By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
[Saskatoon, Sept. 30, 2018]. – Three new Elders were recently acknowledged and welcomed by Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Saskatoon.
Sharon Genaille, Dianne Anderson and Irene Sharp were called forth by the community to serve, to pray and teach, and to share traditional teachings and Indigenous spirituality, grounded in the Catholic faith.
The joyful celebration was held Sept. 30, 2018 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Saskatoon, where Our Lady of Guadalupe parish holds weekly 1 p.m. Sunday Mass.
Parish Life Director Debbie Ledoux spoke about how a process of deep prayer and discernment went in to the calling forth of the three new Elders, after the retirement of parish Elder Gayle Weenie.
Ledoux introduced the three to the assembly, emphasizing their spirit of prayer and humble service.
“I know that Creator God has sent them to us,” she said.
Reflecting on readings that providentially included an account of the elders assisting Moses in his prophetic ministry, pastor Fr. Graham Hill, CSsR, stressed the importance of holding tight to tradition.
Hill described how Our Lady of Guadalupe parish serves First Nations and Métis people in Saskatoon, striving to help all “to see with two eyes, to hear with two ears, to breathe with two nostrils, to walk with two feet: one in our First Nations traditions and one in our Catholic faith.”
The installation included an honour song led by drummers, blessing by the parish priest, as well as traditional smudging by Elder A.J. Felix of Sturgeon Lake First Nation, and the presentation of symbolic gifts to the three new Elders by Elder Gayle Weenie.
The gifts included an eagle feather, a blanket, sweetgrass, a four-coloured cloth (signifying the four directions), tobacco, and a Bible.
Elders Felix and Weenie shared insights into the role of an Elder. “What is happening here today is needed. It is much needed,” said Felix.
He described the Elder’s role as one of prayer, of kindness and of being a role model that “walks the talk.”
“Tread lightly,” he advised the new Elders. “Go and do what you have to – don’t take too many side roads or you will get tired. Our Lord God will look after you.”
Weenie described the role of an Elder, which she said involves being present to people who need someone to listen and to pray. “It is not a nine to five job. You go wherever you are needed,” she said.
Felix stressed the importance of faith, and of bringing children back to church. “I have walked with all the faiths,” he said, listing many of the faith communities he has visited. “I have found that in all their churches, I have found God there.”
Each new Elder also addressed the assembly, speaking with emotion, expressing thanksgiving and their commitment to serve the community.
At the conclusion of Mass, those in attendance came forward to greet the three new Elders and then joined hands in a round dance that stretched throughout the worship space.
Visit the Our Lady of Guadalupe parish website at: OLGP.ca
Photos by Tim Yaworski