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The Archdiocese of Edmonton and the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith have signed a covenant that will see the two dioceses expand their cooperation. The two dioceses have been working together for well over a year. The covenant, signed July 2 in Yellowknife by Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton and Bishop Mark Hagemoen, makes their partnership official. "I'm excited about this agreement because it provides an opportunity for Edmonton and Mackenzie-Fort Smith to work with each other," Hagemoen said July 9.
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For about 65 years, since she was in her early twenties, Mary Sotto of the Ermineskin Reserve has been studying the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha and praying to the Mohawk woman who was canonized in 2012. It was after she attended a conference on St. Kateri in 1989 in Great Falls, Mont., that Sotto's devotion grew and she centred her life on the Church. "I pray to her a lot, ever since I studied her life," Sotto, 86, said in an interview. "When something goes wrong or I need help, I turn to her.
When Noli and Sam Manuel got married in September 2004, serving as a missionary couple was not the first thing on their minds. They were content to start their new life together as husband and wife in the Philippines. Even in 2005, when the elders of their church invited them to go on a long-term mission, they were reluctant. After Sam suffered a miscarriage, their acceptance of the call became clearer. They viewed it as a sign that if they put God first, he would take care of the rest. In March 2006, the couple flew to the Middle East to start their mission.
Father Roger Keeler, a former pastor in the Edmonton Archdiocese, has been appointed executive director of the Canon Law Society of America. Ordained in 1984, Keeler has served at several parishes in the archdiocese, worked at the Alberta Regional Tribunal and taught at St. Joseph's College of the University of Alberta. He left Edmonton two years ago to accept Father Ron Rolheiser's invitation to teach at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
Following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, seminarians, priests and religious left their ministries in droves. "It wasn't easy for anybody," recalls Father Ray Guimond. Five of his classmates at the seminary simply left. Guimond, however, stayed the course and has lived a productive and rewarding life as a priest for 50 years. He thanks the Virgin Mary for helping him to stay focused. "I never let go of Our Lady; I never let go of the rosary," he says. "I really never stopped praying because that's deadly."
More than a meeting and homily, Pope Francis laid out a clear road map for the Church when he celebrated Mass and welcomed abuse survivors to the Vatican. The morning he dedicated to six men and women who had been abused by clergy was a powerful combination of upholding the importance of the letter of the law and displaying the proper spirit behind it. Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a German psychologist and psychotherapist who accompanied two abuse survivors July 7, said: "This is not only about the letter of the law. This has to come from the heart if this is to really take fruit" and make real, lasting change.
Father Matthew Chojna's faith began to grow when he ran into academic trouble in school and he began asking God for help and bargaining with him. Ordained to the priesthood June 27 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa, Chojna (pronounced Hoy-nah) spent the first 10 years of his life in Poland before his family moved to Toronto. The Chojnas were faithful Catholics who attended church regularly and did not question the Church's role "as a vessel through which God teaches his people," he said.
Giovani Melendez, 31, fled San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, with his family, setting out suddenly on a search for safety in the United States after gangs demanded growing extortion payments he was unable afford. The family – Melendez, his wife, and children, ages five and 12 – only made it to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, where officials stopped them and sent them back to El Salvador.
AMMAN, JORDAN – The patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad called the current situation in his country "perhaps the darkest and most difficult period in (the Church's) recent history." In a telephone interview with Catholic News Service July 7, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako said the city of Mosul "is almost empty of Christians." "There are only about 200 (Christian) individuals that may be left there," he said. "The churches are closed. There was no Mass on Sunday. There are no priests."
A good film is more than special effects and pretty girls. Underneath everything lies a compelling story. At Living Water College of the Arts this month, eight students are learning to tell not just any stories through film, but stories imbued with faith. "Pretty much anybody can teach you to be a technician, but what Hollywood really lacks these days is good storytellers," said Jacob Schmiedicke, the college's director of liberal and fine arts. Schmiedicke said the four-week program, Truth in Motion, run at the college near tiny Derwent, north of Vermilion, gives a basic overview of the filmmaking process from beginning to end. "It's unique in that we heavily emphasize story."
You may not remember your first cherry, but Kedra and Destiny Kimiksana will always remember theirs. The young sisters got to try a cherry thanks to Sister Faye Trombley, the missionary who runs Our Lady of Grace Parish in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. At 69 degrees north and 133 degrees west, on a little reach of land that extends into the Beaufort Sea, cherries are hard to come by and expensive. But it's not just cherries. All kinds of healthy foods are either rare, expensive or both in Arctic communities. Trombley's April grocery bill included such bargains as $4.09 for a bunch of broccoli, $19.99 for 700 grams of cheddar cheese, $25.14 for 295 ml of orange juice, $18.79 for three tins of sockeye salmon and $14.98 for five pounds of potatoes.
EDMONTON – Joy Vasquez and his wife Judith have received a multitude of blessings during their 17 years of marriage. Judith was healed of a life-threatening illness and, despite the urgings of doctors to abort three of their pregnancies, all three babies avoided serious disabling conditions. "When we got married in 1996, we pictured ourselves having a big family. We wanted to have seven children. But the doctors told us that Judith could not conceive. It would be impossible for her," said Joy Vasquez. But one Easter evening, the couple got down on their knees and prayed. They asked the Virgin Mary to intercede for them, and bless them with a child.
Friends of Church Street seeks to promote the historical significance of 96th Street in Edmonton's McCauley neighbourhood, commonly referred to as Church Street. Church Street has numerous houses of worship across a five-block stretch, from 106th to 110th Avenue. The inaugural Church Street Fair on July 12 gave people an opportunity to tour the churches and learn their histories. "We have a diverse, exciting and wonderful community that is inclusive and welcoming. Our diversity is in our spirit, our culture, our nationality, and in our religion," said Colleen Chapman, the president and founder of Friends of Church Street.
Sympathizing with all the unknowns facing young people today, Pope Francis – half joking – said it is easier for a pope because he knows where his earthly life will end. "I think the pope's definitive path is more certain. Where will the pope end up? There, in that tomb," in St. Peter's Basilica where most popes are buried, he said June 28 to a group of young men involved in a vocational discernment process run by the Diocese of Rome. But that is not the way things turned out for St. Celestine V, who until 2013 was known as the last pope to voluntarily resign. When he renounced the papacy in December 1294, after only five months in office, his successor had him imprisoned.
VATICAN CITY – Asking for forgiveness, Pope Francis told abuse survivors that "despicable actions" caused by clergy have been hidden for too long and had been "camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained." "There is no place in the Church's ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not," and to hold all bishops accountable for protecting young people, the pope said during an early morning Mass for six survivors of abuse by clergy. The Mass and private meetings held later with each individual took place in the Domus Sanctae Marthae – the pope's residence.
Doctors who refuse to prescribe birth control pills have become the focus of a debate over physicians' rights to freedom of conscience when practising medicine. An Alberta doctor has been in the media spotlight recently for posting a notice at the clinic where she works that she will not prescribe the pill and now faces a human rights complaint. Earlier this year, three Ottawa doctors came under fire for similar reasons. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is doing a public consultation on its guidelines that could be revamped to restrict doctors' rights to abstain from legal medical practices on religious or conscientious grounds.
The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) has put out an urgent plea to help Iraqi Christians targeted in a "brutal civil war." "Everybody's affected, but Christians in particular because as a minority they are more vulnerable," said CNEWA Canada general secretary Carl Hutu in an interview from Jerusalem. Hutu attended the annual gathering in Rome June 23-26 of agencies working with the Eastern Church that was organized by the Congregation of Eastern Churches.
COLVILLE LAKE, N.W.T. – From mushing dog-teams 100 kms in minus 40C blizzards, to helping unionize a mine, Bern Will Brown had a job like few Catholic priests. Born in Rochester, N.Y., in 1920, Brown went to the Canadian Arctic in 1948 as an Oblate priest and travelled extensively by dog team throughout the region. Over the course of his life he served as a priest, a bush pilot, a dog musher, a painter, a journalist and a storyteller. In addition to his religious duties, he performed routine medical work such as delivering babies, sewing up axe cuts and pulling teeth. He also served as a fire warden, dogcatcher, storekeeper, postmaster and newspaper editor.
The Associated Press has said it falsely reported many aspects in a story about St. Mary's mother and baby home in Tuam, Ireland, run by the Bon Secours congregation of nuns. In May, local historian Catherine Corless revealed her research, which found that between 1925 and 1961, 976 infants died in the home for unmarried mothers and their children. She had found no evidence they were buried in local cemeteries and instead believed the children may have been buried in a common grave on the site.
CALGARY – St. Mary's University College has received provincial government approval to change its name to St. Mary's University. "The name change has been long-awaited and is very welcome," said Dr. Gerry Turcotte, St. Mary's president. "St. Mary's is not a college in any respect," Turcotte said. "It is fully accredited to deliver undergraduate university degrees and a bachelor of education after-degree."
MCLENNAN – Thanks to a parishioner whose hunch, based on observations and calculations, proved true, several members and friends of the Cathedral Parish of St. John the Baptist in McLennan witnessed an occurrence they will never forget. The McLennan cathedral has been constructed in a manner which takes full advantage of the morning sunrise at the annual summer solstice. A huge vaulted window is in the wall above the entrance to the cathedral, and in the centre of this window is a large glass cross, running from top to bottom and from side to side.
CASTELPETROSO, ITALY – Youth unemployment is a defeat for humanity, Pope Francis said during a visit to the southern Italian region of Molise July 5. "We cannot resign ourselves to losing a whole generation of young people who don't have the strong dignity of work," Pope Francis said during a meeting with the region's young people in the town of Castelpetroso. "A generation without work is a future defeat for the country and for humanity," the pope told the young people.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – Some senior Anglican leaders have voiced their support for assisted suicide just days before a crucial debate on the subject in the British House of Lords. Lord Carey, who served as archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, each said they were in favour of the practice. Anglican Bishop Alan Wilson of Buckingham also has declared his support for "assisted dying," making him the first serving bishop of the Church of England to say that doctors should be legally permitted to help their patients to commit suicide.
EDMONTON – With temperatures hitting a blazing 30c , the hot sun may be welcomed by sun bathers and children alike. But for the homeless people there is no respite from its tortuous heat. Sunstoke is a cruel reality for those who cannot find shade. Many end up in city emergency wards.
QUEBEC CITY – More than 100,000 pilgrims have already passed through the holy door in Quebec's Cathedral of Notre Dame and another 200,000 are expected before year end. The holy door was constructed to mark the 350th anniversary of the founding of the first Catholic parish in North America's first Catholic diocese. It is one of only seven in the world. The Church in North America was launched from the Quebec Diocese, said Msgr. Denis Belanger, cathedral rector.
When a significant portion of the Catholic faithful ignore or reject a Church teaching, it is often a sign that social and cultural pressures are weakening their faith, said members of the International Theological Commission. Or, that lack of belief may reveal that Church leaders simply have not found a way to explain the teaching, the commission said in a new document. The commission published the document 'Sensus Fidei' in the Life of the Church on the Vatican website in late June with the approval of Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.