Warm-up location in Saskatoon church hall offers shelter from life-threatening cold temperatures

Frigid cold temperatures in January 2024 are again highlighting the need for warm-up locations as part of a cold-weather emergency response. (Photo by Bishop Mark Hagemoen)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

This winter, St. Mary Catholic Church in Saskatoon has opened the doors of its hall on 20th Street West as an overnight warm-up location, in partnership with the Salvation Army and with federal government funding.

Since Dec. 4, 2023, the warm-up location has been open at St. Mary’s hall from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven nights a week; it will continue to offer over-night shelter until March. With life-threatening frigid temperatures affecting the province in January, the importance of having an overnight warm up location is more important than ever, note community leaders.

“We are navigating new territory as we try to respond to an unprecedented number of people who will find themselves without shelter during these winter months,” said Fr. Kevin McGee, pastor of St. Mary Parish. “Without access to a warm shelter, some of these people will die in the extreme cold. If the use of our hall can save even one life, our partnership will be worth it.”

“The guests that visit the site have no other options on dangerously cold winter nights. These people have names; they are not strangers but someone’s children, brothers, sisters, parents, neighbours, and above all, children of God who deserve to have their basic needs met,” said Myron Rogal, Coordinator of Justice and Peace in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

Ways to help

Leaders have several suggestions for those seeking to help, asking for prayer and advocacy as well as donations.

“Please continue to pray for the guests of the site and for everyone involved,” says a communique from organizers. As well: “Take time to advocate for those in need: meet, inform, and/or work with elected officials, with other helping agencies, and people of other faiths to take collective steps that will reduce poverty.”

As for donations, monetary donations to assist St. Mary Catholic Church in continuing to provide outreach and support for those in the neighbourhood without access to many basic needs can be made in person, dropped off or mailed to St. Mary Parish, 211 Avenue O South, Saskatoon, S7M 2R6 or for more information about donation options call the parish office at (306) 244-2983 or e-mail rnbaker@rcdos.ca. Donors can also make a gift to the diocesan warm-up location fund by contacting the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation at (306) 659-5851 or admin@dscf.ca.

Donations of needed items – including blankets, mitts, gloves, toques, and jackets – can be dropped off at St. Mary Parish Office during regular office hours, or any time at the Salvation Army, 339 Avenue C South, Saskatoon.

Volunteers are not needed at the moment say organizers. As this project is new, organizers are still discerning where volunteers might be able to serve most effectively, says Rogal. (To be kept up-to-date on volunteer opportunities, please contact Myron Rogal in the diocesan Office of Justice and Peace at mrogal@rcdos.ca.)


Kiply Lukan Yaworski is coordinator of communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – rcdos.ca.