Encounters and Projects: Fall-Winter 2014

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The Fall and early Winter season has been full in the Diocese of Mackenzie- Fort Smith. The summer season, which featured one of the worst forest fire season in 40 years, was a thrilling time and had several features. The Diocese was blessed by the visits from Corpus Christi College in Vancouver and Kings University-College in London, Ontario for service learning visits. The annual ‘spiritual events-pilgrimages’ were a time of blessing and inspiration. These included: Pine Channel, Athabasca region; Russell Lake, near Betchakho; Lac St. Anne; the gathering at Deline in the Sahtu. The deep faith and desire to know, honour, love, and serve the Creator was inspiring, and revealed to me a people of great feeling and yearning for God. I was also blest by the visit of my own parents in the latter part of August.

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The Fall Season began with my visit to “Bishop’s School at the Vatican. From September 7 to the 20 I participated in several presentations from various prefects and secretaries from the various Vatican curia offices. Topics included: the mission of the Church today; ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue; the ‘fatherhood’ of the Bishop; working the priests and various religious and lay organizations; administration and finance; Catholic education; Church as ‘servant’. Highlights included: meeting with the various Bishops from Propagation of the Faith Diocese in Africa, Asia, India, and South America, including Bishop Anthony Krotki, OMI, from the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson, and the meeting with Pope Francis on the last day of the conferences.

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+Mark Hagemoen with several of the Sisters at the Felician Mother House, Rome.

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The Felician Sisters currently serving in our Diocese are: Celeste Goulet, CSSF, and Mary Lee Przblyski, CSSSF (see below, beside Fr. Donald Flummerfeld)

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The Diocese continues to be blessed in its youth ministry development by the presence of the first ever diocesan team from NET Ministries Canada. The NET Team will be in our diocese from October 2014 to May 2015. They are also assisting with support roles at our retreat center at Trapper’s Lake. The objective of the NET Team is to raise up youth leaders from the communities within our own Diocese.

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We were recently blessed to receive Peter Dai Nguyen, a young man from the Vinh Diocese of Vietnam. Peter is staying for a year at Trapper’s Lake Retreat Center, and is doing various work tasks for our Diocese as he improves his English, and discerns the call to priesthood. After a year with us in Yellowknife, we hope that he can go on to Seminary to begin his Philosophy studies in the pre-Arts academic program.

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Another recent highlight was the October Study Days with the pastoral team of the Diocese, held at Trapper’s Lake. This year featured two guest presenters: Emeritus Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, CSB, who focused on Pope Francis’ encyclical, The Joy of the Gospel. The other speaker, Sister Donna Ciango, OP, focused on the practical application of the encyclical on pastoral planning in our various faith communities. In addition to the wonderful presentations, a feature for all was hearing from representatives of the various communities, including their own hopes, concerns and challenges, and priorities moving forward.

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I presently write this posting while visiting the faith communities of the Sahtu. I have just left the community of Colville Lake, where I feel privileged and blest to be present during an important time in the life of this community. The passing of Bernwell Brown last July at the age of 93 represents a benchmark time for the people here in Our Lady of the Snows, Colville Lake, and perhaps also for the Sahtu region. The faith of the Sahtu people is very strong (!!), in part because of the heroic and treasured lives of the Oblate community, along with the deep faith and spirituality that has always been present in the lives and culture of the Dene people. This faith continues to be called deeper, as the Dene people of the communities call for a broadening of life and activity in their faith communities.

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I look forward to working together as we hear the Spirit’s blessing and ‘work’ in terms of the faith life of our communities, including worship and prayer; sacramental celebration; faith development; and healing and growth support.

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Celebration on Sunday November 9 of the Territorial victory by both the Grade 8 and Senior Volleyball Teams of Chief T’Selehye School in Fort Good Hope. Following the presentation of the team and the victory banners, the junior drummers led a drum prayer and dance.

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Indeed, it is a time of blessing and growth in the Diocese of Mackenzie-FSmith.

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Mahsi-cho. In Our Lord,
+Mark