Catholic Education Sunday 2021
A message from the Alberta Bishops for Catholic Education Sunday - Nov 7, 2021
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The fourth wave of this pandemic continues to challenge us. In the midst of illness, uncertainty and insecurity, these prophetic words of Jeremiah resonate deeply: “I will heal your wounds,” says the Lord. “I will restore you to health.” These words offer comfort and hope to our Catholic school communities here in Alberta as they celebrate Catholic Education Sunday on November 7, 2021. In solidarity with our fellow Ontario Catholic educators, we embrace the theme: Catholic Education: Rebuild, Restore, Renew Together.
The difficult circumstances of these past two years have placed upon our families the heavy burden of worry and uncertainty as they strove to support the educational learning of their children. Our Catholic schools worked closely with parents through the dedicated efforts of trustees, superintendents, teachers and staff, all deeply committed to fulfilling the vision of Catholic education for more than 183,500 students in 450 schools across the province of Alberta. The many acts of sacrificial love made for the sake of our students give witness to our faith, and serve to rebuild, restore and renew Catholic education. Together, our parish and school communities encourage parents to continue to choose a Catholic school for their children. We are grateful for the treasure that is Catholic education, and are eager to share it.
Catholic Education Sunday is an annual event that serves to celebrate the important and critical role that our Catholic schools play in the province of Alberta. It provides us with an opportunity to recognize the vibrant faith that is the foundation of our Catholic schools, and encourages us to reflect with gratitude on the countless blessings to be found within the Catholic educational community. Catholic Education Sunday also serves to challenge each of us to step forward as advocates, inspired and emboldened to ensure the future of Catholic education as an essential dimension of the mission of the Church.
We, the Bishops of Alberta, recognize the vital role of Catholic education in the life and future of the Church and society. We are deeply committed to ensuring the integrity of our Catholic schools and the gift of faith offered to our students and their families. With hope and boldness, we must rebuild, restore and renew together the wonderful legacy of Catholic education.
As the pandemic continues to challenge us, we encourage all who have worked tirelessly to promote Catholic education to stay strong, continue your good work, pray for inspiration and guidance, and be strengthened in the promise offered to all believers: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast”. (1Peter 5:10)
In this Year of St Joseph, during May’s Catholic Education Week, we consecrated all of Alberta’s Catholic schools to the loving care of St Joseph. As we continue to ask for the intercession of our patron saint, we call all the faithful across our province to unite in a novena prayer for our Catholic Schools.
Publicly funded Catholic education is a gift which must not be taken for granted. Our commitment to Catholic education is steadfast. Together with the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA), the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta (CCSSA) and Grateful Advocates for Catholic Education (GrACE), we shall continue our efforts to ensure the future of Catholic education in our province.
United in prayer, let us humbly and confidently ask our loving God to rebuild, restore and renew all of our Catholic schools through His providential care.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Catholic Bishops of Alberta and NWT
The Catholic Bishops of Canada, gathered in Plenary this week, took the opportunity to affirm and acknowledge to the Indigenous Peoples the suffering experienced in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. Many Catholic religious communities and dioceses participated in this system, which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples. They acknowledged the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual. They also sorrowfully acknowledged the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day. Along with those Catholic entities which were directly involved in the operation of the schools and which have already offered their own heartfelt apologies, the Catholic Bishops of Canada expressed their profound remorse and apologized unequivocally.
Together with the many pastoral initiatives already underway in dioceses across the country, the Bishops pledged to undertake fundraising in each region of the country to support initiatives discerned locally with Indigenous partners. Furthermore, they invited the Indigenous Peoples to journey with us into a new era of reconciliation, helping us to prioritize initiatives of healing, to listen to the experience of Indigenous Peoples, especially to the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, and to educate our clergy, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful, on Indigenous cultures and spirituality. They further committed to continue the work of providing documentation or records that will assist in the memorialization of those buried in unmarked graves.
A delegation of Indigenous survivors, Elders/knowledge keepers, and youth will meet with the Holy Father in December 2021. Pope Francis will encounter and listen to the Indigenous Peoples, so as to discern how he can support our common desire to renew relationships and walk together along the path of hope in the coming years. The Bishops of Canada have pledged to work with the Holy See and our Indigenous partners on the possibility of a pastoral visit by the Pope to Canada as part of this healing journey.
We are committed to continue the journey with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples of this land.
24 September 2021
27 September 2021
The Bishops of Canada, as a tangible expression of their commitment to walk with the Indigenous Peoples of this land along the pathway of hope, are making a nation-wide collective financial commitment to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors, their families, and their communities.
With a target of $30 million over up to 5 years, this will include initiatives in every region of the country. The commitment will be achieved at the local level, with parishes across Canada being encourage to participate and amplify the effort.
September 22, 2021
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 being reported each day has significantly increased in our province. This brings to the forefront of our consciousness the need to safeguard the common good, and in charity to promote the safety of others by protecting our individual health and that of society. In some provinces, the sectors of healthcare, education and social services, public agencies and corporations have begun to announce mandatory vaccination as requirement for their employees and the public. This has resulted in the Diocese and the parishes receiving from members of the faithful the request for letters of exemption from the mandatory vaccination based on the grounds of religious belief.
While the Diocese respects the freedom of a person’s individual conscience as the Church teaches, the Church and her ministers cannot objectively attest to or endorse a person’s process of discernment in coming to their decision of conscience. Therefore, the Diocese and the parishes will not be issuing any letters of exemption from vaccination.
The clergy has been strongly encouraged instead to accompany and assist those requesting such letters to know and understand the teachings of the Church on vaccination during this pandemic through statements released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), and the pastoral letter provided by the Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
As stated by my brother Bishops and in communion with the Holy Father, it is morally permissible to receive a vaccine approved for use in Canada against COVID-19, and while there are many possible reasons for one to struggle in their conscience with such a vaccine being mandatory, the Diocese will not take the position or role of endorsing an individual’s conscience and decision.
If vaccination will be mandated, there must also be on the part of legitimate authorities, the necessary provisions of reasonable accommodation which respects and promotes the dignity of the individual conscience and the decision of conscientious objection. However, those who choose not to be vaccinated for whatever reason must do their utmost to ensure that they take all precautionary measures possible to avoid places and circumstances where they and others would be most vulnerable. They must also follow the health and safety measures not only to prevent contracting the virus for themselves but also preventing others from becoming sick. This is everyone’s moral responsibility.
Much prayer is needed in this time, in this polarized society, for those who have suffered so much and for those who continue to suffer from the reality of the pandemic. As Christians and people of goodwill, we must grow in our love and concern for others and use the gift of our freedom responsibly to help others especially those who are in most need.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+William T. McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The reported discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian residential school has shocked the consciousness of our country, its people, the Church, and the world to the painful and dark reality of our Canadian Indian residential school system. This has also surfaced once again the suffering and trauma which continues to mark the lives of our indigenous brothers and sisters and their communities.
On behalf of the people of the Diocese of Calgary, I personally share in this devastating sorrow and express my deepest regret at the loss of the lives of these children and the enduring pain which residential schools have caused within our indigenous communities. In solidarity, we must act in the pursuit of justice, reconciliation, and true healing.
As the Bishop of Calgary, through this statement, I personally recommit the Diocese in expressing the apology and regret made by the Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in 2014 to our indigenous brothers and sisters.
We, the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and Northwest Territories, apologize to those who experienced sexual and physical abuse in Residential Schools under Catholic administration.
The picture and images of children’s shoes placed at the front steps with lit candles remind us of the voices of these children and the need for restorative justice. In prayer, we unite ourselves with our suffering brothers and sisters so that the Spirit will show us the path of solidarity in promoting true justice and healing.
For those families deeply impacted, we ask for the intercession of St. Kateri Tekakwitha for them to receive consolation, healing, and strength.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
+William T. McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary
June 4, 2021
The statement of Bishop McGrattan on the murder of a Muslim family in London, Ontario was read by Fr. Adrian Martens in his position as Coordinator of Ecumenism and Inter-Religious affairs at a rally and peace march across City Hall, Tuesday evening, June 8, 2021.
June 8, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On June 6, 2021, a family out on a walk was targeted for their Islamic beliefs. This attack has resulted in the deaths of four family members including a girl as young as 15, and a nine-year old boy still in hospital.
This attack was truly heinous and against what we all stand for as Canadians.
Firstly, I want to express the closeness of the Catholic and Christian community to the Muslim community. Over the years, side-by-side, we have spoken out jointly on the Rohingya Muslim crisis and the terrible mosque shooting in Quebec. Again, today we stand with Muslims against all religious hatred or intolerance of religious belief and practise. We stand together to denounce all forms of fear, hatred, and aggression against any person based on religion, gender, or culture. As our teaching at the Second Vatican Council states: “…the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right,” (Dignitatis Humanae, 2).
We, Muslims, Christians, and people of goodwill, must stand together to fight against intolerance and ignorance of religious belief or practise and protect this freedom which is a basic civil right.
May we continue to advance the great work we have done together with the Calgary Interfaith Council, Habitat for Humanity, Calgary Catholic Immigration Services, and other venues. May we be reminded that there are more things that unite us than what divides us and that we must stand together against hatred, violence, and religious intolerance.
Yours in God,
+William T. McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary
Download Letter in PDF
Let us join in prayer:
CCCB statement regarding recent discovery at former Kamloops Indian Residential School
Statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops following the recent discovery at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation
On behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), I express our deepest sorrow for the heartrending loss of the children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.
The news of the recent discovery is shocking. It rekindles trauma in numerous communities across this land. Honouring the dignity of the lost little ones demands that the truth be brought to light.
This tragedy profoundly impacts Indigenous communities, with whom many people across this land and throughout the world now stand in solidarity.
As we see ever more clearly the pain and suffering of the past, the Bishops of Canada pledge to continue walking side by side with Indigenous Peoples in the present, seeking greater healing and reconciliation for the future.
We lift up prayers to the Lord for the children who have lost their lives and pledge our close accompaniment of Indigenous families and communities.
May our Creator God bless all of us with consolation and hope.
+ Richard Gagnon
Archbishop of Winnipeg and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 31 May 2021
Catholic Education Week 2021
Witnessing to the faith at all cost
Easter Message from the Bishop
Many people might be surprised that the question is even being posed. What could be wrong about receiving a vaccine, when we know that vaccinations save lives? The moral issue arises from the fact that vaccine development and testing often make use of cell lines derived from either the tissue of aborted fetuses or destroyed human embryos. Therefore, reception of a vaccine developed and produced from this unethical research presents us with a dilemma that seriously engages our conscience. The short answer from our Bishops on whether it's okay to be vaccinated against COVID-10 is: Yes, it is. Learn more about it from the Bishop's letter re: COVID-19 Vaccine.
Return to me with all your heart
2020 Bishop's Christmas Message
Christmas: A Light of Faith, Hope, and Love in our World
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light… (Isaiah 9:2)
This Christmas Eve we will hear the words of the prophet Isaiah ring out “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”. How does one begin to describe the experiences of this past year? It is as if a shadow has been cast over our lives by a “pandemic of darkness”. Many here and across the globe have lost their lives to COVID-19 with their families left to mourn their passing, many have survived the virus with lasting effects, and others have risked their lives to provide medical care and to conduct the scientific research leading to a vaccine. It has left many marked by profound sadness, isolation, and fear.
There is also some understandable impatience with the health precautions and restrictions that place limits on our normal ordinary human interactions such as work, social activities, family interactions, and religious gatherings. Yes, we all have had to make sacrifices.
It is into this world, here and now, that God’s love is being revealed. It is a light that comes to us in darkness.
The Nativity of Christ which we celebrate at Christmas is not merely a recollection of an historical event or of a birth which took place in the past. It fixes our gaze on the future, on his second coming at the end of the ages while acknowledging His presence here and now in our lives, each and every day. With the challenges that we have faced this year we might be tempted to give up, to not see Christmas and its celebration through this light of faith, hope and love.
A prayer to the Immaculate Conception beautifully captures the action of God and the docility of our Blessed Mother, “Father, the image of the Virgin is found in the Church. Mary had a faith that your Spirit prepared and a love that never knew sin, for you kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Trace in our actions the lines of her love, in our heart her readiness of faith”. God has traced the lines of Mary’s readiness of faith and love through our lives during this Advent season in the acts of love and sacrifice which each of us have freely accepted for the good and the wellbeing of others. They have probably gone unnoticed in the eyes of the world, much like Mary’s “fiat”, which was a simple response of yes to accepting the will of God. In our Catholic tradition, Mary has always been a type or model of the Church’s response to the will of God. As Mary came to believe, to conceive and to give birth to Jesus, the Son of God, this same action of God tracing His grace and love in our lives can come to birth this Christmas with a renewed sense of hope.
As St. Ambrose said, “You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. Home - I am Blessed 2020A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works. Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of God” (Office of Readings, Monday of the 4th Week of Advent). This year as we approach the celebration of Christmas, the I Am Blessed campaign of the Diocese is once again an opportunity to witness to our faith despite the suffering we may be experiencing, to recognize the blessings from God in the midst of our daily reality, and to seek out opportunities to be a blessing for others through prayer, giving, and in our acts of service for others.
As we prepare for Christmas, and the octave of this feast, let us rediscover how connected we are to one another. I invite us to experience in this coming year the hope that is found in the promises of God as did Mary. In the words of Pope Francis, Christmas is the feast that “returns us to the horizon of hope, a horizon that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God” (Angelus, 1st Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2013). The incarnate Word, the nearness of God which we celebrate on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Jesus, has transformed human history and can restore in each of us this profound gift of hope.
In this time of pandemic when we look for that light in our darkness, I offer my Christmas greetings and heartfelt best wishes to all the faithful of the Diocese.
I express my gratitude and esteem for the witness of pastoral charity exhibited by the priests and the deacons who exercise the role of Christ the Servant, the presence of the religious communities that offer their unique charisms and a witness to holiness, the co-responsibility of the lay faithful - including the volunteers and parish staff - as a living sign of Christ in the world, the role of the teachers and catechists in our schools and parishes, and the essential gift of family life that is shared so readily in an expression of sacrificial love and an openness to new life. Finally, to those who have both in the past and now serve at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, I am grateful for the dedication and cooperation that is expressed in our desire to be of service to the parishes of the Diocese in these challenging times. May God bestow his blessings upon all of us as we look forward in faith, hope and love to the coming year.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ William T. McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary
Download Letter in PDF
In this month of October Pope Francis’ prayer intention is for the Laity’s Mission in the World. At the Second Vatican Council one of the most important contributions was the reflection and teaching about the role of the laity both within the Church but also their apostolate or calling in the world.
The Laity’s Mission originates within the Church but is primarily lived out in what we call society or the world. By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation we are all incorporated into the Body of Christ and share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of Christ. This is the vocation that is specific to laity and is one that seeks to promote the Kingdom of God through a witness of life and service which can transform society in accordance with God’s will.
In the ordinary circumstances of society and family life the laity will contribute to the sanctification of the world. They can promote and witness to the reign of God by being a leaven in fulfilling the responsibilities and obligation that are specific to their circumstances and role in the broader society. Within the Church the pastors “are joined by a close relationship” to the laity. In both following the example of Christ, and in developing a close collaboration and co-responsibility, they promote the unity of the Body of Christ and become through the Holy Spirit an authentic witness to the mission of Christ in the world. Despite the diversity of graces (gifts) and ministries (works) within the Body of Christ there is a unity that can be realized both in the Church and in service to the world through the one Spirit.
The apostolate of the laity within the world is first and foremost a sharing in the salvific mission of Christ through the Church. The laity have a special vocation to make the Church present and active in the world where they become the “salt and light” in the midst of society. The laity in this unique witness, through spiritual sacrifices of daily life, prayer, good works, family life and community involvement continually draw strength from the Eucharist and the Sacraments. For Catholics, this must be the source of our evangelization which becomes expressed in the proclamation of Christ as a living Word through the testimony of our lives in the ordinary circumstances of life and in the acts of charity that reflect the sacrificial love celebrated and received in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of his Body.
In the Church although there is a diversity of ministries, there must be a unity of mission. This mission of evangelization for the laity is a life lived in the midst of the world and among secular affairs. The apostolate of the laity in the world must have the following supports or foundations if it is to be vibrant and flourishing.
Please read the Pastoral Statement from the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, called On the Impact of COVID-19 & the Call to Christian Renewal | Download here
In particular, the bishops are inviting Catholics to review the impact of COVID-19 within their homes, schools, workplaces, and society in general, in light of the gospel and the social teaching of the Church. Which values, attitudes and behaviours will we want to hold on to going forward? Which may be in need of remedy or renewal? Through a process of reflection and discernment, the bishops are using this time as an opportunity to inspire and lead a renewal of Christian life in the Church that will impact society in positive ways.
The goal is for all of us to gain insights into living our faith at home and at work, and in our parishes and communities. “Our Catholic faith has much to contribute with respect to promoting human, social and spiritual values for the common good of society,” the bishops note in their letter. “We trust that you, like us, see the urgency to discern wisely the signs of the times and to “reset” our lives so that our collective experience in moving forward accords with the Gospel.”
WEEK 1: Inherent Dignity of Every Human Life
The situation of this pandemic invites us all to re-discover the inherent dignity of every human life and to re-awaken a sense of gratitude, affection and responsibility towards all people, particularly the most vulnerable in our society. #CatholicYYC
Moderator: Dr. Bonnie Annicchiarico (Director, Grateful Advocates for Catholic Education (GrACE)
Panelists: Patrick Dumelie (CEO, Covenant Health, Edmonton) Dr. Troy Davies (CEO, Catholic Social Services, Edmonton) David & Cathy Ann Bouchard (Magdalene House, Red Deer) Sr. Alinda (Mother Superior, Missionaries of Charity, St. Paul, AB)
Parishioners and all viewers are invited to respond to the prepared reflection questions or otherwise to send thoughts/comments to email@example.com
Weekly reflections (PDF) can be downloaded with the links below:
Download Weekly Reflection en francais
Watch Discussion PanelsParishioners and all viewers will be invited to respond to the prepared reflection questions or otherwise to send thoughts/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
The ecumenical Season of Creation is observed annually from September 1, the World Day of Prayer for Creation, to October 4, the Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi. Christians and peoples of faith around the world are invited to pray in thanksgiving for God’s gift of creation.
This year, the Season of Creation occurs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that is impacting worldwide in ways that are inextricably interconnected to the care of creation and the health of humanity. The Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si, echoes this interconnection.
“Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.” – Laudato Si, No. 91.
In March of this year Pope Francis asked the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (“DPIHD”) to collaboratively create a Commission to communicate the Church’s concern for the human family facing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, to reflect on the emerging socio-economic-cultural dynamics, and to research and propose timely approaches to move forward. In May, I was invited to be one of twenty participants from Canada and the United States to provide feedback to this newly formed Commission.
The Dicastery has now established a Vatican COVID-19 Commission with five Work Groups:
In this time of pandemic, we are admittedly being challenged and yet history reveals that it is often in such times of adversity that the resiliency and determination of the human spirit emerges and through God’s grace, people of faith accomplish good works. In that spirit of confidence and hope, Pope Francis’ message reflects upon the theme for the 2020 Season of Creation, Jubilee for the Earth, as a time to remember, to return, to rest, to restore and to rejoice:
If these initiatives aren’t enough, we also have in this Season of Creation two events in late September and one in early October that call us to action, to conversion and renewal through the understanding and application of our Catholic Social Teaching.
The first is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Pope Francis’ message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Forced like Jesus Christ to flee draws attention to the burdens faced by migrants and refugees and the responsibility to provide refuge. He states, “I have decided to devote this Message to the drama of internally displaced persons, an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated. In fact, due to its virulence, severity and geographical extent, this crisis has impacted on many other humanitarian emergencies that affect millions of people, which has relegated to the bottom of national political agendas those urgent international efforts essential to saving lives. But “this is not a time for forgetfulness. The crisis we are facing should not make us forget the many other crises that bring suffering to so many people.”
The second is the release of an Alberta Bishop’s Pastoral Statement on the Impact of COVID-19 and the Call to Christian Renewal on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. It is entitled “Save your people, O Lord, and bless your inheritance”. There are reflections and resources that accompany the statement which are designed to promote dialogue on the social justice issues that have surfaced during the pandemic in light of the principles of our Catholic Social Teaching.
The third event is the publication on the eve of the Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi of a new encyclical which will reflect upon the Catholic Social Teachings during the pandemic – teachings such as human fraternity, the equal dignity of all people, the preferential option for the poor, the common good, solidarity among all peoples, the responsible care of the environment, and the virtue of striving for justice and peace.
Now more than ever we need to relate to one another as sisters and brothers in one global human family. We are called to recognize the responsibilities we have to each other, and take an active role in helping each person achieve their full potential. And in this Season of Creation, we are being called to live as responsible stewards of creation and thus to see the reflection of God in all of creation.
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you! Amen.
(Pope Francis, Laudato Si, May 24, 2015)
It is June and the time of year when our young people complete their studies and gather for the celebration of their graduation. But this year is different. The COVID-19 Coronavirus restrictions have curtailed the in-person gatherings and reshaped them into “virtual graduations.” This is new for all of us but it should not diminish in any way the joy we feel at seeing young people succeed whether it be the milestone of a graduation from kindergarten or the graduation from Grade 8, Grade 12, College or University.
I add my voice to the good wishes and encouragement which our graduates of 2020 are receiving. You are a graduating class with unique stories to tell and we anticipate the wisdom of your insights and leadership in the future. The following are for your reflection as you celebrate the completion of studies and look toward the next steps – be it further studies, a career, a religious vocation or some time to chart your future path in life.
The impact of a Catholic education was recently highlighted by Dr. Anthony Fauci, MD who has had a critical role in the pandemic leadership for the United States. Dr. Fauci graduated from Regis High School and in his own words he stated the “tenets of the Jesuit tradition sustained him throughout his life and career.” The imprint of a Catholic Education shapes the character of a person in striving to live a life of goodness but also in assuming roles of responsibility in promoting the common good in both ordinary and extraordinary forms of service.
As graduates of 2020 it seems to me that you are being offered three important lessons during this pandemic.
In a recent video message to young people commemorating the 100th anniversary of St. John Paul II's birth, Pope Francis spoke about the challenges and obstacles faced by St. John Paul II as a young man and how his deep faith enabled him to overcome them. Pope Francis expressed the hope that the life and faith of St. John Paull II would “inspire within you the desire to walk courageously with Jesus, who is “the Lord of risk, he is the Lord of the eternal ‘more.’" (Pope Francis, May 18, 2020)
Graduates of 2020, persevere in prayer, follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and know that the Lord who calls you to embrace His Love will accomplish good works in and through you. Seek the “eternal more” as you celebrate your graduation in 2020.
Consecrated to Mary
Each year, during the month of May, the Church encourages the faithful to pray through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, and the Mother of the Church. This year, as the pandemic took hold around the world, Pope Francis issued a letter “to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May.”
Mary who remained in the midst of the apostles continues to hold a special place in the heart of the Church. Mary’s motherhood for those in the Church is both maternal and spiritual for she continues to intercede to God for an increase in the life of grace promised to us through her Son. Four moments in Mary’s life reveal her intimate participation in the mysteries of her Son’s life, death and resurrection. Mary carried Jesus in her womb. She stood by while He suffered and died on the Cross. Mary remained in the Upper Room devoting herself to prayer with the first Christian community and awaited the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). Finally, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”) states, "The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son." (CCC, 966.) Mary truly understands the grace of being united to the mysteries of Christ and she desires that all people may live in the richness of this faith and belief in Christ. Through this faith and devotion she continues to work through the Church to bring all people to Her Son.
In his Letter for the Month of May 2020, the Pope notes that “contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial.” The Pope’s letter also inspired the Bishops of Canada and the United States to re-consecrate their Dioceses to Mary, Mother of the Church during the current global pandemic on May 1. At the conclusion of the month of May, I will celebrate the Mass of Dedication for our new Marian Shrine Church in Canmore, “Our Lady of the Rockies” on May 30, 2020. This will also mark the anticipation of the reintroduction of the public celebration of Mass throughout the entire Diocese beginning on June 1, 2020 which is a new Memorial for our Blessed Mother.
The title “Mary, Mother of the Church” was given to the Blessed Mother by Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council and in 2018, Pope Francis added the “Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church” to be celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost which this year will occur on June 1 when the faithful return to the celebration of the Eucharist. In this time of pandemic as the patron of our Diocese she remains an enduring sign of trust and hope that we must all have in God’s will despite what we face in the future.
As I stated in my homily for the Consecration of the Diocese of Calgary to Mary, Mother of the Church, I encourage families and individuals to consecrate yourselves along with the Diocese and parishes to the protection and daily intercession of Mary. In the words of St. Maximilian Kolbe, "Never be afraid of loving Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did."
Come quickly to our aid at this time, Mother of Mercy, and deliver us from the dangers that surround us in our hour of need; watch over especially the elderly, the weak and the infirm, our children and the unity of our families, and all those who give of themselves selflessly in pastoral care to those in need until in your arms and in your gentle embrace we all find safety and solace.”
April 28, 2020
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect our Province and Diocese in mid-March, we put in place safety measures that were in compliance with the requirements of the Alberta Health Services to protect parishioners, employees and clergy. These have included the temporary suspension of the public celebration of Masses, limiting the number of people present in the church for personal prayer while still making available the celebration of other Sacraments with pastoral directives for the clergy to celebrate them in a safe manner. We have also modified the working arrangements of our employees in order to ensure their safety and well-being while providing necessary service through the parish offices and the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
While gathering for Mass as a parish community is not possible at this time, the priests continue to celebrate Mass privately for the intentions of the faithful and explore other various ways to pastorally connect with them.
In the meantime, there have been inquiries from parishioners about ways to support the parish and the ministries of the Diocese. This is a sensitive topic to address with so many uncertainties that continue to impact each one of us in unexpected ways. Many parishioners may already be facing financial difficulties as a family, and the first priority must be to take care of the needs of family and loved ones. The parishes and the Diocese continue to rely on the generosity of the faithful to carry on during this time of pandemic and the temporary suspension of Masses. Currently, only 10% of the annual revenue comes through pre-authorized giving while the remainder of the donations are received through the normal weekly offering at the weekend Masses.
In the last six weeks, most parishes have reported a 50% reduction or more in weekly revenue. With parish revenue being impacted, there was the need to act in a responsible way to mitigate the financial stress on the parishes and to ease their burden. Thus, the Pastoral Centre suspended the monthly parish levy and this is in effect until the end of the year 2020. In addition to this measure, the monthly loan and interest payments owing from the parishes for renovation projects and the building of churches have also been suspended for the same period of time while our Diocesan Together in Action (TIA) campaign continues. Furthermore, all areas of operations both at the parishes and the Diocese have been reviewed to identify potential cost savings. Government subsidy programs at the federal and provincial levels to deal with COVID-19 have also been assessed to determine if we would qualify given their current requirements.
In response to this emerging financial challenge, the following cost-containment strategies will be implemented in the parishes and in the Diocese.
As Bishop, having been involved in these deliberations, I am acutely aware that these decision are very difficult to bear especially for those who are directly impacted. These cost-containment measures, however, are necessary for the Diocese and parishes in order for us to meet our current fiscal responsibilities and to provide financial stabilization in the years ahead. It is my hope that in times like this, we will draw confidence, wisdom and guidance from our faith, and ask God in His wisdom to be present in our decisions so that they reflect compassion, prudence, and justice.
I am truly humbled by the ongoing generosity of parishioners in these most difficult financial times and the leadership and sacrifice of our clergy. On behalf of the clergy and the employees, I extend my deepest gratitude for your support.
Most important at this time are our prayers of support for each other. We pray for the parishes and the Diocese, for your fellow parishioners and the parish team, and we remember those who are suffering from illness, especially those who have died and frontline workers and essential service providers who have had to make a tremendous sacrifice affecting their families and loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful and thank you for this witness.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend William T. McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary
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Caring for the sick in this world
The 28th World Day of the Sick was celebrated on February 11, 2020. Saint John Paul II initiated the World Day of the Sick to encourage the faithful to pray for those who suffer from illnesses and for those who care for and minister to them. February 11 is also the Optional Memorial for Our Lady of Lourdes.
In 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared many times to St. Bernadette in the hollow of the rock at Lourdes. Since then, there have been many miraculous cures and conversions attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes.
The Roman Catholic Church has a long history of founding and engaging in the provision of healthcare rooted in a faithful response to the Gospel call. “After this the Lord appointed seventy others … Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Luke 10: 1, 8-9.)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) reiterates this call and says, "Heal the sick!" The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies.” (CCC, 1509.)
The Pastoral Letter for Catholic Health Care issued by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops offers eight guiding principles:
Throughout Canada’s history, many women and men, clergy, religious and lay, have dedicated themselves to living out these principles by providing medical and spiritual care for the sick. In Alberta, communities of religious women founded the provincial hospital system and delivered quality healthcare with a preferential option for the poor. The first hospital in this province was established in 1863 by the Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) in St. Albert. The founding of the hospitals spread from this beginning and fostered the hospital system we enjoy today. We are all indebted to this rich legacy of faith, fortitude, perseverance and care of the sick.
Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of the Sick, “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28), offers comfort to the sick saying “brothers and sisters who are ill, your sickness makes you in a particular way one of those “who labour and are burdened”, and thus attract the eyes and heart of Jesus. In him, you will find light to brighten your darkest moments and hope to soothe your distress.”
Pope Francis also offers timely encouragement to healthcare providers, “may you always strive to promote the dignity and life of each person, and reject any compromise in the direction of euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression of life, even in the case of terminal illness. I echo Pope Francis’ message and encourage healthcare providers “to be consistent with your “yes” to life and to the human person. Your professionalism, sustained by Christian charity, will be the best service you can offer for the safeguarding of the truest human right, the right to life.”
Bishop William McGrattan sums up his first decade as bishop in two words: very busy.
“One could describe it as being very busy and demanding, some would say tiring, but when I look back there has been a great gift of growing in wisdom,” said Bishop McGrattan.
Since his episcopal appointment 10 years ago this past January, Bishop McGrattan has made dozens of pastoral visits to parishes within each diocese that he has served – Toronto, Peterborough and Calgary – to see what’s taking place at the ground-level. He’s visited 23 parishes since his installment as Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary three years ago this February.
“I’m constantly trying to listen,” said Bishop McGrattan. “I think when you listen you can often discern and make some good decisions that can be far-reaching, have sustainability and make a greater impact.”
Some highlights from his first three years in Calgary include:
“I believe these initiatives can strengthen the diocese in forming missionary disciples,” said Bishop McGrattan.
One challenge has been managing the limited financial resources of the diocese in a strained economy. In good economic times, the population has grown and the diocese has responded by renovating or building new churches. But in a sluggish economy, the financial resources of the diocese have also weakened.
“We have sufficient but we don’t have enough to be building the churches that are required to accommodate new neighbourhoods,” said Bishop McGrattan.
He wants to set a pastoral plan for the Diocese in another three years from now.
“I thought I was going to do a pastoral plan in the first three years, but I think there is a wisdom in not forcing this type of initiative on the Diocese,” he said.
“I want to have three years to work up to a spiritual and pastoral revitalization. We need to till the ground before we enter into a process of formalizing the pastoral direction and means.”
In the meantime, Bishop McGrattan is using the information from the consultations with clergy in his first six months here to understand the challenges and priorities of the Diocese.
Written by Sara Francis for Faithfully
The beginning of a New Year is a time associated with taking stock of the past, looking forward to the future, and making resolutions. Actually this is a continual practice in our lives. Events such as the birth of a child, changing jobs, or simply moving, entail at some level making a new beginning. The embracing of change can be difficult at the time, yet in hindsight, the new beginning is often an event which inspires positive growth in our life.
This process of beginning and growing in new ways is also a part of our spiritual journey. Beginning in Baptism, “the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 1272.) Baptism begins the journey of holiness “to be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5: 48) and it is restored through the grace received in the Sacrament of Reconciliation which has sometimes been referred to as the sacrament that renews this baptismal state of grace or a type of “Second Baptism”.
In the spiritual life, embracing the path of change in our life and seeking sacramental forgiveness involves ongoing reflection and prayer. St. Ignatius of Loyola developed the daily Examen recognizing the importance of beginning anew each day. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks about the perseverance to seek continual growth in holiness, saying, "The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect." In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired: "Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state - though each in his own way - are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect." (CCC, 825.)
The path of our holiness weaves through many ordinary life events. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (GE), Pope Francis encourages the faithful to see life’s challenges as opportunities for new growth saying, “At times, life presents great challenges. Through them, the Lord calls us anew to a conversion that can make his grace more evident in our lives, “in order that we may share his holiness” (Heb 12:10). At other times, we need only find a more perfect way of doing what we are already doing: “There are inspirations that tend solely to perfect in an extraordinary way the ordinary things we do in life.” (GE, 17.)
Persevering in our spiritual life has also been expressed by a few saints as Nunc Coepi or Now I Begin. The experience of beginning over and over again is a common path for each of us when we grow in faithful holiness. The emphasis on “Nunc” or “Now” affirms the importance of the present moment and the Grace of God that it holds for each one of us. St. Rose Phillippine Duchesne known for her faith-filled courage and humility, wrote, “Do not look back to the past, or forward to the future. Claim only the present for it holds God’s will.”
In Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis writes about the Spirit revealing the Will of God in the present moment - “Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received.” (GE, 23.)
As this new year and a new decade begin, my prayer for you is to embrace the mission God entrusts to you and to live the fullness of the present moment so that you will “allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world.” (GE, 23.)
By Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The holy days of the Christmas season are upon us.
This year, at the Vigil Mass for the Nativity of Our Lord, we hear the familiar narrative from Matthew’s Gospel of Jesus’ humble birth among us in fulfillment of the scriptural promises. Joseph, a “righteous man” is faced with a situation he does not fully understand and yet in the simple words of the Gospel, “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” And in that moment, Joseph becomes a model of trusting in God and following His Will.
These inspiring events of Mary and Joseph, annunciations and dreams, angels and shepherds, stars and adoring magi serve to captivate our imaginations and invite us to celebrate the profound simplicity of God’s presence among us as a humble and innocent child. The Son of God is born into the human world and gives flesh to God’s saving power. These scripture passages announce hopeful messages of “Peace on Earth,” “Good will to all,” and the absolute steadfastness of God’s promise to save His people. Indeed, such messages of “Good News” are welcomed among the poor, the vulnerable, and all of us who recognize the need for God’s salvific love in our lives.
This year Pope Francis, in speaking to the United Nations, offered the following reflection about Christmas:
“These are days in which we raise our eyes to heaven and commend to God those people and situations that are closest to our heart. In this gaze, we acknowledge ourselves to be sons and daughters of one Father, brothers and sisters. We give thanks for all the goodness present in this world, and for all those who freely give of themselves, those who spend their lives in service to others, those who do not give up but keep trying to build a more humane and just society. We know well that we cannot be saved alone. … May Christmas, in its authentic simplicity, remind us that the most important thing in life is love.” (Pope Francis, December 20, 2019.)
As our communities in Faith look heavenward at Christmas, let us invite the Christ child to be born into our hearts spiritually, to transform our lives, and to strengthen the witness of our faith so that we might grow in humility and confidence as missionaries of charity for our brothers and sisters. May we proclaim His Birth with great joy and announce the saving love of Jesus Christ in the daily living of our lives.
I offer you the assurance of my prayers as you gather with family and friends to celebrate these holy days of Christmas.
Yours in Christ,
+ Most Reverend William McGrattan
Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary
December 24, 2019
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers