The Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan gathered together for meetings during the week of Nov. 7, 2022, connecting with each other and various groups and organizations — both online and in-person at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Saskatoon.
On Sunday, Oct. 30, Bishop Mark Hagemoen celebrated Sunday Eucharist at the Cathedral of the Holy Family: the congregation was joined by participants in the 2022 FacetoFace Ministries United conference.
By Maria Gursky, Face to Face Ministries
FacetoFace Ministries hosted its annual United Conference Oct. 29-30 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, with keynote speaker Sr. Helena Burns of the Daughters of St. Paul breaking open the teachings of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in an engaging and practical way.
The United Conference hit record-breaking numbers of 394 individuals gathered for a weekend of growing in faith and experiencing community. Highlights included adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praise and worship, the keynote talks by Sr. Burns, and time for fellowship.
FacetoFace Ministries desires that youth across Western Canada find fulfillment in a life in Christ, and strives to provide encounters with Jesus Christ that inspire the response to become saints.
This year’s United Conference drew youth from the Diocese of Prince George, BC, from Clearwater Academy in Calgary, AB, and from Humboldt Collegiate Institute in Humboldt, SK as well as many more local families from Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary and beyond.
United is a chance for youth to come together from across Canada to be united and supported in living out their faith in today’s world. One participant shared that “it was so reassuring seeing how many people are just like me, a young Catholic looking to find community and learn about the faith.”
Many youth look forward to this annual conference as a chance to reconnect with friends made through other FacetoFace programs such as Ignite summer camps and the online WORD Bible Studies.
For many, the weekend was an enriching faith experience. FacetoFace works to foster encounters with Jesus Christ through offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well as creating a moment of encounter through Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Worshipping God in a church with nearly 400 people sharing in Eucharistic Adoration is an incredibly inspiring and encouraging experience. Many participants shared that this time spent with Jesus was the highlight of the weekend.
“At adoration I really felt the love of God touch me and the atmosphere was amazing,” said one participant.
Sr. Helena Burns gave three keynote sessions about Theology of the Body: an introduction to the teaching, a reflection about how God is the only One who can truly satisfy our desires, and a third talk about the masculine and feminine genius.
Many participants commented that Sr. Helena’s words were encouraging, giving them a new perspective, and deepening their faith. One participant shared: “The talks given set a fire within my heart to live a better life through the teachings of the Catholic Church and Theology of the Body.”
FacetoFace was blessed to welcome in other local speakers for breakout session talks in the afternoon, including Ken and Janelle Yasinski, Arnel Vicente, Matthew Courchene and Fr. Warren Dungen. The wisdom, encouragement, and practical suggestions shared in the breakout sessions were well received by participants.
The annual United Conference is also an opportunity for collaboration with other youth and young adult programs in our province and beyond, including NET Ministries of Canada, Newman Theological College, and St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission. Having these organizations present at the Conference is beneficial for the youth attending – exposing them to different options available while providing a fantastic advertising opportunity for the organizations!
Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided over Sunday mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Family Oct. 30, addressing the United Conference participants who joined the parishioners and encouraging the youth to continue living out their faith.
All glory to God for a successful United Conference!
For more information about the mission and work of FacetoFace Ministries, visit the website at f2f.ca.
Live-stream video of Sunday Mass with Bishop Hagemoen during United:
Some 120 alumni and former facilitators and leaders of the diocesan Lay Formation program gathered Oct. 27-28 for one last annual Alumni Fall Gathering at Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal in Saskatoon — the facility that for so many years was the site of Lay Formation weekends of prayer, learning and community.
Find news article, photos and speaker reflections at: Catholic Saskatoon News
The final alumni gathering was a time for connection, grieving, and reflection, including perspectives by founders and former coordinators, volunteers and presenters about the history of the program, its vision and its impact.
Guest speaker at the Fall Gathering (in person and on Zoom) was Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, who for many years was one of the celebrated presenters of sessions at the Lay Formation program. The weekend schedule also included a wine and cheese reception Oct. 28 and a closing Mass and banquet Oct. 29.
A day of prayer, dialogue, study and action tackling the scourge of sexual trafficking of human beings was held Oct. 20 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon with Bishop Hagemoen, pastors, and parish and ministry representatives in attendance.
“You cannot consent to exploitation,” said Maryah Walker, an RCMP community program officer with the Investigative Support Unit’s Street Gangs and Human Trafficking Team, who outlined the ways in which victims are targeted, groomed, recruited, coerced and trapped by sex traffickers operating in local communities across Saskatchewan.
In addition to the presentation by the RCMP human trafficking team, the fall 2022 Congress Day entitled “Working Towards Freedom” included information from Hope Restored Canada, a Saskatoon-based charity assisting local victims of sexual trafficking, and Nashi, a local group that helps girls in the Ukraine who are vulnerable to human trafficking.
Congress keynote speaker Sr. Nancy Brown – a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and a member of the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee for the Archdiocese of Vancouver – addressed the legal landscape and the need for ongoing advocacy, as well as introducing St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of those who have been trafficked.
Congress Day opened with Mass celebrated by diocesan Vicar General Fr. Kevin McGee. Myron Rogal, diocesan coordinator of Justice and Peace, provided opening remarks and the context for the day, which was attended by Pastors, Parish Life Directors, parish and ministry staff, as well as interested volunteers and parishioners. MC was Michael MacLean of St. Thomas More College Campus Ministry.
Rogal encouraged those gathered to move beyond a “false peace” of avoiding or tuning out the uncomfortable realities of the human trafficking and sexual exploitation that is rampant in local communities and around the world. He called for a “new lens” to examine the injustice, suffering and exploitation caused by human trafficking both locally and globally.
Human trafficking is second only to arms dealing as the largest criminal activity in the world amounting to some $150 billion annually, Rogal noted, while adding that it is also an issue that is smaller and more immediate, happening in our own local communities.
In addition to raising awareness about sexual exploitation, prostitution, and how victims are lured, coerced and trafficked, the Congress Day also showed “that there is hope and resilience,” said Rogal, pointing to grassroots efforts underway both locally (Hope Restored) and internationally (Nashi).
Hope Restored Canada, based in Saskatoon, is a non-profit charitable organization working to support women and youth who have been exploited by sex traffickers. A steak-night fund-raiser and 50/50 draw in support of Hope Restored will be held Sunday, Nov. 6 at Sports on Tap, 2606 Lorne Ave. Saskatoon, beginning with cocktails at 5 p.m. and supper at 6:30 p.m.; $30/each. Get tickets at: LINK.
NASHI is an entirely volunteer non-profit registered charity addressing the issue of human trafficking locally and globally. A fund-raising Ukrainian Christmas Bazaar in support of Nashi will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26 at St. Joseph Hall on the corner of Broadway Avenue and 8th St. Saskatoon; admission $5. All proceeds go in support of Maple Leaf House in Ukraine.
Next steps: new study guide launched
Next steps for advocacy and action were also part of the day’s discussions. This included the introduction of a “Working Towards Freedom” human trafficking study guide soon to be launched in the Catholic dioceses of Saskatoon and Vancouver. The study guide is designed to help parishioners explore the issue, in the context of the Canadian Catholic bishops 2021 Pastoral Letter on Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in Canada.
The Congress Day event provided “an opportunity to see what is happening, an opportunity to learn, to pray together, to understand, and to come up with some ways to take action together,” Rogal summarized. “This time together is one of proclaiming awakening and encountering.”
Hope Restored Canada
Joeline Magill, co-founder and executive director of Hope Restored Canada, spoke about the non-profit registered charity’s work to assist and support sexually exploited and trafficked individuals and youth in Saskatchewan as they strive to reclaim control of their lives, as well as to educate the public about root causes, prevention strategies, and how to recognize the signs of exploitation.
As part of its work Hope Restored Canada also operates a safe house in Saskatoon for women and girls wanting to exit the sex trade. “They can live with us for up to a year, or sometimes even longer,” she described. Counsellors and social workers on staff help determine what needs to be worked on to give victims back their control, their identity, and to deal with their trauma, Magill added.
“We are really passionate about making sure that those who are deeply affected by this are attended to,” said Magill.
In her overview, Magill presented statistics showing the scope and nature of human trafficking:
- 93 per cent of people who are trafficked in Canada are Canadian citizens. “The reality is that trafficking in Canada is a Canadian issue,” she said.
- 91 per cent of those involved in prostitution have been physically assaulted
- 91 per cent of victims have had pornography made of them
- 42 per cent of recruiters are women, who are controlled by a pimp
- Most youth who have run away from home or protective services are picked up by traffickers within 24-48 hours.
In addition to sexual exploitation and prostitution, human trafficking around the world also includes forced labour, domestic servitude and removal of organs, she cited.
Human trafficking exists where there is fear (violence, fear for one’s life, fear for one’s family), some type of fraud or manipulation, and an exchange of money – “where the person who is doing the action is not able to keep the money they are making, but must had it off” to the trafficker, she described. Sex trafficking is happening through online sites and advertising, at massage parlors, brothels, strip clubs, in the making of pornography and through people working on the street, she listed.
Magill outlined a range of warning signs that indicate someone is being groomed, recruited, isolated, and manipulated for human trafficking – which in many cases are similar to signs of other unhealthy relationships and domestic violence.
She urged her listeners to persevere in enduring the “uncomfortability” of learning more about sexual exploitation and human trafficking in order to find ways to respond with help and compassion.
RCMP Human Trafficking Team
RCMP Community Program Officer Maryah Walker also detailed the ways in which human traffickers will research their victim, most often online. “They are going to target anywhere they can – technology has made this so easy.”
Walker gave an overview of how traffickers will use popular social media apps to connect with their potential victims, searching for weaknesses, vulnerabilities and neediness. Traffickers engage in targeted grooming, offering victims what they need – affirmation, affection, attention, protection, validation, etc. Once a relationship is built, manipulation continues, with empty promises, withdrawal of the needed affection or protection, threats and violence. “Often times those chains are psychological,” Walker added.
Victims are drawn in gradually and then are coerced, manipulated or threatened into selling sexual services. Fear, isolation, entrapment and manipulation continue, with victims often seeing no way out, afraid to report or go to police, believing they will be held criminally responsible, although it is no longer illegal in Canada to sell sexual services. Canada’s law does make it illegal to benefit from the exploitation of another person or to purchase another person’s body for sexual gratification.
However, Walker noted that human trafficking and the buying of sex are crimes that go virtually unnoticed. “We often think that sexual exploitation doesn’t happen anymore because we don’t see the streetwalkers or the prostitutes that we often identify. But that is because it has moved indoors. Streetwalkers don’t have to walk the street anymore, because they can sell the services online.”
Sexual trafficking is lucrative, and victims are “a renewable resource” that can be sold over and over again, unlike arms or drugs, Walker noted. “And because it is moving indoors, because it is happening online, because it is not in the faces of our lawmakers and people seeing it… no one cares.”
Walker added: “Oftentimes we look at the individuals that are being exploited and we hold them as being less-valuable-than , less-important-than, less-worthy-than.”
Walker said that a victim- centred approach is needed. If asked “Are you being trafficked?” victims are going to say “no,” she noted.
“What we are doing in our unit and what best practise has become is that it is not necessarily about getting that statement and getting someone arrested right away, it is about ensuring that that individual (who is being trafficked)… has a connection to safety and stability… it can be really challenging sometimes when you don’t trust police, to walk into a police station. It comes down to relationships… when they are ready to seek help, you need to be there.”
Walker encouraged Congress Day participants to contact the RCMP human trafficking unit if situations arise in which someone who is being trafficked needs to know what their options are, or needs to find a safe place – such as the house run by Hope Restored Canada.
Nashi provides help for vulnerable girls in Ukraine
Savelia Curniski spoke about the work of Nashi, a Saskatoon-based charity founded in 2004 after founders heard a presentation by journalist and author Victor Malarek about the brutal trafficking of vulnerable teenage girls from Eastern Europe in the global sex trade.
Nashi’s goals include educating youth and the general public about human trafficking through seminars, workshops and conferences, and diverting youth from exploitation by operating a safe house in Ukraine for at-risk vulnerable girls.
Curniski described the work and goals of Nashi, and the recent impact of the war in Ukraine on the ministry of Maple Leaf House, which has included evacuating the girls from Ukraine to a safe spot in Poland.
Sr. Nancy Brown, SC
Congress Day continued with an online presentation by Sr. Nancy Brown, CJ, in which she examined the Catholic theological grounding found in the “Nordic model” of prostitution law, which makes the selling of sex legal, but criminalizes both the buying of sex (“the johns”) and profiting from selling another person’s body for sexual exploitation (“the pimps”).
Canada’s recently-revamped law reflects the “Nordic model,” which treats prostitutes themselves as victims needing assistance to exit the profession while criminalizing other aspects of prostitution.
Brown traced Catholic teaching in the spirit and words of the preamble to Canada’s 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA).
Brown’s mission to raise awareness about sexual exploitation and human trafficking stems from her two decades of work at Covenant House Vancouver, which deals with youth on the streets.
As part of her address at Congress Day, Brown also provided “A Tribute to St. Josephine Bakhita” in which she shared details about the life and work of the patron saint of those who are trafficked.
Born in 1869 in Darfur (Sudan), Josephine Margaret Bakhita was abducted by slave traders and was bought and sold several times, before being taken to Italy. There she gained her freedom after a ruling by the Italian court in 1889, and in January 1890, she was baptized and received confirmation and first communion from the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice who would later be named Pope Pius X. Three years later St. Josephine entered the novitiate of the Canossian Sisters. She died in 1947 and was canonized a saint on Oct. 1, 2000. Her feast day is marked on Feb. 8.
With prayers of thanksgiving and words of farewell, parishioners marked the closing of the Catholic church at Burstall Oct. 9, celebrating Mass with Bishop Mark Hagemoen and pastor Fr. Francis Appiah-Kubi.
St. Michael parishioners were joined by others from the area at the final Mass, including representatives from Fox Valley, Liebenthal, Leader and Richmound Catholic parishes, as well as representatives of local Lutheran and Evangelical churches.
The closure of the parish comes after a long period of discernment by the community, said Bishop Hagemoen. It is a time of sadness, but also a moment to embrace the challenge of the change and the need to connect with a new community, he noted.
In his homily during the final Mass held on the Thanksgiving weekend, Bishop Hagemoen focussed on the fact that the people of God are the ultimate temple and that they would persist in the visible expression of Catholic life faith and mission in the region.
The bishop also shared expressions of prayers and blessings from the Ursuline sisters of Prelate, from the diocesan Council of Priests , and from neighbouring parish communities who had let him know that they were holding the Catholic community of St. Michael, Burstall in prayer.
After Mass, the congregation went to the cemetery shared between the Lutheran and Catholic community, where Bishop Hagemoen blessed the graves. A reception in the church basement followed.
St Michael was officially established as a mission parish of Liebenthal on May 17, 1970, in response to the request of the Catholic community, which had purchased a former Baptist church and adapted it for use in Catholic worship. In the early years, Burstall was served by Oblate priests coming from Liebenthal and Richmound.
In 1977-78, to accommodate the increased numbers of Catholics, the present St. Michael church was developed, under the direction of Fr. Joseph Blatz, OMI, with a basement built first, and then a former Lutheran church at Leader, SK, was moved to Burstall and placed over the waiting basement.
The newly refurbished St. Michael Church was blessed on June 26, 1979 by Bishop Noël Delaquis of Gravelbourg. (St. Michael, Burstall was one of the parishes added to the diocese of Saskatoon in 1998.)
– Information from “Building the Church, Living the Gospel” by Margaret Sanche and Daniel J. Classen, 2013
An hour of public witness calling for an end to abortion, Life Chain was again held on the first Sunday of October in communities across Saskatchewan, including in Humboldt, Unity and Saskatoon.
The Saskatoon event was held at the corner of Idylwyld Drie and 22nd Street on the afternoon of Oct. 2, with participants holding sign up as traffic passed by. Bishop Mark Hagemoen joined some 135 participants in peaceful witness.
Life Chain has been organized by Campaign Life Coalition and held simultaneously in communities across the country since 1990.
The second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Sept. 30 featured events across the country to honour those who attended residential schools and experienced the loss of language, family connections and culture — as well as those who suffered abuse and those who died there — and to raise awareness about the ongoing inter-generational effects of residential schools, colonization, and racism.
The new federal holiday builds upon “Orange Shirt Day” marked on Sept. 30 in recent years. 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.
Parish hosts afternoon walk
In the diocese of Saskatoon, parishioners from Holy Spirit Catholic Church joined with leaders from Our Lady of Guadalupe Indigenous parish Sept. 30 for prayer, smudging and a late-afternoon walk through a neighbourhood park, accompanied by pastors Fr. Joseph Salihu and Fr. Graham Hill, CSsR, along with Bishop Mark Hagemoen.
CCCB Statement for National Day of Truth and Reconciliation – English / French
Reconciliation Saskatoon walk
Earlier in the day, a larger “Rock Your Roots” walk for reconciliation was held, starting after a pancake breakfast at CUMFI, with a sea of orange-clad participants walking together along 20th Street West to the “Where Our Paths Cross” art installation at Reconciliation Circle in Victoria Park. The walk was followed by a program in the park featuring First Nations and Métis cultural performers, musicians and guest speakers.
Rock Your Roots is put on by Reconciliation Saskatoon, which the City of Saskatoon co-chairs along with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. The event, which has seen attendance in the thousands in past years, was first held in 2016. The intent of this event is to answer the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action by demonstrating a commitment to Reconciliation, honouring Residential School Survivors, and continuing work towards an inclusive community.
“The significance of a walk can be attributed to the Sunday walks in residential schools; this was often the only time when siblings and cousins of different genders might be reunited,” says Judy Pelly, a Residential School Survivor and member of the Rock Your Roots Walk organizing committee. “It’s meaningful to see Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples come together in this way.”
“This walk is an opportunity to learn about and honour First Nation and Métis residential school survivors,” says Shirley Isbister, President of Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI). “It’s an inclusive event that welcomes everyone to come out and participate. We look forward to being together.”
“This walk is a symbol of Reconciliation and a commitment to change for the better so that all people can have a good quality of life,” says Saskatoon Tribal Chief Mark Arcand.
Special programs were also offered at Wanuskewin Heritage Site that day, and an evening pow-wow was organized by the Saskatoon Tribal Council at SaskTel Centre.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen joined residents and Knights of Columbus members for celebration of Mass Sept. 24 to mark the 10th anniversary of Columbian Place in Saskatoon.
Located across the street from St. Mary Parish on 20th Street West, Columbian Place is a project of KC Charities, opening in 2012 with support from all levels of government.
The project was a follow-up to the earlier Columbian Manor project that KC Charities built and operates on Louise Street on the east side of the city.
The two locations together provide more than 260 seniors a place to call home, with a range of support, amenities and features.
As well, a new Columbian Village building currently under construction on Louise Street will be part of the same faith-based 55-plus community as the neighbouring Columbian Manor. The new building will feature additions including a fitness centre, beauty salon and a large common area for entertainment and other activities. Columbian Village will also include a new 100-seat chapel.
As a non-profit charitable organization, K.C. Charities Inc. strives to provide “active and healthy aging free from loneliness and boredom, and offer the most affordable supportive living seniors rentals in Saskatchewan. The communities we’ve built are vibrant, welcoming, and safe,” states the KC Charities Housing website. “Although K.C. Charities housing has faith-based Catholic roots, people of many faiths, denominations and backgrounds live in our communities.”
Horizons of Hope: A Toolkit about Palliative Care for Catholic Parishes is available in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – the goal is to have all parishes use the four-module program.
Jacqueline Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon says: “Horizons of Hope is an inspiring and engaging resource, with theological, ethical, medical, and practical perspectives presented together in an accessible way – on a subject that touches us all.”
For more information, contact Jacqueline Saretsky at email@example.com or (306) 659-5839.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) launched the toolkit prepared for parishes in November 2021 to address questions surrounding palliative care, dying, death, suffering, accompaniment, and bereavement, noting: “Our faith in Jesus Christ has much to teach us about living and dying well.”
Designed to help participants learn more about how to respond to the Christian call to provide compassionate care for loved ones at the end of life, the program offers reflection and support to anyone seeking to learn more about palliative care and the Catholic Church’s teaching on end-of-life; caregivers; those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness; and family members who need resources and guidance as they journey with a loved one who is seriously or terminally ill; and parishioners and pastoral care teams.
“I am very excited about this resource for our parishes,” said Saretsky. “It is very well done, and it won’t overwhelm people, but will really encourage and inspire them.”
The resource is presented over four learning modules. Themes include: understanding the human experience of dying and death, discerning and making decisions at the end of life, accompanying those on the journey and supporting and integrating within the wider community.
Each module features two videos. One short film tackles the topic from a medical perspective, while the other explores ethical and theological teachings.