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The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated from January 18-25.  During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians from many different traditions and confessions around the world gather to pray for the unity of the Church. This year’s materials  have been prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches. The selection of scripture and liturgical texts is inspired by the visit of the Magi to the new-born King, as described in Matthew 2:1-12, particularly verse 2: “We saw his star in the East, and we came to worship him.”
To learn more click here.

Due to COVID restrictions this year  many gatherings are cancelled, but we can unite in daily prayer through The Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary blog.

From Bishop Bart's letter: "During this year dedicated to the family, it is my hope that you may derive your greatest hope in the one who makes each family holy by his coming and the welcome he receives."

Read the Bishop's letter here.

On 12 December, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Church in Canada celebrates the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples.

This project, with the approval of the Bishops of Canada, has been coordinated since 2002 by the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council (formerly the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council).

This year, the reflection by the Council centres on the theme We are called to Healing, Forgiveness, Reconciliation. “We, the Body of Christ, are called to live in friendship and harmony with all peoples. We are brothers and sisters of our One Creator God. God gives everything to all of us. God creates and sustains the wonderful diversity of peoples, cultures, races and creeds.” (cccb.ca)

2021 Message of the Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council

As Advent and Christmas approach Bishop Bart shares his reflections as we journey together into a new liturgical year.

Read the Bishop's letter here.

The Year of St. Joseph started with a special Mass at St. Joseph’s Parish in St. George's.  During the past months parishes were invited to organize a pilgrimage to the church for their people.  On Wednesday, December 8th (Feast of Immaculate Conception) the Year ends with a special closing Mass in the same church at 5 p.m.  You are also welcome to attend.  Please let St. Joseph’s Parish know in regards to attendance.

Notice

Each week, beginning on Sunday, 21 November 2021, the Solemnity of Christ the King, and for the four Sundays of Advent, the CCCB will release a video recording of a Bishop reflecting on the Gospel Reading for each Sunday.

This year’s reflections were inspired by the Indigenous Delegation travelling to Rome to meet with Pope Francis from 17-20 December 2021.

We hope that these reflections will be useful to you.

In French: https://www.cccb.ca/fr/evangelisation-catechese-et-education/ressources-video/cheminer-ensemble-durant-lavent/

We are sorry… and we apologize… (Part 10)

We are most sorry for the legacy that has endured long after the residential schools were closed.  If it was simply a matter of the past, something that is over and done with and is no more, there would not be reason for so much grief.  But the legacy endures and is all encompassing.  Families were broken up, parents were not able to share their culture, language and moral principles with their children, children were not able to be proud for who they were, and entire Peoples were denigrated and excluded from Canadian society all because of who they were.  The result, over successive generations attending these same institutions, have been profound and deep.  Made to feel ashamed for being indigenous, our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters are only now beginning to heal and re-discover who they are.

The closing of residential schools in the 60s and 70s has not been the end to discriminatory policies against Canada’s Indigenous People.  Over-representation of Indigenous Children in Adoptive and Foster Care and the restrictive measures of Canada’s Indian Act are but two ways that Indigenous Peoples find themselves at odds with the way they are treated, often more as wards of the State, than as a Recognized People.  Much work still remains to repair the legacy of the past, to overcome systemic/deep-seated racism, to establish an equal footing, and to truly be a Treaty People – both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples alike, reconciled one to the other.

(For a more detailed understanding of what happened, please read the truth and Reconciliation Report: nctr.ca/records/reports, and scroll down to “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future.”)

Starting in the early 1990’s, Catholic dioceses and religious orders that were directly involved in staffing the federal government’s residential schools have issued apologies for their involvement in them.  In the words of the apology made by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who oversaw a large portion of the federal residential schools operated by Catholic entities, “The biggest abuse was not what happened in the schools, but that the schools themselves happened”, citing the premise that underlay their very existence was wrong and injurious to the rights and dignity of Canada’s Indigenous People.  This, together with the many abuses the children endured -- sexual abuse being the worst among them, has been a source of scandal and betrayal to both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples alike.

In 2018, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Report’s call for a formal apology by the Pope on Canadian soil, work began to organize a delegation of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Leaders to meet with Pope Francis in Rome.  Work was well on the way for a Fall meeting in 2020 when the Pandemic halted all plans.  The meeting has now been re-scheduled for December 17-20, 2021.  A formal request will be delivered for Pope Francis to offer a formal apology on Canadian soil.

In the meantime, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, each in their own diocese, are tasked in putting their words into action and continue the work of reconciliation among Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples alike.  Front and centre will be the sharing of any outstanding relevant files having to do with residential schools, the outstanding discussion on restitution and compensation, and the building of a more respectful relationship built on trust.

(For a more detailed understanding of what happened, please read the Truth and Reconciliation Report: nctr.ca/records/reports, and scroll down to “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future.”)

 

(Taken from a summary prepared by the Archdiocese of Toronto – July 2021)

We can expect that there will be burial grounds on most, if not all, land in close proximity to residential schools The Truth and Reconciliation Commission drew on the efforts of many investigators and consultants, including Dr. Scott Hamilton, a professor in the department of Anthropology at Lakehead University, who worked from 2013-15 identifying residential-school-related gravesites around Canada.

Of particular concern to Dr. Hamilton is the fact that many news reports described the Kamloops gravesite as a mass grave, a term most often used to describe sites associated with war crimes or massacres in which people all killed at one time are buried en masse in a site that is then hidden.  In fact, deaths at Residential Schools accrued year over year, with “wild fluctuations” that probably reflected periodic epidemics, Dr. Hamilton said.  The high death rates continued until the middle of the 20th century, when they finally fell to match those in the general population.

Hamilton said the “mass grave” description “misses the point with the Residential-School story”, a story that unfolded over more than a century and in which appalling conditions led to high death rates due to disease, the most devastating of which was tuberculosis.

Faith communities, including Catholic entities, who operated residential schools should have done more to respect those who died, providing information to family members and respecting the dignity of every child entrusted to their care.  Church leaders have spoken publicly about the need to dialogue with Indigenous leaders to ensure appropriate memorials are constructed to remember and honour those who died, including names of the deceased whenever possible.

(For a more detailed understanding of what happened, please read the Truth and Reconciliation Report: nctr.ca/records/reports, and scroll down to “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future”.)

Canadian Bishops to Welcome Pope Francis to Canada on Historic Pilgramage of Healing and Reconciliation

Yesterady,October 27, 2021, the  Catholic Bishops of Canada announced their gratitude to Pope Francis for accepting their invitation to visit Canada on a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation.

The statement from the CCCB can be read here.

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