Bishop Hagemoen visits parish cluster of Wynyard, Foam Lake and Wishart: discussions include pastoral challenges faced by small rural parish

Bishop Mark Hagemoen (front, right) and pastor Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu celebrated Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Advent with parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Wishart Dec. 18. At a meeting after Mass, parishioners spoke to the bishop about challenges facing the shrinking rural community. (Submitted photos)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

At the invitation of local pastor Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu, Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen visited the parish communities of St. Mary, Wynyard; Christ the King, Foam Lake; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart, SK, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2022.

Bishop Hagemoen was invited by Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu to celebrate with the parish communities of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart (pictured), St. Mary, Wynyard, and Christ the King, Foam Lake. (Submitted photo)

The pastoral visits Dec. 17-18 included celebration of Sunday Mass in each parish, as well as parish and community social gatherings. The bishop also heard more about some of the pastoral challenges facing the Catholic communities.

“The parishioners that make up these Catholic communities are very faithful and supportive,” said Bishop Hagemoen, reflecting on the pastoral visit.

“In spite of that, the shrinking community in Wishart has been struggling with its operation since the pandemic, and has been discerning whether the parish should close,” he said.

Unlike Wynyard and Foam Lake – who have seen their communities stabilize over the last few years – Wishart has been more affected by the shifting demographics that many prairie communities have experienced when population declines and services such as schools and businesses leave the community, the bishop noted.

“The visit was therefore an opportunity to discuss with the parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart, about ways to continue to operate, and also – if they ever made the decision to seek “decommissioning” as a parish — about the vision for the community beyond such a decision,” he said.

A meeting with parishioners following Sunday Mass in Wishart featured much discussion and many questions. Following the meeting the community continued their time with the bishop by joining together for a pot-luck lunch.

“My own impression is that the community will take at least the coming New Year to continue to discern next steps and their future,” Hagemoen said. “However, whatever happens – this is a faithful community that will persists in their faith life, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months.”

Pot-luck lunch with parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish at Wishart, SK (Submitted photo)

Community celebration in Wynyard

The visit to St. Mary Parish in Wynyard, SK for Saturday evening Mass on Dec. 17 was followed by a community celebration in the local hall, that included the participation of Filipino Catholic parishioners, and the donation of $700 that they raised in support of the parish at Wynyard .


At a community celebration Dec. 17 a donation of $700 in support of the parish at Wynyard was presented by the Filipino Catholic community to Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu. (Submitted photo)


Filipino Catholic parishioners were among those participating in a community celebration Dec. 17 in Wynyard, SK. (Submitted photo)

History of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart:

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Wishart, SK, was built in 1951-54. The present church is the third building to serve the parish community that was founded by Polish settlers who came to the area in 1906. The parish became part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon when diocesan boundaries in Saskatchewan shifted in 1998. (Information from “Building the Church, Living the Gospel” by Margaret Sanche, Photo by Daniel J. Classen)