The adventure continues in the Winter and Spring seasons in the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. The early New Year’s season began with the annual Western Canadian Bishops’ Retreat at Westminster Abbey. This year’s retreat leader was Emeritus Bishop James Weisgerber. The retreat was an opportunity to be renewed with the assistance of helpful reflections by Bishop Weisgerber, and to reconnect with the Bishops at what is always the wonderfully ascetic environment of the Mission Benedictine monastery.
There would be the opportunity to reconnect with the Bishops at the Annual Western Bishops Plenary, held in the Diocese of Victoria in late February.
Before the plenary, the January and early February period featured an 18-day road trip with the NET Canada Ministry Team and one of our Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinators, Adele Costanza. The trip took us along the winter road system through the Decho and Sahtu regions, and featured providing youth events and retreats at several faith communities, including Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Nahanni Butte, Norman Wells, Tulita, Deline, and Fort Good Hope. The trip was not only a great opportunity to re-connect with people from the communities, but to also experience the deep faith, joy, and enthusiasm of members of the NET Team. They were truly inspiring, not only in terms of their youth ministry work, but also the witness of their own lives of seeking and living for the Lord.
Photo games with Cameron Primeau of the NET Team in Fort Providence.
Celebration of the Eucharist at St. Mary’s, Nahanni Butte.
Sunday Mass and “feast” in Fort Simpson.
“On the road” – Quick picture in the cold Wrigley Church
“The Transportation:” – the Dodge….and…. the Ranger!!
The road trip featured several celebrations of the Sacraments, including the wedding of Bernard Tutcho and Estelle Kochon in Colville Lake, and several Baptisms in Norman Wells.
Celebration of ASH WEDNESDAY at Weledeh Elementary School, Yellowknife
Following the Winter road trip, had a great 3 day visit to Saint Peter’s Seminary and King’s University College, London, Ontario to facilitate a Lenten weekend retreat. The sessions also provided an opportunity to promote King’s service learning summer project in Pine Channel, in the Athabasca region of northern Saskatchewan.
Early March began with our annual Pastoral Leaders Retreat at Trapper’s Lake. This year’s retreat was facilitated by Mary Lynn Murray of Madonna House, Combermere, and Melody McLeod of our own diocese, and former Chair of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Aboriginal Committee. The retreat featured a time of reflection of seeing ourselves in the quiet, peaceful heart of Our Lord where we are called to deepening intimacy and conversion, and reflecting on Aboriginal features of Catholic spiritual and ritual practice.
The retreat was also a time to honour two long-time pastoral leaders of our Diocese, Sisters Joan Liss and Pauline Girodat, SSND. Both have been recalled by their order to return to their mother house this summer. Their ministerial service in our Diocese has featured placements in St. Joseph’s in Fort Resolution, and their present assignment in Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Good Hope.
I presently write this posting while visiting the western Arctic communities of the Inuvialuit region of the Diocese. The visit has featured an ice road trip from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk to join the community for the blessing of the newly-renovated Our Lady of Grace Church. The weekend blessing Mass featured the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion.
It was a proud day for Sr. Fay Tremblay, SCIC, pastoral leaders Jean Gruben and Dorothy Loreen, and the entire community. The project featured three years of work, and included volunteers from both inside and outside the community- most notably from the French community in Whitehorse, Yukon.
I am presently in the community of Paulatuk, staying at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. Marlene Wolki, local pastoral leader, and the community are extending their warm welcome, and are preparing to receive a guest priest, Fr. Michael Rosinski, SJ, who will be coming from Ottawa to celebrate the Holy Week and Easter Triduum. The blustery, wind-swept Arctic coast community is joyfully receiving the lengthening sunny days, as they prepare to celebrate what they describe as their most important season – the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord at Easter.
Finally, a tribute to Peter (Dai Nguyen): Keep Going For It!!
Mahsi-cho. In Our Lord,
Bishop Mark A. Hagemoen
Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith