A message from the Renewal Leadership Team:
As we draw the Diocesan Renewal Gatherings to a close, we offer you all a sincere THANK YOU!
What an amazing response! Almost 1000 participants joined four gatherings across the diocese. Sincere gratitude to each host-parish who went above and beyond by providing hospitality, food, welcome, ministries and an outpouring of support. The spirit at each gathering was hopeful and there was overall excitement for renewal. Bishop McGrattan and the Renewal Leadership Team are filled with gratitude for your encouragement and for your eagerness to move forward.
Every participant was invited to share feedback and, as a result, we were able to get a strong sense of your thoughts and insights. Here is what we heard when we asked: What aspects of the gathering were most effective?
If you are interested in providing a similar experience and gathering for your parish or lay association, the Renewal Leadership Team can share a template for planning and resources so that you may host a gathering of your own. Let’s keep the momentum going!
Thank you for your prayers and your heart for renewal. We are blessed to be among you, the Faithful. We look forward to seeing you at future Renewal events! Please spread the word, witness and pray for Bishop McGrattan and the work of the diocese.
There were many individual comments provided by participants and some of these quotes have been captured in the summary and pictures provided by Faithfully last week. Feel free to scroll down or click the location buttons below:
November 4, 2023 | Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, Calgary
November 7, 2023 | All Saints Parish, Lethbridge
November 8, 2023 | St. Francis de Sales, High River
November 13, 2023 | Holy Family, Medicine Hat
Special thanks to our digital media volunteers at the Renewal Gathering,especially to
Fr. Fabio D'Souza, Thiago Campos, Thiago Cavallini, and Daniel Vilela from Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Calgary;
Jason Openo from Holy Family, Medicine Hat.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org - or buy ticket(s) online for the reception.
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
On the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 17, 2023, over 130 individuals representing 7 parishes within the Fr. Naphin Deanery gathered at Mother of the Redeemer Parish for their first Faith and Mission Day. Father Fabio DeSouza who initiated the day, presented the pastoral journey of the Diocese in his talk, "From Pioneers to Parishioners: Tracing the Pastoral History of the Diocese of Calgary."
The event continued with a Mass with Bishop McGrattan, who spoke about the synodal experience of the Diocese during the homily. After the Mass, participants gathered in the parish hall to enjoy a delicious lunch provided by the Knights of Columbus. The atmosphere was joyful and filled with a genuine sense of community as individuals from various parishes came together, fostering a profound sense of unity and shared purpose.
This Pastoral Zone Day has truly served our parishes as a valuable opportunity to connect, exchange ideas, and deepen our understanding of the Diocese's pastoral history and vision. It has strengthened our sense of communion. Participants departed feeling inspired to actively participate in executing the forthcoming pastoral priorities outlined by Bishop McGrattan, contributing to the spiritual rejuvenation of their respective parish communities.
Submitted by Catarina Avila, Our Lady of Fatima Parish Communications Team.
Photos credit: Thiago Cavallini, Our Lady of Fatima Parish Communications Team.
Over 200 people gathered in Canmore to celebrate Holy Mass on the feast of the Visitation (May 31, 2023), commemorating the visitation of our Blessed Mother Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. This year, the feast had a special focus on the upcoming 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023, centered on the theme of synodality. The Synod on Synodality aims to explore ways for the Catholic Church to better engage with its members and encourage greater participation in the life and mission of the Church. In addition, the Our lady of the Rockies community also celebrated the third anniversary of the dedication of The Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Rockies.
Despite initial concerns about attendance due to it being a Wednesday morning, many people made the effort to drive to Canmore for the day of prayer. Our Lady of the Snows Academy in Canmore also brought over 80 students from their Gr. 5 and Gr. 8 classes to participate in the Mass and barbeque. What a blessing! During the Mass, Bishop McGrattan led the faithful in praying the Prayer for Synod on Synodality, seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and asking the Lord to help embrace the Synodal journey with faith and hope. We were also led in our sung prayers by the Seeds of the Words religious members.
The event was made accessible to those unable to attend through a livestream provided by Rikki Sabater and his wife Mencie from St. Anthony's Parish. Afterward, a delicious barbeque lunch with burgers, hotdogs, and drinks was served by Sean Lynn and the God Squad Canada team. The day concluded with an outdoor Marian procession and rosary prayer led by Fr. Pilmaiken and the Seeds of the Words Community with the support of our Knighst of Columbus. Special intentions were also offered for the Synod leaders, government officials, the poor and vulnerable, the people of God, and the young people who are the future of the Church.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Fr. Pilmaiken, his volunteers at Our Lady of the Rockies parish, God Squad Canada, Knights of Columbus, and Seeds of the Word community for their help and support for this beautiful celebration. Their dedication and hard work made the event a truly prayerful experience for all who attended.
As we journey towards the Synod of Bishops, let us continue to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. May we be renewed in our commitment to Christ, empowered to witness the Gospel, and filled with a renewed zeal for building God's Kingdom on earth.
Photos credit: Victor Panlilio
On Monday, May 26, 65 staff members from 35 parishes gathered at the FCJ Centre for a day of prayer and reflection. Coordinated by the Catholic Pastoral Centre team, the retreat was focused on the theme of “Being an Intentional Disciple – Knowing & Following Jesus”, with talks from Bishop McGrattan and Fr. Fabio DSouza from Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Calgary.
Parish staff members spent the day praying and singing together, listening to sessions, participated in discussions, as well as spending time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Fr. Fabio DeSouza shared his testimony on how he was called to the priesthood and emphasized discipleship and mission as a journey led by God. He highlighted the significance of the Virgin Mary's response to the angel Gabriel and the third petition of the Lord's Prayer as expressions that capture the essence of our discipleship. Fr. Fabio also reiterated that each person possesses a unique calling and purpose, and embracing our mission actively contributes to the building of God's kingdom and the transformative work of God's grace.
Overall, the retreat provided an excellent opportunity for all to recharge, connect, and renew their call to discipleship! Many expressed their gratitude for the chance to come together in prayer and reflection, and conveyed how much they appreciated it.
We thank the FCJ Centre for being an excellent host, providing their facilities, as well as delicious and wholesome food throughout the day. We surely left with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper connection to our faith and mission at work.
Photo credits: Brittany Teixeira, Glenda Anderson, and Fr. Wilbert Chin Jon.
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
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.
On Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023 the whole community gathered to witness something truly special: a joyous Rite of Election that welcomed 170 catechumens into St Mary's Cathedral as members of the Elect! This event marked the culmination of their profound spiritual journey and preparation for receiving Initiation Sacraments at Easter Vigil.
The Bishop also calls to the Godparents, urging them to accept the responsibility entrusted to them in the Lord. He asks them to show their support and love for the chosen individuals by providing guidance and instruction so that they may partake in God's sacraments.
Let us pray to the Lord for all the Elect and for ourselves, that we may be renewed by one another’s efforts and together come to share the joys of Easter.
Bishop McGrattan's homily at the Memorial Liturgy for those grieving the loss of a child through miscarriage and stillbirth, November 24, 2022 at St. Mary's Cathedral.
In the communal life of the Church the witness of faith and belief in Christ is always confirmed in the following – “Faith if it is genuine works through love”. Another way of stating this truth is that in the Christian life our faith is to be expressed through acts of love.
This evening those families who have gathered, parents, grandparents, and children are united in the painful reality that they have suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. Despite this pain and grief which is shared by those here present they also witness to a communal act of love in the remembering of their children in prayer.
This is also a genuine witness of faith to the sanctity of life. That all human life from conception to natural death is a gift from God who is the Creator. He is the author of all life and in Christ we come to know and believe that through his death and resurrection we receive the gift of eternal life from God the Father. This is the hope that must also unite us in the prayer of this memorial liturgy.
In the Old Testament, the remembering in prayer of God’s salvific presence in the midst of his people was always an act of “anamnesis”. It is a spiritual remembering and an act of faith in which they experienced the very presence of God’s love. In the First Letter of John this evening we heard the sacred author reminding the early Christians of this same truth. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are”. Other translations of this passage replace “See” with “Remember”. This evening we remember the love that the Father has given these parents through marriage. A love in which He invites husband and wife to share in His “co-creative love”, to express mutual love for each other and to be open to bringing new life, children into the world.
This vigil celebration of prayer for those children who did not receive the gift of being born into a family are still known by God as his children, like us. Although you as parents did not receive the joy of knowing your children you do share the anguish, sorrow and despair of their loss. However, in the faith that we share in being disciples of Christ, the suffering we experience now will always be transformed by Christ and that “what we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is”. This is the hope that we pray will sustain us as it did the early Christians.
In the Beatitudes Jesus teaches his disciples that despite the present circumstance of their life the future they desire will become one of blessing and happiness if they maintain their faith in Him. This is the faith that allows one to trust that the fullness of our life is revealed in Christ. This would have been the desire and the faith of these parents for the children that they have lost. To be baptized into the fullness of the life of Christ.
At the conclusion of this liturgy we incorporate the sign of light, in the lighting of a candle. Light symbolized the dispelling of darkness, and spiritually it overshadows for believers the sadness of death. The light of the paschal candle for Christians symbolizes the eternal light of the resurrection of Christ. As you come forward to light the candles for your children and their names are proclaimed, you are uniting yourselves in this communal act of love in remembering the children you mourn, but also it is a sign of your genuine faith and belief in the resurrection of Christ for your children.
We who gather support you in the loss of your children, but in faith and through our prayers, we pray that they now share in the eternal life of Christ and God the Father.
Fr. Avinash Colaco, Rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral, explained that people had been asking when we would host another sit-down meal. When Bishop McGrattan suggested a Thanksgiving dinner, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Both guests and volunteers were excited for that day.
The program has made some changes. In the past, the meals were cooked right on site and served. But now they are catered. For now, a hybrid program is in place where guests have the option to sit-down and eat, or to receive a takeout package.
“This is a new system that we are developing” said Fr. Avi, adding that the program will run on Sundays for 48 weeks this year.
“I enjoyed the chance to go to each and every table and talk to the guests that came in. Building relationships with our community members is an important aspect of our program.”
Alejandro Henao, coordinator of the Feed the Hungry Program with the Diocese, said the Sunday Thanksgiving meal, which was sponsored by St. Mary’s Parish in Cochrane, was the first sit-down meal since March 2020 when they were put on hold due to the pandemic.
“Our Thanksgiving meal consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green beans and a salad. Dinner was topped off with dessert, a choice of apple crumble or pumpkin pie and whipping cream. Fresh coffee, lemonade and water were also provided.
“We are very grateful to all volunteers for their commitment and understanding through the transition,” he said. "376 guests were thrilled to be able to come in and relax and enjoy music while they ate their meal, while another 120 preferred to continue with the takeout option. Each guest left with a food package containing fresh fruit, granola bar, trail mix, juice and water.”
During the past two years of the pandemic, the program continued but only with the takeout option. Henao said it hasn’t been decided yet if the takeout option will continue with the program now that sit-down meals are back.
“It was great to be back. The volunteers were really excited and happy. They have been obviously kind of asking for this for the last six, seven months after the (health) restrictions were lifted,” he said. “For the clients it was positive too . . . We also had a pianist playing some music that weekend to provide more excitement and promote a warm environment for dinner.”
Carla Neary, who has been a volunteer for about 15 years and has been area lead for about seven years, said she continued to come in and volunteer during COVID.
“My mandate was to get us back in the hall for a sit-down meal. (Thanksgiving) Sunday was an amazing day . . . Food was provided by Spolumbo’s and Sunterra which was fabulous and it was just great to have our guests back in our dining hall and all the volunteers. I haven’t seen so many of them for so long,” she said.
“Everybody was appreciative. Everybody was so happy to be back into the hall. We had live music. It was just a lovely afternoon and everything worked out really well.”
The Feed the Hungry Program continues to encourage people to volunteer for this rewarding ministry. At least 60 volunteers are needed at each dinner. They also invite organizations and corporations to sponsor dinners as a way to provide their staff and stakeholders with meaningful opportunities to do good work and build community.
The Calgary Catholic Medical Association (CCMA) would love to invite and meet with you at our upcoming event. Please join us for the White Mass (Feast day of St. Luke) Tuesday, October. 18, 2022 at 7 pm, at St. Mary's Cathedral (Calgary) with Bishop McGrattan. This mass is open to the public and is not limited to only health care professionals.
The Calgary Catholic Medical Association (CCMA) has been a running lay Association for 20 years. It is the only multidisciplinary Catholic Association of health care providers in Canada. Our mission is to foster the personal and professional formation of healthcare professionals, in accord with the magisterium of the Catholic Church.
Membership includes voting and nomination privileges at the AGM, early notification of upcoming events, early bird discount pricing for social events, but most importantly, a community that holds common ground in faith and interest in health care.
To share some personal experiences of the CCMA, we have testimonies from a few members of the Executive Council.
I have been part of the CCMA since 2016, first as a spouse of a member, an allied health member, and then as a member of the Board. For me, this association is a place of community and connection with others of the same faith and values. Sometimes religion and spirituality can be very personal and hard to talk about, however, I have realized that spirituality is what gives us meaning in life, whether for ourselves or for the people we care for. This has been the place to share in how we can live out our faith while exhibiting the love and care like Jesus did within both our personal and professional roles.
To contact CCMA, visit their website at https://catholicmedyyc.wordpress.com
or email email@example.com
The Paradoxical Commandments
On this 25th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, Bishop McGrattan highlights the words of “The Paradoxical Commandments,” embraced by this saint of the poor.
When Mother Teresa first heard these words, written by Dr. Kent M. Keith, an American lawyer, writer and leader in higher education, she was moved to put them on the wall of one of her homes for children in Kolkata. They are a sure guideline for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity and transcend all creeds and cultures. They very aptly describe Mother Teresa’s way of dealing with such a huge number of people throughout her lifetime.
May 18, 2022
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The great feast of Pentecost celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the life of the Church through the Apostles, the disciples, and with Mary, the mother of our Lord, who were gathered in the upper room “constantly devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:12-14). This gathering for worship is necessary for our identity as disciples of Christ.
In March of 2020, the Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories issued in their respective dioceses a dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation to provide the faithful the freedom to choose and not be obligated to participate in large liturgical gatherings and thus to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the time of the global pandemic.
Now, at this stage where the necessity for health and safety restrictions has been relaxed, a return to in-person gatherings on Sundays as a worshipping community is necessary for our continued spiritual nourishment and growth. Therefore, the Bishops of Alberta and Northwest Territories in their respective dioceses will be lifting the dispensation on Pentecost Sunday, June 5, 2022.
While acknowledging the continuing presence of COVID-19 in our midst, the decree restoring the Sunday obligation will continue to provide the exemption for those who are ill, vulnerable and those providing direct care for them, and those who cannot attend Mass because of frailty or old age.
Our sacred duty to worship God on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation orients our personal freedom to the worship and service of God. May the feast of Pentecost inspire us to constantly devote ourselves to prayer especially in the highest form of our worship of God in the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
✠ William T. McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers