(Article and photos previously published in The Prairie Messenger and/or the Diocesan Newsletter in November 2017)
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Photos by Tim Yaworski
SASKATOON – Bishop Mark Hagemoen knocked on the door of the Cathedral of the Holy Family Nov. 23, 2017, and was welcomed with joy and thanksgiving by the people of the diocese and the wider community at his official installation as the eighth bishop of Saskatoon.
“May your bishop’s heart continue to be shaped by us, the people of the Prairies, as it was first shaped by the people of the North,” said Fr. Kevin McGee, speaking on behalf of the clergy, religious and laity of the diocese during the 2.5-hour liturgy. Hagemoen comes to the diocese of Saskatoon after four years as bishop of the northern diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.
“As I left Mackenzie-Fort Smith, I learned that there is no Dene word for goodbye,” said Hagemoen. “The best translation of the related sentiment is ‘until we meet again’. What an appropriate expression, as we celebrate the end of the Church year, and also when bridging and acknowledging the link between great faith communities.”
Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, Pope Francis’ representative in Canada, also addressed the assembly, saying: “My dear friends, welcome the new pastor and receive him as Pope Francis urges, as a father, as a teacher and as a guardian, and together with him continue to build this precious gift, which is the Church, the Catholic Church in Saskatchewan, in unity, in friendship, with collaboration with everybody.”
After knocking on the cathedral door at the beginning of the celebration, Hagemoen was met by representatives of the local and universal Church. Elder Irene Sharp of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish presented the incoming bishop with a pair of moccasins as a symbol of walking together into the future. Hagemoen was also greeted by Cathedral Pastor Fr. David Tumback, by previous Saskatoon bishop Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, and by the Apostolic Nuncio.
Presented with a crucifix, Hagemoen blessed and kissed it, and then moved through the building blessing the people, led by two First Nations dancers, accompanied by an Honour Song by the drum group Thunderchild.
As Hagemoen stood before the altar, diocesan Chancellor Fr. Clement Amofah opened the Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis proclaiming Hagemoen bishop of Saskatoon.
Amofah held up the document to show the Diocesan Consultors who have cared for the diocese since the departure of Bolen in October 2016, as well as showing it to the entire assembly before reading the letter.
With the assembly’s response of “thanks be to God,” Bonazzi and Bolen handed Hagemoen his bishop’s staff (crozier) and accompanied him to the bishop’s chair (“cathedra”) as a sign of taking canonical possession of the diocese.
The bishop then came forward to accept greetings from representatives of groups and communities in the diocese, which were introduced by McGee.
Those coming forward to shake the bishop’s hand and exchange a word of greeting included Fr. Matthew Ramsay on behalf of the Council of Priests and Linda Klassen, representing the Diocesan Pastoral Council.
Harry Lafond of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner came forward to greet the new bishop, accompanied by Carol Zubiak of the Diocesan Council for Truth and Reconciliation (DCTR). Other DCTR members also greeted Hagemoen: Parish Life Director Debbie Ledoux, Elder Michael Maurice, and Elder Gayle Weenie of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.
Representing the laity of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon were Caitlin and Graham Hill and their children Ellie, Isla, Everette, Emelia, Arie and Esme; while religious women and men in the diocese were represented by Sr. Teresita Kambeitz, OSU, Sr. Dolores Bussière, FDLP, Brother Kurt Van Kuren, OSB, and Fr. Iheanyi Enwerem, OP.
Representatives from other Catholic rites in the community also brought greetings: Rev. Janko Kolosnjaji, Vicar General for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, and his wife Genka, their son Alex and family; Kaesir Istifo and family of the Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic community; and Fr. Anthony Plogen, Baby Lukose and Salamma Mathew of the Syro-Malabar Catholic community.
Several leaders came forward to represent Catholic education and Catholic health care, including Dr. Terrence Downey of St. Thomas More College; Diane Boyko and Greg Chatlain of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS); David Hardy of the GSCS Foundation; Jim Anderson and Vicky Serblowski of St. Therese Institute of Fiath and Mission; Robert Harasymchuk of St. Peter’s College; Scott Irwin of Emmanuel Care and Sandra Kary of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan.
Ecumenical guests Bishop Sid Haugen of the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), Rev. G. Scott Pittendrigh, representing the Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon, and David Smith and Dr. Jeromey Martini of the Evangelical-Roman Catholic Commission for Common Witness also came forward to greet the bishop as representatives of the wider Christian community. Ron and Jan Gitlin of the Holocaust Memorial Agudas Israel also brought greetings, representing other faith communities, as did Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, representing all elected officials across the diocese.
Diversity was also the hallmark of the prayers of the faithful, presented in different languages representing the ethnic and cultural diversity of the diocese, including Cree, French, English, German, Tagalog (Philippines), Vietnamese, Spanish, Bari (South Sudan), Ukrainian, and Polish. Music was led by the Diocesan Choir, with representation from parishes and groups across the diocese.
Hagemoen gave the homily and the Apostolic Nuncio spoke at the conclusion of the celebration (see related article below).
Some 1200 attended the installation, and the Mass was live-streamed on the diocesan website.
Events earlier in the day included an afternoon meeting between the Apostolic Nuncio and clergy of the diocese, as well as an installation dinner, which began with Chief Gil Ledoux of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and his wife Debbie Ledoux, Parish Life Director at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, extending a welcome to Treaty 6 territory. Sr. Teresita Kambeitz led grace before the meal.
During the dinner program, Abbot Peter Novecosky expressed thanks to Fr. Kevin McGee for his 13-months of service as Diocesan Administrator. Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg brought greetings on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishop’s brother, Dan Hagemoen, spoke on behalf of the family, including his father Eric, who could not attend because of health issues.
Former Saskatoon bishop Bolen welcomed Hagemoen to his new role with words of encouragement, and a symbolic “passing of the keys.”
On behalf of the diocese, two gifts were presented to the new bishop: sponsorship of a day of meals in his name at Saskatoon Friendship Inn, and a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey, presented to him by Christine Scherr, who works part-time at the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
Bishop Hagemoen gives his first homily as eighth bishop of Saskatoon:
Saskatoon’s new bishop stresses following the example of Jesus Christ
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
SASKATOON – In his first homily as the new bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Bishop Mark Hagemoen emphasized the call and the challenge to live in righteousness, following the example of Jesus Christ.
During the installation Mass celebrated Nov 23, 2017 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, Hagemoen said that to live the way of God is a challenge for every Christian.
“One of the greatest biblical summaries of the way of righteousness – to be like God in this world – is Paul’s letter to the Philippians, on having the same mind and heart as that of Christ Jesus,” the bishop said, describing the passage from Philippians 2: 5-11 which has challenged and intrigued him since before his ordination to the priesthood.
“The only reason that every knee bends at the name of Jesus is because he boldly goes where no one has gone before, and where no one would ever dream of going,” he said. “Can you and I also go this way? Can you and I act like God, by imitating such intimacy with God, and such generous service and humility for our world?”
Striving for righteousness, for excellence in a Christian life of Christ-like service, must also be combined with the hope expressed in the term “supervivere,” described the bishop, a word that means, among other things, “to live beyond.”
Hagemoen cited the message of Pope Francis on the World Day of Consecrated Life in which he calls for overcoming “the temptation of survival (which) turns what the Lord presents as an opportunity for mission, into something dangerous, threatening, potentially disastrous.” Followers of Christ are called to look deeper, and discover the hope provided by living beyond survival, said the bishop.
“We do face many tasks and challenges – our Church, our schools, our health care facilities, our local community, our families,” said Hagemoen. “Lest the world and its complex affairs so overwhelm that we look only at the surface of things, the constant voice of our Saviour says: ‘as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you’ – that voice calls and leads us even deeper.”
He added: “Righteousness and supervivere call us deeper than we might have ever imagined.”
This is a way of life that calls for “ongoing healing and personal work,” he said, expressing appreciation for his time with the Indigenous peoples of the North, and “for what they have taught me about faith and our common journey together, of ongoing healing and growth, as we come to know the heart of the one God of the world.”
Hagemoen described how his appointment as bishop of Saskatoon came unexpectedly, and has a bittersweet quality, as he bids farewell to the diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith at a time when there is much work yet to do. “However God’s ways are not always our ways, and God has a plan for this community, and the faith communities of the north,” he said.
Hagemoen expressed appreciation for the welcome and messages of support he has received since his appointment, and for the pastoral leadership that has formed the church in the diocese of Saskatoon.
“I am very grateful and wish to acknowledge the pastoral leadership of this diocese’s recent shepherds – Bishops James Wiesgerber, Albert LeGatt and most recently Donald Bolen” (who were three of the 20 bishops attending the installation).
“I come to a diocese that is in very good shape, in very large part because of them, and of course, the excellent work of a committed and dynamic people of God: clergy, religious and laity.”
Hagemoen concluded by asking for prayers and patience as he takes up his new role. “I ask your prayers and support as I take on this task. I commit and pledge to strive to serve this local church as its bishop to the best of my ability, with all of God’s help.”
At the conclusion of the celebration, which was marked by moments of welcome and blessing (see related article about the liturgy, above), Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi brought greetings from the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
“It is a joy for me at the end of this moving ceremony – this Eucharistic celebration in which we have taken a deep participation – to transmit to you as a representative of Pope Francis here in Canada, the closeness, the prayers, the affection, the benediction of Pope Francis to each one of you, and to all the diocese of Saskatoon and to the dioceses of all Canada.”
The Apostolic Nuncio quoted some of the testimonies and reflections he received during the year of discernment about a new bishop – “words representing the spirit, the mind, of all of you.”
One person writing about the diocese of Saskatoon told the Nuncio: “our diocese has a rich tradition of extraordinary leadership from our bishops, each coming at the right time, with the right gifts to answer to the needs of our diocese at the given time… this will once again happen as we place all our trust in God and in Holy Mother Church.” Bonazzi noted that in a meeting earlier that afternoon, Saskatoon priest Msgr. Stan Urabanoski had repeated almost the same words.
Turning to Hagemoen, the Nuncio added: “You just have to continue this tradition of extraordinary leadership here in this diocese.”
The Nuncio also encouraged the diocese to welcome their new shepherd, as they have welcomed others before. “This diocese – it is a church that with the wider community has welcomed the stranger, the immigrant, and the refugees, making really true the motto of this province – Multis e gentibus vires – from many peoples, strength.”
Bonazzi also offered other “pencils” for writing on the blank page of the next phase in the life of the diocese, based on many other testimonies provided to him during the discernment process for selecting a new bishop.
“Saskatoon is a diocese which embraced the Second Vatican Council …It is a diocese with a tradition of healthy relations between clergy and laity, where the gifts of laypeople have been summoned forth,” the Nuncio said, quoting another local testimony, before turning to Hagemoen to say: “Please continue fulfilling this witness which I have received and which I pass on to you.”
Other gifts and strengths cited by Bonazzi include the diocese’s diversity, including the Francophone Catholic community and the strong Catholic faith of newcomers from places such as the Philippines and Vietnam; the contributions of women and men religious; the strong lay movements that have originated in the diocese, including Catholic Christian Outreach, FacetoFace ministries, and missionary initiatives to the developing world; and a strong focus on ecumenism.
The Nuncio encouraged the diocese and its new bishop to continue to treasure and protect Catholic education at every level, noting that with the new bishop’s special love for education and youth, “Bishop Mark will accompany with great interest and support this important tool for evangelization.”
Bonazzi quoted a final testimony received during the time of discernment between bishops: “One of the major social and pastoral challenges for the diocese of Saskatoon and the upcoming bishop will be the ongoing challenge of building healthy relations with the Indigenous population and guiding the church in learning to walk together with Indigenous people in addressing the many systemic injustices and social challenges they continue to face in Saskatchewan. This is without a doubt a major societal challenge facing the people of Saskatchewan, and it is also a great pastoral challenge.”
The Nuncio urged the faithful of the diocese and its leaders to continue to pursue “this mutual desire within the Catholic church, within the society and within the Indigenous population – this desire for a new friendship, this process of reconciliation – that it may grow and grow and grow for the benefit of all.”
Fr. Kevin McGee then addressed the new bishop on behalf of all the people of the diocese.
“As we began our celebration this evening you were welcomed by a number of individuals and groups that represent the diversity and the texture of our diocese and the unique gifts and culture of the province of Saskatchewan,” he said. “Many hands extended themselves to you in a handshake, Bishop Mark. From this moment on, these and many more hands will extend themselves to you and invite you into their lives as our shepherd.”
The new bishop’s own “hands-on” approach is an invitation “to enter into the mess and mystery of people’s lives, and – to use a very poignant image of Pope Frances – to take on the smell of the sheep,” said McGee.
“We invite you to journey with all of us. And as you do, I assure that you will find much, much support here. You will be much loved,” McGee said. “And I assure you, as I speak on behalf of so many, that wherever you go, you will find an open door.”
The new bishop concluded the evening with final words of thanks – including a special thank you to his brother Dan for taking on the role of being the primary support to their parents after Hagemoen was appointed bishop.
Livestream of Bishop’s Installation Nov. 23, 2017: