter to the faithful, “not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us.”

Reflecting later about the impact of Pope Benedict, Hagemoen said that being asked to comment on his life and work is “like asking the child to comment on the master, parent and teacher.”

Hagemoen continued “I very much appreciated Pope Benedict XVI’s keen mind about theological matters, and the crucial distinctions and insights he provided on a number of important and difficult topics. He also demonstrated a pastor’s heart, especially when it came to expressing Christian charity by service and care for others.”

“I also appreciated his contributions to the understanding and ongoing appreciation of the Second Vatican Council, and how he encouraged all clergy and laity to delve deeply into the Council’s rich teachings. In this way he was a major proponent of the reform of renewal movement, which greatly encouraged me in my own pastoral growth and efforts,” said Hagemoen.

Saskatoon’s bishop also pointed to the great courage and humility of Benedict XVI, demonstrated in his unprecedented decision to retire as pontiff. “He did that in the love of and service of the Church …it  took a very informed, insightful and very, very humble man to do that.”

In the conclusion of his homily Jan. 3, Hagemoen prayed:: “We give you thanks Lord God for the life of this man, we thank you for his extraordinary gifts, but most of all we thank you for the way in which he loved and served Christ and his Church always, a man of not only great gifts, but a man of great humility and remarkable courage. May he rest in peace.”

Other parishes around the diocese of Saskatoon also held Mass for the repose of Pope Emeritus Benedict and/or offered prayers throughout the week.

The Requiem Mass funeral for Pope Benedict was held Jan. 5, 2023 at St. Peter’s Bascilica at the Vatican.

Video of live-streamed Saskatoon Mass to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:



Vatican News – Requiem funeral Mass for Benedict XVI Jan. 5, 2023: LINK

Canadian Catholic Bishops – Statement by CCCB President Bishop Raymond Poisson on the death of Benedict XVI: LINK

CNA Article – People attending Benedict XVI’s funeral recall personal memories of “humble pope” LINK

Benedict sought to heal wounds of the past

By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – Tributes have been pouring in from across Canada as the Catholic community has joined the world in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The former pope died Dec. 31 at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery. He was 95.

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, hailed the former pope as a man who inspired discipleship and theological wisdom.

“Throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto, we join in mourning the loss of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” wrote Collins. “We give thanks for his years of faithful, thoughtful and inspiring service to the Church. As a priest for more than 70 years and in his time as bishop and supreme pontiff, Pope Emeritus Benedict offered each one of us a personal example of fidelity and of what it is to be a devoted disciple of Jesus.

“As a theologian, he followed in the footsteps of the great St. Augustine, in offering to us profound insight into the mysteries of our Christian faith, insight arising by God’s grace not only from his astonishing intellect and learning, but also from his personal holiness and pastoral care for God’s people; his writings will help guide disciples of Jesus in the centuries that lie before us.”

Collins also lauded Benedict XVI’s leadership of the universal Church.

“As pope, he led the universal Church with wisdom and holiness, providing a clear and loving message of how our faith can inspire us and guide us through the storms of life’s journey. More than ever, his own witness, humility and invitation to put others before ourselves should resonate throughout the world.”

Collins asked all 225 parishes of the Toronto archdiocese to add a special prayer of the faithful at all Masses until Benedict XVI’s funeral on Jan. 5 at St. Peter’s Basilica. Parishes also lowered their papal flags until the conclusion of the former pontiff’s funeral and were asked to celebrate a special Mass before the celebration of life at the Vatican.

Benedict’s intellectual prowess and gifts as a communicator of the Catholic faith was also admired by Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller.

“The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict is an occasion that causes us both sadness for our loss and gratitude for his ministry,” said Miller. “Although the Church and the world have lost one of the finest Christian minds of modern times, his passing invites reflection on his dedicated service to the Gospel.

“The former pope’s writings, known for their clarity and depth, form a legacy that will endure through the ages. History will remember his bold decision to resign from the papacy when he felt himself unable to fulfill the demands of the office.

“As a close collaborator of St. John Paul, he contributed greatly to a life-giving implementation of the Second Vatican Council and fostering the new evangelization for our times.”

Msgr. Raymond Poisson, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), remembered a man who sought to “heal the wounds of our past.”

“Benedict XVI was the first pope to meet victims of abuse by members of the clergy. He publicly acknowledged the scourge of abuse by these clergy, apologized for it, and strengthened Church processes to respond to allegations, including facilitating the prosecution or suspension from the clerical state those found responsible for abuse,” said Poisson, Bishop of St-Jérôme-Mont-Laurier.

Poisson also noted that years before Pope Francis’ papal trip to Canada this past summer, the late pope had met with and expressed sorrow to Chief Phil Fontaine and a delegation from the Assembly of First Nations for past wrongs done in the name of the Church.

“Pope Benedict XVI also invited a Canadian delegation, made up of representatives of Indigenous communities, as well as Catholic dioceses and religious communities across Canada, to a private meeting in April 2009 to discuss their experience of residential schools. During this meeting, the Pope listened to their stories and expressed his regret and sadness for the sorrow suffered by many Indigenous people in the residential school system.”

One of the highlights of Benedict XVI’s papacy, Poisson said, occurred on Oct. 21, 2012, when he canonized North America’s first Indigenous saint, St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton offered “profound thanks to God for the gift that this humble servant of the Lord has been to the Church and world.”

A model disciple and gifted teacher, he leaves as his legacy both a personal example of loving fidelity to the Lord and a corpus of writings that offers sure guidance for Christian living,” said Smith. “May the merciful Lord now grant to this good and faithful servant eternal peace and joy.”

Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine emphasized Benedict XVI’s efforts to foster bonds with leaders and followers of other faiths.

“He was, like every human being, a synthesis of different elements, and wanted to be a man of faith. But I think it was also very conscious in him to consider the importance of dialogue, especially between Christian and Jewish followers as well as with Muslims.”

Calgary Bishop William McGrattan unveiled a pastoral letter in memorium where he wrote fondly about the former pope’s mind, humility, spirit of service and encouraging warmth.

He also focused on the late Pope Eemeritus’ connection with youth. McGrattan reminisced about a speech delivered by Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in 2011 in Madrid, Spain. There was a rainstorm so strong that his address had to be paused for some time.

“(He) resumed praising the youth for their strength which he described as ‘stronger than the rain.’ He then exhorted them to be grounded in Christ, ‘may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, His name will continue to resound throughout the world.’

“These words seem to have been a personal reflection of his life in that while he had envisioned a quiet of life of retirement, he instead received the call from God in the later stages of his life to become the Vicar of Christ. His service as pope was his contribution to the ongoing plan of God for the Church.”

“We have been blessed and are incredibly grateful to have had the guidance from Pope Benedict XVI to assist and sustain us with the fullness of Catholic teachings in matters of public importance in Canada and the world,” added the Catholic Civil Rights League of Canada in a statement. “We can find numerous references in his words where he brought Christ and the theology of the Church to the public square, against the onslaught of efforts to remove positions of faith from public engagement.”

Founded in 1985, the League came to be as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the president of the International Theological and Pontifical Biblical commissions.

It was during the League’s 20th anniversary that Benedict was chosen pope. His homily at the opening Mass of the papal conclave was one of the occasions he inspired the League in its mission and mandate to “inform public policy and public opinion in the light of religious faith and reason.”
In that speech Pope Benedict XVI spoke about overcoming ideological currents and a “dictatorship of relativism” by building a mature faith centred on love of Jesus Christ.”


EWTN Video of Funeral Mass for Pope Benedict:

PDF – Prayer for the Repose of the Soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Bishop Mark Hagemoen – 2022 Christmas Message (video and text)

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen's blog, News

Christmas Greetings and Reflection from Bishop Mark Hagemoen:

Complete message PDF / text version: LINK (also published below)

Christmas Mass times: LINK


2022 Christmas Message

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1: 76-79)

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This New Testament passage from St. Luke continues to inspire and encourage me. It is known as the Canticle of Zechariah, or “The Benedictus” – the great prayer of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist.

Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke this great prophecy about the coming of the Messiah for the world. However, the Messiah would not only provide ‘blessing’ and ‘deliverance’ in ways that merely satisfied people’s sense and longing for what it meant to be safe, secure, and prosperous – but would call for a fundamental change that would affect our very being: our mind, heart, and human condition. With the coming of this Messiah, we would move from merely being blessed and cared for, to being called to share in the life and way of God!

 This conversion is so fundamental and so essential, that I find that no Christmas is the same. Each year we are called deeper into the meaning of this mystery, into such a salvific transformation. Christmas is a time when we recall God’s intervention into the state of affairs of all humanity. Despite the challenges and crises that the world experiences … God comes to us! And God comes not only to us, but in us and with us. As St. Irenaeus reflects, “God is man’s glory. Man is the vessel which receives God’s action and all His wisdom and power.”

I continue to be amazed, comforted, and challenged by how God deals with us – all of us. God invites us to respond in some small, faithful way to the absolute plentitude we receive from Him, the Absolute Giver. Although we can ‘give back’ or ‘pay forward’ a very small fraction of what God gives to us and the world – God does not measure or give back according to our limited desire or capacity. God is the Absolute Lover and Giver. As St. John says, “God is Love, and those who abide in Love, abide in God, and God in them.” (I John 4:16)

During these past few years and persisting into our current time, there is much fear and anxiety in the world. The Covid 19 pandemic, economic uncertainties, and the terrible war in Ukraine are among the major events that are so affecting us today.

As we struggle to make sense of such disappointment and crises for our communities and world, we can wonder, “Where is our Saviour? Why do good and innocent people continue to struggle with such things?”

Pope Francis recently reflected on John the Baptist’s imprisonment near the end of his life as he announced the coming of the Lord Jesus. As Pope Francis states, “John is in prison, and this, as well as being a physical place, makes us think of the inner situation he is experiencing: in prison there is darkness, there is no possibility of seeing clearly and seeing beyond it.”  The Pope notes that in John’s case, it is as if he is no longer able to see in Jesus the awaited Messiah, and out of doubt sends his disciples to verify it. Pope Francis continues:

“It surprises us that this should happen to John, the one who had baptized Jesus in the Jordan and had indicated him to his disciples as the Lamb of God (cf. Jn 1:29). But this means that even the greatest believer goes through the tunnel of doubt. And this is not a bad thing; on the contrary, sometimes it is essential for spiritual growth: it helps us understand that God is always greater than we imagine Him to be.” (Pope Francis, Angelus, December 11, 2022)

Ah, the lingering plague of doubt and fear! These sneak up on us, and take their toll on our trust and abandonment to the providence of God.

Let us remember that the first letter of John mentioned above goes on to contrast fear versus love: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19)

The realization of the meaning of Christmas must challenge and stretch us in new and greater ways – including our awareness of the care of our brother and sister – let alone the many who are “the stranger.” In Jesus Christ, our previously limited notions of what constitutes community and brotherhood are changed, because of what follows upon the birth of Christ the Saviour – namely the Paschal Mystery, which features an epic and unprecedented personal sacrifice for all men and women of every creed, language, and nation by the One who draws all humanity to a new heaven and a new earth: the Kingdom of God.

Nativity pageant at Holy Spirit Parish, Saskatoon. (Photo by T. Yaworski)

So, amidst our frustrations, regrets, and disappointments, CHRISTMAS COMESThank God, Christmas just… comes! O come, O Come, Emmanuel.  Whether we are ready or not…  whether we can celebrate as usual or not…  whether we can gather with many or with only a very few…  whether we come off a year feeling profoundly blessed or really broken…  Christmas comes!  GOD IS with us in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  GOD IS loving us, caring for us, holding us.

I recall last year Pope Francis warned against the “senseless notion” that the world can go back to what it was, relying on “…false securities, habits and projects that aim exclusively at pursuing wealth and personal interests, while failing to respond to global injustice, the cry of the poor and the precarious health of our planet.” (Pope Francis address to ecumenical delegation, June 28, 2021)

One way in which we have all been challenged this past year is regarding the approach we take – and our Church takes – to evangelization and spreading the faith. This past summer during Pope Francis’s visit to Canada, at Sacred Heart Church in Edmonton he reflected on two contrasting approaches to evangelization, with very different ways of expressing power and authority.

Pope Francis pointed to the lasting pain created when Christians and religious institutions are not careful about how they represent the faith of Christ to others – in particular, imposing our version of the faith through our own limited cultural models. Imposing versus proposing the Gospel can have terrible repercussions. This is not God’s way. By contrast, God loves, liberates, and leaves us free:

Pope Francis at Lac Ste Anne pilgrimage in July 2022. (Photo by M. Swan, CCN)

“One cannot proclaim God in a way contrary to God himself. And yet, how many times has this happened in history! While God presents himself simply and quietly, we always have the temptation to impose him, and to impose ourselves in his name. It is the worldly temptation to make him come down from the cross and show himself with power…. Brothers and sisters, in the name of Jesus, may this never happen again in the Church. May Jesus be preached as he desires, in freedom and charity. In every crucified person whom we meet, may we see not a problem to be solved, but a brother or sister to be loved, the flesh of Christ to be loved.” (Pope Francis at Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, July 25, 2022)

I pray that we will always proclaim ­ by our life and words – the true God because we are striving to know Him and to be created in Christ’s image.

Thus, as we approach another Christmas, we need to be open to ongoing growth and healing. There are many things that do need to change in our lives. The need for change and ongoing conversion – first and foremost in terms of our own minds and hearts – is absolutely crucial. As Pope Francis states:

Everything depends on our ability to see the need for a change of heart, attitudes and lifestyles … (and watch for) …human weakness, the proclivity to selfishness that is part of what the Christian tradition refers to as concupiscence”: the human inclination to be concerned only with myself, my group, my own petty interests.” (Fratelli Tutti #166)

I very much appreciate the Holy Father’s emphasis on the priority of forgiveness, mercy and reconciliation. The mercy and forgiving love of God for the world is why Jesus comes at Christmas. As the Pope states: “…Those who truly forgive do not forget. Instead, they choose not to yield to the same destructive force that caused them so much suffering.” (Fratelli Tutti  #252) There may be much to be angry about, however, left alone, our anger will consume and destroy us.

O how the world needs to choose another way – the way demonstrated in the life and way of Jesus Christ. Taking the path of Christ also means that we must continue to grow in our commitment and ability to listen, communicate and seek healthy relationship with one another – key themes as the Church continues to engage in the Synod on Synodality in the coming New Year.

May our celebration of Christmas seek Christ’s merciful and redeeming way. Let us ask ourselves:

  • How is God calling me to be more fully human, fully alive in my life right now?
  • Do I give the Christ permission to take my heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh?
  • In what way is this Christmas different for me, in terms of what God wants me to see, to change, to heal and forgive, to live and do differently?
  • AND …with whom am I called to forgiveness, reconciliation and healing?

Let us be awake and watchful at this Christmas time when God comes to us! 

Have a blessed and joy-filled Christmas season!


Sincerely in Christ,

Most Rev. Mark A. Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon


Bishop Hagemoen visits parish cluster of Wynyard, Foam Lake and Wishart

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen's blog

At the invitation of local pastor Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu, Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen visited the parish communities of St. Mary, Wynyard; Christ the King, Foam Lake; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart, SK, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2022.

Bishop Hagemoen was invited by Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu to celebrate with the parish communities of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart (pictured), St. Mary, Wynyard, and Christ the King, Foam Lake. (Submitted photo)

The pastoral visits Dec. 17-18 included celebration of Sunday Mass in each parish, as well as parish and community social gatherings. The bishop also heard more about some of the pastoral challenges facing the Catholic communities.

“The parishioners that make up these Catholic communities are very faithful and supportive,” said Bishop Hagemoen, reflecting on the pastoral visit.

“In spite of that, the shrinking community in Wishart has been struggling with its operation since the pandemic, and has been discerning whether the parish should close,” he said.

Unlike Wynyard and Foam Lake – who have seen their communities stabilize over the last few years – Wishart has been more affected by the shifting demographics that many prairie communities have experienced when population declines and services such as schools and businesses leave the community, the bishop noted.

“The visit was therefore an opportunity to discuss with the parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart, about ways to continue to operate, and also – if they ever made the decision to seek “decommissioning” as a parish — about the vision for the community beyond such a decision,” he said.

A meeting with parishioners following Sunday Mass in Wishart featured much discussion and many questions. Following the meeting the community continued their time with the bishop by joining together for a pot-luck lunch.

“My own impression is that the community will take at least the coming New Year to continue to discern next steps and their future,” Hagemoen said. “However, whatever happens – this is a faithful community that will persists in their faith life, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months.”

Community celebration in Wynyard

The visit to St. Mary Parish in Wynyard, SK for Saturday evening Mass on Dec. 17 was followed by a community celebration in the local hall, that included the participation of Filipino Catholic parishioners, and the donation of $700 that they raised in support of the parish at Wynyard .


At a community celebration Dec. 17 a donation of $700 in support of the parish at Wynyard was presented by the Filipino Catholic community to Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu. (Submitted photo)


Filipino Catholic parishioners were among those participating in a community celebration Dec. 17 in Wynyard, SK. (Submitted photo)

History of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart:

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Wishart, SK, was built in 1951-54. The present church is the third building to serve the parish community that was founded by Polish settlers who came to the area in 1906. The parish became part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon when diocesan boundaries in Saskatchewan shifted in 1998. (Information from “Building the Church, Living the Gospel” by Margaret Sanche, Photo by Daniel J. Classen)




Diocesan Pastoral Council gathers to reflect on the diocese’s Pastoral Plan

By Bishop Mark Hagemoen's blog

The Diocesan Pastoral Council gathered Nov. 30 with Bishop Mark Hagemoen to reflect, report, and plan, meeting both in person at the Catholic Pastoral Centre and via Zoom. The “DPC” is one of the major consultative bodies for Bishop Mark Hagemoen, with representatives from across the diocese from many parishes and partner organizations.

The DPC is presently reviewing the diocesan Pastoral Plan and the recent diocesan Synod on Synodality.

Thanks to all the DPC members for their faithful presence and their input!

Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) members gathered Nov. 30, 2022 in Saskatoon. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatono News)

Rooted in Christ