Monday, December 7, 2009

For Better and Forever and other good things.

Recently a workshop for pastors and parish workers involved in helping couples prepare for their marriage was held at Holy Child Parish. It introduced a new option for marriage preparation in our Archdiocese. The program is called "For Better and For Ever." It has been developed by Fr. Robert Ruhnke, a Redemptorist Priest who is shown here next to me on the far right of the picture. His book is a best seller and has become one of the mostwidely used resources of its kind.

One of the reasons for the program's great success is that it uses trained married couples to sponsor and train other couples who follow the program. The group heard John Mungham and Jocelyne Lajoie, a Sponsor Couple, who live in Calgary and have been working closely with Fr. Ruhnke for some time. John and Jocelyne are on the other side of me, next to Sr. Bernice.

There was a very good turnout of people both on Friday and on Saturday to learn about this promising program. What is attractive for me about "For Better and For Ever" is that it is parish based allowing the parish to provide the preparation for this Sacrament. It is within the parish comunity that the sacraments are celebrated and it is within this community that we can best discover the meaning of these miraculous encounters with Christ that are the great treasure of our Catholic faith.

The Association's Fally Convention was held in Weyburn this past month, hosted by Holy Familyh Roman Catholic Separate School Division No. 140
In this picture, on the left is Mike St. Amand of Prince Albert who is the outgoing President, and in the middle is Jerome Niezgoda of Yorkton who is the new President.
I was happy to be able to take in part of the convention and lend my support to those who work very hard to maintain the excellence of Catholic Education. Fr. MIke Dechant spoke on the triangle of Home, Church and School and its importance in the education of our children.

We were expertly entertained by a group of students from the High School in Weyburn who performed with the exuberance of young people and the excellence of training and guidance by their teachers.

It was great to see the number of young men who were part of this group.

And the ladies as well who showed great confidence and presence in their production.

And they had a lot of fun putting on this show.

I had the challenge of giving the keynote address on Sunday morning to conclude the Convention. As you can see, despite the end of the event feeling of the morning, these people were giving their best in attentiveness and listening.

I would like to give you some words spoken Pope John Paul II on Catholic education:
"The ultimate goal of all Catholic education is salvation in Jesus Christ. Catholic educators effectively work for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom; this work includes transmitting clearly and in full the message of salvation, which elicits the response of faith. In faith we know God, and the hidden purpose of his will (Cfr. Eph. 1, 9). In faith we truly come to know ourselves. By sharing our faith we communicate a complete vision of the whole of reality and a commitment to truth and goodness. This vision and this commitment draw the strands of life into a purposeful pattern. By enriching your student’s lives with the fullness of Christ’s message and by inviting them to accept with all their hearts Christ’s work, which is the Church, you promote most effectively their integral human development and you help them to build a community of faith, hope and love."
Catholic education seeks to promote the full human development of each student who comes into its care. It is a special treasure we posess and one which we need to foster, promote and protect.


On November 13th I travelled up to Sturgis on a beautiful Fall day to celebrate this special anniversary of St. Patrick's parish. The history of this parish goes back much further in history than it's 75 years as a parish. Indeed it reaches back into the last decade of the 19th century when a group of Irish Catholic families came from North Dakota to settle here over 110 years ago. The parish grew and was made up of people from different nationalities who came to Saskatchewan to build new lives for themselves and their families.

The parish community celebrated a beautiful Mass with many friends from neighbouring parishes taking part as well. Fr. Marcin Mironiuk OMI, the present pastor, concelebrated along with Fr. Casimir Krystkowiak, OMI and Fr. Jerry Talarski, OMI both of whom had been former pastors with Fr. Jerry having served the parish for twenty five years as its Shepherd.
The Oblate Fathers came to St. Patrick's in 1933, the year before St. Patrick's was erected as a parish, and have continued their pastoral ministry and leadership here to this day.

Here we all are at the end of the Mass with the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus.

We had a very nice reception and turkey dinner in the Sturgis Community Hall after Mass, with of course, an anniversary cake. The big shamrock on the cake made me feel right at home! It was a very pleasant afternoon with greetings brought by a number of special guests including Mayor Don Olson and a very interesting Power Point presentation on the history of the parish was prepared by Majken Wagar. All of this was unfolded by the Mistress of Ceremonies, Carole Hauber.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Compassionate Healers Mass

Earlier this month I presided at the celebration of the annual Compassionate Healers Mass. This celebration was formerly known as the White Mass, so named because of the colour of the nurses uniforms and of those in health care. As clothing in hospitals and medical practices have changed so has the name of this Mass which prays for all those involved in Catholic Health Care and for the strength of this part of the ministry and mission of the Church. The new name reminds us of Christ who heals with compassion for the sufferings of his brothers and sisters (Mark 1, 40-45) and in whose mission of healing every baptized person is called to participate.

This Mass is sponsored by the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan and present at the Mass were Bert Yakichuk of the Board of Directors and Sandra Kary, CEO.

As the Mass was about to begin two symbols of Catholic Health Care were brought forward: the container of the Oil of the Sick, used in the celebration of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and a book which contains charts. And here you can see the present nurse's uniform.

The readings from Scripture spoke of two incidents of healing: that by Peter after Jesus' Resurrection and that by Jesus of a leper. In a commentary on this Gospel episode, Fr. George Montague wrote: "Where others will not go lest they be stained, Jesus goes with the power to heal.” Jesus does not heal from afar. Jesus could simply will that the man be cleansed and he would be. He could just say: “be cleansed” and he would be. But Jesus chooses to immerse himself in that man’s human situation. As he reaches out and grabs hold of that leprous man, he grabs hold of his life and becomes a part of it and he heals him.

And I believe that it is here that we see what is unique in faith-based health care; what it is that faith-based health care brings to people who suffer from illness. When we visit or care for or treat someone who is ill, we see before us the sick man in the Gospel. We see someone who is loved by Christ who reaches out to them in us and through our hands touches them and brings them comfort, assurance and healing. And because Jesus immerses himself in their life, we see in them the presence of Jesus who seeks our love and our care and our comfort. And by our loving acts of healing we show our love for Jesus, who loves us to the end.
And so we prayed in the Responsorial Psalm: "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name...He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills...As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him." It is good to remember that to "fear God" is not to be afraid of God, but to give to God the reverence and awe that is God's due.

Deacon Bob Williston proclaimed the Gospel of the healing of the Leper.

The Prayers of the Faithful were offered to God for all those in Health Care, for the sick and those who care for them.

The Gifts of Bread and Wine are brought forward for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Sr. Anastasia, the Director of Pastoral Services of the Archdiocese, with the help of her team organized this very special Eucharistic Celebration. She is seen here with the symbols of Catholic care of the sick that were brought forward as Mass began.

During the celebration of the Mass I was helped by Altar Servers from the Cathedral under the direction of Louisa Lacheur. Louisa is one of the Archbishop's Team of Servers who assist me at different Liturgies throughout the Archdiocese. These young people are a blessing to me and a great help in contributing to dignified celebrations.

After Mass people gathered for a reception. Msgr. Miller is seen here speaking with Marion Grady who is on the Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission and Fr. Marcotte is on the right.

On the left is Jean Mahoney, Chair of the Board of Directors of Santa Maria Nursing Home, speaking with Beverly Smith the CEO of Santa Maria. A new Board has been formed there and is actively working to assure the continuation of excellent care that has been given at Santa Maria.

Fr. Tonny Dizy, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese is speaking with Jim Schneider who is part of CHAS and who has long been active in promoting Catholic Health Care in Saskatchewan.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Old Friends and Ministries

Recently the Canadian Association of Ministry Programs met at St. Michael's Retreat in Lumsden. The Canadian Association of Ministry Programs brings together those involved in delivering diocesan ministry programs such as the Lay Ministry and RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation of Adults) programs. The Association was formed in 1980 in Montreal and has met every year since alternating meetings among locations in Eastern, Western and Central Canada.

I was able to join them for a dinner in Regina to give support to this important work in our Church. This was the first time that CAMP met in Regina.

Bonnie Thiele and Judy Zolc of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Staff did the hard work necessary to arrange to have this meeting here.

I was also pleased to see some familiar faces there. Among whom was Fr. Bedford Doucet who is in charge of lay ministry formation for the Diocese of Antigonish.

And it was a great pleasure to see, on the left, Ellen Bennett who was Director of Catechetics in the parish when I was Pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Riverview, NB and who now works in catechetics on the diocesan level in Moncton. And on the right is Phil Foreman from the Diocese of Saint John. Phil and I were classmates in university at St. Thomas in Chatham, NB. Phil is married to Mary Lou whom I have know now since we were children together in Moncton.

That's one of the wonderful things about the Church: you see good people doing good things. And that is a blessing for us all.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Welcome to a new Priest in our Archdiocese

I had the pleasure recently of welcoming a new priest to carry out ministry in the Archdiocese. This if Msgr. Reymundo Asis, a Filipino priest from the Diocese of Daet. He will be stationed with Fr. Neil Osiowy at St. Joseph's Parish in Moose Jaw who, I am sure, will be pleased to have this help since St. Joseph's also looks after the parishes of St. Mary in Central Butte and St. John the Evangelist in Marquis.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle celebrates it 125th Anniversary

On October 31, the Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle held celebrations in honour of the 125th Anniversary of the Diocese. The celebrations began with a dinner held at St. Martin's Parish Hall. I was very honoured to have been invited to take part in these special celebrations.

I was greeted by Bishop Gregory Kerr Wilson, the Bishop of Qu'Appelle, seen here with his wife Vicki.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Archbishop David Ashdown the Archbishop of Keetwatin and Metropolitan of Rupertsland.

With me here at the table is Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Bishop Cynthia G. Halmarson. I should mention here that twice yearly the four Roman Catholic Bishops in Saskatchewan and the three Anglican Bishops and the Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop meet for a day to discuss their own ministries and other works that we are able to do in common. One such common work, that bore good fruit, was a statement by the Bishops of Saskatchewan regarding uranium mining and nuclear power asking that all Saskatchewanians educate themselves as fully as possible regarding all aspects of this pertinent topic.

During the dinner we were joyously entertained by the Best Buddies Blues Band. This group is from Leboldus High School in Regina.

In the middle is one of the instructors, Chris Hamilton.

Bishop Kerr Wilson got himself into the act with some enthusiastic xylophone playing.

And then we were shown how to really strike up the band.

Then Bishop Greg and myself tried our hands at the drums. I must admit to great pressure on this percussion debut on my part. But it was all a great time.

Then the real professionals showed us how to really do it.

It was great fun to be allowed to be a part of this terrific group for a bit that evening.

Bishops often "sing the blues" but not with so much fun as we had that evening.

Sunday Morning 125th Anniversary Service

A liturgical service, Solemn Eucharist of All Saints, was held in Luther College High School on Sunday morning to which I had the honour of being invited. I was accompanied by Msgr. Don Bolen, the Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Regina and recently working at the Pontifical Commission for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican. Msgr Bolen's field of speciality was relationships with the Anglican Church, so it was a great pleasure for me to have him with me for this special event.

The liturgy began with the Rite of Sprinkling reminding us of our baptism and God's cleansing us from sin so we may more fittingly enter into this time of prayer and concluded with a Renewal of the Baptismal Covenant.

There was a very good number of people in attendance.

The Rite concluded with the singing of one of my favourite hymns: "For All the Saints" with the hymn tune "Sine Nomine." From left to right in the front row: Bishop Rodney Andrews, Anglican Bishop of Saskatoon, Msgr. Don Bolen, V.G., myself, Archbishop Ashdown and Bishop Cynthia Halmarson.

The preacher was The Very Reverend Kevin Martin, Dean of St. Matthew's Cathedral in Dallas, Texas.

Here, I am exchanging the Sign of Peace with Bishop Kerr Wilson. Although I was not able to participate fully in the liturgy by receiving Holy Communion since our two Churches have not achieved communion between ourselves, it was still a very positive experience to join in prayer with our Anglican brothers and sisters and praise and give thanks to God for the many blessings we have both received.

The Anglican Church in Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have achieved full communion and so Bishop Halmarson joined Bishop Kerr Wilson and Archbishop Ashdown at the Altar for the Eucharistic Prayer.

Bishop Greg spoke his appreciation to all present at the end of the Service.

And here are the bishops in attendance at the 125th Celebration.

And also Msgr. Bolen whose work for the Roman Catholic Church at the international level has enabled him to feel much at home in the company of our Anglican friends and fellow Christians.

Our congratulations go out to the Diocese of Qu'Appelle from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina on one hundred and twenty-five years of living as a diocesan church here in Saskatchewan. It was a particular pleasure for me to have been able to take part in these celebrations during the year in which our own Archdiocese is celebrating its Centennial Year. On our part we will continue to promote the unity of all Christian Churches and seek the Communion for which our Lord prayed. May God bless our efforts.