I was recently asked what is an ‘Oblate of St. Benedict’ and what does this entail for an ordinary lay person?
Oblates of St. Benedict are Christians, lay or ordained, who, committed to the living of their faith and while continuing to live their own state in life, desire to make their own the values expressed by Benedictine monastic life. Core to Benedictine spirituality are a balance of prayer and work, loving relationships with others, and active participation in the sacramental life of the church.
In our Diocese, we have active groups of Oblates in Calgary and Medicine Hat who for 30 years have been spiritually associated with Mount Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, Oregon. Ron Kaczmar is one such Oblate and his story of encountering Benedictine Spirituality is featured below.
Submitted by Mark Richard, Oblates of St. Benedict members in Calgary. Mark lives in Calgary with his wife Patricia. He is an active member of St. Michael Catholic Community and involved in faith formation, outreach programs, and providing spiritual direction. Mark has been a Benedictine Oblate since 2009.
Congratulations Fr. Quinn Gomez!
Congratulations to Fr. Quinn Gomez, FSSP from Calgary on being ordained to the Priesthood for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter on May 26, 2023, by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone at North American Martyrs Catholic Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Fr. Cristino Bouvette had the privilege of attending the Ordination and receiving a priestly blessing from the newly ordained priest. Fr. Gomez also invited Fr. Cristino to preach at his first Mass the next day. Despite joining the Fraternity, Fr. Gomez wants to remain connected with his home diocese. You can view the Ordination photos here | Video
Finding our home
For converts, the journey on the road to Roman Catholicism is as varied as their individual personalities and experiences. My journey was a rather circuitous route, due in part to a neurological disorder – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our three children are now adults, but when our youngest was just starting school, she began displaying sudden twitches and jerky movements which seemed out of her control. Our initial concern soon turned to alarm as the movements became more pronounced, and as she also began making odd sounds as well. We checked with our family doctor, who referred us to a pediatric psychiatrist over the Christmas break. After a lot of listening and observing, he gave us his diagnosis: Tourette Syndrome.
In some ways it was a comfort to have a name for the condition, but we also felt anxious about what the future might hold. My husband and I read everything we could get our hands on about Tourette Syndrome and found out that most people learn to cope with this neurological disorder, though it isn’t an easy condition to live with. We also learned that the involuntary movements and sounds are called motor tics and vocal tics.
School became a nightmare for our daughter. She felt humiliated, confused, sad and, most of all, concerned about “disturbing” the other students with her frequent vocal and motor tics. Finally, we made the decision to homeschool her, in an attempt to salvage our collective sanity. I quit my teaching job.
I’ve noticed that, from my childhood, when faced with distressing experiences I seek solace in books. This was no exception. As we launched into the new experience of homeschooling, I buried myself in my spare time in the works of authors I have long loved, including C. S. Lewis. One line from Lewis’ book The Problem of Pain had a profound impact on me: “Pain removes the veil. It plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.” As I sat one day at our dining room table, reading and absorbing those words with my twitching, barking daughter beside me working on her math lesson, it did indeed feel as if a veil was being ripped off my old perceptions of myself, of God, and of the world. I knew I needed to go deeper and find a better way to cope with this new reality.
C. S. Lewis led me to one of his favorite authors, G. K. Chesterton, whose books I ate up with an eagerness that my husband found rather baffling. Fascinated by Chesterton’s conversion to Catholicism, I then started reading the works of other notable converts – Cardinal John Henry Newman, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Scott Hahn. My concept of our relationship with God was challenged by their insights.
I grew up in the United Church, and my husband and I attended Protestant Churches with our children during the early years of our marriage. But after reading the stories of famous converts to Catholicism I felt drawn, like a magnet, to a little Catholic church in our neighborhood. I had never been inside, even though we had lived just two blocks away for almost twenty years. My husband decided to join me, and as we entered the church building together one Sunday, as Mass was about to begin, we had absolutely no idea what to expect.
At first it felt very foreign, but we kept attending. Before long, we found ourselves signed up for a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults course (RCIA), with a group of other spiritual explorers. We were increasingly captivated by what we heard every Tuesday night at the RCIA class. In the Catholic Church we found people who were unafraid to gaze on Christ’s suffering, and as I followed their gaze, I was confronted with a love that shook me to the core. I felt like I finally understood Chesterton’s astute comment: “The Catholic church is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.”
Restoring the Feminine Heart
As the highly anticipated "Restoring the Feminine Heart" Women's Conference approaches (May 26-27), the Beloved Daughters Ministry team shares with Faithfully about their event and the ministry's mission. Read on to discover what this exciting conference has in store.
For those who have never heard of the Beloved Daughters Ministry, it's a lay-run women's ministry established in 2020 to support women at every stage of life as they rediscover their identity as beloved daughters of God.
Initially created to host annual women's conferences within the Diocese of Calgary, the ministry adapted to an online presence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through social media platforms, they share blog posts (written by many local women), weekly Sunday reflections, and host Advent and Lenten mini-retreats at various parishes. The ministry offers connection, relatability, and encouragement to women, helping them stay rooted in the truths of their identity in God.
“Restoring the Feminine Heart”
The ministry conference team, guided by prayer and discernment, has carefully chosen the perfect topic and speakers for this inaugural event. With the theme “Restoring the Feminine Heart”, they are eager to delve into the true identity and unique gifts that women possess.
"We hope to be able to provide the beginnings of restoration and healing to women who have experienced wounds in these areas, especially where in today’s society there is much confusion and distortion regarding the identity of the individual." said Rikka, one of the founders of the Beloved Daughter Ministry. The team also hope to shed light on God’s thoughtful design in creating humans male and female in His image and likeness, as well as the gift that we are to each other.
Women going to the conference will be examining how pressures from society, others, and even themselves, have hindered the ability to live out their truest identity. They will unpack how they can freely live out of the giftedness of our femininity.
Jake & Heather Khym
The team is beyond excited to welcome guest speakers Heather Khym (most commonly known as a co-host on the Abiding Together Podcast) and Jake Khym (Registered Psychologist and co-host of the Restore the Glory Podcast).
Jake and Heather Khym are a married Catholic couple from Abbotsford, BC. They are the founders of Life Restoration Ministries. Their ministry is devoted to creating opportunities for Jesus to encounter people, empowering disciples to deepen their faith. They achieve this through evangelization and formation focused on unlocking the heart. On their podcasts, Jake and Heather regularly share personal stories of their own journey towards healing and restoration with great vulnerability.
When asked why Jake & Heather Khym for their first women’s conference, Rikka revealed, “The three of us first heard Jake Khym speak at Rise up 2014 in Calgary and his message blew us away. He spoke into each of our hearts differently, but prominently.”
The launch of the all-female Abiding Together Podcast, featuring Heather Khym, piqued the team's interest even more. One of their team members found great healing through listening to the Restore the Glory Podcast, hosted by Jake Khym (a registered counselor), and Dr. Bob Schuchts (a registered psychologist).
“In listening to the honesty and relatability in which they share their experiences, combined with their professional and ministerial background, we immediately knew that having them speak at this conference would be just what was needed to create an environment of hope and healing for the attendees at our conference.”
"We believe that Jake and Heather can beautifully demonstrate the harmony and unity that can exist within relationships as we each journey towards wholeness."
A Pentecost Gift
Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, aunts, nieces, sisters, and girl-friends! If you are a woman over the age of 18 then there is a place for you at this conference! Nursing infants, and female adolescents 14 years and older coming with their mother or guardian, are also welcome.
Maria added, “This conference is sure to be an enriching and impactful weekend filled with connection, rest and restoration. You can look forward to being amongst a community of lovely women gathering, learning and praying together!”
It is truly a gift for our Diocese to have this conference offered in Calgary, and especially on the weekend of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit will be present and ready to shower the women in attendance with an abundance of graces!
Making an Informed, Moral Choice
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In preparation for the upcoming provincial election, the Catholic Bishops of Alberta wish to encourage all members of the Church to engage in the electoral process. By means of this letter, we offer to our Catholic faithful a reminder of important principles and concerns, which stem from the social doctrine of the Church, to guide the discernment of choices that accord with the Gospel’s vision for the right ordering of society.
Please join with us in prayer for those elected to public office. They are assuming a heavy responsibility, often at great personal sacrifice. May they be granted the strength and wisdom to govern in accord with the precept of charity in service of the life and well-being of everyone.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Catholic Bishops of Alberta
Most Reverend Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton
Most Reverend William McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary
Most Reverend Gary Franken, Bishop of St. Paul
Most Reverend Gerard Pettipas CSsR, Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan
Most Reverend David Motiuk, Bishop of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton
Métis Moochigan in Lethbridge
The noise is deafening and nobody minds. What started as a traditional Métis dance called “Drops of Brandy” has morphed into dozens of elementary students twirling arm-in-arm and jigging wildly to live fiddle and guitar music. It’s a gleeful melee in the true spirit of Moochigan.
Moochigan, according to organizer and Métis member Jorin Gaudet, is a Métis word which describes a kitchen party, a gathering where food is shared, music is played, and people come together to dance and celebrate. Gaudet, who originally hales from the Métis community of Paddle Prairie in Northern Alberta, said he came up with the idea “to bring Métis culture to life” within his school. Gaudet is a Grade 6 teacher at Our Lady of Assumption (OLA) School of Holy Spirit Catholic School Division in Lethbridge. With collaboration from his friends, and support from a raft of groups and organizations, Gaudet planned an afternoon of activities for the 150 students of OLA.
Students clearly enjoyed the various activities but the whole event was intended for a larger purpose. Principal Calder explained that the school is committed to furthering Truth and Reconciliation principles by finding creative ways to learn about First Nations and Métis peoples. This goal is echoed by the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops in their pastoral letter to the Métis “That We May Walk Together”. In it the CCCB pledges to facilitate opportunities to make Métis history known. “You have spoken clearly of the need to tell your stories, to make your history, spiritual, and cultural traditions more widely known,” the document says. It then goes on to invite Catholic educational institutions, seminaries and religious houses to partner in this endeavor.
On the 106th Anniversary of Our Blessed Mother’s apparition to three humble shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady of Fatima Parish welcomed Catholics from all across the Diocese of Calgary to honour her holy feast day. And just like in Fatima, the crowds appeared!
The church, which was constructed by immigrants from Portugal, was filled with devoted followers of the Blessed Mother. The sanctuary and narthex were overflowing with people who participated in the Rosary, Holy Mass, and candlelight procession. It was clear that the believers were deeply respectful and fervently praying, which indicated that the graces poured through Mary’s Immaculate Heart at Fatima are still being bestowed upon her children today. In each “Ave Maria” and “Holy Mary,” the faithful from across the diocese and from different cultural backgrounds wholeheartedly and with one unified voice entreated to their mother, presenting her with their spiritual bouquets of roses.
In Father Fabio’s homily, he emphasized that “in Nazareth, the Virgin Mary brought the Son of God into the world. But in Fatima, Mary's mission was different: to bring the world to Christ, with a call to conversion, indicating that the Blessed Mother's devotion points out to Christ, our Saviour.”
The message of Our Lady at Fatima continues to live in the hearts of her children, whom she protects within the intimacy of her Immaculate Heart. This universal call to holiness in which the Blessed Mother draws us ever closer to her Beloved Son resounded even more strongly this Saturday. Their smiles and tears were evident signs of their devotion and closeness to the Blessed Mother. Let us, with each passing day, always remember Our Blessed Mother’s most sweet requests: to pray the rosary daily and to do penance to console Her Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Her Divine Son, Jesus!
In October 13th, the Portuguese-speaking Catholic community of Calgary will celebrate the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.
Submitted by Caterina Avila, Our Lady of Fatima Parish. Photos courtesy of Our Lady of Fatima, Parish.
2023 Catholic Education Week
Expansion access to MAiD
Together with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Bishop McGrattan is urging the faithful to continue to oppose the expansion of MAiD in Canada. The CCCB has just issued an Open Letter to the Government of Canada and a Message to the Catholic Faithful on May 9 re: Permitting Persons Living with Mental Illness to Access Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide. We ask you to share the Bishop's message with your friends and family:
Let us spend the National Week of Family and Life (NFLW) 2023 united in prayer, reflection, and action, demonstrating our active support for family and life. Indeed, families are “guardians of life” when we love one another within our families and in wider society when we show kindness toward and care for the vulnerable and marginalized.
Note: Day 1 can begin anytime! We want to ensure everybody has the opportunity to join in and take part in this wonderful experience. Don't worry if you missed the start of NFLW, you can join in and start participating in the daily prayers and activities from any day.
Source: National Life & Family Week Daily Prayers & Activities, CCCB, 2023
Evening of prayers for Syria
A beautiful evening of prayers for Syria was held on Friday, May 5, 2023 at St. Mary's Cathedral. Archbishop Joseph Tobji from Aleppo, Syria, Bishop McGrattan, priests, deacons, and faithful from the oriental churches in Calgary and the Diocese attended the event. In addition to the ongoing conflicts, people in Syria are also facing the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and the tragic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these immense challenges, the people of Syria are bravely rebuilding their lives. We express our deep appreciation to everyone who participated and prayed with us for our brothers and sisters in Syria.
A special thank you to Fr. Daniel Fares, the chief organizer, volunteers and staff of St. Mary's Cathedral for the beautiful reception after the prayers. Let us continue to keep the people of Syria in our thoughts and prayers.
Photos and videos courtesy of Our Lady of Peace Maronite Church and Office of Communications.
More photos are available here.
Funeral Mass of Fr. Gilles LeBlanc was celebrated on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at Sacred Heart Church in Calgary followed by a graveside service at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Father Gilles LeBlanc was born on May 18, 1949, in Bouctouche, New Brunswick. He is pre-deceased by his parents Frederick and Suzanne LeBlanc and his brother Paul LeBlanc. He is survived by his siblings: Andrea Acherly, Ronald LaBlanc, Gladys Bordage, John LaBlanc, Reggie LeBlanc. He was ordained a priest in 1985. He passed away peacefully on May 2, 2023 at Providence Care Centre.
Visit the obituary page at https://www.evanjstrong.com/obituary/FrGilles-LeBlanc
Fr. Gilles LeBlanc's Pastoral Assignments
Father Gilles LeBlanc was ordained a priest on April 26, 1985, at St. Mary’s Cathedral by Bishop Paul J. O'Byrne. Fr. LeBlanc began his pastoral assignments as an Assistant Pastor at St. John’s, Calgary, in June 1985, followed by St. Mark’s in Calgary in August 1985, serving until 1987. He then served as an Assistant Pastor at St. Ann's in Blairmore from July 1987 to 1988. In 1989, he accepted a pastoral assignment as Pastor of St. Andrew’s, Vulcan, Champion, and Carmangay, where he served for two years. Later in his ministry, Fr. LeBlanc was assigned at St. Anthony’s in Calgary from 2006 until July 2008. His last pastoral assignment was at St. Patrick’s in Medicine Hat from August 2008 until his retirement in June 2010.
Please join us in remembering Fr. Gilles by viewing these beautiful photos of his funeral mass, captured by Victor Panlilio. Let us all pray for his eternal rest and the souls of all the faithful departed, and may they find peace in the loving mercy of God.
Photos courtesy of Victor Panlilio | See all photos here
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers