CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE, VANCOUVER, B.C.
KINGS UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON, ONTARIO
11 students and teachers from Corpus Christi College returned to the diocese in June 2015 as part of a service-learning program, which featured a focus on Aboriginal culture and issues in northern Canada. The team was led by the capable leadership of John O’Brien, SJ; Aiden Wickey, and Christina Dumont. Upon their arrival on Monday June 4, the group enjoyed an orientation and summary of the major features and issues for the Catholic Church in the north by Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Patrick Scott, and Emeritus Bishop Denis Croteau, OMI. The two week visit featured visiting two communities in the Decho region of the Diocese: Fort Liard and Wrigley, NWT. Students also visited the youth outreach center in the NWT, named “The Side Door”, located in downtown Yellowknife, and the communities of Dettah, Behchoko, and Fort Providence, and Fort Simpson.
The pastoral staff here at the Diocese was very grateful for the hard work and generous service of the students. We also appreciated the great energy and enthusiasm the group brought to everything they did. We look forward to further opportunities to receive more Corpus Christi College service-learning students in the future.
For the fifth consecutive, a group of undergraduate students from Kings University College came to the 25th annual Pine Channel Spiritual Gathering in northern Saskatchewan. Located on the north side of Lake Athabasca, the site is an impressive sign of the faith of the communities of the Athabasca Dene peoples.
The pilgrimage site of the communities of Fond Du Lac, Black Lake, and Stony Rapids in the Athabasca region of northern Saskatchewan is on the traditional lands of the Chipewyan Dene people. The site is out of this world …and yet …very much in this world. Located half-way between the Fond du Lac and Black Lake communities on a long-extending island on the north side of Lake Athabasca, it is located in some of the most beautiful and pristine environment in this region.
The site features a dock, a long red wooden pathway leading to a freshly-painted large open-air permanent structure that is the main body of a church/worship space. At the front end is a raised sanctuary where the altar and Blessed Sacrament is positioned.
This year Archbishop Murray Chatlain from the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, also attended. +Murray is well know to the Athabasca peoples – he served as their local pastor for about 5 years, and then was the Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith from 2007 to 2013. +Chatlain’s visit was also the occasion to propose the transfer of the Athabasca region from the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith to the Archdiocese of Keewatin- Le Pas. This proposal has become a major consideration because of the greater connection of the Athabasca peoples with the Dene communities in Keewatin-Le Pas, and the greater and more costly distance between the Athabasca region and Yellowknife.
The visiting students from King’s University College this year again featured a team of talented and energetic students who were very devoted to their role and participation in this special spiritual gathering. Students were from the Catholic teachers program and social work program at Kings. Guided by their chaplain, Father Michael Bechard, the students participated in a range of activities for children and youth throughout the week-long pilgrimage. The students also joined along-side of the other pilgrims for Rosary, Holy Eucharist, and the various liturgies throughout the week which featured the annual blessing ritual in support of married couples, and a blessing and commitment ritual for persons struggling with addictions recovery.
A vivid memory of the Kings students was the regular gathering of Athabasca youth and young adults around the Kings students – to ‘hang out’ with them and to share stories and life-experiences. The students were inspiring examples of servant and caring leadership. The Diocese looks forward to building on the developing legacy of Kings University-College service at the Pine Channel Spiritual Pilgrimage.