Statements & Resources
Residential Schools within the boundaries of the Diocese of Calgary
There were 25 residential schools in the Province of Alberta. See: Residential Schools in Canada Map. Four of them operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) were within the boundaries of the Diocese. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary did not run any residential schools. Below are links to the four residential schools:
Learn about Residential Schools
Truth & Reconciliation Commission
A brief guide about Treaty & Alberta Treaty Map (Alberta Teachers Association)
Crisis line for Indian Residential School survivors and family: 1-866-925-4419
On a beautiful Tuesday morning, I sat at a picnic table by the shore of Lake Chaparral, southeast of Calgary, engaging in conversation with our Diocese's newest deacon from Argentina. My hosts on this warm gorgeous summer day were Deacon Carlos Lozano and his lovely wife, Christina Rieter.
The warmth emanating from the two of them carried us through a two-hour heartfelt bilingual Spanish–English conversation centred on Christ, family, and service. As Deacon Carlos awaits his new mission in Holy Spirit Parish beginning August 1st, he speaks with delightful excitement about his ministry in Argentina and his hopes and dreams for the future.
In May 1996, Deacon Carlos and his fellow deacons chose these words of Jeremiah for their ordination in Buenos Aires, Argentina: “Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:4-5). Long before that, in 1951, Deacon Carlos revealed that his mother, while he was still in her womb, had dedicated him to our Blessed Virgin Mary. With this profound offering and our Blessed Mother's intercession, Deacon Lozano serves the Lord not only in his marital and family life but also through his permanent diaconate ministry, which now extends beyond Argentina due to his his recent move to Calgary, Alberta.
My 95 year old mother did not know a grandparent, a cousin, an aunt or an uncle growing up. But it is like the Lord is making up for what she did not have, as now there are close to 90 of us with our families and children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Truly, the blessings of abundance are bountiful!
Celebrating the third World Day for Grandparents and the elderly is especially heartwarming for me this year. First, to be a grandparent to 11 on earth, and to have my own mother still with us as a grandmother and great grandmother is truly a blessing.
The alignment of the World Youth Day preparations with the celebration of this day serves as a reminder for young adults to appreciate the gift of their grandparents. As they participate in the festivities in Lisbon, Portugal, this year's World Day for Grandparents and Elderly theme, "His Mercy is from age to age" (Luke 1:15), echoes a message that God’s eyes are always on us. Taken from the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, this verse speaks volumes of the generations who celebrate in this Mercy.
The connection between the young and the old is vitally important. Whether it is being there as a grandparent to offer support and wisdom, or whether it is accepting the outstretched hand of the young offering help, both are so very necessary. Even if your grandparents are no longer with you, there are many elderly waiting to receive the touch of a grandchild figure, or for them to be a grandparent to a child.
During the pandemic when care facilities, and other living accommodations were closed off to visitors, our family came up with an idea to be able to see mom everyday by using FaceTime. This allows us to pray the daily rosary with her, to bring to prayer those who had special needs, and to remain connected. For over 2.5 years we have continued the practice as a family, and those who are able to join in can do so on any given day.
There are countless ways to maintain strong connections with our elderly loved ones, and each small effort can make a significant difference. Looking for ideas?
As grandparents we experience the joys and sufferings of each of our children and grandchildren. There are special needs, and there are many ways that we can be a blessing to our grown children and our grandchildren. I always recall with great gratitude the many times my own parents took our children, and the mercy shown to us when we were young parents. It is this boundless mercy shown to us that I desire to pass on to our own children and grandchildren. Those blessings that we received as young parents are still felt today, as I reach out to, and try to provide a place of secure welcome to our own grandchildren.
To witness to, and to be there for our grandchildren, as our presence is required, allows our grandchildren to receive so many benefits of family living united in the hope and the promise of the gospel message.
We are called to be there, and to especially be there for our aging parents / grandparents. To be a sign of hope in a culture that wants to cancel people is so very important. It means taking a stand and to pray through our current culture, while keeping our focus on what brings life. To be people of hope, when all hope seems diminished stands as a beacon for the world. God’s plan is so much bigger than what we can imagine, and we can be that sign of hope for others. It is not about a “perfect” life, it is about allowing God’s will and His plan to unfold for our lives, having the cross at the centre. It is about caring for those that God puts in our path. The love and respect given to and from grandparents can never be diminished.
When cultures are cancelling the weak and the vulnerable, it is time to stand up, and be counter cultural. Let us be the “voice of one crying out in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3). Do not be afraid to be the one to show His Mercy, and to respect the life we have been given from conception to natural death.
My grandfather, when asked how to raise children, simply said, “teach them their faith, and use good common sense.” Today this is still sound advice, so simple and yet so true. His words of wisdom have stood the test of time.
As we navigate through this complex and unforgiving world, let’s revisit this advice, and may we proclaim with boldness the message of mercy to our grandchildren.
Everlasting joy: Serving & Listening in the Spirit
Over the past year or so, I have been working as a waitstaff member at a retirement home in the northwest Calgary. It is a quaint place for independent seniors who do not require extensive care.
My most treasured part about this job are the interactions I have with the residents at the retirement home. This, I believe to be a twofold interaction as I have noticed that the residents seldom receive family visits. The residents have a wealth of insights and wisdom to share, and what I commit to bring them in return is an infectious joy to hopefully brighten their days.
I would not have chosen this job if I had not recognized the primary commitment to bringing joy. I have my own experiences with my grandparents and my faith to thank for that; because I cannot imagine how isolating it could feel to live here without much social interaction. Interestingly, I learned from a group of residents about a differing approach taken by another waitstaff member. Residents were advised to spend their free time in their suites rather than the all-day café near the dining area, which is typically designated for leisure. This baffled me. What could possibly lead one to believe that people, particularly seniors, would prefer to be cooped up away from everyone for days on end.
These experiences further bolster my efforts to provide the most genuine and respectful service I can give. This primarily comes down to the smaller things. If there’s one thing the elderly desire from a service, is to feel that they are listened to. I cultivate this through a multitude of smaller actions, such as not just remembering and calling residents by their names; but also knowing their drink choices at each mealtime, as well as any allergies or food preferences. I make a point to acknowledge all of these preferences or requests when serving them; and I am always open to conversation.
At the end of the day, I am here at this job to serve the elderly the best I can. I am drawn to this work, feeling motivated by the Holy Spirit to bring joy wherever I go and to whomever I interact.
As we approach 2023's World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, I aim to continue dedicating my service both to God and to the senior residents in the retirement home. I pray for the Holy Spirit to help me continue to share God’s love and joy with the elderly.
Human trafficking is a highly-organized crime that involves exploiting humans for forced labour, sexual slavery, and commercial sexual exploitation. It is also one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada. 72% of reported human trafficking victim in Canada are under 25 years of age, and 93% of reported victims are Canadians being trafficked domestically. (Source: #NotInMyCity).
Assessing the national and global reach of human trafficking is a challenging task due to the covert nature of these crimes, the unwillingness of victims and witnesses to approach law enforcement, and the practical challenges of identifying victims. While no one is immune to falling victim, some individuals face a higher risk. The key to tackling this issue lies in our collaborative efforts and unity.
To safeguard your children from this crime, we can learn the signs of trafficking and talk openly about the risks with them. Honest discussions can make a big difference. Here's what we can do to help end human trafficking:
Here are several local, national, and international initiatives diligently working towards eradicating sex and child trafficking.
Videos & Courses
Pope Francis begins this Pope Video saying, “If you are the same at the end of Mass as you were at the beginning, something is wrong.” In his new prayer intention, which he entrusts to the entire Catholic Church, the Holy Father invites us to place the Eucharist at the centre of our lives.
He invites us to see this celebration not as an obligatory ritual, but rather as an encounter with the Risen Jesus, for “the Eucharist is the presence of Jesus,” which is “profoundly transforming.” Along this line, Pope Francis insists in this video that “it is Christ who offers Himself, who gives himself for us,” which leads to “our lives being nourished by Him to nourish the lives of our brothers and sisters.”
This is what we see happening to the three protagonists in this month’s video – three members of the faithful who, at the end of Mass, bring the Eucharist to their brothers and sisters in need, outside of the Church, returning that love and the gift of self they themselves received in the Sacrament. The scenes from everyday life are set in the U.S. city of Detroit. In fact, the Pope Video for the month of July was produced thanks to the help of the Archdiocese of Detroit. This collaboration is not accidental, as Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron explains. “We are deeply grateful for this opportunity to support our Holy Father and the Pope Video initiative. In particular, we feel honoured to produce this video on the Eucharist. The timing is providential since our archdiocese, and all of the dioceses, in the United States are engaged in a Eucharistic Revival to restore an awareness and devotion to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. We pray that this video will serve as a convincing invitation to all of us in the universal Church to encounter Jesus and thank Him for the precious gift of Himself in the Eucharist.”
Going out of ourselves, opening ourselves to others
In this Pope Video, Pope Francis explains “the logic of the Eucharist,” which “gives us the courage to encounter others, to go out of ourselves, and to open ourselves to others with love.” He had already indicated this in an Angelus from June 2021 when he pointed out that Jesus, “at the end of his life, does not distribute an abundance of bread to feed the multitudes, but breaks himself apart at the Passover supper with the disciples.” In some way, Pope Francis continued, Jesus showed us “that the aim of life lies in self-giving, that the greatest thing is to serve.” This is why the Pope encourages us to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, because that is where we receive the capacity to love others and to allow ourselves to be transformed by Him.
The Eucharist at the centre
Father Frédéric Fornos S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, commented on this intention: “Once more, Pope Francis reminds us where to focus, and what is truly important in our lives. The Eucharist is an encounter with the Risen Jesus, he tells us. Jesus Christ wants to transform us, to give us his capacity to love, so we can place ourselves at the service of His mission. How many times do we reduce the Mass to a ritual, the priest’s homily, or to receiving communion? Instead, it is a personal and communal encounter with the Risen Lord to which the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM), the youth branch of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, invites us. When we allow ourselves to be transformed by Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, we assimilate His way of living and we will want to share in His mission of compassion for the world. Let us accompany the Holy Father this month with this prayer intention so we might draw closer to this transformative experience.”
When my alarm went off at 4am I have to admit that I really didn’t feel like driving 3 ½ hours to attend a retreat. Thank goodness that all I had to do was drive to St. Mary’s Parish in Brooks from Medicine Hat. There, my colleague Juliana would be awaiting, as she graciously volunteered to navigate us through the remaining 2 ½ hours to Mount St. Francis in Cochrane.
Looking back, I now realize that my retreat began the moment I stepped into Juliana’s car.
As we exchanged stories and experiences about our ministries and how we serve our church communities, a scripture verse from Matthew came to me, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Mt. 18:20.
It’s moments like these, where we can share our faith and particularly how we live our faith, that are both encouraging and comforting to me. Our conversation also reaffirmed in my mind the diversity of each parish is, a reality I am acutely aware of, given my work with both Catholic churches in Medicine Hat.
The trip went quickly and before I knew it, we were pulling into the Mount St. Francis parking lot. I was excited and very eager to see what was in store for us at the retreat.
As everyone congregated in the conference room to find their places, I sensed such a spirit of joy and fellowship. The room buzzed with warm greetings and friendly introductions as we gathered together for the same purpose: to reflect, engage and spend time with the Lord. Once again, Matthew 18:20 echoed in my thoughts.
The retreat began with songs of praise, followed by everyone sharing a little information about themselves and their ministries. We were then asked to reflect on some questions and share our thoughts with those at our individual tables. These were simple questions, yet they urged us to reflect on our beginnings in the faith, who inspired us, and how we are currently inspiring others in their faith. I loved hearing about other people’s journeys and even though we live in different cities, we were pleasantly surprised to discover some shared inspirational mentors.
The retreat progressed with Fr. Kenneth LeBlanc sharing his story about his father’s conversion and the subsequent unfolding of his journey to the priesthood. He was wonderful to listen to and again, so joyful. My heart felt so uplifted after his presentation.
Of course, a retreat would not be complete without Holy Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. As we sang, prayed both aloud as well as in the silence of our hearts, I was deeply moved by the sense of our unity. Even though we did not all know one another, I felt a oneness of heart and mind with Christ being the Center of it all.
Everything about the retreat, from the beautiful songs, group discussions, Fr. Kenneth’s testimony, personal reflection, mass, adoration, and even the tasty lunch where we could once again enjoy fellowship, was so uplifting. If you were to ask me what I enjoyed the most about the retreat, I would respond that I don’t have a favourite part because in all of it Christ was so present.
I thank the staff at the Catholic Pastoral Centre (especially Huy & Anthony) and everyone at Mount St. Francis for allowing us this opportunity to come together. Being part a of a rural church, I sometimes feel isolated and maybe even a bit disconnected, but as the events of this day unfolded, I was reminded that I really am part of a larger family, and I look forward to all of us getting together again in His Name.
Because as we know… “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20.
Submitted by Sally Myers, Sacramental Prep Coordinator for Holy Family Church and St. Patrick’s Church in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
“War is the ultimate human failure,” says Capt./Fr. John Nemanic. Not a sentiment I expect to hear from a military chaplain but Fr. John is adamant. “Human beings are called to be in communion with one another; to love and help each other. I had to grapple with this.” As we continue the interview, he expands on this conflict.
Barely nine months ago, Fr. John was a diocesan priest in the Diocese of Calgary. Now he is a chaplain serving in the Roman Catholic Military Ordinariate of Canada (RC Milord Canada) under the supervision of Bishop Scott McCaig. The RCMilord is described as “a diocese of massive dimensions” serving not only military members and their families at home, but also wherever the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have a presence around the world.
Fr. John is simultaneously an officer, serving under a military chain of command including the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service (RCChS). This branch of the military, which Fr. John describes as similar to Alberta Catholic schools in that it serves all faiths. According to the National Defence website, “CAF chaplains attend to the needs of all members of the CAF and their families, whether they identify with a particular Faith Tradition, have no specific spiritual/faith practice, belief or custom, or are spiritually curious.”
In some ways, this is similar to parish work, caring for the spiritual needs of all CAF members, those who are Catholic, those from other faith backgrounds or those who have none. The pluralism found within the CAF reflects that seen in Canadian society as a whole, so chaplains have to be prepared to deal with all of it. Fr. John says, “As individual chaplains we’re told to be faithful to our faith traditions, so I might refer for example, a same-sex marriage request, to another chaplain. The chaplain might also refer military families to the local (secular) parish, for example, for sacramental preparation or for French-language Mass. He also liaises with other houses of worship nearby to be able to refer different faith adherents appropriately. It’s an environment of ecumenism and outreach into which chaplains are rigorously initiated.
Fr. John felt a calling to the military as early as his calling to the priesthood. His father served in the Yugoslavian army, so after Fr. John was ordained in 2008, he considered serving as a reservist. However, he found the commitment unsustainable with full time parish work. In 2017, his yearning to serve for the military resurfaced during centennial celebrations of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Eventually, he applied to the RCChS and began a long process of interviews, physical tests, evaluations, educational qualification assessments and personal reference checks. “This was also to test the call,” Fr. John says, “A lot of it was prayer.”
Once he was accepted, he was posted to Garrison Petawawa in Ontario (population 19,000 including 6,000 people directly connected to the base). He then began 13 weeks of basic training from 5 am to 10 pm. It was a tough regimen designed to emphasize teamwork and endurance under adversity, as well as essential fighting skills. Chaplains do not carry weapons, although they do have to learn how to safely disarm them. They also do not command any personnel but bear an officer’s rank so they can minister to members at all levels. Chaplains have authority, and an obligation, to present significant issues from the rank-and-file to higher-ups. They also preside at religious services and form part of the group which delivers news to a family following an incident.
It was during basic training that Fr. John experienced a memorable moment. Among his fellow trainees, who ranged in age from 19 to 50, one approached him expressing suicidal thoughts. Fr. John arranged for mental health support for the person. He remembers being awed and humbled by the “power of the padre”, to be trusted with a confidence at the outset of his training. Not all his experiences were as positive.
While visiting the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa during Basic Training, he paused in front of a large display of instruments meant to kill and maim. “My stomach churned,” he says, “I wondered, ‘am I enabling this by serving in the CAF?’” With the help of an advisor, he came to understand differently. “Canada’s interests in going to war are noble: to defend our country and defend those who need our help.” He goes on to say that Jesus met violence with acceptance when he submitted to being crucified. Chaplains can provide solace to those who’ve had to kill and those suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Fr. John explains that soldiers have to accept what the military terms ‘unlimited liability’ which means they cannot refuse an order even if it places them in dire danger. Officers have to deal with issuing such orders. Even peacekeepers, who are not permitted to fire unless first fired upon, can encounter terrible situations which they are powerless to affect.
“It’s such a conundrum to support CAF members but not believe in war,” Fr. John says. “Only God can bring creation out of chaos. Pray for peace in our hearts and homes. Pray that there is no more war and no need for the military but pray also for our soldiers.”
Fr. John ends our interview the same way he began it, with gratitude to Bishop McGrattan for “putting me on loan to the military”. He says fervently, “I would never have found peace until I knew if I could do this. God has put me in a place where I can really help people.”
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.
A thunderclap of applause erupted inside St. Mary’s Cathedral Friday evening as the faithful deemed Santiago Torres worthy of ordination to the priesthood.
There was standing room only as young and old watched on as Torres prostrated himself before God and His people, giving his undivided heart to the priesthood on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as a choir sounding like angels sang the Litany of the Saints.
Then the essential moment – the Laying on of Hands – by Bishop William McGrattan, as the Holy Spirit conformed Torres to the priesthood of Christ. It was poignant to see the many faces of Christ come forward one by one laying their hands on their new brother priest as he knelt to receive this gesture in humility.
The word ‘humility’ was repeated through the music, the prayers, the homily and even Fr. Torres’ thank you address at the end of the ordination.
Bishop McGrattan emphasized every priest must possess the gift of the fear of God, a trepidation that they are unworthy to receive this call. “Each priest must respond to their call with confidence and humility inspired by the Spirit of God,” he said.
Sincere, affable, gentle, kind, confident, humble, joyful and a gift to the Church; these are words that the faithful use to describe their newest Calgary diocesan priest. I count myself among the faithful who feel blessed by Fr. Santiago’s “yes” to live for Christ.
A few weeks before the ordination, I had the privilege of sitting down to speak with Father (at that time Deacon) Torres. He chatted with me from his dorm room at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton via video call. Almost immediately I was reminded of his magnetic personality. We had first met about 13 years ago (summer of 2010) during which time he had just experienced the love of God in a profound life-changing way. By the end of the interview my heart was full of hope for the future of Fr. Santiago’s priestly vocation and for all the ways he will bring glory to God and peace to those he ministers to on Earth.
A chat with Fr. Santiago
The Parable of the Mustard Seed came to mind as I sat down to write and reveal a glimpse of Fr. Santiago Torres’s profound journey of faith: one that began for him as a tiny seed hidden within his mother’s womb.
“When I was conceived my Dad didn’t want anything to do with the pregnancy and so he left my Mom. I never knew who my biological dad was. He pushed [abortion] on her and my mom decided to have me instead – Praise God.”
The 34-year-old priest, born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, considers his mother his primary role model.
“My Mom has always been that solid foundation in my life for security and love – how to give of yourself for others.”
Two days before the ordination, Fr. Santiago’s mother, Maria Cristina Latorre, was busy preparing for the ordination, welcoming her best friend from Germany, her sisters from Colombia, Santiago’s out-of-town seminarian friends and parishioners from his diaconal year in Lethbridge. With emotions running high amidst the hustle and bustle at her house, she stepped away to reflect and answer a few questions about her son.
“I don’t know why Jesus chose me, but I’m here and I’m ready to give back my son to Him,” said Latorre, trying to hold back her tears. “There are too many emotions.
“I ask God why you chose my son?,” she said. “I’m not asking this ‘why’ in a bad way. No, I’m asking why [because] I’m so humbled to be his mom.
“Santiago explained to me ‘Mom, sometimes God, through difficult times, or bad situations, He makes something good from bad,’ which makes sense for me,” she continued.
Growing up in Bogota, Colombia
When Fr. Santiago was two-years-old, his mother married and had twin girls, Ana Maria and Maria Juliana. Then at six-years-old his parents divorced, but the family continued to keep in touch with his sisters’ father, the man who Fr. Santiago considers his earthly father figure.
“It’s incredible how important the love of a father is in a person’s life and yet, even if one hasn’t had that in one’s life, God still wants to give us that love,” said Fr. Santiago. “Looking back on my life in those years that I wasn’t close to Him… even if I didn’t realize He was there, He was always there.”
From early on the seed of faith was planted through Fr. Santiago’s Sacraments of Baptism and First Eucharist, but he was not Confirmed until later as an adult. From an early age watching television soccer matches won out over going to Sunday Mass. Meanwhile, his grandparents played a pivotal role in helping his mother raise Fr. Santiago and his sisters, both practically and spiritually.
Mrs. Latorre remembers those early days of childrearing and how her parents did not approve of all the ways her life had unfolded. Yet, as devout Catholics, they continued to support and love her and her children.
“At this time I was not close to God, I cannot say I was praying, but I can say God was with me all the time. I think He has been by my side all the time,” said Mrs. Latorre, tearfully.
A new beginning in Canada
Mrs. Latorre married Juan Gonzalo Arango when Fr. Santiago was around 14 and then, in 2005 at the age of 16, the family immigrated to Calgary for better opportunities.
“For me it was very difficult,” said Fr. Santiago. “My friends were everything. I had a girlfriend in Colombia at that time as well. We moved in October, which was hard because it was starting to get cold and high school had already started. I only knew enough English to get by.”
Shortly after the move, he began a relationship with a Colombian girl, also newly immigrated to Canada, who, to his astonishment, practiced her Catholic faith.
The seed of faith received some significant watering one day when he was at his girlfriend’s house and the family was on a long-distance phone call with a priest from Colombia. Each person got a chance to speak to this priest, including – to his surprise – Fr. Santiago.
“I was completely dumbfounded because I hadn’t talked to a priest in forever and that was how my conversion began,” said Fr. Santiago “It’s incredible how God works.
“Because I didn’t know him and I knew I wouldn’t see him again ever, I was able to open my heart to him and actually talk about stuff that was going on in my life more than I would talk with my friends or girlfriend.”
Shortly after that his girlfriend invited him to Mass and he began to pray at night again. He sees this period in high school as living a double life – one of renewed faith, yet still steeped in his secular lifestyle. But the seed of faith that had been planted in his childhood began to receive nourishment.
Turning back to God
Two years after graduating high school (summer of 2010) at the age of twenty, Fr. Santiago participated in Impact, an evangelistic mission hosted by Catholic Christian Outreach. It was geared toward bringing lukewarm Catholic university students back into the faith. He took a faith study and attended ‘Summit’, an evening of adoration prayer at St. Bonaventure. It was during this hour of adoration and praise and worship that he gave his adult ‘yes’ to place Jesus at the centre of his life.
“I just remember closing my eyes and feeling so loved,” said Fr. Santiago “It was just incredible. I started crying. It was just an experience of a love I’d never encountered.
“I’d just broken up with my girlfriend, trying to fit into a culture I’d just arrived in, trying to wear a lot of masks to belong. I just felt the love that God was trying to give me, for no other reason than for being who I was.”
His newly sprouted seed of faith continued to grow with good friendships through the former University of Calgary Catholic Community (now St. Xavier Chaplaincy). After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree in 2014, Fr. Santiago worked for a year in his field all the while discerning a call to either explore the priesthood or a budding female friendship.
He received spiritual direction from a number of priests in the diocese and decided to apply for seminary studies.
“I entered [into the seminary] with a lot of reluctance,” said Fr. Santiago. “I just felt I had been on the fence for a long time by then, a lot of wrestling and struggling. But I felt I had tried everything I could to discern outside the seminary, but the one thing I hadn’t done was give the seminary a shot.”
The female friend he wanted to romantically pursue gave him the last push to enter seminary.
“She said, ‘Santi, if you are not God’s will for me, then I don’t want to be with you.’ And that cut me to the heart because it was the opposite of what I was doing. I felt God was calling me to be a priest and I was choosing not to follow His will, but to be with her,” said Fr. Santiago.
The formative seminary years
Fr. Santiago spent his first two seminary years at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon, USA where one third of the seminarians were Latino.
“I was able to make really good friends and feel at home,” said Fr. Santiago. “I began to feel this was right, that it was what God wanted me to do. That continued to be the feeling year after year.”
He completed the next six years of training in Edmonton at St. Joseph’s Seminary.
During this time fellow seminarian Serge Buisse became a close friend. They spent a lot of time together, studying, playing sports, confiding in one another.
Fr. Serge was ordained last July for the St. Boniface Archdiocese in Winnipeg. He now pastors the francophone parish of St. Joachim in La Broquerie, Manitoba. He describes Fr. Santiago as down-to-earth, joyfilled, friendly and warm.
“He was always a gift in so far as his desire to grow,” said Fr. Serge “He is very human. I thank God He sent me someone like him; his capacity to be real, to be authentic and we supported each other in almost every aspect of life.”
A note from the Diocese of Calgary:
Thank you to all ministers, volunteers, and staff who helped prepare for the Ordination! Special thanks to St. Mary's Cathedral parish staff, Catholic Women's League & Serra Club Calgary for organizing the reception, St. John Choir Schola, St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy, Calgary seminarians, photographers Yuan Wang (SFXC) & Victor Panlilio (Canadian Martyr's Parish), livestreamer Rikki Sabater (St. Anthony's Parish) & team, videographers Annie Chirka (St. Peter's Parish) & team.
Priest Assignment; Deacon Assignment; Clergy Personnel Announcements; Pastoral Assignment; Priests Move
I heard the advice that if we want to grow in spiritual childhood and the gift of prayer, we should ask God to show us children at play, or with their parents.
I used to work as a recreation leader for free after-school programs and day camps. What a treasury of memories this experience holds for me! Upon reflection, I feel compelled to share my experiences with the young children, as they served as a reminder of how I was called to rely on his presence as the Caring Adult in my life, especially during this special month dedicated to His Most Sacred Heart.
One young man I knew from the after-school program, who I’ll call John, was 12 years old. I could see that his life was full of pressures: from his teachers who misunderstood him, abusive parents, and friends who pulled him down into the foolishness of youth. During our program, he would chat my ear off while simultaneously refusing to listen to my clear instructions. He really was quite challenging to manage, but I knew that God had made him good, and that the best place he could be during those evenings was our safe little room in which we held the program.
The after-school program room was full of posters with positive sayings and chairs for the children to sit in. It was no larger than the average Adoration chapel. I loved sitting at the front, teaching the children simple social and emotional skills, and seeing their little eyes attend to me. I was delighted in every face I saw and the voices that I heard. Every so often, John would miss our program after school, preferring the excitement of his friends or video games to the calm order of the program. Because I knew he belonged there, I remember standing at the door and watching for him, allowing my heart to hope that he would come again.
I also treasure the memory of a little girl who I’ll call Mary. She delighted us leaders very much, because she was always following us around, or sitting with us, telling us everything that came to her mind. Though she could be mischievous at times, whenever we corrected her, she would genuinely apologize and make an effort to do better. She was not discouraged when we reprimanded her but stayed as close as ever and audaciously expected to be loved, which she certainly was.
My least favourite part of the job was giving First Aid to the children. One time, a young girl came to me with a splinter in her palm. I thanked her for her bravery in showing me, then reluctantly retrieved the First Aid kit. Using the plastic tweezers, I removed the splinter out of her hand. I cringed as she cried out in pain, but we both knew that it had to be done. She left my little “doctor’s office” smiling and calm, free to play again.
During some professional development sessions, I learned about the importance of each child having a caring adult in their life. This person would be someone who sees and understands the child, expresses personal interest in their life, fills them with hope for the future, and encourages them amid the inevitable challenges of childhood. The mere presence of such a person in a child’s life, I was taught, can determine their capacity to flourish as a human being. Without receiving love in such a way, the likelihood of a fulfilling and happy adult life may diminish.
Jesus reveals Himself as the Caring Adult whose Sacred Heart has a special spot for each of us. When we ask for the grace to approach Him in Adoration with faith and repentance, He knows how to teach, encourage, forgive, and heal us.
This year, I signed up for a holy hour at St. Anthony’s after reading on their website that “Many rich blessings are bestowed on those who regularly adore Jesus, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.” With a hopeful heart, I committed that time to be with Jesus, a little like the children who chose to come to our programs. He has not disappointed me. He will not disappoint you.
In our diocese, a wide range of Adoration hours are offered at parishes across the Diocese. Adoremus! Let us adore Him!
Adoration Hours schedule (Summer & Fall 2023)
Note that hours may change without notice. Please contact the Parish Office if you are not sure.
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.
I was recently asked what is an ‘Oblate of St. Benedict’ and what does this entail for an ordinary lay person?
Oblates of St. Benedict are Christians, lay or ordained, who, committed to the living of their faith and while continuing to live their own state in life, desire to make their own the values expressed by Benedictine monastic life. Core to Benedictine spirituality are a balance of prayer and work, loving relationships with others, and active participation in the sacramental life of the church.
In our Diocese, we have active groups of Oblates in Calgary and Medicine Hat who for 30 years have been spiritually associated with Mount Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, Oregon. Ron Kaczmar is one such Oblate and his story of encountering Benedictine Spirituality is featured below.
Submitted by Mark Richard, Oblates of St. Benedict members in Calgary. Mark lives in Calgary with his wife Patricia. He is an active member of St. Michael Catholic Community and involved in faith formation, outreach programs, and providing spiritual direction. Mark has been a Benedictine Oblate since 2009.
Congratulations to Fr. Quinn Gomez, FSSP from Calgary on being ordained to the Priesthood for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter on May 26, 2023, by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone at North American Martyrs Catholic Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Fr. Cristino Bouvette had the privilege of attending the Ordination and receiving a priestly blessing from the newly ordained priest. Fr. Gomez also invited Fr. Cristino to preach at his first Mass the next day. Despite joining the Fraternity, Fr. Gomez wants to remain connected with his home diocese. You can view the Ordination photos here | Video
For converts, the journey on the road to Roman Catholicism is as varied as their individual personalities and experiences. My journey was a rather circuitous route, due in part to a neurological disorder – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our three children are now adults, but when our youngest was just starting school, she began displaying sudden twitches and jerky movements which seemed out of her control. Our initial concern soon turned to alarm as the movements became more pronounced, and as she also began making odd sounds as well. We checked with our family doctor, who referred us to a pediatric psychiatrist over the Christmas break. After a lot of listening and observing, he gave us his diagnosis: Tourette Syndrome.
In some ways it was a comfort to have a name for the condition, but we also felt anxious about what the future might hold. My husband and I read everything we could get our hands on about Tourette Syndrome and found out that most people learn to cope with this neurological disorder, though it isn’t an easy condition to live with. We also learned that the involuntary movements and sounds are called motor tics and vocal tics.
School became a nightmare for our daughter. She felt humiliated, confused, sad and, most of all, concerned about “disturbing” the other students with her frequent vocal and motor tics. Finally, we made the decision to homeschool her, in an attempt to salvage our collective sanity. I quit my teaching job.
I’ve noticed that, from my childhood, when faced with distressing experiences I seek solace in books. This was no exception. As we launched into the new experience of homeschooling, I buried myself in my spare time in the works of authors I have long loved, including C. S. Lewis. One line from Lewis’ book The Problem of Pain had a profound impact on me: “Pain removes the veil. It plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.” As I sat one day at our dining room table, reading and absorbing those words with my twitching, barking daughter beside me working on her math lesson, it did indeed feel as if a veil was being ripped off my old perceptions of myself, of God, and of the world. I knew I needed to go deeper and find a better way to cope with this new reality.
C. S. Lewis led me to one of his favorite authors, G. K. Chesterton, whose books I ate up with an eagerness that my husband found rather baffling. Fascinated by Chesterton’s conversion to Catholicism, I then started reading the works of other notable converts – Cardinal John Henry Newman, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Scott Hahn. My concept of our relationship with God was challenged by their insights.
I grew up in the United Church, and my husband and I attended Protestant Churches with our children during the early years of our marriage. But after reading the stories of famous converts to Catholicism I felt drawn, like a magnet, to a little Catholic church in our neighborhood. I had never been inside, even though we had lived just two blocks away for almost twenty years. My husband decided to join me, and as we entered the church building together one Sunday, as Mass was about to begin, we had absolutely no idea what to expect.
At first it felt very foreign, but we kept attending. Before long, we found ourselves signed up for a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults course (RCIA), with a group of other spiritual explorers. We were increasingly captivated by what we heard every Tuesday night at the RCIA class. In the Catholic Church we found people who were unafraid to gaze on Christ’s suffering, and as I followed their gaze, I was confronted with a love that shook me to the core. I felt like I finally understood Chesterton’s astute comment: “The Catholic church is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.”
As the highly anticipated "Restoring the Feminine Heart" Women's Conference approaches (May 26-27), the Beloved Daughters Ministry team shares with Faithfully about their event and the ministry's mission. Read on to discover what this exciting conference has in store.
For those who have never heard of the Beloved Daughters Ministry, it's a lay-run women's ministry established in 2020 to support women at every stage of life as they rediscover their identity as beloved daughters of God.
Initially created to host annual women's conferences within the Diocese of Calgary, the ministry adapted to an online presence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through social media platforms, they share blog posts (written by many local women), weekly Sunday reflections, and host Advent and Lenten mini-retreats at various parishes. The ministry offers connection, relatability, and encouragement to women, helping them stay rooted in the truths of their identity in God.
“Restoring the Feminine Heart”
The ministry conference team, guided by prayer and discernment, has carefully chosen the perfect topic and speakers for this inaugural event. With the theme “Restoring the Feminine Heart”, they are eager to delve into the true identity and unique gifts that women possess.
"We hope to be able to provide the beginnings of restoration and healing to women who have experienced wounds in these areas, especially where in today’s society there is much confusion and distortion regarding the identity of the individual." said Rikka, one of the founders of the Beloved Daughter Ministry. The team also hope to shed light on God’s thoughtful design in creating humans male and female in His image and likeness, as well as the gift that we are to each other.
Women going to the conference will be examining how pressures from society, others, and even themselves, have hindered the ability to live out their truest identity. They will unpack how they can freely live out of the giftedness of our femininity.
Jake & Heather Khym
The team is beyond excited to welcome guest speakers Heather Khym (most commonly known as a co-host on the Abiding Together Podcast) and Jake Khym (Registered Psychologist and co-host of the Restore the Glory Podcast).
Jake and Heather Khym are a married Catholic couple from Abbotsford, BC. They are the founders of Life Restoration Ministries. Their ministry is devoted to creating opportunities for Jesus to encounter people, empowering disciples to deepen their faith. They achieve this through evangelization and formation focused on unlocking the heart. On their podcasts, Jake and Heather regularly share personal stories of their own journey towards healing and restoration with great vulnerability.
When asked why Jake & Heather Khym for their first women’s conference, Rikka revealed, “The three of us first heard Jake Khym speak at Rise up 2014 in Calgary and his message blew us away. He spoke into each of our hearts differently, but prominently.”
The launch of the all-female Abiding Together Podcast, featuring Heather Khym, piqued the team's interest even more. One of their team members found great healing through listening to the Restore the Glory Podcast, hosted by Jake Khym (a registered counselor), and Dr. Bob Schuchts (a registered psychologist).
“In listening to the honesty and relatability in which they share their experiences, combined with their professional and ministerial background, we immediately knew that having them speak at this conference would be just what was needed to create an environment of hope and healing for the attendees at our conference.”
"We believe that Jake and Heather can beautifully demonstrate the harmony and unity that can exist within relationships as we each journey towards wholeness."
A Pentecost Gift
Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, aunts, nieces, sisters, and girl-friends! If you are a woman over the age of 18 then there is a place for you at this conference! Nursing infants, and female adolescents 14 years and older coming with their mother or guardian, are also welcome.
Maria added, “This conference is sure to be an enriching and impactful weekend filled with connection, rest and restoration. You can look forward to being amongst a community of lovely women gathering, learning and praying together!”
It is truly a gift for our Diocese to have this conference offered in Calgary, and especially on the weekend of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit will be present and ready to shower the women in attendance with an abundance of graces!
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
The noise is deafening and nobody minds. What started as a traditional Métis dance called “Drops of Brandy” has morphed into dozens of elementary students twirling arm-in-arm and jigging wildly to live fiddle and guitar music. It’s a gleeful melee in the true spirit of Moochigan.
Moochigan, according to organizer and Métis member Jorin Gaudet, is a Métis word which describes a kitchen party, a gathering where food is shared, music is played, and people come together to dance and celebrate. Gaudet, who originally hales from the Métis community of Paddle Prairie in Northern Alberta, said he came up with the idea “to bring Métis culture to life” within his school. Gaudet is a Grade 6 teacher at Our Lady of Assumption (OLA) School of Holy Spirit Catholic School Division in Lethbridge. With collaboration from his friends, and support from a raft of groups and organizations, Gaudet planned an afternoon of activities for the 150 students of OLA.
Students clearly enjoyed the various activities but the whole event was intended for a larger purpose. Principal Calder explained that the school is committed to furthering Truth and Reconciliation principles by finding creative ways to learn about First Nations and Métis peoples. This goal is echoed by the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops in their pastoral letter to the Métis “That We May Walk Together”. In it the CCCB pledges to facilitate opportunities to make Métis history known. “You have spoken clearly of the need to tell your stories, to make your history, spiritual, and cultural traditions more widely known,” the document says. It then goes on to invite Catholic educational institutions, seminaries and religious houses to partner in this endeavor.
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.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers