The Solemnity of All Saints, Nov. 1
All Hallows’ Day, the Solemnity of All Saints, or All Saints’ Day is a celebration of all Catholic saints held on November 1 each year. “On this solemnity, we recall the holy men and women who, having completed their earthly journeys, now live forever with God. These saints, though not canonized, offer us models of abiding faith and love of God and neighbour” (Essential Guide to Seasons and Saints, 109).
The Church teaches that by imitating the virtues lived by the saints, the saints brings us closer to Christ. When we ask the saints to pray for us, we ask them to join their wills with the will of God and intercede for us here on earth. This is the Communion of Saints which we profess every Sunday in the Creed. (Source: USCCB)
Some resources for celebrating All Saints Day with your family:
Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed
(All Souls Day) - Nov2
All Souls’ Day, also known as “The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed” is observed on Nov. 2. The faithful on earth can assist these purgatorial souls in attaining heaven through prayer, good work and the offering of Mass. At Mass on All Souls’ Day, we pray that through Christ’s loving mercy, God’s “departed servants…may be granted pardon and peace, and be brought to the joy of God’s eternal home. All Souls Day is an especially rich cultural experience for Hispanic/Latino Catholics, who call it “Día de los Muertos” or “The Day of the Dead.”
Some resources for commemorating All Souls Day with your family:
A Letter to the People of God
With gratitude and hope, Synod 2023 participants have released a Letter to the People of God speaking to the experience of these last weeks: "Together, in the complementarity of our vocations, our charisms and our ministries, we have listened intensely to the Word of God and the experience of others."
The Synthesis Report
The Synthesis Report at the conclusion of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality is published. Looking ahead to the second session in 2024, the text offers reflections and proposals on topics such as the role of women and the laity, the ministry of bishops, priesthood and the diaconate, the importance of the poor and migrants, digital mission, ecumenism, and abuse.
The 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is pleased to share the Synthesis Report of the First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, "A Synodal Church on Mission."
This "is not a final document, but an instrument at the service of ongoing discernment." We invite you, along with all the People of God, to continue to #WalkTogether as a #ListeningChurch by praying and reflecting with the synthesis report highlights below.
Let’s continue our journey towards the Second Session of the 16th Assembly adoring our Lord and serving our sisters and brothers.
A top Ontario judge hopes to start a conversation about conscience rights among Calgary’s Catholic legal professionals attending this year’s annual Red Mass on Wednesday, Nov 15, 2023.
“I thought I could use the occasion to say we should be talking a lot more seriously about freedom of conscience if we want to preserve a free and democratic society,” said the Honourable David Brown of the Ontario Court of Appeal.
He will give a talk titled: “Canada’s forgotten freedom? Conscience in a free and democratic society” at a reception following the Red Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The Saint Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild of Calgary hosts the Red Mass as an opportunity for all members of the legal and law enforcement community to pray for the pursuit of justice and mercy at the beginning of the new judicial term and to build community together.
The Red Mass was first celebrated at the Cathedral of Paris in 1245, dates back to 1896 in Canada and re-instituted in Calgary in 2015. It commemorates the martyrdom of St. Thomas More who was executed by order of King Henry VIII for refusing to approve his divorce.
“The Red Mass is important both as a measure of tradition and the bond between the faith and principles that bind us to the Church,” said Tom Ross, Chairman of the Saint Thomas More Lawyers' Guild of Calgary.
“We increasingly live in a secular world. The courts are run on principles that are timeless and it’s important not to forget these principles.”
Conscience is a very fundamental principle in the pursuit of law and justice. In his discussion on conscience rights, Justice Brown will look at the writings of St. Thomas More and the philosophical development of conscience through the ages. He will reference Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states no right or freedom is absolute but may be subject to reasonable limits.
“The device the courts have adopted to engage in that inquiry rarely looks into whether the limits on conscience can be justified in a free and democratic society. We’ve adopted a formulaic test known as a proportionality test that doesn’t contain the words free and democratic,” said Justice Brown.
Justice Brown will draw on the example of legalized euthanasia and medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Canada which gives citizens the freedom to legally end their life under the law.
“It’s been quite a journey for Canadian law from the Carter vs. Canada decision (in 2015), which thought that it was not opening a door too wide, to a situation where Canada has among the most expansive euthanasia laws in the world,” said Justice Brown.
Thinking through conscience rights on a practical level, some argue that any government funded employee must set aside their personal conscience and adopt the current understanding of the nature of that public service, Justice Brown explained.
“All judges are paid for by the government. We are all civil servants,” said Justice Brown. “Does that mean that judges have to put their conscientious beliefs to one side, so you are left with a body of judges who cannot operate with some notion of what is right and what is wrong? I don’t think people have really thought through a denial of conscience rights in certain circumstances.”
Justice Brown’s own conscience is formed by his Catholic faith. For ongoing formation as a judge, he reads widely about history, philosophy, morality, which he encourages others to do as well.
As a husband, father of three sons and grandfather of 11 grandchildren, Justice Brown shared three thoughts on living a faithful life in today’s world that he would offer to his own children
“Common sense would dictate that anyone who wants to try to live in conformity with their particular faith needs to develop a very sound understanding of what their faith consists of.
“One has to treat others in accordance with that faith…the Christian view of the world espouses regard and respect for all as creatures of God; one has to take that to heart when engaging with all members of the community.
“And engage with all members of the community. If you are going to live your faith you can’t place yourself under a bushel basket, you’ve got to take the basket off and you’ve got to engage in the world in a way that respects others as created beings.”
All are welcome to join Bishop McGrattan as he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass 5 p.m. on Nov. 15 at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Everyone can purchase tickets for the reception and keynote address in St. Mary’s hall following Mass by contacting email@example.com - or buy ticket(s) online for the reception.
I didn't know Sr. Carmelita for very long, but I feel like I've known her all my life.
Our paths crossed for the first time at the Solemnity of St. Francis Assisi on October 4th. On that very day, she laid her hands on me, blessed me and prayed for me, for my family, for my daughter. And like a moth drawn to light, I was captivated by the flame of faith burning within her kind eyes and her bubbly quietude.
She spoke with joy and giddy excitement about her upcoming diamond jubilee celebrations and invited me to her anniversary mass at St. Anthony’s Catholic Parish. Although I had just met her, I felt so honoured and so loved by the invitation that I cleared up my Saturday, and did everything I could to be there for her.
The call to discernment
A few days later I sat with Sr. Carmelita in her office at the Pastoral Centre in downtown Calgary. We spoke about faith, family and her remarkable journey with the Lord.
Serving the Diocese of Calgary as a Caseworker for the Marriage Tribunal at the Canonical Services Department, Catholic Pastoral Centre, Sr. Carmelita leads a fulfilling life. She resides alongside two other sisters at the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary home in Calgary and attends St. Anthony’s Catholic Parish in Calgary.
Growing up in a humble neighbourhood in Manilla, Philippines, Sr. Carmelita fondly recalls the kindness, humility and goodness of her parents and the joys and challenges of being the eldest child.
With a twinkle in her eyes, she told me about hearing Jesus’ call for the first time when she was 10 years old. She describes God’s call as a very soft, gentle but persistent call. Her first thought was, “I cannot do it, surely God does not want someone as lowly as me.” She wasn’t even baptised then! But as she explained to me, she felt that she was gently being courted by Christ before the world had the chance. The discipline, modesty, and values instilled by her mother early-on made the transition into religious life gentle and palatable.
We lament the loss of all innocent lives and the displacement of all innocent peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, due to the ensuing war. While we pray for the eternal rest of all the deceased and for God's strength and comfort for those grieving, let us help our brothers and sisters in need.
Please donate through
Development and Peace - Caritas Canada | CNEWA
As we witness the humanitarian catastrophe in the Holy Land with hearts that cry out to God for an end to war and violence, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has called for a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer for peace and reconciliation.
Therefore, Bishop McGrattan is calling on the Diocese to respond to the request of the Cardinal by designating Tuesday, October 17 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Holy Land in the Diocese of Calgary.
“We ask that on Tuesday, October 17, everyone hold a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer. Let us organize prayer times with Eucharistic adoration and with the recitation of the Rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary. Although most probably in many parts of our dioceses, circumstances will not permit large gatherings, it is possible to organize simple and sober common moments of prayer in parishes, religious communities, and families.” - Cardinal Pizzaballa | Read full letter
Ways to pray as an individual, with your family and the parish community….
Read: Statement by the Most Rev. William T. McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary and CCCB President, to the Catholic Faithful in Canada on the Recent Escalation of Conflict in the Holy Land - Read letter
The accelerated adoption of the Euthanasia law in Canada has thrown us into a troubling attack on the sanctity of life. Initially introduced by the Canadian Government to alleviate severe physical suffering, the law is now being suggested as a method to "manage" mental health conditions.
Bill C-7, an amendment to the Criminal Code relating to medical assistance in dying (MAiD), proposes expanding eligibility for MAiD by removing the requirement that a person's natural death must be reasonably foreseeable. This could allow individuals not nearing the end of their lives, including those with mental illnesses such as depression, to avail themselves of this provision.
Since its adoption, over 31,000 medically assisted suicides have occurred in Canada - a number projected to rise significantly with the planned expansion of the law to include those suffering from mental health conditions.
However, mental health illnesses are highly treatable. Symptoms can be managed, and lives can be lived to the fullest. Broadening access to MAiD is not the solution, particularly when our priority should be to choose life over death.
We must ensure all efforts are taken to protect the most vulnerable from medically assisted premature death, which can be prevented with adequate treatment and care. We should ensure that those suffering from mental illness are treated medically, not through assisted dying.
Conservative MP Ed Fast has brought forward a Private Members Bill C-314 to rescind the government’s decision to expand Canada’s assisted suicide laws. The bill asserts that medical assistance in dying should not apply to persons suffering solely from mental illness. The vote will take place by members of parliament on October 18th.
As the CCCB urges all the faithful in their Open Letter in May 2023: “We encourage individual Catholics and their families, faith communities, Catholic healthcare professionals and any other people of good will to continue courageously and unwaveringly to witness to life, to tend to and accompany the sick, to resist pressure to support or participate in ‘MAiD,’ and to pray that our law makers may see the harm in what they are permitting to take place.”
Let's continue to pray for those living with mental health challenges and illnesses and those who care for them, that God may strengthen them in hope, and that they may find the support they need from family, healthcare professionals, faith communities, and others.
The Catholic Women's League (CWL), a national organization of Catholic women, emphasizes the sanctity of human life as one of their key missions. Amidst the pressing social justice issue of inadequate mental health and palliative care services in Canada, and the critical concern surrounding MAiD, they are urging members and the faithful to take action and reach out to their Member of Parliament, requesting support for Bill C-314. With the vote scheduled for October 18th, time is critical. Please share this vital message with your family and friends.
Statement by the Most Rev. William T. McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary and CCCB President, to the Catholic Faithful in Canada on the Recent Escalation of Conflict in the Holy Land
Over these last few days, the world has witnessed a rapid escalation of armed conflict in the Holy Land, with reports of a growing number of wounded or dead, including innocent civilians.
As the Holy Land is immersed in this violence and bloodshed, we remember that Jesus, the Son of God, who lived and walked there as Love Incarnate, through His teaching by word and deed, calls us as brothers and sisters to be always united by the bond of charity.
I invite the Catholic faithful in Canada to join other people of good will, here and around the world, in imploring God to move the hearts of those leaders engaged in the present conflict in order to deescalate the acts of terrorism, cease violence and war, and resume constructive efforts that are aimed at establishing lasting peace and concord. As we pray for peace, let us remember all the families and individuals suffering because of this most recent outbreak of violence.
As Christians we are compelled by the teachings and example of Jesus to pray for peace throughout the world. In a fraternal spirit of solidarity with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim brothers and sisters, let us join together in recalling God’s desire for peace in the land that Jesus Christ called home.
12 October 2023
When I heard about the new diocesan Pastoral Renewal I was excited to participate because it’s an opportunity to strengthen my own faith within the context of my family, parish, diocese and universal Church. It’s also an opportunity to infuse faith, hope and love into our broader society.
At first glance, I like the direction of the three pastoral renewal themes: forming missionary disciples, being a Church of encounter and witness, and strengthening family life. This focus appeals to me as a wife and mother of six children; it supports the type of Christ-centered world I want to raise my children in.
In our fast ever-changing society I feel rooted as a Catholic in the timeless truths of Jesus Christ and His Church. I believe I have Good News to share with my family, parish, community, country and world. I think now is the time to embrace our identities as sons and daughters of the King of the Universe and become protagonists in evangelization, inviting our family, friends and neighbours to accept their unique and unrepeatable role in the greatest love story of all time.
Back in September, I sat down to speak with Bishop William McGrattan to better learn how he hopes to use this plan to steer our diocese. He said now is an opportune time to forge ahead and instil hope.
“The main thing is to realize the relationship with Christ, for all of us, needs to be renewed,” said Bishop McGrattan.
Lately I’ve been praying for family and friends who are battling serious illnesses: heart attack and cancer. Sadly, just this past Thanksgiving weekend I attended a memorial service for a young boy, my son’s hockey teammate, who lost his battle with cancer.
In all of these circumstances I feel a loss of control; I feel helpless amidst so much suffering. And I know I’m not alone, probably anyone reading this is suffering or knows someone who is suffering right now. And yet the first word that comes to my mind is: Jesus. Only Jesus saves.
This pastoral renewal plan is our collective opportunity to put Jesus into the centre of our life for the first time or the hundredth time and look for ways to invite others to do the same through encounter, witness, accompaniment and strengthening the family – “the first and vital cell of society” St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio.
Our time on Earth is short and we just never know how much time we have left. The best way we can prepare is to always be ready to meet Our Lord. Jesus is the answer to our deepest longings. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
As a Catholic, my deepest longing is to become a saint, but I know just as well as anyone, it isn’t always so simple to stay on the straight and narrow when there are so many voices vying for our time, energy and money. Or when tragedy strikes and suffering comes, it’s tempting to doubt God or feel anger, confusion, despair and fall away. Or success and influence can blur our vision and we can rely on our own strength and forget everything is a gift from God.
Bishop McGrattan is also aware of and acknowledges the fatigue among his flock and yet he urges us forward in faith and trust.
“Sometimes people are tired or believe the status quo can’t be changed. I think then we are giving into a sense of defeatism. We need to really examine ourselves and say that’s not what Our Lord is calling us to. He wants us to go out, be labourers, to recognize we don’t sometimes have sufficient labourers, but to pray and trust.”
How this pastoral renewal plan takes shape will look different in each person, family, and each parish as the local Church is invited to discern the path forward.
Using the Parable of the Sower, Bishop McGrattan explained that these pastoral renewal priorities are “the seeds that can provide renewal in the diocese. The parishes then need to sow and cultivate the soil to allow for these priorities to take root and have an expression in their parish.”
I pray we can each experience a willingness to participate in this five year pastoral renewal and that the Holy Spirit guides us on this new journey together, bringing along as many people with us as possible.
You are called. You matter. You belong.
To learn about the Pastoral Renewal in the Diocese of Calgary, visit catholicyyc.ca/renewal
It was a privilege to attend the Pastoral Care Training last September, facilitated by Virginia Battiste. The workshop was attended by 20 fellow parishioners from Holy Family Parish in Medicine Hat. Virginia Battiste, the facilitator, possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Diploma in Elementary Education, and a Master's of Theological Studies with a major in Pastoral Counseling.
Role playing opportunities to practice newly acquired listening skills that focused on paying attention to another’s feelings rather than focusing simply on the facts, was incredibly beneficial for me.
One of the takeaways from the Training was learning the four rules of Pastoral Care: 1) it's not about me, 2) Not to go in with my own or any agenda, 3) I'm not there to fix or solve problems, 4) it's all about the person I am visiting, hearing their story, so they know they matter to me.
During the role-playing exercises, it was fascinating to see how easily and naturally we all slipped into trying to "fix" things by offering advice. Virginia did an excellent job of helping us recognize this problem-solving mentality. She guided us towards realizing when we were focusing on the other person's facts rather than their feelings. Once again, Pastoral Care emphasizes listening for feelings, not facts.
Upon reflection, my favorite part of the weekend was the discussion on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). This topic highlighted Virginia's exceptional knowledge and passion. Her passion for helping Catholics understand their faith and the Church's teachings regarding assisted suicide led to an impassioned exhortation to stand up for what we believe. to be counter cultural, and to be faithful to the teachings of our faith.
We are blessed with rich biblical teaching on the sanctity of life and redemptive suffering. It is never permissible to intentionally end a human life, one's own or another. In today's society, this is not a popular stance, but throughout history, the Catholic Church has taken unpopular stances. We must be strong in the Lord and stand for truth and the sanctity of life.
Written by Valerie Dykstra, a pastoral care minister and parishioner of Holy Family, Medicine Hat.
Last week, the priests of the Diocese of Calgary convened for a four-day study at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Rockies in Canmore. Under the guidance of Lucas Pollice, an Associate Professor of Theology and Catechetics from the Augustine Institute, the clergy explored the mission of the laity and the new evangelization. The priests deepened their understanding of the lay vocation, examining its vital role and mission, and how it partakes in Christ's priestly, prophetic, and kingly mission.
In addition to the discussions, the gathering also showcased an exclusive preview of the Pastoral Renewal launch video, which was scheduled for release two days later on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Beyond the video preview, the priests dedicated time to reflect on and discuss the pastoral needs of their parish communities in light of the upcoming pastoral renewal, guided by the Pastoral Renewal Leadership team.
Fr. Tim Boyle led a reflection on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), encouraging the priests to share with one another the challenges they face in ministry, but above all, to share moments when their hearts truly burned with passion for Christ, just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when they encountered the Risen Lord. This enriching exercise of deep listening and sharing among the presbyterate highlighted the chosen path for renewal in our Diocese, that which is rooted in the willingness to meet one another on the road, of walking together, of listening and dialogue, so that we can recognize the Lord in our midst.
Photos courtesy of Fr. Iqbal Khurshid, Bonnie Annicchiarico, and Fr. Wilbert Chin Jon.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers