By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
In a small and quiet celebration, the new stand-alone residential Hospice at Glengarda in Saskatoon was blessed by Bishop Mark Hagemoen.
The new hospice – located at Hilliard Street and Melrose Avenue in a former Ursuline Sisters’ residence in southeast Saskatoon – is scheduled to begin accepting patients in the New Year.
Because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, only seven people gathered Dec. 23, 2020 for the blessing celebration.
Bette Boechler, MC for the Dec. 23 event and Executive Director of Samaritan Place and of the new Hospice at Glengarda, noted that the limited celebration is not what would have been envisioned months ago.
However, in some ways, the pandemic makes the launch of the new building even more meaningful, she said. “It really makes me think about the privilege we have in looking after people at the end of life – it is totally a gift,” Boechler said.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen also noted that blessing the hospice in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly poignant. “This is a wonderful day,” he affirmed. “In a time of pandemic, we need healing and hope. We pray in a very special way for the caregivers, here and beyond, who make it possible for us to move forward.”
Bishop Hagemoen also reflected on the history of Catholic health care. “Education and health care has long been a part of the Catholic identity and mission … for decades and indeed for centuries.”
In particular, the bishop noted the contributions of women religious orders, including the Ursulines of Prelate, whose Glengarda residence in Saskatoon has been renovated and transformed into the new 15-bed stand-alone residential hospice, with funds raised through a “Close to Home” campaign by the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation.
“I not only congratulate Emmanuel Health in partnership with the Sisters for this launching, but I am also very thankful to almighty God that the identity and mission of this Catholic health care institution –which is open and outreaching to all of God’s people, in the city of Saskatoon and beyond – will continue,” Hagemoen said.
During his prayer of blessing, the bishop said: “From the beginning of the Church, the service and care of the poor, the hungry, the sick and the dying has been a mark of the Christian in the world. And today, with the building of this hospice, we continue to fulfill that spiritual and social responsibility, which the Gospel calls us all to live.”
The bishop added: “Catholic tradition faces the reality of suffering and death with the confidence of faith and the assurance of hope and blessing … Suffering and death are not a final end, but rather a journey, a passage transformed by the promise of life everlasting in the Resurrection.”
All those involved in the new Hospice at Glengarda are called “to journey with the dying person and their families, with care and compassion, comfort and hope,” he said. “We care for people in such a way that they find strength and comfort in knowing God’s abiding love for them.”
The new hospice “stands as a testament to our commitment to continue the healing ministry of Jesus in our city,” Bishop Hagemoen said.
Speaking on behalf of all the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan, Hagemoen thanked all those involved in the project, including the many partner organizations and the many who donated to the “Close to Home” campaign.
Blessing a small container of holy water, Bishop Hagemoen prayed that the hospice will be a place “filled with the goodness and blessing of God,” where all are welcome and accepted. He then blessed different spots in the building, including a common area and a patient’s room, as well as a crucifix that he then placed it on the wall.
After the blessing, Sr. Anne Lewans, General Superior of the Ursulines of Prelate, spoke about the history of the Glengarda residence, including the origin of the building’s name: Garda is a lake in Italy near where St. Angela Merici, founder of the Ursuline order, was born.
Lewans described the arrival of the Ursulines of Prelate in Saskatchewan more than a century ago, and their decades of service in education, pastoral ministry and health over the decades.
Invited to Saskatoon in 1953 to teach at St. Frances Cabrini school, the Ursulines of Prelate eventually moved into the Glengarda residence, which was constructed in 1959. Sr. Lewans described the many ministries and ways in which the sisters lived out their motto of “Educating for Life,” serving as “witnesses to the joy of a prayerful, simple Christian life” and striving to live the baptismal call “with fidelity and with openness to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
“We are thrilled that our home is now becoming the home of another ministry that is responding to another need in our community,” said Sr. Lewans. “We see the Hospice at Glengarda as a continuation of our mission, and so those who make their home here, and those who care for them, will always be in our prayers.”
Darryl Bazylak, Chair of the Board of Directors of Emmanuel Health, acknowledged that the new building stands on Treaty 6 territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis. He also acknowledged the history of Catholic health care in Saskatoon, which included the establishment of St. Paul’s Hospital after Grey Nuns of Montreal happened to stop in Saskatoon during an epidemic, and responded by providing their nursing ministry.
Bazylak pointed out ways in which St. Paul’s Hospital has been a leader in areas such as dialysis, kidney transplants, and palliative care, including lobbying and working to establish the residential Hospice at Glengarda to answer another unmet need.
“The ongoing success of Catholic health care is achieved through ongoing collaboration with our health care partners,” Bazylak stressed, thanking all the partners involved in the project, including the Saskatchewan Health Authority and a range of Catholic organizations, including the Ursulines of Prelate, the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation (which raised 100 per cent of the capital costs of the new building), and Samaritan Place, which will be responsible for the ongoing operation of the hospice with operational funding from the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Francis Maza, Executive Lead of Mission, Ethics and Spirituality for Emmanuel Care also spoke, bringing a message from Mary Donlevy-Konkin, board member of Emmanuel Care and vice-chair of Emmanuel Health.
“Emmanuel Care is accountable to the Church and to ensure that our Cahtolic institutions are not just a visible expression of compassion and healing in a community, but also that the services offered in each facility bear witness to the Good News of the Gospel and are congruent with our mission,” he said, reading Donlevy-Konkin’s message.
“That mission is measured both by the quality of care and the compassionate attitude and approach with which it is provided.”