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Holy Saturday is in the offing. It can be a rich day, full of spiritual contemplation. It would be such a shame to not use it as such. Guidance can often help to use this time in preparation for Easter Sunday. Franciscan Father Kevin Lynch of Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre near Cochrane muses, "A metaphor to me is bread dough. It has to sit before it rises. Be still and know that I am God." He likes words like "threshold" to describe this time, "or stillness or liminal space where something strange might be happening."
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Father Roger Rouleau says he is blessed to have a good parish secretary in Roseanne Bingham. "A good secretary is invaluable to the priest in fulfilling his ministry," said Father Rouleau, pastor at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Vermilion. "She is the first greeter to anyone who comes into the parish. She's the one there throughout the day while I run away to the schools or the care homes. The secretary provides that steady base throughout the week, and maintains the fort while I'm in and out of the office," said Rouleau.
The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton is restoring the kiss of peace during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, a liturgical practice lost centuries ago. But, as Bishop David Motiuk says, this kiss will be on the shoulders, not on the lips as it was during early Christianity. The bishop said this change is part of the eparchy's 25-year pastoral plan which calls for parishes to be more welcoming. The kiss of peace is a sign of peace among the faithful, love in action and a powerful gesture of welcome towards strangers and guests.
Blessed John XXIII struggled to shake off many formalities that came with the papacy and often conspired with his valet to sneak out of the Vatican. One covert road trip in the Alban Hills outside of Rome got Guido Gusso, the pope's valet, in trouble with the Italian police responsible for the pope's safety. But the security breach just made the pope chuckle – happy with their unauthorized escapade, Gusso told journalists during a news conference at Vatican Radio April 1.
Wigburg Clifford Sherwin's journey to the priesthood has been packed with miracles, the latest of which is his appointment as a pastor in Jasper 19 months ago. "I love serving here," he says. "It's a blessing to be in Jasper. I thank God for giving me a beautiful station to serve him." Father Sherwin, a native of Colombo, Sri Lanka, came to Canada in 2009. He served in High Level before being appointed to Jasper in August 2012.
Ethel Lamothe of Fort Simpson still remembers being taken away in a boat with other children to the residential school at Fort Providence, N.W.T., when she was five years old. "All of us children, we all started crying. Our people, way over there, were getting smaller and smaller, and were crying. It was really, really difficult." During her first 10 months at the school, Ethel only saw one adult family member – her father – once.
EDMONTON – Some testimonies given at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission event "were very painful to hear," says the superior-general of the Grey Nuns. Sister Jacqueline St-Yves said, "I think we have to accept that there were some things that were not quite right" in the running of the residential schools. The Grey Nuns worked with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in about eight of the 15 Catholic residential schools in Alberta, St-Yves said. Altogether, more than 800 members of her order worked in about 20 different schools over many decades.
The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled gold and silver coins of Pope John Paul II to mark the pontiff's canonization April 27. "It's a good idea," said Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay after a ceremony in his city.
Testimonies of residential school survivors given at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission event in Edmonton witness to the central place of God the Creator in aboriginal spirituality, Archbishop Richard Smith said March 28. That openness to the Creator allows the heart to be moved, and healing and reconciliation to take place, the archbishop said at a TRC session.
Two weeks shy of his 90th birthday on April 15, Archbishop Joseph MacNeil is told he looks healthy. "I'm faking it – cosmetics, Botox!" the long-retired archbishop shoots back near the start of a wide-ranging 90-minute interview. Then MacNeil launches into a description of his 40-year history of long walks around Edmonton and environs. Until a couple of years ago, he made regular trips to Elk Island National Park east of the city, the park where he took Pope John Paul II 30 years ago when the visiting pontiff had an afternoon off.
Once upon a time parishioners thought their parish pastor knew best when it came to matters of faith and religion and issues of parish administration. He had been appointed by the bishop and could do no wrong. When the faithful approached their pastor, they did so with deference and respect, almost never hostile or confrontational. When the faithful approached their pastor, they did so with deference and respect, almost never hostile or confrontational. Those times are virtually gone.
Blessed John Paul II, who will be canonized April 27, was one of the most forceful moral leaders of the modern age. He brought a philosopher's intellect, a pilgrim's spiritual intensity and an actor's flair to his role as head of the universal Church for more than 26 years. The Polish pope was a tireless evangelizer and forceful communicator, speaking to millions in their own languages. But toward the end of his life, his powers of speech faltered with his worsening illness, which left him often unable to even murmur a blessing.
VATICAN CITY – Although he served as pope for less than five years, Blessed John XXIII left one of the most lasting legacies in the Catholic Church's history by convening the Second Vatican Council. A plump, elderly, smiling Italian of peasant origins, the future pope had an illustrious career as a papal diplomat in Bulgaria, Turkey and postwar France. He became pope amid the dismantling of colonialism, the rise of the Cold War and on the cusp of a technological transformation unlike anything seen since the Industrial Revolution.
EDMONTON – Reconciliation between aboriginal and non-indigenous people in Canada will take place "if we can just stop people from being so disrespectful to each other," said the chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Judge Murray Sinclair opened the national TRC event in Edmonton March 27 calling for the fostering of mutual respect among Canadians. "What we need to do now is to teach our children and grandchildren and future generations how to be respectful towards each other," he said.
Catholics who attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event in Edmonton say they were horrified by the stories of abuse they heard from survivors of Church-run residential schools. "I am horrified by the stories, especially of abuse and violence by the staff who ran the schools," said Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan.
EDMONTON – The good that came out of the residential schools "came at an unbearable cost to the First Nations," says the provincial superior of the Catholic men's order that ran many of the schools. Father Ken Forster told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission March 29 that he was renewing the apology the Oblates of Mary Immaculate made to aboriginal people for their involvement in residential schools that was first offered at the 1991 Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage.
Human life is a wondrous and beautiful gift of God. Since God has created members of the human race in his image and likeness, every man, woman and child is endowed with an inalienable dignity. In our country, we are witnesses to the sad truth that human dignity is not always honoured. The obvious and most tragic example of this is abortion. It is manifest also in embryonic stem cell research, which destroys a human embryo, and in the promotion of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The April 3 canonization of two Quebec saints was welcomed with joy and thanksgiving from Canada's bishops, especially in the Archdiocese of Quebec where they are buried. Quebec Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix said the canonizations "give us models of sanctity to encourage us." Pope Francis has given the Church two "great examples of the new evangelization." Canada's bishops welcomed the canonizations "with great joy and thanksgiving."
The popularity of flavoured tobacco is increasing the risk of youth developing a dangerous and lasting addiction to tobacco products. Some jurisdictions have recognized the need to restrict the sale of certain tobacco products designed to attract young people. Both the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Medical Association have been calling for bans on such products.
EDMONTON – When someone goes in for cancer treatment, others have a fairly good idea of what that entails. The same cannot be said for palliative care, an area of health care that continues to be misunderstood. Dr. Ann Syme, a registered nurse with Covenant Health, said palliative care embraces the notion of helping people die in a humane, dignified way. Palliative care focuses on relieving symptoms that are related to chronic illness. It can be used at any stage of illness, not just the advanced stages.
Parishioners in Beaverlodge, 43 km west of Grande Prairie, have been attending Mass in St. Mary's Catholic School since a Jan. 2 fire seriously damaged their church. "We have not missed any services. We were able to get into the school after the fire," said Father Arul Jothi Arockiasamy, pastor of St. Mary's Parish. "The following Sunday, we had Mass in the school gym. We are looking towards good things happening with the reconstruction," he said.
VANCOUVER – Scattering the cremated remains of a loved one on a mountain, lake or park might seem poetic, but the Church discourages the practice. "The Church, for reasons of respect and dignity of the body, requires that Catholics inter the full body or cremated remains in sacred ground," said Peter Nobes, director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Vancouver Archdiocese. Cremation has been allowed for Catholics since 1963.
OTTAWA – The great intellectual patrimony of the Catholic Church offers everything one needs to combat the new atheists, the vice president of an American Catholic college told parents here April 2. While atheism is an old idea, what's different about the so-called "new atheists," such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, is the way they attack religious belief, said Paul O'Reilly, vice president of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif.
The surprisingly strong Quebec Liberal victory April 7 means euthanasia is off the table - for now – and signals a greater openness to religious Quebecers, say informed observers. The Quebec Liberal Party led by Philippe Couillard trounced the Parti Quebecois, winning 70 seats to the PQ's 30. The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) won three additional seats, bringing its tally to 22, while Quebec Solidaire won three seats.
OTTAWA – Andrew Bennett, Canada's ambassador of religious freedom, urged a Christian audience here April 4 to engage in the public sphere, proclaim truth and champion human dignity. Christians are very good at discussing politics, economics and social responsibility in private spaces "in which we feel safe and comfortable," Bennett said. "Yet, Christ does not call the Christian to be safe and comfortable."
EDMONTON – Christian communities "have often fallen short of living the love and service of Jesus" in their long history of relations with indigenous peoples, says a statement of reconciliation by the Canadian Council of Churches. The Church-run Indian residential school system, in particular, "had disastrous effects on students, their families and communities," the CCC said in a statement delivered at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) national event in Edmonton March 28.