As we witness the humanitarian catastrophe in the Holy Land with hearts that cry out to God for an end to war and violence, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has called for a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer for peace and reconciliation.
Therefore, Bishop McGrattan is calling on the Diocese to respond to the request of the Cardinal by designating Tuesday, October 17 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Holy Land in the Diocese of Calgary.
“We ask that on Tuesday, October 17, everyone hold a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer. Let us organize prayer times with Eucharistic adoration and with the recitation of the Rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary. Although most probably in many parts of our dioceses, circumstances will not permit large gatherings, it is possible to organize simple and sober common moments of prayer in parishes, religious communities, and families.” - Cardinal Pizzaballa | Read full letter
Ways to pray as an individual, with your family and the parish community….
Read: Statement by the Most Rev. William T. McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary and CCCB President, to the Catholic Faithful in Canada on the Recent Escalation of Conflict in the Holy Land - Read letter
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 the 106th Anniversary of Our Blessed Mother’s apparition to three humble shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady of Fatima Parish welcomed Catholics from all across the Diocese of Calgary to honour her holy feast day. And just like in Fatima, the crowds appeared!
The church, which was constructed by immigrants from Portugal, was filled with devoted followers of the Blessed Mother. The sanctuary and narthex were overflowing with people who participated in the Rosary, Holy Mass, and candlelight procession. It was clear that the believers were deeply respectful and fervently praying, which indicated that the graces poured through Mary’s Immaculate Heart at Fatima are still being bestowed upon her children today. In each “Ave Maria” and “Holy Mary,” the faithful from across the diocese and from different cultural backgrounds wholeheartedly and with one unified voice entreated to their mother, presenting her with their spiritual bouquets of roses.
In Father Fabio’s homily, he emphasized that “in Nazareth, the Virgin Mary brought the Son of God into the world. But in Fatima, Mary's mission was different: to bring the world to Christ, with a call to conversion, indicating that the Blessed Mother's devotion points out to Christ, our Saviour.”
The message of Our Lady at Fatima continues to live in the hearts of her children, whom she protects within the intimacy of her Immaculate Heart. This universal call to holiness in which the Blessed Mother draws us ever closer to her Beloved Son resounded even more strongly this Saturday. Their smiles and tears were evident signs of their devotion and closeness to the Blessed Mother. Let us, with each passing day, always remember Our Blessed Mother’s most sweet requests: to pray the rosary daily and to do penance to console Her Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Her Divine Son, Jesus!
In October 13th, the Portuguese-speaking Catholic community of Calgary will celebrate the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.
Submitted by Caterina Avila, Our Lady of Fatima Parish. Photos courtesy of Our Lady of Fatima, Parish.
An inspiring grotto housing the statue of Mary seems only fitting for the backyard of Elizabeth House, a transitional housing program supported by the Diocese which welcomes pregnant and parenting women who need a safe place to live.
Mother Mary is symbolic of womanhood and motherhood and Elizabeth House staff are hopeful that the resilient women who access the house and services provided there will find the grotto to be a place of healing and hope as embodied in Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Dave Curry, who built the grotto with the help of Peter Dugandzic, shared that the project was meaningful to him because the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe holds pro-life significance. He spoke about the hard work of constructing the beautiful brick grotto in the summer heat last year and how it was recently completed.
Dave said that it was “beautiful doing something for Elizabeth House and for Mary”. Dave is a member of the Knights of Columbus Don Bosco Council at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church and built the grotto with the help and support from the Knights of Columbus.
Elizabeth House has capacity to house seven women and their babies. This program offers resources, support, and a safe place for women to start their motherhood journey. Elizabeth House states that through their program courageous mothers are empowered to work towards a transition to independent living as well as pursue the education or job skills training necessary to help set the foundation for a bright future.
Marin Lepp, an Elizabeth House staff, said the grotto and statue speak to the “the incredible support and spiritual foundation that this place has for all of the women who we welcome from every background, every walk of life. This represents strength in womanhood and in motherhood and that looks so different for all of our ladies based on their circumstances.”
Marin called the the grotto a grounding place, and a guide in Elizabeth House’s approach to reconciliation for Indigenous peoples. She reflected that at the centre of the work is “motherhood, womanhood and the strength around that.”
The special garden area where Our Lady of Guadalupe has taken up residence was blessed recently by Bishop William McGrattan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary.
“I think the legacy of Elizabeth House is something that we’ve received from the religious and I think it’s something that allows us to witness to and continue the sanctity of human life and to know that we’re helping families, especially women who want to make this choice. It’s counter-cultural and I think the Church needs to be present and allow them to go forward with this particular support that they need,” said Bishop McGrattan.
Bishop McGrattan emphasized the importance of making sure that Elizabeth House continues. He stated that the program has important donors and volunteer associations who value and support the work of Elizabeth House and stated that this work is “an important commitment as well. Just the experience of them being here supporting these young women and their children is something. They know they’re living their faith.”
Bishop McGrattan also reflected on the significance of Mary as a symbol of grace, joy, and hope for all. He stated that “First of all, she is Christ’s mother. The mother of the visible and the image of the invisible God. But she is also the image and the model of the Church and she is an exemplar. In Mary, the Church joyously contemplates the image of all that the Church itself desires and hopes wholly to be. The Church recognizes in Mary the model of the path and the practice it must follow to reach complete union with Christ.”
Bishop McGrattan hoped that when people from Elizabeth House are outside in the backyard the grotto the statue of Mary will catch their eye and that “they might be drawn into a moment of reflection, a moment of prayer. And that’s what images and statues are for. They draw our attention, they focus our thoughts and our sentiments. Often we formulate the words of prayer. This is how I think it will be an important statue here in this backyard of Elizabeth House,” he said.
“We know that those who come here in this yard and are able to pray, and contemplate, will ponder as Mary did in the silence of her heart the truth and the gift of human life and the gift and choice that they’ve made. We pray and hope that this will be a time and a moment where they see the hand of God through our Blessed Mother that they have made a choice for life and that we are supporting them.”
Written by Mario Toneguzzi & Elizabeth House Staff for Faithfully. Photos courtesy of Marin Lepp.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers