[CCCB – May 13 2022] – The Vatican announced May 13 that Pope Francis will travel to Canada from July 24 – 29, 2022. The historic visit, focused on Indigenous healing and reconciliation, will be the fourth papal journey to Canada and the first since Saint John Paul II’s last visit in 2002.
Given the vast landscape of Canada, the limited time period for the visit and considering the health of the 85 year-old Pontiff, the Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will adopt only three communities as a base for his Canadian visit: Edmonton, Quebec City, and Iqaluit.
The Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan are among those welcoming news of Pope Francis’ visit to Canada July 24-29:
Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) welcomed the formal confirmation of the visit on behalf of Canada’s Catholic Bishops:
“We are immensely grateful that the Holy Father has accepted our invitation to continue the journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples of this land. In late July, Pope Francis will have the opportunity to visit Indigenous peoples here in their homeland, as he promised when he met them recently in Rome. We pray for the health of the Holy Father as we undertake the intensive planning for this historic visit.”
On April 1, 2022, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system. The Holy Father expressed “sorrow and shame” for the abuse and lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture and spiritual values in the residential school system.
The Holy Father’s apology was informed by private encounters between March 28 and April 1 with 32 Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors and youth representing the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Métis National Council (MNC), and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).
Given the vast landscape of Canada, the limited time period for the visit and considering the health of the 85 year-old Pontiff, the Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will adopt only three communities as a base for his Canadian visit: Edmonton, Quebec City, and Iqaluit.
The visit to three locations will limit travel for the Holy Father while still allowing an opportunity for both intimate and public encounters, drawing on participation from all regions of the country.
Edmonton is home to the 2nd largest number of Indigenous people living in urban Canadian centres. In addition, 25 residential schools were located in Alberta, the most of any province or territory in Canada.
Iqaluit, with close to 8,000 people, is home to the highest population of Inuit (3,900) of all Canadian cities with more than 5,000 people. Pope Francis was personally invited by Inuit delegates to visit the North during their meetings in March.
Quebec City provides an eastern hub for those who may wish to travel to see Pope Francis, especially Indigenous Peoples of the East. The region is also home to Ste. Anne-de-Beaupré, one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites in North America, drawing Indigenous Peoples and others from throughout Canada and around the world each year.
While dates and general locations have been confirmed by the Vatican, specific sites and a formal program will be developed in dialogue with Indigenous partners at the local and national level. Given the focus on Indigenous healing and reconciliation, the Holy Father is expected to visit the site of a former residential school and other locations of particular significance.
Typically, six to eight weeks prior to a papal visit, a full program and itinerary are released by the Vatican. At that time, the public will have an opportunity to learn more about how they may participate in the numerous events and related activity for the papal visit, along with volunteer opportunities and other relevant details.
The CCCB has appointed Archbishop Richard Smith as General Coordinator for the Papal Visit, to guide this immense undertaking on behalf of the Canadian Bishops. As Archbishop of Edmonton, the archbishop also accompanied Indigenous delegates to the Vatican earlier this year and has long-standing relationships with Indigenous leaders.
Archbishop Smith commented on the appointment: “I am humbled to serve as General Co-ordinator for this historic visit from Pope Francis. I look forward to working with Indigenous Peoples from across this land as well as local, provincial and federal partners as we prepare to welcome the Holy Father and continue to walk together on this important healing and reconciliation journey.”
On April 1, 2022, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system. The Holy Father expressed “sorrow and shame” for the abuse and lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture and spiritual values in the residential school system. (Image courtesy of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops)
About the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is the national assembly of the Bishops of Canada. It was founded in 1943 and officially recognized by the Holy See in 1948.
The Synod process continues in our diocese, part of a world-wide Synod For a Synodal Church launched by Pope Francis. Submissions from parishes and groups are now in, and will soon be summarized into a document to be sent to the next level of the Synod process. A public meeting about our diocesan results and experience will be held on Wednesday May 18 in person and online, beginning with Mass at 6:30 p.m. followed by a program at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend this diocesan Synod Summit evening.
What was shared? What was heard? What are next steps?
Join Bishop Mark Hagemoen and members of our diocesan and parish Synod teams to hear more on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, both in-person and online, beginning with Mass at 6:30 pm followed by the Synod Summit meeting at 7:30 p.m. held at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Saskatoon.
An annual fund-raising effort to support ministry and outreach across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is starting a bit later this year – but that’s not the only thing that is new.
The 2021 theme for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA) – “God is Doing New Things” – is particularly apt as a number of new situations, new initiatives and new realities continue to challenge and inspire the diocese and its parishes. The theme is based on the scripture verse from Isaiah 43: 19: “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Among the new initiatives this year is another, parallel fund-raising effort — the Catholic TRC Healing Response in support of healing for residential school survivors and their communities, launched this summer by the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan.
“The 2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA) begins later than usual this fall due to the importance of working on details of the recently-launched Catholic TRC Healing Response fund-raising effort,” noted BAA Coordinator Cathy Gilje of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation.
In his letter to parishioners about this year’s Annual Appeal, Bishop Mark Hagemoen noted: “We look forward to making further progress in our diocese on our commitment to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In this spirit, the Bishops of Saskatchewan recently announced efforts to promote a Catholic TRC Healing fund to support the healing and care of persons affected by the damaging legacy of residential schools in our province.”
Gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal have always supported Indigenous Ministry, including Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, which serves Indigenous and Métis parishioners in Saskatoon, as well as the Diocesan Council for Truth and Reconciliation, which has its mandate “…to provide a forum for listening and sharing, through stories and prayer, to collaborate with the diocese toward building and strengthening relationships, and to support healing from the Indian Residential School experience.”
“The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is how our diocese and the local church responds to the many needs we see around us and provides service and outreach throughout our diocese,” said Bishop Hagemoen in his letter to the diocese.
“These supports are more necessary than ever as we deal with the challenges of our present times. The size of your gift is secondary to the goal that all people of our diocese participate in sharing and working together in the mission of Proclaiming Christ, in service to others, sharing from the heart.”
Sept. 24, 2021 – The Catholic Bishops of Canada, gathered in Plenary Sept. 20-24, took the opportunity to affirm and acknowledge to the Indigenous Peoples the suffering experienced in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.
Many Catholic religious communities and dioceses participated in this system, which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples.
The Catholic Bishops of Canada acknowledged the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual. They also sorrowfully acknowledged the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day.
Along with those Catholic entities which were directly involved in the operation of the schools and which have already offered their own heartfelt apologies, the Catholic Bishops of Canada expressed their profound remorse and apologized unequivocally.
Together with the many pastoral initiatives already underway in dioceses across the country, the bishops pledged to undertake fundraising in each region of the country to support initiatives discerned locally with Indigenous partners.
They invited the Indigenous Peoples to journey with them into a new era of reconciliation, helping us to prioritize initiatives of healing, to listen to the experience of Indigenous Peoples, especially to the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, and to educate our clergy, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful, on Indigenous cultures and spirituality. The bishops further committed to continue the work of providing documentation or records that will assist in the memorialization of those buried in unmarked graves.
A delegation of Indigenous survivors, Elders/knowledge keepers, and youth will meet with the Holy Father in December 2021. Pope Francis will encounter and listen to the Indigenous Peoples, so as to discern how he can support our common desire to renew relationships and walk together along the path of hope in the coming years.
The Bishops of Canada have pledged to work with the Holy See and our Indigenous partners on the possibility of a pastoral visit by the Pope to Canada as part of this healing journey.
“We are committed to continue the journey with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples of this land,” stated the bishops. For more information, please visit www.cccb.ca
Les évêques du Canada offrent aux peuples autochtones des excuses sans équivoque
Les évêques catholiques du Canada, réunis en Assemblée plénière cette semaine, ont profité del’occasion pourconfirmer et reconnaître aux peuples autochtones les souffrances éprouvées dans les pensionnats indiens du Canada.
Beaucoup de communautés religieuses et de diocèses catholiques ont participé à ce système, qui a entraîné la suppression des langues, de la cultureet de la spiritualité autochtones et qui n’a pas respecté la riche histoire, les traditions et la sagesse des peuples autochtones. Elles ont reconnu les graves abus qui ont été commis par des membres de notre communauté catholique : des abus physiques, psychologiques, émotionnels, spirituels, culturels et sexuels. Elles ont aussi reconnu avec douleur les traumatismes passés et persistantset l’héritagedes souffrances et des difficultés vécues par les peuples autochtones, qui persistentjusqu’à ce jour.De concert avec les entités catholiques qui ont participé directement au fonctionnement des écoles et qui ont déjà présenté leurs sincères excuses, les évêques du Canada ont exprimé leurs profonds remords et ont présenté des excuses sans équivoque.
En plus des nombreuses initiatives pastorales déjà en cours dans les diocèses de tout le pays, les évêques se sont engagés à entreprendre une collecte de fonds dans chaque région du pays pour soutenir les initiatives discernées localement avec les partenaires autochtones. De plus, ils ont invité les peuples autochtones à cheminer avec nous vers une nouvelle ère de réconciliationen nous aidant à définir les priorités des initiatives de guérison, à écouter l’expérience des peuples autochtones, et particulièrement des survivants des pensionnats indiens, et d’instruirenotre clergé, les hommes et femmes consacrés, de même que les fidèles laïcs, sur les cultures et la spiritualité autochtones. Ils se sont également engagés à continuer le travail de communication de la documentation ou des dossiers qui aideront à commémorer ceux qui sont enterrés dans des sépultures anonymes.
Une délégation de survivants autochtones, d’aînés/de gardiens du savoir et de jeunes rencontrera le Saint-Père en décembre 2021. Le pape François rencontrera et écoutera les peuples autochtones afin de discerner comment il pourra appuyer notre désir commun de renouveler lesrelations et de marcher ensemble sur un chemin d’espoir dans les prochaines années.Les évêques du Canada ont promis de collaborer avec le Saint-Siège et nos partenaires autochtonesen vue de la possibilité d’une visite pastorale du pape au Canada dans le contexte de ce chemin de guérison.
<<Nous nous sommes engagés à continuer le chemin avec les peuples des Premières Nations, des Métis et des Inuits de notre pays.>> Pour de plus amples renseignements, visiter le site https://www.cccb.ca/fr/.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon July 21, 2021 released a report about an Historical Case Review Process that examined past cases of serious misconduct and sexual abuse in the diocese. In conjunction with those results, the diocese also announced updates to its Safeguarding Action Plan.
(The report does not address residential schools as the diocese of Saskatoon did not operate any residential schools and there were no Indian Residential Schools located within diocesan boundaries.)
A Safeguarding Advisory Committee established three years ago by Bishop Mark Hagemoen recommended a review of diocesan records as part of the release of a Safer Church, Safer Communities Safeguarding Action Plan in March 2020.
“The key goal of our plan was that our diocese and our churches be places of profound respect and safety for all peoples – especially the young and vulnerable,” said Bishop Hagemoen in a letter to the diocese July 21.
With that goal in mind, the Historical Case Review Process was primarily launched to determine what could be learned from past handling of cases to improve diocesan policies here and now, the bishop said. “We wished to determine how our current policies and practices can be improved, particularly in our commitment to support those who come forward with allegations of abuse or serious misconduct,” he said.
“This work is extremely important and valued. Although we have come a long way in our efforts, there is much more to do,” Hagemoen acknowledged.
The Historical Case Review Process involved two committees:
an Historical Case Review Committee chaired by Bob Loran that included a number of lay (non-clergy) professionals with a range of backgrounds and expertise – including legal, professional and police investigative experience – reviewing diocesan records independently of the bishop’s office, and
a Policy and Operations Review Committee chaired by Brenda FitzGerald, which did a complete review of diocesan policies and the Safeguarding Action Plan in light of the findings of the Historical Case Review Committee. This Policy and Operations Review Committee also met with victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse, listening to their experience and reflecting on the terrible and long-lasting effects and what is needed to best support victims/survivors.
“We have wrestled extensively with striking an appropriate balance between accountability and transparency, and sensitivity and responsibility, as every member of the Policy and Operations Committee deeply desires that the evil of sexual abuse be eradicated,” says Brenda Fitzgerald, chair of the Policy and Operations Committee, as well as of the diocesan Safeguarding Committee.
“In meeting with victims of sexual abuse, the Policy and Operations Review Committee repeatedly found that we must always remain victim/survivor-focused for the sake of respecting that person and their individual journey. This victim-centred approach must be reflected in every update to our safeguarding plan – and of any operation of the diocese,” she said.
At the recommendation of the committeees involved in the Historical Review Process, a commitment to publicly identifying the names of clergy and church employees who have been found guilty of sexual abuse or other serious misconduct has been clarified as being subject to privacy laws “and/or publication bans or privacy agreements.” The commitment was further broadened to include: “We commit to careful consultation with victims or representatives of victims prior to the public identification of names.”
The historical review report lists nine cases involving serious misconduct by either clergy or lay employees working in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, however no new names of abusers were released.
In three previously-reported cases, the names of offenders are again reported. In three cases, a credible claim could not be clearly established by the review committee and therefore names are not released. In two cases, victims have requested that names of the offenders not be published, and the diocese has honoured their wishes. The ninth case involved a Code of Conduct violation by an employee allegedly accessing pornography on a computer at a local parish – the name of the employee, now deceased, is not being released.
Two non-historical cases still under review were also noted in the Historical Case Review report, with previously-released names again published.
“In recent months we have learned that there are situations where releasing names of an abuser would further re-traumatize and trigger victims – each of whom are on their own unique healing journey,” explained FitzGerald.
“For some, releasing names of perpetrators of sexual abuse has tremendous potential to empower victims to seek healing and reparation. For others, there is a great fear and risk of further trauma with the release of names. As with our commitment that our entire Safeguarding Action Plan be more victim or survivor focused, we came to realize that with regard to this question of releasing names of abusers, we must also prioritize the needs and desires of the victim or survivor,” she said.
“Therefore, we have added this important clause to the commitment addressing the release of names of abusers: ‘We commit to careful consultation with victims or representatives of victims prior to the public identification of names.’ (Safer Church, Stronger Communities Safeguarding Action Plan, Commitment #12)”
Safeguarding plan updates
As a result of the work of the two committees, the diocesan Safeguarding Action Plan released in March 2020 has also been updated in several sections. The plan features 20 commitments that fall into four categories:
Outreach and Healing;
Process of Reporting and Addressing Allegations;
Policies and Training; and
Expanding Safeguarding Culture.
In addition to the changes to Commitment 12 about publicly identifying names, other changes to the Safeguarding Action Plan as a result of the Historical Case Review Process include:
committing to respond to allegations within 48 hours;
exploring the establishment of a 24-hour hotline for those who wish to remain anonymous when reporting serious misconduct or abuse;
undertaking a review of existing intake and investigation processes to be more complainant-focused, simplified and accessible;
including allegations against church volunteers in record-keeping; and
making trauma support and accompaniment resources available on the website as they become available.
Bishop Hagemoen expressed his appreciation to the committees who undertook the review of historic files and the Safeguarding Action Plan. “I am grateful to those who led this process – professionals who are Catholic and non-Catholic, and who did their work independent of myself and our diocesan offices,” he said.
Bishop Hagemoen also apologized to victims / survivors of sexual abuse and to the wider Church community.
“To any person in our diocese or beyond who has experienced abuse by clergy or anyone else in the Church, I again express my profound sorrow and I apologize for what you have suffered, and for the betrayal, violation, and abandonment you have experienced,” Hagemoen said.
“I also apologize to all members of our Church whose faith and trust has been damaged because of the sinful actions of those who abused the innocent, and those who covered up such abuse. I recognize that both individual and institutional change must happen in our Church to move forward.”
VIDEO: Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Historical Review Committee Chair Bob Loran, Policy and Operations Review Committee Chair Brenda Fitzgerald:
Dear Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Dioceses and Eparchy in Saskatchewan,
Over the past days, coming face to face with findings at cemeteries of former residential schools, we have been awakened anew to the waves of suffering from those who have been affected by these schools and the colonial system that fashioned and upheld them, a system with which Catholic Church dioceses and organizations, along with other institutions, were complicit.
We have heard the strong request, from Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people in various quarters to initiate a new fundraising campaign to support survivors and engage more deeply in our own ongoing commitment and response to the Truth and Reconciliation process. Many members of our Catholic community have expressed their solidarity and support for the ongoing work of healing for survivors and their families, which could take the shapeof supporting local projects of the National Indian Brotherhood and responding locally to TRC Calls to Action involving a financial commitment, as guided by Indigenous communities here in Saskatchewan (cf. Calls to Action #61, #73-76; #82).
We are deeply grateful for the signs and indications of commitment we have been hearing and have begun consultations this past week towards a province-wide fundraising effort, which we would each undertake in ways discerned in our respective dioceses. To maximize the effectiveness of such an effort, it is important to plan well and to coordinate the efforts of various potential participants, and most importantly, to consult with Indigenous dialogue partners, including Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and Chiefs. Those conversations are already underway and we hope to be able to announce a plan soon.
We offer this brief communication as an update and look forward to responding with more details in the near future.
In the meantime, blessings to you all on this very warm July long weekend.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Archbishop Donald Bolen, Archdiocese of Regina
Bishop Bryan Bayda, Eparchy of Saskatoon
Archbishop Murray Chatlain, Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas
June 29, 2021 – Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon today wrote a letter to the Catholic community about the diocese’s participation in fundraising under the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) to clarify a recent news report comparing that disappointing effort to the successful fundraising to build a diocesan cathedral.
Although not required to join the 2006 IRSS agreement (since there was no residential school located in the diocese or operated by the diocese), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon voluntarily signed on to the agreement to “be a part of this settlement process and to support its purposes,” noted Bishop Hagemoen. “I believe this was both because of the history and ongoing commitment throughout the diocese to build relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” he said.
Those who signed the IRSSA, including the diocese of Saskatoon, committed to a number of items, including contributing finances to services and programs to Indigenous survivors, families, and communities, as follows:
Payment of $29 million in cash, which was directed to programs and services und the supervision of First Nations organizations, and to the “Returning to Spirit’ program. The diocese of Saskatoon’s share of this amount was $25,000.
A “services-in-kind” commitment, whereby various community services and programs worth more than $25 million were organized by the various Catholic entities to be provided for Indigenous communities. The diocese of Saskatoon’s services-in-kind contribution to Restorative Ministry was valued at $43,000.
A final fundraising appeal that was titled the “Moving Forward Together” campaign. This campaign was to also involve not only the 50 entities, but all dioceses in Canada, with a goal to raise $25 million. After two diocesan-wide collections were held, the diocese of Saskatoon contributed about $34,000 to this national effort, which ultimately fell short of the $25 million national goal.
“I understand that the leaders of various Catholic dioceses and groups put their efforts behind each component of the campaign. However, they were disappointed by the results,” said Hagemoen.
“If I was to summarize why the efforts yielded this kind of result, I would say that many of our parishioners, like many non-Indigenous Canadians, have been slow to understand the impact and the legacy of the residential school system, and this seems to be reflected in the response at the time,” Hagemoen said.
The bishop added that he would very much support revisiting this fund-raising appeal today. “The discoveries of grave sites at cemeteries near former residential schools has drawn an even greater awareness of the need for an appeal to support the healing of survivors and their families from the legacy of residential schools. I think Catholic members in our diocese and across Canada would respond with a heightened sense of solidarity and support,” he said.
In the meantime, the diocese continues to support reconciliation and healing called for in the TRC final report, he said, listing several of the TRC Calls to Action that the Catholic Church and the diocese have been working on.
“However, there is much left to address in the Calls to Action,” the bishop admitted, citing in particular the call for Pope Francis to come to Canada to apologize to residential school survivors, their families and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that occured in residential schools.
Bishop Hagemoen said: “I again state my support for such a visit by the Holy Father to Canada, and I believe that an apology from Pope Francis would bring healing to many and would help to further the journey of reconciliation in our Church and our country.”
Bishop Hagemoen also reiterated his own apology: “I deeply regret and apologize that Catholics were part of this system which was designed to separate children from their families and communities and to assimilate them into a culture the featured a colonial attitude and approach. I deeply regret and apologize for the damage done to children at these schools, which for many included neglect and abuse, and I apologize for the deaths that happened at these schools, with children dying far away from mothers, fathers, grandparents and families, and I apologize to the families and the communities who have not been able to honour children’s burial sites.”
In conclusion, the Bishop of Saskatoon expressed his hopes going forward, saying: “While it is true that the discovery of graves is exposing the wounds and scars from the Indian Residential School legacy which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission revealed – but it is also raising greater awareness of the work, findings and the recommendations of the TRC, and of the great work still ahead for us and our diocese.”
A teepee stood on the grounds of St. Mary Church in Saskatoon, next to the statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, part of a four-day memorial wake organized by Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. St. Mary Catholic Church is where Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish celebrates Sunday Mass every week at 1 p.m. (Photo by Fr. D. Millette)
The Fiddler family drum group presented honour songs in memory of the 215 children at both the opening and closing Masses of the four-day wake. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Saskatoon’s Indigenous Catholic parish held a four-day memorial wake Thursday, June 3 to Sunday, June 6 for the 215 children recently found in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops residential school in British Columbia.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, which serves First Nations, Métis, Indigenous and non-Indigenous parishioners in the heart of Saskatoon, organized the event in response to the heart-breaking discovery of the children’s bodies, which has caused trauma throughout their community and reopened wounds for survivors and their families.
Held on the grounds of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Saskatoon – where a teepee was set up near the church building at the corner of Avenue O South and 20th Street West – Our Lady of Guadalupe’s memorial “Wake Honouring the Lost” opened each day with a 6 a.m. sacred pipe ceremony and a sacred drum song.
Beginning and ending with Mass celebrated by Bishop Mark Hagemoen June 3 (Vicar General Fr. Kevin McGee was also present for the opening Mass) and Sunday, June 6, the wake also included morning and evening prayers for the dead from the Liturgy of the Hours, lighting of vigil candles (one for each of the children found at Kamloops), intermittent prayer throughout each day, smudging, sacred drum and honour songs.
But most of all, the four-day event provided a prayerful presence to those struggling with the profound grief, anger and hurt of the recent discovery at a residential school run by Catholics from 1890 to 1969, when the federal government took over until the school closed in 1978.
Parish elders Irene Sharp, Sharon Genaille, Dianne Anderson, and Gayle Weenie joined Parish Life Director Debbie Ledoux, Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor Fr. Graham Hill, CSsR, Deacon Paul Labelle and St. Mary pastor Fr. Mick Fleming in praying with and listening to those who came forward to share their grief and their anger.
Sr. Carol Borreson, SGM, Elder Dianne Anderson, Elder Sharon Genaille, Elder Irene Sharp and Elder Gayle Weenie (l-r) at the opening Mass June 3 of the Wake Honouring the Lost. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
Elder Rod Stone, who led the pipe ceremony on three of the four days of the wake, spoke at the end of the closing Mass June 6, speaking in his own language before addressing the crowd in English.
“Stories have been told. Now we are on a healing journey, and that involves everybody,” said the Elder, recalling the devout Catholic faith of his own parents, who were residential school survivors. He also expressed disappointment that he did not hear an apology in the recent statement from Pope Francis about the discovery of the 215 children at Kamloops.
“So, I think it is up to the individual churches, if they have the will, to bring people back in a good way. What I see (in the celebration) today, in terms of what has happened – the smudge, the tobacco, the cloth, the sweet grass, the pipe – I never thought I would see that,” Elder Stone added, thinking of how proud his father would have been to experience these traditional elements in a Catholic celebration.
Elder Rod Stone led a pipe ceremony on three of the four days of the memorial wake. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
“I think we are starting a journey here, and I think that journey is looking to the next generation… my children, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren,” said Stone, who attended the closing Mass with three of his six great-grandchildren whom he has raised from birth.
“It is a beautiful feeling… loving a child, to watch them grow up to be happy, to play like a child, to show them the love and care because they are the next generation,” he said, recalling those who did not have that experience because of the residential school system.
“There is always the opportunity to change,” he added, pointing to traditional teachings as a way to heal such great loss and overwhelming grief. “Healing is right here — look at the pipe. When the elder is praying, he lifts it up, he brings his heart and his mind together,” he said. “It is a way to release the poisons.”
Parish Life Director Debbie Ledoux, who herself attended residential school in Saskatchewan for nine years, also spoke about the impact of the recent news about the 215 children – most especially for residential school survivors and their families.
“We all share the pain and the sorrow, the hurt, you name it,” she said at the conclusion of the closing Mass June 6. “It has been a very, very difficult week since the news of these babies, these children, being found.”
Parish Life Director Debbie Ledoux spoke at the conclusion of the four-day celebration, recalling the profound grief, anger and hurt of the residential schools. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
In the face of all of the grief and anger, the parish elders led the way to envisioning and holding the wake, along with pastors Graham and Fleming, and Deacon Labelle, she said.
The pain of the recent discovery of the children’s bodies is particularly deep because it was “caused by our Catholic Church, caused by supposed reverential leaders…. This is what they did to us, and they are supposed to be servants of our Creator God,” she said. “And we wonder: what happened? What happened? How can you hate someone so badly that you could do that to our babies – our kids? That is so evil. That is sin.”
She continued: “I cried and I cried and I cried when I heard the news. I thought of my own babies, of my grown sons now that have babies. It is painful. It’s painful. It’s so painful.”
For those who don’t “get” the hurt, she described the encounters with just two of those who stopped by at the teepee during the days of prayer – a 60-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman, who were both devastated by the recent news, and filled with anger and pain.
“I just had a 60-year-old man standing at the fence, I was talking to him, a residential school survivor. He told me that he could not stop crying when he heard the news. He said: ‘All those things that happened to me at the residential school came back. ‘They came back and it hurts,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what to do….I am sorry,’ he said, ‘if I hurt you, but it was the Church. Weren’t they supposed to love us?'” she said, describing her own deep hurt and conflict as an Indigenous person who works for the Church and tries to bring her people back to the Church. “What do I say? What do I say?”
She also tearfully recounted the encounter with a hurting, angry young woman of 19, whom she listened to and encouraged to pray in her own language.
“Then I had to explain to her why I was still here. And why am I here? Because I am here to serve Creator God, and without Him in my life, I would not be able to try and help my people. That’s the reason I am here.”
Ledoux asked for prayer and solidarity from non-Indigenous people. “It is very painful, there’s a lot of anger out there. We need to help each other. Don’t say ‘I’ll pray for you’, say ‘I will pray with you’. Walk with us. Be with us.”
Candles represented the 215 children discovered in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops residential school. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
During the closing Mass, expired candles that burned throughout the four-day vigil were placed near the altar around the statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha (an Indigenous woman canonized as a saint of the Catholic Church in 2012).
“They represent the 215 young lives whose graves we are holding this wake for,” explained Fr. Graham Hill after the prayers of the faithful during the closing Mass held on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.
“On the beginning of this journey together we asked the bishop to bless a fire from which we kept the light burning,” said Hill, before inviting the bishop to share the same light, by lighting a single candle in front of a rock placed in front of the altar, with the word “hope” written in both forms of the Cree alphabet.
During the closing Mass June 6, Bishop Mark Hagemoen lights a candle to place in front of a rock with the word “hope” inscribed in both Cree alphabets, as Deacon Paul Labelle and Elder Irene Sharp look on. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
At the conclusion of Mass, Hill invited those present to take a candle with them: “take it home and pray for one child – not as a statistic but as a person, a life, and to keep that memory alive.”
Later Fr. Hill also shared words from the residential school survivor who created the star blanket that decorated the altar.
“As I put this star blanket together, I felt all the areas of the medicine wheel: emotional, physical, mental spiritual,” she wrote. “When I was eight I went to the residential school By making this blanket, I was able to heal and release my past, the hurt. With every stitch I said prayers for our people, that everyone who looks at it or walks past it will feel God’s peace and God’s love and joy.”
Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided at the closing celebration for the four-day prayer vigil. The event concluded with Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Sunday Mass at St. Mary Church on the Feast of Corpus Christi – the Body and Blood of Christ. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)
Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided at Mass for both the opening (outdoors on June 3) and the closing (inside the church building on June 6) of the memorial days of prayer.
“I am very grateful for the teepee – the tent – that is beside the church,” he said in his June 6 homily, before pointing to the scriptural story of the tent that carried the Covenant, the Word of God, on the journey of the people of Israel, until the temple was built to contain it.
“Let the tent teach the temple, and may the temple be able to hold the journey to an uncertain future,” he said, admitting he does not know what the future holds. Even so, he affirmed trust in the abounding love, mercy and presence of God as tent and temple, teepee and church, move forward together.
“On this day that we celebrate Corpus Christi, we pray that God’s real presence will continue to bring blessing, bring strength to those who mourn, and to be able to take us on a new journey together,” Hagemoen said.
Fr. Mick Fleming, CSsR, who returned to the diocese of Saskatoon in 2019 to serve at St.Mary Parish, Saskatoon, will be taking another assignment with the Redemptorists in the diocese of MacKenzie-Fort Smith, beginning August 2021 .
From July 3, 2021 to Dec. 3, 2021, Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR, will serve as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Saskatoon. He is currently the Edmonton Toronto Regional Coordinator and Vicar-Provincial for the Redemptorist Province of Canada.
Fr. Kevin McGee, will begin serving as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Saskatoon effective Dec. 4, 2021, concluding his time as pastor of St. Augustine, Saskatoon. Fr. McGee will continue to serve as Vicar General for the diocese.
Fr. Darryl Millette, who is currently pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in Saskatoon (since 2015), will serve as associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon from July 31 to Dec. 3, 2021, before taking up a new assignment as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Saskatoon. Fr. Millette will continue to serve as Chancellor for the diocese of Saskatoon, and will continue his ongoing studies in canon law.
Fr. Joseph Salihu is appointed as pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, Saskatoon effective July 31. Fr. Salihu has been serving as pastor at St. Augustine Parish, Humboldt; St. Scholastica Parish, Burr; and Holy Trinity Parish, Pilger, since joining the diocese in 2016.
Fr. Colin Roy is appointed as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Humboldt effective July 31, 2021. Since 2016, Fr. Roy has served as pastor of St. Michael Parish in Cudworth, Canadian Martyrs Parish in Middle Lake, and St. Benedict Parish in St. Benedict.
Fr. Prince Sarpong, will be joining the diocese of Saskatoon after six years of service in his home archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana. He is appointed pastor of the parishes of Little Flower in Leader, Sacred Heart in Lancer, and Sacred Heart in Liebenthal, replacing Fr. Madonna-Godwin Aghedo, OP, who is currently serving as parochial administrator of the three parishes.
Fr. Nestor Silva, OMI, is appointed pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Asquith. He will also continue to serve as associate pastor at St. Patrick Parish, Saskatoon, where he has served since 2018.
Fr. Graham Hill, CSsR, is appointed pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Vanscoy. Fr. Hill will also continue to serve as Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saskatoon, where he has served since 2016.
Fr. Emmanuel Olusola, has accepted an assignment with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, ON. Fr. Olusola has served with the diocese since 2016 as pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in Allan, St. Alphonse Parish in Viscount, and St. Mary Parish, Colonsay, as well as serving as chaplain for Bishop Murray and Bethlehem high schools.
Fr. Deyre Azcuna has concluded his assignment with the diocese of Saskatoon and will be taking another assignment with the Prelature of Batanes, Philippines. Fr. Azcuna has served with the diocese since 2016 as associate pastor of the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.
Diocesan seminarian Van Tam (Luke) Tran, has started an internship at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Saskatoon as of May 1, 2021. He has been studying at Christ the King Seminary in Mission, British Columbia. He will be entering into his third year of theology in 2021.
Sr. April Mireau will make her Profession of Perpetual Vows as a Sister of the Presentation of Mary on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 12, 2021, at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Prince Albert. A Mass of Thanksgiving will take place June 13, 2021, at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Saskatoon. (These celebrations will be live-streamed at https://presentationofmary.ca)
Lay woman Crystal Hampson will be making a final Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity at 7 p.m. June 9, 2021, at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (The celebration will be live-streamed at https://saskatoonmass.com).
A Dying Healed Workshop will be held at St. Augustine Church Hall in Humboldt, SK, from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm Saturday, May 15, 2021.
Register by calling Jackie Saretsky of the diocesan Hospital Chaplaincy Office at (306) 659-5839 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This workshop will provide comprehensive education on palliative care / end of life issues and preliminary training for those wishing to provide compassionate and supportive care to those in need, particularly at end-of-life. Cost is $15, which includes a workbook. (Due to current restrictions, attendance is limited, registration is required, and refreshments will not be served.)