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In a moving celebration at St. Joseph Basilica July 9, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith ordained four men to the permanent diaconate. He also ordained seminarian Roger Niedzielski to the transitional diaconate, the final phase of his preparation for the priesthood. After serving as a deacon for a year, Niedzielski will likely be ordained a priest. The four new permanent deacons are professional men with extensive ministry experience in their parishes. They just completed a four-year formation program and were ordained for the service of the Word, altar and charity.
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Theodore Waskahat's words were wrapped in reverence. "The presence of God was there." The 29-year-old acclaimed musician mentioned he had been nervous when he played the flute at the third annual St. Kateri Gathering at Maskwacis July 9. The more than 200 people in the audience did not notice any nervousness. They fell silent as they listened to his emotive renditions of The Drum Song and The Lord's Prayer.
Joan Carr, superintendent of Edmonton Catholic Schools for the past 10 years, has been recognized as Canada's leading school superintendent. The Canadian Association of School System Administrators presented Carr with its award of excellence at its Winnipeg conference July 7. The award recognizes the Canadian superintendent of the year.
After six years as bishop of Saskatoon, Donald Bolen was appointed archbishop of Regina July 11 by Pope Francis. The archdiocese has been without a bishop since the Jan. 15 death of Archbishop Daniel Bohan. Bolen will continue to serve as apostolic administrator in Saskatoon until his installation as archbishop of Regina this fall; the date has not yet been set.
Father Sylvio Lacar is a man who, for the past 50 years, has nurtured not only his own faith, but also that of prisoners and parishioners. At the moment, he is doing pastoral work, saying Mass for parishioners at Ma-Me-O Beach. But before that, this native of the Philippines said the Lord directed him to the prison ministry.
The Vatican's top official for liturgy is encouraging priests to celebrate Mass facing away from the congregation, but the Vatican spokesman said Pope Francis has made it clear no changes are foreseen. Cardinal Robert Sarah urged priests and bishops at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London July 5 to start celebrating Masses "ad orientem," or facing away from the congregation.
The challenges and experiences of the Church in Latin America figure heavily in Pope Francis' papacy. The pope's Latin American background is increasingly visible when it comes to making bishop appointments, addressing global issues and the pastoral care of the poor and the marginalized. Pope Francis' preference for "shepherds with the smell of sheep" has become a prerequisite in his recent appointments.
You shouldn't always believe what you hear or read in the news. Even journalists - especially journalists - know that. Yet, since the formation of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in 1965, you could count on a work stoppage every few years. In fact, there have been 20 strikes, rotating strikes, lockouts and other ways that the mail has ground to a halt over those 51 years. So, when Canada Post said it was going to lockout its workers on Friday, July 8, who were we to doubt it, even though the union had said it didn't want a strike?
Time and again one heard a familiar refrain from dinner tables at the Catholic-Muslim dinner held at Providence Renewal Centre June 28: "Building bridges." The event was an iftar, the ritual meal that is held at the end of each fasting day during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Two hundred Muslims, Catholics and people of other faiths came together to meet each other, and discover the meaning of the tenets of each others' faiths. By doing that, they, as was said many times during the evening, were building bridges.
As Redemptorist Father Mick Fleming blessed the waters of Lac Ste. Anne July 17, people waded into the lake in droves, anxious to dip themselves into the sacred waters. Many filled jars with the blessed liquid to take back home. A young woman, pain clearly visible on her face, slowly pushed her walker into the lake in the hope of obtaining relief. Younger people helped their elders into the water. Some older people with canes walked in by themselves. Priests and bishops also walked inside the lake to bless the people, one by one.
EDMONTON - Edmonton's Catholic school board will be required to report regularly to Alberta's deputy minister of education after a consultant's report concluded the board is unlikely to alter its high degree of "conflict and confusion" without direct oversight from outside. In a highly-critical 16-page report, consultant Donald Cummings says the board's current governing style – which includes bullying, disrespect, distrust, innuendo and attack – is "intractable."
Thirty-six hours may not seem like a long time to be without a home, but for Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon and nine others, it was long enough to better understand what being homeless is really like. The bishop, who lives in an apartment in central Saskatoon, said the brief experience of living on the streets opened his eyes.
Father Bryan Massingale, a Milwaukee priest and well-known theologian, knows what it's like to be watched by police. Massingale said that as a black man, he has occasionally been followed by police officers on the campus of Marquette University, where he taught for 12 years, as he walked on campus when he wasn't wearing his priestly garb. It's a sign, Massingale told Catholic News Service, of the widespread racism entrenched in American culture.
VATICAN CITY - A Vatican court acquitted two journalists who published confidential documents while their source, a Spanish monsignor, was sentenced to 18 months behind bars. Judge Giuseppe Della Torre, head of the tribunal of the Vatican City State, delivered his ruling July 7, declaring that the court had no legitimate jurisdiction over Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi. The court found Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and Francesca Chaouqui, a member of a former Vatican commission on its economic-administrative structure, guilty of having roles in leaking confidential documents about Vatican finances.
We should be gracious to other people as God is gracious to us, says Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto. "What a better world it would be if we were all more gracious to one another," he told hundreds of Catholics at Lac Ste. Anne July 1. "Mercy is profoundly important in our life in Christ. It is a thing of which we all have need." Collins, a former archbishop of Edmonton, was one of several speakers who addressed the Catholic Family Life Conference on the theme of mercy.
The Church – from individual parishes to the Vatican – needs to collaborate with highly skilled specialists if it wants to get serious about evangelization, said a Canadian media, design and marketing entrepreneur. While Church leaders should turn increasingly to lay experts, lay Catholics should “step up a lot more in our parishes and our dioceses,” offering their expertise, Matthew Harvey Sanders told Catholic News Service July 14. The 34-year-old Toronto native is founder and managing director of Longbeard Creative, a web and graphic-design company that works with nonprofits.
Because of Canada Post's threatened lockout of its workers, the Western Catholic Reporter did not provide a print edition of its scheduled July 11 issue. However, we did make the e-edition of that issue available free of charge via the newspaper's website, wcr.ab.ca.
Matilda Alber and husband Pascal Zafar underwent many challenges back in Syria. Pascal was kidnapped, Matilda's brother was also kidnapped and the couple's two pharmacies were destroyed by bombing. Life was unbearable. So the couple packed what they could and left for Lebanon only to learn that Christians like them are not welcome in the refugee camps. All that is over now, and Matilda and Pascal wear pleasant smiles and seem happy. They have been in Edmonton since October, all thanks to the Sisters of Providence who sponsored them.
Jesus moves freely among his fellow men and women, with little regards for their religious practices or even their religious denominations. When Margaret Silf began to believe that, she felt free and started to live outside normal Church structures. She felt those structures were a box, which had become too uncomfortable. Silf is unquestionably a believer, a spiritual woman, but she is not married to "stale" structures.
The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton is reflecting on how to better integrate women into the life of the Church. At the invitation of Bishop David Motiuk, women have been studying the issue and submitting proposals. "We want a more prominent role within the Church because I think we can do more," says Jayne Buryn, chair of the Eparchial Pastoral Council, a mostly lay body that advises Motiuk.
The path walked by a saint is being renewed in Elk Island National Park. Parks Canada and five councils of the Knights of Columbus are installing five commemorative panels and replacing the bench on which St. John Paul II sat when he spent an afternoon at the park in September 1984. A bench and plaque had once been installed years ago to honour the pope's visit to Edmonton. But years of harsh northern Alberta weather took its toll on the wood.
CALGARY - The Disciples of Christ-Roman Catholic International Commission for Dialogue took place in Calgary June 17 to 22. The general theme for the present phase of dialogue is Christians Formed and Transformed by the Eucharist. The Calgary sessions took place at the Faithful Companions of Jesus' Christian Life Centre. After an introductory meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in 2014, the commission approached the topics related to what it means to be formed by the Eucharist, including the structures of liturgies of the two churches and the significance of catechesis on the Eucharist.
The goal of this life is divinity, says theologian Matthew Leonard. As Christians, we want to reach a state of grace to "become partakers of the divine nature of God." "God, in this unprecedented act of love and mercy, offers us a share of who he is," Leonard said at the 21st annual Family Life Conference at Lac Ste. Anne. "We don't become omnipotent or omnipresent, but God offers us the ability to incorporate ourselves into his family. Through grace we become what he is. That's your dream and destiny, provided you accept it."
Religious freedom advocates are troubled by a June 19 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling upholding the Law Society of Upper Canada's refusal to accredit the proposed law school at Trinity Western University (TWU). The appeal court ruled that although the law society's decision infringed on the right to religious freedom, that discrimination was justified.
The episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Robert Kasun will take place Monday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton. Kasun, pastor of Edmonton's St. Alphonsus and St. Clare parishes, has been appointed auxiliary bishop to the archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins.