[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – While the upcoming delegation of Indigenous leaders and Canadian bishops travelling to Rome next month to meet the Pope in Rome is an “important, outward and public sign of a commitment to healing and reconciliation,” Catholics must look inward to answer the call to true healing, said Cardinal Thomas Collins.
The answer to the call is with prayer and meaningful action, said Collins.
“We particularly are resolved to repent for the lack of respect shown to the Indigenous people of this land, made especially evident in the residential schools,” the cardinal told the virtual audience that tuned in for the annual Cardinal’s Dinner Nov. 23. The theme for this year’s dinner was “Our Journey Toward Healing and Reconciliation.”
“We also should recognize and celebrate the beauty, truth and goodness offered to our whole community in the traditions and history of the Indigenous people, and especially within the Catholic Church,” he said in his remarks for the Dinner that was live-streamed for the second straight year because of the pandemic.
Indigenous elder Rosella Kinoshameg from Manitoulin Island shared an opening prayer at the Dinner to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, North America’s first Indigenous saint, for the virtual guests.
Collins said it’s important to have an understanding of the truth about residential schools, adding he’s heartened to “hear from so many of the faithful who wish to be directly engaged in this journey.”
Collins, speaking from St. Ann’s Parish in Toronto’s downtown core, home of the archdiocese’s Native Peoples’ Mission, read the September apology from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for the Church’s role in Canada’s residential schools system and discussed the bishops’ $30-million commitment to support Indigenous people and communities on this reconciliation journey. The Archdiocese of Toronto has also established a fund that is raising funds toward the same goal.
“In planning to fulfill the Archdiocese of Toronto’s share of this commitment, we are consulting with diverse Indigenous voices to help us discern how our financial support can best meet the needs of Indigenous peoples and groups, in our archdiocese and elsewhere in Canada,” said Collins.
“In addition to prayer and action, it is critical that we listen to Indigenous voices.”
He invited viewers — the event was broadcast on Salt + Light TV as well as live-streamed on the archdiocese’s social media feeds — to find their role in healing and reconciliation.
Whether it’s through prayer, self-education, financial support or some other means, I encourage you in your efforts,” said Collins.
The evening also saw a number of Indigenous and Catholic partners share their experiences, wisdom and faith with viewers. The cardinal thanked them — Graydon Nicolas, former lieutenant governor of New Brunswick, elder John Robinson, Maria Lucas and Indigenous dancer Julia Kozak — for helping the archdiocese on “our collective journey of healing and reconciliation.”
A number of bishops from across Canada participated via video, joining in a montage reading the recent Canadian Catholic Bishops’ Apology to the Indigenous Peoples of This Land, including Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon, and Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas.
The Cardinal’s Dinner, now in its 43rd year, is an annual event begun by Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter that raises funds for charities within the archdiocese and beyond. Over the years it has raised more than $6 million. This year donors will be able to target their donations, either to the archdiocese’s reconciliation fund or to another charity. To learn more or to donate: LINK.