By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Bishop Mark Hagemoen gathered with pastors, parish leaders, and diocesan ministry staff for an annual Administration Day Sept. 14, 2022, held at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, as well as on Zoom.
“What I appreciate about today is that we have named some administrative concerns, but we are oriented by mission,” said Bishop Hagemoen, reflecting on the annual day in the diocese of Saskatoon.
Administration Day 2022 included introduction of recently-arrived pastors and new diocesan and parish staff members; and reflections and reports on local involvment in the recent visit to Canada by Pope Francis, when he apologized Indigenous peoples for the Catholic Church’s involvement in residential schools.
Various presenters provided information about creating cohesive teams, the work of Development and Peace Caritas Canada, safeguarding and the Covenant of Care, as well as sharing administration and ministry highlights.
The day-long meeting also featured the launch of the 2022 Bishop’s Annual Appeal and the distribution of materials to parishes for use in the weeks ahead.
Launching the day with celebration of Mass on the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, Bishop Mark Hagemoen noted that for many, including those in ministry, September is the “true new year.”
The bishop said it was fitting that the diocesan Administration Day for parishes and ministry leaders fell upon a day focused on the saving cross of Jesus Christ.
“This holy day is powerful because in many ways it blesses and sums up our faith,” he said, pointing to the humility of Christ – who did not exult himself, but “emptied, emptied, emptied himself all the way, serving and loving God’s people, giving everything, even enduring death on a cross” – as an ideal model for ministry.
Following Mass, MC Daniel Pettipas of Saint Anne Parish welcomed participants from across the diocese to “Admin Day,” which in addition to the program of information and updates also serves as an annual opportunity for networking and connecting among colleagues, parishes, and ministry coordinators.
New clergy and staff introduced
Bishop Hagemoen introduced new administration and finance staff at the Catholic Pastoral Centre – Rita Flaman-Jarrett, Rita Taylor, Ryan Baker and Ruth Carr – as well as staff whose roles have changed recently: Andrea Alas is now serving as Development Manager for the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation, and Catherine Couture has taken over as Executive Assistant to the Bishop while Heather Fiolleau is on leave.
The bishop also introduced recently-arrived priests in the diocese: Fr. Prince Sarpong, who is serving the parishes at Leader, Lancer, and Liebenthal, SK; Fr. Kenneth Webb, who is the moderator chaplain of Sacred Heart of Jesus Latin Mass Community in Saskatoon; and Msgr. Don Pavilando, who will be the associate pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Saskatoon as well as serving the Filipino Catholic community.
A number of other priests are expected to arrive soon in the diocese, Bishop Hagemoen noted.
MC Daniel Pettipas also introduced a number of new staff members at parishes across the diocese:
- Office Manager Chantelle Higgins at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Martensville;
- Evangelization and Mission Coordinator A.J. Vicente and Administrative Assistant Johanna Fashola at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon;
- Financial Administrator Shannon Granger, Pastoral Associate Erin Gratton, and Building Maintenance Ed Yuzyk at Holy Spirit Parish in Saskatoon;
- Sunday Experience Coordinator Heather Hickey at Saint Anne Parish in Saskatoon;
- Office Manager Denise Germain and Office Assistant Jamie Abel-Fleishhacker at St. Augustine Parish in Humboldt;
- Parish Life Director Jeffrey Farthing at St. Augustine Parish, Saskatoon;
- Catechist Carrie-Anne Hradecki at St. Bruno Parish, Bruno and St. Agnes, Parish Peterson, SK;
- Parish Secretary Vanessa Banesh at St. Paul Co-Cathedral;
- Treasurer Jessica Lalonde at the Wynyard, Wishart, Foam Lake, SK parishes.
Papal visit reflections
During the program that followed, several speakers spoke about the local involvement and impact of the historic visit of Pope Francis to Canada in July 2022, including Bishop Mark Hagemoen and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Life Director (PLD) Debbie Ledoux who were both in attendance at Maskwacis, AB, when the pope apologized for the harm to those who attended Catholic-run residential schools, as well as attending the event at the Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage site the following day.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen said he is still coming to terms with the experience and encounters of Pope Francis’ visit. “I had the privilege of attending the events in Edmonton, and I also had the privilege of attending and spending a lot of time with Debbie in Edmonton,” he said, thanking her for her leadership.
“Debbie, you left room for God to work. People were in different places,” he said. “Debbie was able to invite them to a pilgrimage event and allow people to work and to be where they are at in their healing journey.”
He added: “I think we will all be grappling with – through the movement of the Holy Spirit – what has happened in the encounter with Pope Francis and the Indigenous peoples of the country we now call Canada, and the non-Indigenous peoples for a long time. It was a blessed event and (there are) lots of fruits to unfold.”
PLD Debbie Ledoux shared her experience of leading a group of 27 pilgrims on the bus trip from Saskatoon to the papal visit events in the Edmonton area.
She began her report with thanks to the administration staff at the Catholic Pastoral Centre for their help in organizing the trip, and for the encouragement of the bishop. (The bus pilgrimage was organized with support and assistance from the diocese of Saskatoon and was provided at no cost to participants.) “The grace of God helped us through it.”
Participants in the bus trip included residential school survivors, the children of survivors, victims of the “60s scoop,” and others affected by the multi-generational effects of the residential school system that took children away from their families and punished them for speaking their language, in a harsh environment that for many included sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
Some of the pilgrims on the Our Lady of Guadalupe trip were Catholic parishioners, but a number had no affiliation with the Church and are still struggling to come to terms with the effects of residential schools, racism, addictions, and colonialism, she said, noting that each person was on a different place in their journey, and every individual has been affected differently by the experience of hearing the papal apology. “Creator God was working through the Holy Spirit on this bus,” she affirmed
The journey started with a stop at the former Thunderchild (St. Henri) residential school site at Delmas, SK, said Ledoux, describing how travellers walked the grounds and gathered in a circle to smudge and to pray, laying down tobacco for all the children that never made it home from residential school.
“One of our participants actually went there, and another participant’s parents went there: and that was the beginning of our pilgrimage trip…. A lot of emotions were stirred up. It was the beginning of our tearful moments together.”
Up very early the next morning to board the bus for Maskwacis, the group welcomed the snacks delivered by the bishop to the university residence where the pilgrims were staying, she said. “When we got there, people got off the bus and just went — I lost my group!”
Maskwacis was a “crying, emotional, heavy, heavy place to be,” she related, describing how it began to rain, with so many in the crowd in tears. “I remember saying ‘Creator God is blessing us, because we need that right now.’ And we really did.”
She said that the moment that particularly struck home for her was when Pope Francis returned a pair of tiny child-sized moccasins to Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier, a retired chief of Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan – fulfilling a promise that he had made three months before in Rome to visit Indigenous peoples on their own land.
“That was an amazing moment, because he promised that he would be here, and he did come to our sacred ground in Canada.”
After the event, later that evening, a number of the Saskatoon pilgrimage participants gathered for a time of prayer and sharing. “That was another moment, a very powerful moment… I am sure many of them did not share before.”
The next day the group went to Lac Ste. Anne and were blessed to be close to Pope Francis. “Just seeing him in person, how powerful that was,” she said. “But I also want you to know that our people who were on the bus had many many mixed emotions. Many were still very angry. Many are not sure why they went…. ” She said for some, witnessing the papal visit was a huge step, but for others, the struggle continues and the event raised painful emotions, even bringing back nightmares and re-awakening buried feelings.
In the days following the bus trip, Ledoux has reached out to the group, invited the fellow travellers to a follow-up meal, with plans to continue to journey and to share with those who wish to meet again. The long and painful journey of healing involves many “baby steps,” she stressed. “Towards reconciliation — baby steps. We can’t leap to reconciliation in big leaps, it can’t happen quickly,” she said.
“We have to sit together as a Catholic Church, sit together with those that are still in pain. Walk with them.”
Myron Rogal, coordinator of the diocesan Office of Justice and Peace, also provided a report about a local “Walking and Healing Together” event held July 26 in Saskatoon for residential school survivors and their families and for all who were interested in being together to view video broadcasts of Pope Francis’ apology at Maskwacis, his homily during Mass at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and his visit to Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage site.
The free day-long event at St. Mary Wellness and Education Centre in Saskatoon also had opportunities for prayer, beginning with a pipe ceremony, as well as a Mass at nearby St. Mary Parish, with a sacred fire burning throughout the day next to a tipi on the school grounds, with supports on site from elders and professional counsellors, and self-care stations set up, meals provided, as well as speakers, and a program of entertainment to conclude the day.
Although numbers in attendance were small, Rogal stressed the broad community support experienced in organization of the day, and powerful pillars of the day: prayer, traditional ritual, and healing. “It was really a privilege to be part of an event where you could hear conversations among people who really hadn’t talked about the residential school experience before, open up, to talk to other survivors, other people in their community who wanted to hear what they were saying. There was a tremendous amount of learning that happened. It was truly a sacred place,” he said.
“We had clergy join us throughout the day, which was wonderful, we had people from different parishes partake in the day… and many volunteers from the school division as well,” he said, adding that there was interest and support expressed in the wider community as well. The day ended on a celebratory note with a meal and entertainment by drummers, musicians and dancers.
Communications coordinator Kiply Lukan Yaworski noted that the papal visit is not just something to “check off”, but that efforts toward healing and reconciliation must continue and are continuing. She pointed to the recent work of a Discernment Circle for the Catholic TRC Healing Fund in launching covenant guidelines that will determine what projects might be supported by that fund, for which there is ongoing fund-raising underway. As well a four-module Indigenous Pastoral Lay Leadership Program is starting again in the diocese, offered online for all leaders or anyone interested in broadening their understanding of issues and relationships related to Truth and Reconciliation.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen concluded by noting that much is also happening on the national level as a result of the extraordinary papal visit, including a renewed focus and reorganization of the work of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) through its Indigenous council and papal visit working group, as well as the national Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle, an organization of Catholic and Indigenous leaders.
“We continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us in our journey with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and that we will continue to be able to realize what it means, in the spirit of accompaniment, ‘not for us, but with us.’ And ultimately we know it is the Holy Spirit that calls us to walk with God as we continue the healing and reconciliation journey,” concluded the bishop.
Human Resources – building teams
Diocesan Human Resources consultant Vickie Towriss provided a presentation on ways to build and nurture engaged and cohesive teams.
Cohesive teams that “appreciate and value each person’s strengths and contributions” have a big impact on the success of an organization and on the health and productivity of team members, she said.
Towriss explored themes of connection, a positive approach, having conscious attitudes tuned to happiness, well-being and gratitude, and the importance of recognition and appreciation in a workplace or on any team.
Trusting that “someone cares about me as a person” brings a lot of “social capital” with it, she noted, stressing the importance of active listening, and connecting all team members with the mission.
She also noted that there are a number of tools available to help a team come to a greater understanding of their own style and the style of colleagues.
Development and Peace Caritas Canada
Michael LeBlanc, the new provincial animator for the Canadian Catholic organization Development and Peace Caritas Canada, spoke at Administration Day, giving updates and information about the upcoming fall campaign and the priorities and focus of Development and Peace.
As animator, LeBlanc works with dioceses, members and parish representative across the province to highlight the mission, work, campaigns and efforts of Development and Peace.
Started by the Canadian Catholic bishops of Canada in 1967, Development and Peace is the Canadian member of the Caritas network of Catholic aid agencies headquartered in the Vatican. Development and Peace works with and through partners on the ground in the Global South, covering four key areas: peace and reconciliation, democracy, ecological justice, and justice for women, said LeBlanc in an overview about the organization.
LeBlanc highlighted some of the 69 community projects underway around the world, and spoke about the ongoing “People and Planet First” awareness and social action campaign to push for legislation ensuring greater corporate accountability for Canadian companies operating abroad, including accountability in their supply chains, when it comes to mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence.
Safeguarding – Covenant of Care
Brenda FitzGerald of the Diocesan Safeguarding Committee provided an update about the diocese’s safeguarding commitments and plans presently underway in three specific areas.
Firstly, the diocesan committee is looking into the establishment of a liturgical event or day of prayer in the diocese to acknowledge and pray for the victims/survivors of sexual abuse.
The second priority area is the commitment in the diocesan action plan to work on education to establish and strengthen a culture of respect and safety, FitzGerald said. One identified need in this area is to provide resources, information or education on parenting in a digital/ social media age with a particular focus on children’s internet and technology safety.
“We will be looking for a parish that is willing to pilot this offering this year in one of our parishes, and then take our learning from that and apply that and maybe see if we can provide that on a wider basis.”
Finally, the safeguarding committee is also committed to finding ways for dioceses and parishes to become more victim/survivor focused “in everything we do,” FitzGerald added.
She also noted that the Catholic Mutual Group Connect online training for staff and volunteers was launched last year in the diocese, and continues to be accessed and available to parishes and groups.
Policies and procedures continue to be reviewed, she noted, encouraging leaders to provide feedback and suggestions.
Bishop’s Annual Appeal
Raissa Bugyi, Executive Director of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation, introduced the 2022 Bishop’s Annual Appeal, providing an overview of the “Serving Others” theme and presenting this year’s BAA prayer, resource packages, and video. “I hope you can bring Serving Others to the forefront for the next six weeks of the BAA,” she said.
Bugyi also introduced a number of other Catholic Foundation initiatives including Will Power regarding having a will, as well as information on legacy gifts, and memorial donations, as well as resources on the dscf.ca website.
She also noted that following up on Bishop Mark Hagemoen’s recent running events to raise funds for the Catholic TRC Healing Fund, next year there will be two teams running in the Great Canadian Death Race.
To date, over $800,000 has been raised toward the diocese’s $1.25 million Catholic TRC Healing Response commitment, which is part of a $30-million national reconciliation fund-raising effort, said Bugyi.
Ministry reflection and Adult Faith updates
Evangelization and adult faith were highlighted at Administration Day, beginning with a presentation on “Every Catholic a Disciple Maker” led by diocesan Evangelization and Mission Leader John Hickey, with input from Marc Cardaronella of the Diocese of Kansas City and Parish Life Director Matthew Courchene of St. John Bosco in Saskatoon.
Later in the day, a “Wednesday Afternoon Live!” panel introduced upcoming Adult Faith programs in the diocese.
Related PDF: Adult Faith – Proclaim, Awaken, Encounter magazine
More on the ministry presentation can be found at: Administration Day focus on evangelization and Adult Faith programs in the diocese of Saskatoon