Pope Francis will make a pastoral visit to Canada from July 24 to 29, 2022. The Pope’s visit will provide an opportunity for him to listen and dialogue with Indigenous Peoples, to express his heartfelt closeness and to address the impact of residential schools in Canada. The papal visit will also provide an opportunity for the shepherd of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to connect with the Catholic community in Canada.
Given the vast landscape of our country, 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 three communities as a base for his Canadian visit: Edmonton, Quebec City, and Iqaluit. The 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.
Specific programming and events will be confirmed approximately six weeks prior to the Holy Father’s arrival. Visit www.papalvisit.ca or www.visitepapale.ca for more information and to stay updated on the latest developments. Please continue to pray for the health of Pope Francis and for all those engaged in the ongoing healing and reconciliation journey.
Please include these intentions in your prayers:
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"Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times we are no longer able to give a just value. Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry." Pope Francis, 2013.
About 17 percent of global food production may go wasted, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Food Waste Index Report 2021, with 61% of this waste coming from households, 26% from food service and 13% from retail.
As a good steward of our resources, we are called to do our part to reduce food waste by being more conscious of our choices and actions.
Seven quick reminders:
Even the smallest actions: reflecting on food waste, avoiding overbuying, mindful of leftovers - are movements in the right direction, sowing the seeds of change.
“It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack.” Laudato Si' #222
Mr. Santiago Torres will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate by Bishop McGrattan on Saturday, May 21 at 11 am at All Saints Parish in Lethbridge. Earlier this month, Chris Moraes, the President of the Serra Club of Calgary sat down with Santiago at his home parish of St. Bonaventure to ask him about his vocations journey and his upcoming ordination.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
“I am currently 33 years old. I was born in Colombia and moved to Canada when I was 16 years old with my mother, step-father and my younger twin sisters. My parents separated in my youth and moving to Canada was a challenge. At that time I was not practising my faith. I enjoy making visits to my native Colombia and visiting my father when I am there.”
Who is your favourite Saint?
My grandparents have always been very influential on me and my faith. When I was young they gave me a book about St. Dominic Savio. At his first holy communion St. Dominic said to God that he never wanted to sin again which was a very inspiring message for me. I took him as my confirmation saint and his story has inspired me to always trust in the Lord and has given me strength many times throughout my life.
When did you first become aware of your call? Who was instrumental in encouraging you to explore it?
At the age of 16 I met a girl at my school who was also from Colombia. We grew close and eventually began dating. She was very strong in her faith and brought me to Mass and encouraged my prayer life. Eventually we ended our relationship but my faith remained because of her. On one occasion I heard about a CCO Mission at my parish. My first deep conversion took place when I attended an evening of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I was invited to take part in a Faith Study and that was when I really started to connect all of the aspects of my faith and especially came to discover a real relationship with our Lord Jesus. After that I started to get involved with CCO and I joined the executive of the campus ministry group at the UofC. This allowed me to share with others the encounter that I had personally experienced with Christ.
How has the Diocese of Calgary been instrumental in the discernment of your own vocation?
The Blessed Sacrament chapel at St. Bonaventure is where I really began to hear the Lord calling me to his service. It was also the witness of several priests that allowed me to be open to this call. Around the time of my conversion, Father Cristino was on his pastoral internship at St. Bonaventure and he likes to recall the story that he began praying for my vocation way back then. The spiritual direction from Fr. Wilbert Chin Jon was instrumental in navigating fears, doubts and feelings of unworthiness for such an important calling. The friendship of Fr. Troy Nguyen in the early days of discernment also helped to ease some anxieties about going to spend the first few years at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon to begin my priestly studies. \
What has been the greatest challenge that you have gone through as in your Seminary formation?
The seminary is a place that really helps you to get to know yourself. It is an interesting balance of guidance, formation, and evaluation. At times it can magnify your shortcomings, and there are times when you find yourself comparing yourself to the other gifted and faith filled young men. It does, however, also help to discover the great gift of the priesthood and to accept that despite feelings of unworthiness, that God can indeed call you to serve him in this vocation.
What has been your greatest joy or consolation in this journey?
The abiding understanding that God always responds to openness with faithfulness and that he wants to fulfil you with happiness. The relationships that are forged with your brother seminarians allow you to wrestle with the doubts. It is a true brotherhood and gives you strength for the journey of discernment.
In the few months that it has been established in our Diocese, have you been aware of the Serra Club and its activities?
Yes, absolutely. Sometimes the seminary can become a bit of a bubble and you just keep your head down and keep working towards the goal. It is a wonderful realisation that you are not alone on your journey and that there are many dedicated people out there praying with and for you. The letters of encouragement from students and lay people have been a great blessing to me and I am grateful for the presence of the Serra Club and the work that its growing membership is doing to promote and support vocations in our Diocese.
What is the thing you are most anticipating as your ordination to the transitional diaconate it approaches?
The thing I am most excited for is simply just “Living it” and being entirely dedicated to the ministry of the deacon. I am sure it will bring new questions, new challenges, and new learning. The ordination brings both a sense of finality of one process but also a new beginning of a new one in the ordained ministry.
What piece of advice would you give to a young person who feels like they might have a call to a religious vocation?
First of all, talk to someone about it. A spiritual director, vocations director or your parish priest will help encourage, guide, and help you to know that you are not crazy for thinking you might be called to the priesthood. Fr. Wilbert was able to reassure me that despite my insecurities, that God would sustain and inspire me to keep saying “Yes.” Secondly, Give the Lord the chance to show you that He is God and that he knows and loves you and that wants what is absolutely best for you.
Photo credit: Chris Moraes.
How do we help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters beyond prayers?
The tragic consequences of this war have created grave needs for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Now more than ever we are called to recognize the responsibilities we have for each other as St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds us, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19).
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it." Genesis 2:1-14.
We are called to take meaningful actions to care for God's creation. If you are unsure of where to start, here are 5 ideas to consider this spring:
There are many simple and creative ways “to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations” (Laudato Si’ 67). Find more action items in Laudato Si' Week 2022 Celebration Guide (May 22-29, 2022).
It is a beautiful thing to birth a baby and nurture a child through life. Motherhood, which is arguably the pinnacle of the experience of being a woman – whether through birth, adoption or spiritual motherhood – is highly underrated in the mainstream. We know that women are essential to life giving love, and with the example of Our Lady, women walk this journey in dignity and strength.
But women who come through adverse circumstances are almost a truer testimony to the strength of character and the resolve that it takes to be a mother. Add a global pandemic, and you’ve got a myriad more problems to work through.
Michelle Haywood is the program manager at Elizabeth House. Listening to her speak of what she has witnessed at one of Calgary’s a homes for pregnant women at risk, was balm for the soul as she told success stories of the women who resided there in the past 2 years.
“They are coming to us in crisis, and they’re leaving with sometimes a whole lot more confidence and resourcing than they came in with. They have to decide – its that choice that they made to do it and they’ve got to work hard to make this happen. I’m seeing dogged ethic and determination in every woman in her own way.”
I often imagine Our Lady in her own adverse circumstances, and am thankful for the relative ease with which I’ve raised my children by comparison. But Our Lady has special meaning for Michelle and Elizabeth House:
In its original location in an historic building in the heart of the city, Elizabeth House, founded by the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis, had a grotto with a statue of Our Lady. Unfortunately, the grotto did not make the move when Elizabeth House moved to a more suitable location. The statue, as Michelle put it, “followed us without a dedicated home.”
The Knights of Columbus at St. Peter’s parish who have been instrumental in creating a homey atmosphere in the front and backyards at the house with landscaping and upkeep, arranged to have a new grotto built for the original statue, which has also been repainted.
"We asked the St Peter's Knights of Columbus to rebuild the grotto and they came through as always. They even found the gentleman who was the original brick layer to build the new one!" Michelle said.
A dedication ceremony will take place with Bishop McGrattan at the beginning of June.
“I believe that all the women that come through are under her mantle and enfolded in Mary’s robes. I constantly think of that as being part of the leadership that we are all in her presence always, and it helps us get through some really difficult moments.”
Difficulty doesn’t even begin to describe what it must be like to be newly pregnant and unsupported by family, friends or community and without a place to go;
“Some of the research has shown that one of the most substantial reasons that women choose abortion is that they believe that they can not provide the optimal conditions for motherhood,” Michelle said, adding that housing is also a major contributor,
“If you have no idea where you’re going to sleep or you can’t guarantee in your mind that you can keep this baby safe from harm, that’s what might lead a woman to that decision. They want to feel like they can be the best mother possible.”
The proof that Elizabeth House moms can and do achieve the best motherhood possible is in their stories. Michelle emphasised the determination and hard work that many women have shown her over her 15 years there, especially the last two years in the midst of global pandemic,
The public health restrictions had a myriad of consequences for Elizabeth House. Some of the regularly accessed programming was closed, outside visitors were not allowed at times, and isolation for symptoms had to happen in the four walls of a small bedroom.
“We saw more acute mental health needs and crises,” Michelle said, adding that being in a staff position was very difficult, because inevitably acting on the public health measures made them feel they may be doing harm.
Despite the hardships faced, there were also silver linings.
“We had only one isolated case of COVID-19 in a place where people are coming and going, and that speaks to how well we cared for one another,” Michelle said.
Strength and resilience of the community showed through as well when amidst the fear and the struggle, victories were won.
“We were seeing women just circling the house – nowhere to go. Schools were closed. We have from time to time women who are in post-secondary education. Now they were online with a baby, and guess what? They did it. They absolutely did it.
“We had one woman finish her post-secondary degree at home with a brand new baby during COVID. This is what can happen. This is what I’m speaking to, just the resilience, the strength, the courage, the sheer determination of the women here. This isn’t about the program; this is about them. We are simply giving them the space to shine.”
Another woman was able to purchase her first home during the pandemic, which is a first for the program.
“We’ve never had a woman move into that situation before, but she worked so hard to get everything in place for her next steps.”
Michelle and the staff at Elizabeth House have been grateful for the financial and physical support that continued despite the pandemic.
“It slowed down understandably but it never ended. We were overwhelmed both Christmases with donations and still getting people who want to volunteer as soon as restrictions are lifted. In those incredibly dark moments, the support and care never ended and that really mattered.”
After only a few minutes of talking to Michelle, I noticed and admired how she spoke about the women Elizabeth House serves. She spoke with admiration and respect, and emphasised the dignity of each woman, saying that it is their hard work that makes the difference for them, and that Elizabeth House, just like a midwife to a birthing mother, holds up a mirror to them saying “You’re doing it. You’ve got this.”
“They’re powerful – they just don’t know it yet – and we are helping them to see that and to practice it so that they can move forward.”
Written by Fr. Tim Boyle.
For Fr. Wilbert Chin Jon and myself, Holy Week of 2022 will be remembered as the year of our pilgrimage to the North.
As a child growing up in Canada, our North has always held a fascination for me. I read Jack London as a kid and since winter occupies half of our year, the North with images of the cold and darkness and the First Nation people who love being there, have always been part of my imagination.
When Bishop Jon Hansen, C.Ss.R. from McKenzie-Fort Smith Diocese asked our Bishop if any priests would be interested in helping out at Easter, I jumped at the opportunity.
On Easter morning, I went for a walk along the banks of the frozen McKenzie River, and paused at their local monument to remember the children who died in the Residential Schools.
Additional photos from Fr. Wilbert Chin Jon
They don’t hold the drum dance often but the Elders thought that today being Easter Sunday would be most appropriate. Honoured to have been asked to offer a prayer and a blessing before we started dancing. I have been blessed by the community. A beautiful way to finish my time in this special place called Deline.
Here are 5 small individual actions that help save you gas, build community, and can have a huge impact for our earth:
Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that our environment is God's gift to all people, and the use we make of it entail a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.
"We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity it is important for everyone to be committed at his or her proper level, working to overcome the prevalence of particular interests." (2010)
Everything starts with a small step.
"A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
In God’s kindness, the hope, joy and love of Easter arrived early to our family this year. We welcomed a little morning star – Mariah Grace Mimoni – into our arms on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord. Mariah was born in the wee hours of the morning, safely in the quiet intimacy of our home.
For me, Mariah’s soft, chubby cheeks and teeny tiny hands are an incarnational reminder of what trusting God with every fear looks like. To me she is an enfleshment of the Angel Gabriel’s exhortation to Mary, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:30). I cannot stop staring into her bright face with a heart full of warmth, gratitude and heightened trust.
The reasons are manifold and involve many miraculous details related to her gestation and birth. These nine months were dominated by the principle concern to protect her which, many times, seemed to be against all odds. This was especially the case with the backdrop of a pandemic.
News headlines read that pregnant women who contracted Covid in pregnancy were more likely to give birth prematurely to low-birth-weight babies, along with other potential complications. That’s if the mother herself could survive the illness. Add to these unusually daunting concerns that our last pre-pandemic baby was low-birth-weight.
I contracted Covid in September, at the height of Covid fears about the Delta variant – when Mariah was only 13 weeks gestation. In all honesty, this was a very uncertain and difficult time. I was afraid.
In difficult times, when I feel weak and helpless I cling to this Scripture passage:
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 9-10).
My faith gave me the strength to carry on, while still experiencing a yo-yo-like daily existence. In Alberta, one week we were “open for summer” with the promise of no more mandates, and the next we were faced with our harshest mandates, including the restriction exemption program, QR Code and national and international travel restrictions to name a few. These outward signs pointed to an inward reality within the hearts of many Canadians: fear. This fear has had very real-world consequences including loss of hope and trust in the future. According to Statistics Canada there has been a decline in Canada’s birth rate during the pandemic.
All glory and praise be to our God, I am happy to share a different story – one of faith and trust, even if it’s imperfect with shaky knees. Mariah was not born preterm, as the headlines warned. She was actually five days overdue. Neither was she underweight. In fact, she recorded the biggest birth weight of her five older siblings – 8lbs 11oz.
Call me and my husband fools for Christ, daring to bring another baby into this broken world. But, with the Holy Spirit as our guide, we’ve faced our fears head-on, trusting that God has a good plan for our lives (Jer 29:11). We believe, if we give God our childlike “yes”, He will work out the details. Mariah’s life testifies to these fine-tuned details. And her life emboldens us concerning the certainty that He will continue to do so, no matter what those trembling knees caution sometimes.
We had the “perfect nuclear family – a boy and a girl” and then we kept being open to new life to the surprise of family and friends. God has gifted us with a son, three daughters, a miscarried baby and then two more daughters.
I was an only child for seven years before my brother, and then sister, came along. My husband is the middle child of three. Raising a bigger-than-average family is new territory for us, and we certainly don’t have all the answers.
A question we get asked is: How do you do it? I can tell you, whatever we have managed to accomplish, it’s by the grace of God. By grace, we have been able to hold fast to the belief that we are not called to be successful in the eyes of the world, but rather faithful to God’s call to grow in love. And family life is rich in opportunities to sacrifice and put others before oneself. It has been so beautiful to watch Mariah’s siblings jockey for a chance to change her diaper, burp her, hold her, talk to her, rock her to sleep. The school of family life is not something you can pay someone to take lessons to learn. It is a gift freely given. It’s where The Potter moulds our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (Ezek 36:26).
Being open to life is a spiritual discipline. I’ve thrown out the saying, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” and replaced it with “Indeed, God has given me more than I can handle, so that I can more easily place my trust in Him, instead of myself, my plans, my wants, my needs.”
When we’ve been worried about how we are going to pay our next bill, we cut back our expenses, or someone will drop by with a bag of clothes, or ask if I’d consider providing before and after school care. When I’ve been ill with morning sickness, I’ve scaled back my expectations and aimed to just cover the basics. Would I like to be sipping a pina colada on a tropical island, of course, but these childbearing years are ones I won’t be able to get back. The island vacation can wait.
My prayer was that Mariah’s arrival would bring hope and healing, and that intention is being answered each day. New life has the potential to bring out the best in humanity.
The isolation and distancing of relationships in the Covid-restricted fall and winter has been replaced with community, connection and support in the spring. Leading up to Mariah’s birth, friends gathered in person and over the phone to pray with me. Every day for three weeks family and friends dropped off a meal at our house to help with the transition of becoming a family of eight. Our parents braved the airports to come visit and meet their new granddaughter. We celebrated the Easter Triduum in person this year with a three-week-old Mariah in tow, because we simply could not take our freedom to worship and freely assemble for granted.
If there is one thing Covid has taught me, it’s to have gratitude for the present moment. We can’t change the past nor control the future; all we have is now. And children – babies in particular – help tremendously to focus our attention on the here and now.
This Easter season I’m excited to build into our family anew. I’m excited to live in the moment as we faithfully fumble forward finding our footing, forming new routines, forging new relationships and experiences.
In these days of celebration we look to our Annunciation baby to inspire Marian devotion and faith. “Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word’” (Luke 1:38).
The question I kept pondering during my pregnancy was: what would happen if I placed my trust in God? In His kindness the answer was the gift of Mariah. This Easter season I invite you to join me in continuing to ponder this question, especially when new fears and doubts arise.
Jesus, I trust in You.
In preparing for this great feasting season of Easter, we abstained, prayed and gave alms. What would happen if we lived the Easter season with as much fervour as we live Lent?
What can we do to colour our spiritual lives with Easter joy during this liturgical season?
Why should Lent be the only time we make resolutions? God has graces in store for us this season, just as he did during Lent. We only need to keep our eyes peeled so that we don’t miss them.
"fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."
~ Hebrews 12:2
Excerpts taken from Fr. John Bartunek's article in SpiritualDirection.com:
"How can we celebrate the Easter Season more fully?"
HOLY SATURDAY & EASTER
MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN CANADA
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Clementine Hall, Friday, 1st April 2022 | [Multimedia]
Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning and welcome!
I thank Bishop Poisson for his kind words and each of you for your presence here and for the prayers that you have offered. I am grateful that you have come to Rome despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic. Over the past few days, I have listened attentively to your testimonies. I have brought them to my thoughts and prayers, and reflected on the stories you told and the situations you described. I thank you for having opened your hearts to me, and for expressing, by means of this visit, your desire for us to journey together.
I would like to take up a few of the many things that have struck me. Let me start from a saying that is part of your traditional wisdom. It is not only a turn of phrase but also a way of viewing life: “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation”. These are wise words, farsighted and the exact opposite of what often happens in our own day, when we run after practical and immediate goals without thinking of the future and generations yet to come. For the ties that connect the elderly and the young are essential. They must be cherished and protected, lest we lose our historical memory and our very identity. Whenever memory and identity are cherished and protected, we become more human.
In these days, a beautiful image kept coming up. You compared yourselves to the branches of a tree. Like those branches, you have spread in different directions, you have experienced various times and seasons, and you have been buffeted by powerful winds. Yet you have remained solidly anchored to your roots, which you kept strong. In this way, you have continued to bear fruit, for the branches of a tree grow high only if its roots are deep. I would like to speak of some of those fruits, which deserve to be better known and appreciated.
First, your care for the land, which you see not as a resource to be exploited, but as a gift of heaven. For you, the land preserves the memory of your ancestors who rest there; it is a vital setting making it possible to see each individual’s life as part of a greater web of relationships, with the Creator, with the human community, with all living species and with the earth, our common home. All this leads you to seek interior and exterior harmony, to show great love for the family and to possess a lively sense of community. Then too, there are the particular riches of your languages, your cultures, your traditions and your forms of art. These represent a patrimony that belongs not only to you, but to all humanity, for they are expressions of our common humanity.
Yet that tree, rich in fruit, has experienced a tragedy that you described to me in these past days: the tragedy of being uprooted. The chain that passed on knowledge and ways of life in union with the land was broken by a colonization that lacked respect for you, tore many of you from your vital milieu and tried to conform you to another mentality. In this way, great harm was done to your identity and your culture, many families were separated, and great numbers of children fell victim to these attempts to impose a uniformity based on the notion that progress occurs through ideological colonization, following programmes devised in offices rather than the desire to respect the life of peoples. This is something that, unfortunately, and at various levels, still happens today: ideological colonization. How many forms of political, ideological and economic colonization still exist in the world, driven by greed and thirst for profit, with little concern for peoples, their histories and traditions, and the common home of creation! Sadly, this colonial mentality remains widespread. Let us help each other, together, to overcome it.
Listening to your voices, I was able to enter into and be deeply grieved by the stories of the suffering, hardship, discrimination and various forms of abuse that some of you experienced, particularly in the residential schools. It is chilling to think of determined efforts to instil a sense of inferiority, to rob people of their cultural identity, to sever their roots, and to consider all the personal and social effects that this continues to entail: unresolved traumas that have become intergenerational traumas.
All this has made me feel two things very strongly: indignation and shame. Indignation, because it is not right to accept evil and, even worse, to grow accustomed to evil, as if it were an inevitable part of the historical process. No! Without real indignation, without historical memory and without a commitment to learning from past mistakes, problems remain unresolved and keep coming back. We can see this these days in the case of war. The memory of the past must never be sacrificed at the altar of alleged progress.
I also feel shame. I have said this to you and now I say it again. I feel shame – sorrow and shame – for the role that a number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had in all these things that wounded you, in the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values. All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For the deplorable conduct of those members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God's forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon. Clearly, the content of the faith cannot be transmitted in a way contrary to the faith itself: Jesus taught us to welcome, love, serve and not judge; it is a frightening thing when, precisely in the name of the faith, counter-witness is rendered to the Gospel.
Your experiences have made me ponder anew those ever timely questions that the Creator addresses to mankind in the first pages of the Bible. After the first sin, he asks: “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9). Then, a few pages later, he asks another question, inseparable from the first: “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9). Where are you? Where is your brother? These are questions we should never stop asking. They are the essential questions raised by our conscience, lest we ever forget that we are here on this earth as guardians of the sacredness of life, and thus guardians of our brothers and sisters, and of all brother peoples.
At the same time, I think with gratitude of all those good and decent believers who, in the name of the faith, and with respect, love and kindness, have enriched your history with the Gospel. I think with joy, for example, of the great veneration that many of you have for Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. This year I would like to be with you on those days. Today we need to reestablish the covenant between grandparents and grandchildren, between the elderly and the young, for this is a fundamental prerequisite for the growth of unity in our human family.
Dear brothers and sisters, it is my hope that our meetings in these days will point out new paths to be pursued together, instil courage and strength, and lead to greater commitment on the local level. Any truly effective process of healing requires concrete actions. In a fraternal spirit, I encourage the Bishops and the Catholic community to continue taking steps towards the transparent search for truth and to foster healing and reconciliation. These steps are part of a journey that can favour the rediscovery and revitalization of your culture, while helping the Church to grow in love, respect and specific attention to your authentic traditions. I wish to tell you that the Church stands beside you and wants to continue journeying with you. Dialogue is the key to knowledge and sharing, and the Bishops of Canada have clearly stated their commitment to continue advancing together with you on a renewed, constructive, fruitful path, where encounters and shared projects will be of great help.
Dear friends, I have been enriched by your words and even more by your testimonies. You have brought here, to Rome, a living sense of your communities. I will be happy to benefit again from meeting you when I visit your native lands, where your families live. I won’t come in the winter! So I will close by saying “Until we meet again” in Canada, where I will be able better to express to you my closeness. In the meantime, I assure you of my prayers, and upon you, your families and your communities I invoke the blessing of the Creator.
I don’t want to end without saying a word to you, my brother Bishops: Thank you! Thank you for your courage. The Spirit of the Lord is revealed in humility. Before stories like the one we heard, the humiliation of the Church is fruitfulness.
Thank you for your courage.
I thank all of you!
Text courtesy of Libreria Editrice Vaticana
A delegation of 32 Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, and youth are meeting with Pope Francis this week (March 28 to April 1). Watch the media briefing and videos below. We will share more on social media as they unfold.
Read / Watch
Photos: ©Vatican Media
Any of our daily concerns can become a source of great anxiety if we do not manage them. In general, the antidote to anxiety is trust in the Lord. Sometimes, however, it feels like we can't just pray away our anxiety, which makes us feel that we must not have enough faith and trust in God for not being able to shake it off.
This short video explains how anxiety feels and provides simple tools which can be used in daily our conversation with God. The anxiety journal, for example, can unpack and slowly dispel a looming concern as we write down what we are anxious about, what their root causes are, and how are we going to confront or tackle the real issues. All done prayerfully before God.
Consider this... Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the causes of your worries or anxieties and work out a plan to resolve the root causes "for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
Remember that we have been created for freedom in Christ. Take responsibility and take care of the gift of freedom which we have received in Christ.
This Lent Bishop McGrattan has re-introduced Solidarity Sunday in our Diocese.
So what is it? It has been an integral part of Development and Peace-Caritas Canada since 1968. Parishes throughout Canada hold a special Mass and a collection that gives us the opportunity to stand together in solidarity with the poorest of the poor in the Global South – in prayer and almsgiving.
This Lent we are invited to pray for all those who are the poorest and most forgotten and to give generously at our Solidarity Sunday Second Collection at your parish, which will be taken up on the Fifth Sunday(April 3) of Lent. Throughout our country our bishops are asking us to support Development and Peace-Caritas Canada in the life-giving work in places such as Honduras, Cambodia, Madagascar – and Ukraine.
During Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Mary’s University several years ago, professor of psychology, Fr. Peter Doherty, offered an inspiring homily. He spoke of the importance of the Lenten journey and the need for us to reach out and to support others, as well as the need to reflect on the importance of the ‘journey’ of Lent — emphasizing that Lent isn’t a time period, but a process leading to discovery. He reminded us that Lent offers us an opportunity to replenish our spirit, especially when the weight of the world has descended on us. The sacrifice that is made during Lent of giving up coffee, wine, television or whatever else is valued, should be genuinely challenging, but also an opportunity to reflect — perhaps to find relief from ‘things.’
Most important, he suggested, was the need to restart our life’s journey and to change our point of view. He then asked us what event in the Stations of the Cross was repeated three times. ‘Jesus falling,’ someone called out. You could tell that this was exactly what he wanted to hear. In a playful voice he responded: ‘Far be it from me to question the authority of the Church, but I have always thought we needed to re-label those stations. It shouldn’t be Jesus fell. It should be, Jesus got back up.’ Because the triumph of the story is not Christ’s downfall, but rather that He spent His last day on Earth rising, just as later He would rise again from the dead.
To me it’s a powerful, clear message of the importance of point of view, and one that has resonance in our time. Too often we perceive and walk in darkness, even when the light is ahead of us. It is the difficult lesson parents often try to teach their children, to take comfort from adversity and to find the positive; a lesson that we sometimes forget as we ourselves get older and the pressures of our time get heavier. But they are never heavier than the Cross.
This for me is what the Lenten journey has always reaffirmed. Ours is a faith that asks not for vengeance but forgiveness, not rules but understanding, not despair but hope. And the narrative of the Stations of the Cross and the paschal journey provides one of the most remarkable reversals imaginable. Here is a story that demonstrates the utter darkness of human violence, of intolerance, or rejection and betrayal. And yet it provides the most glorious truth we could ever hope to receive. Here is a moment of death that proves the possibility of eternal life — of grace from the utter wasteland of despair. It is truly, to paraphrase Hollywood, the great story ever told.
What I appreciated from the homily was how it found a way to connect us to that transcendent moment through the ordinariness of our every day. And by this I don’t mean that our lives are not sincerely challenged, some, of course, more than others. And here I think especially of our beleaguered brothers and sisters in Ukraine at this tragic time. But rather that even from the depths of the darkest despair, the Lenten journey leads us towards hope — renewal — rescue. Certainly, it is a reminder to take the time to rethink and reassess, to change our point of view.
Pope Benedict XVI, during an Angelus address in 2013, spoke of Lent as a time that ‘always involves a battle, a spiritual battle,’ and as an invitation for us to reject false temptations that ‘undermine the conscience, disguised and proposed as affordable, effective and even good.’ The Church, Pope Benedict explained, uses Lent to call all of us ‘to be renewed in the spirit, to reorient closely to God.’
Pope Francis, for his part, in one of his Ash Wednesday homilies, invites us to slow down. ‘Lent is the time to rediscover the direction of life. Because in life’s journey, as in every journey, what really matters is not to lose sight of the goal.’ It is a cliché widely shared that we should focus on the journey, not the destination — and surely here we are invited to rethink that adage. The destination is pivotal. But there is no way to achieve it without falling … and more importantly, getting back up.
It may be true to say that part of the Lenten process is a metaphor. To surrender our consumption of coffee or wine is really not a hardship, and certainly not of the magnitude that this abstinence is meant to celebrate. Rather, we understand that it is a symbolic deprivation, one that is challenging perhaps but hardly fatal. Yet it reminds us, in the doing, of what is at stake and of how we got here. It reminds us of the very real and deep suffering our brothers and sisters around the globe encounter daily, including in our beleaguered Ukraine today. And it reminds us never to take the gifts — the freedoms — we have for granted.
Bishop Emeritus Henry examined how the identity and mission of the Church as Communion, Participation and Mission is grounded in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and reaches its actualization in our fruitful and conscious participation in the Eucharist. His sessions were wonderful, witty, and inspiring. You certainly don't want to miss his stories!
Session 1: Beginning the Journey
Session 2: My Name. Sent in His Name.
Session 3: Food for the Journey
Little things we can offer for peace in the world...
St. Paul says, "I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church." ~ Colossians 1:24
We all share in the sufferings of Christ and have a part in His crucifixion. As we consciously unite ourselves to His suffering and the suffering of others, we also unite ourselves to the gift of the resurrection and new life.
A Day of Prayer for Peace in Ukraine will be observed on Friday, March 18, 2022 in all parishes in the Diocese of Calgary.
This is in coordination with all the parishes/churches of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, the Anglican Diocese of Calgary, the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Anglican Diocese of Athabasca, the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Paul, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
To support Ukraine beyond prayers
Day of Prayer and Fasting for Ukraine
Two Ukrainian Catholic Churches in Calgary have joined a worldwide movement to support the devastated people of Ukraine who have suffered from the vicious Russian military invasion of their country.
Since the Russian forces started a war in Ukraine, parishioners at St. Stephen Protomartyr Ukrainian Catholic Church and The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church have launched several initiatives to help the Ukrainian people through this terrible crisis.
Thousands of items have been donated through various efforts and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been given.
Father Michael Bombak, of St. Stephen, says the response is incredible and he’s been “blown away” by the support.
“The first and most important thing we’re doing as a parish community, and Assumption is doing as well, is prayer. That’s number one. This whole thing has coincided at this particular acute area of time with our beginning of the Great and Holy Fast. And so we’re increasing our prayer and fasting usually at this time but we’re also doing it now with a special intention of supporting our brothers and sisters in Ukraine,” says Bombak.
“That’s number one what a parish can do and should do. That’s the first and foremost. Prayer and fasting. St. James says you can’t tell your brother that you love him and then not feed him and clothe him and take care of his needs. So we’ve had the parish mobilize in supporting the Eparchial fund - that’s our word for Diocese. All the churches in Alberta are collecting funds through Catholic Near East Welfare Association. That’s a Papal charity and that ensures that all of that humanitarian aid that we’re collecting is going to go to Ukraine and be protected that way.
“We’re very grateful for that. We’ve had a generous donor who is matching the funds to $500,000. So we are collecting money for that continually. As well, we are collecting non-perishables, we are collecting various goods, clothing for humanitarian relief. Assumption is joining us as well.”
Father Bombak says the church will continue with its Lenten services with special intentions for Ukraine and its people,
Mary Chudyk, Charity Director at St. Stephen, says all the donated items are being shipped by land or air to Toronto then by air to Warsaw in Poland. Meest, a transportation and delivery company, will drive the items to Ukraine where they will be distributed to people through various accredited institutions.
“I’m overwhelmed with the generosity of people and I’m grateful that people want to do something,” she says. “It’s just been fantastic. People have been wonderful offering support, offering encouragement, offering prayers, showing up and just helping us out.”
Dave Wandzura, a parishioner at St. Stephen, says he’s very, very sad about what’s happening in Ukraine and the people there don’t deserve this.
“They’ve actually gone through so much stress and strife in their life in the last hundred years . . . Right now, we have to send funds to the people who need it most . . . Support in any way. Prayer is one of the big ones and financial support and goods as well.”
Maria Dwulit, another parishioner at St. Stephen, who has relatives in Ukraine, says what everyone can do for the people of Ukraine is pray.
“They just need the power to fight this evil,” she says.
Father Bombak says the situation is a complete injustice - absolutely terrible to see the suffering of innocent people.
“Your immediate gut reaction is to hate. That doesn’t serve anyone in the long run. It needs to be stopped. Innocent people are dying. Innocent people are suffering greatly. People are being displaced. This is a problem that is going to affect generation after generation,” says Father Bombak.
“I was born in this country because of a previous persecution. My grandparents were displaced people themselves. You see that it’s going to have a huge impact inter-generationally. So your immediate gut reaction is anger - this sort of righteous decision that this has to stop. But that can easily turn into something that is a spiritual pitfall and that’s hatred. You have to avoid that at all costs. And yet still work as best as we can to make sure that this ends because it’s wrong.”
When talking to children about this horrendous time in human history, Father Bombak says people have to speak the truth in love. Bombak and his wife Kimberly have five children ranging in age from 13 years old to three years old.
“You can’t spare them from this. It doesn’t work. They know more stuff than we know in many ways. So you have to be truthful. But you do have to say the whole truth in a way that they’re going to understand and in a loving way,” he says. “There’s feelings of depression, helplessness.
“Our kids have voiced the concern of what can we do. That question is echoed not just with kids. We are receiving information through social media and the internet at such a rate that it feels as though we can’t do anything because we’re bombarded by that information so quickly. So my advice and the way I talk to my kids is we have to do what we can do. We’re going to pray for Ukraine right now. We’re going to pray as a family. We’re going to go out and support places that are supporting Ukraine. We can work here in the parish to support. Those are all viable options.”
Those wanting to make a financial contribution to the humanitarian efforts by the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton can visit here: https://eeparchy.com/donate/
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers