The Office of Youth Ministry is hoping a pilot project will help draw First Nations Youth closer to God, and closer to each other while offering them leadership skills to serve their people today and into the future. The pastors of the First Nation Reserves in southern Alberta met this year on several occasions with pastoral staff and members of the Mission Council who strongly supported the idea of a camp experience for First Nation Youth. The camp was held at Camp Columbus, the Knights of Columbus Camp in Waterton, National Park. A perfect backdrop to wonderful week.
Diocesan Youth Retreat Team (DYRT) coordinator Wesley Raymundo, directed the camp pilot project. He was working with the DYRT members, and religious sisters from the Seeds of the Word, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), and the Daughters of Mary Mother of the Church (DM) as they reached out to 13 high school youth from the Blood Reserve at Standoff, and the Piikani Reserve at Brocket. Youths were offered an experience of fun and faith over the five days, and together they laughed, played games, took part in skits, celebrated Mass, went horse backing riding, took short hikes, made crafts, prayed and sang songs.
Fr. Long Vu from the Siksika Nation in Cluny assisted at the camp as Chaplain for the five-day camp. One of Fr. Long Vu’s parishioners, Kelsey Solway, visited the camp and was encouraged by what she saw. She would like to be more involved next year, and bring some youth from the Siksika Reserve at Cluny. Kelsey shared:
“What I hope is that next year we are able to send more children to St. Kateri from Holy Trinity Parish in Siksika. Fr. Long expressed how important it was for our youth to be involved with building a relationship within the Catholic church and to become more involved. St. Kateri camp is a great way to foster those relationships. I was very impressed and cannot wait to attend next year. We hope that this is an annual event and I hope we can help more of our First Nations youth attend.”
First Nation youth, are not unlike youth in our cities and countryside who are longing for meaning and purpose in their lives. They desire to have fun, and experience God’s presence in their midst. As a diocese, we share a responsibility to reach out to the youth on our Reserves, and to communicate the Good News with them. Building community and relationships by our words and deeds speaks of God’s transforming love of peace and reconciliation, and is part of our mission as Catholics.
The youth who attended the camp came away feeling loved and part of a bigger family, and they were encouraged to be examples to others, to “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” [1 Tim: 4]. Selina Young Pine, from the Blood Reserve made sure prior to camp that she told everyone that, “at camp we are family, brothers and sisters.” She was not disappointed when she reflected, “From this camp I have gained more faith, and strength in Jesus, and I am humbled to say that I am a child of God.” Janelle Many Bears, told us that she “loves her new holy family.”
Taila Big Throat of the Blood Reserve summed up her experience by saying: “I really enjoyed coming to this camp; it was very nice meeting everyone and getting to know everyone, and most of all sharing each and everyone’s stories about faith. I really loved how everyone was Catholic and we all love and share in our God.”
Justin Lang, one of the counsellors for the week commented that “he had gained an incredible experience which was getting to know the youth, and being able to see them grow in their faith and really bond together with each other and with counselors to become more of a family.”
Let us continue to shape what has begun. Together we can build a civilization of love, and transform the communities that make up our diocese. We cannot just talk about what is possible, but we must have the courage to get involved, and take action going forth to make a difference. As the youth step forward and are encouraged in their faith they too will be formed as leaders who reflect the Gospel message in their lives, helping to transform the communities that they have grown up in, and also the world itself. St. Kateri is quoted as saying, “Who will teach me what is most pleasing to God, that I may do it?” May we do our part to reach out to the youth on the Reserves, and help to strengthen their faith.
It’s been said that Catholics have a saint for virtually every situation, event or possibility. Some of the more unusual include a saint for fireworks, unattractive people and dysentery (Saints Barbara, Drogo and Smyrna in that order)! Without being disrespectful, it is hard to imagine there being a saint of hangovers, oversleeping or caterpillars, but yes they do exist. There is even a Patron Saint of Beer (St. Arnulf of Metz). On the cool but strange side of the spectrum, St. Hubert of Liege is the Patron Saint of the Fear of Werewolves, while St. Columbanus is the Patron Saint of Motorcyclists. I will leave it to another time to muse on how St. Isidore of Seville, who died in 636 AD, is the Patron Saint of the Internet!
For all of the more unusual saints there are of course those most widely embraced and understood, from St. Valentine to St. George, St. Francis of Assisi to St. Joan of Arc. It’s also fair to say that many saints are invariably connected to a particular culture, from St. Mary MacKillop in Australia, to St. Kateri Tekakwitha for the First Nations in Canada, to St. Patrick in Ireland.
One of the most popular events at St. Mary’s University in Calgary is our annual hosting of our September Ghost Tour, an event that opens the campus to the community, that re-enacts scenes from our history, and that helps to mark our anniversary. As a Catholic university I often field questions from the media about why we are celebrating Hallowe’en, and I am always at pains to point out that we are, in fact, celebrating the stories of the institution’s founding, and not the feast so popular in October.
As a child, however, I was always confused that Hallowe’en preceded All Saints’ Day and wondered how they were connected. Needless to say I eventually learned of the rich thread that linked All Hallows’ Eve (31 October), to All Saints’ or Hallowmas (1 November) to All Souls’ Day (2 November), and I grew to look forward to the celebrations that acknowledged the saints that have transformed our faith life throughout the ages. Despite this long tradition, it remains a mystery to me how some saints have come to represent their particular attributes. Perhaps it’s enough to know that whatever befalls us, the saints have us covered! And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to say a prayer to St. Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of writers and journalists.
On Sunday June 4, a special celebration was held to honor the 110th Anniversary of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Nanton Alberta.
Construction of the church was completed on June 3, 1907. On this day Bishop Légal from St. Albert consecrated the new church and gave it the name of St. Cecilia, the patroness of church music and musicians. On this occasion we sang the last two verses of the hymn Pange Lingua in Latin as would have been heard in 1907. Certainly voices would have been raised in song; sung with joy to praise the Lord and to celebrate their new permanent place to worship.
A lovely potluck meal was enjoyed after Mass. Fr. Tim raised a glass and was joined by all to toast the 110th anniversary. A special part of the festivities was the recognition of nine longtime parishioners present that have attended this church for more than 50 years. A joyous Happy Birthday was sung and delicious cake was served.
Conversations shared this day are the reminiscing of years gone by; speaking of the present and looking forward to the future. In these busy, modern times, St. Cecilia’s is our blessing. Its longevity is visible; its architectural and spiritual character being preserved.
Over its 110-year history St. Cecilia’s has been served faithfully. Fr. Hughes from Prince Edward Island served the church and people from 1918-1933 celebrating Mass every two weeks. Fr. Rouleau, the first ordained priest from the Calgary Diocese came from 1933-1936. From 1936-1941 Rev. A. Tennant served both Stavely and Nanton. During the following six years, Fr. Murphy C.SS.R and Fr. Coyne C.SS.R, (Redemptorists) served this area and the Claresholm Air Force Base. After May 1947 the diocesan priests served. They included Fr. Pat O’Byrne, Fr. Frank Mackay and Fr. Mongeau. Fr. T. O’Riordan attended until 1977, when he was replaced by Fr. Van Tigham. From 1977 until 1998 Fr. Greg Coupal, Fr. T. Connelly, Fr. Dominic Hung Nguyen and Fr. Jim de Los Angeles were serving. For one year the church had no priest. Fr. Benedicto Marino was here from 1999-2006. Fr. Malcolm D’Souza arrived and stayed until 2010. Fr. Angelo D’Costa was present from 2010-2012. His replacement was Fr. Tim Boyle who resides in Claresholm. Currently, he oversees three parishes: Claresholm, Champion and Nanton.
An addition of a hall with seating for 100 people was completed in 1984. Now a modern, well-equipped kitchen adds many more opportunities for using our church hall. In the early 1990s, new parishioners, Ed and Francis Southgate presented the idea of having “toast and coffee” after Sunday Mass. This ritual still continues. Many parishioners linger on Sundays to share moments of togetherness, speak of current and past events, be supportive of one another and share laughter and discussions.
Skip ahead to 2017. Our church has been generously enriched throughout the years with the dedicated services of long-standing parishioners. Today, we are blessed with the arrival of new parishioners who add refreshment to St. Cecilia’s parish community. We remain very thankful to the pioneers of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church who not only built the building, but also built the faith.
St. Cecilia’s • A Poem by Lydia Dillman
This little church for you and me
How blessed we are to practice our faith in thee
One hundred and ten years, a testament to time; this little church steadfast
The visionary pioneers from yesteryear built it to withstand and last
St. Cecilia’s devoted parishioners provide time and loving care
To ensure that this little church will always be here for prayer
Envision the last one hundred years and ten; take time to wonder
The celebrations, the challenges, and the changes; ours to ponder
Present day we celebrate this little church; its past and present
Personally each of us reflect; what St. Cecilia’s to us has meant
St. Cecilia’s; the gift of time and endurance we celebrate today
Let us be forever thankful; to God we give our praise
This year, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary of confederation. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) invites every bishop of every diocese or eparchy to consecrate the country to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary on July 1. Families are also invited to commemorate this important event. We can do this by engaging the family in an active and communicative way!
To begin this journey with your family you need a Bible (and, if possible, a Children’s Bible) and the colouring page on page 6, and some colouring pencils. Prepare for the activity by reflecting on your relationship with your parents or with your children, so that you can share an example of your special relationship with your loved ones. Read the scripture passage, John 19:25-27.
- Have copies of the colouring page ready (1 per child). Click Here.
- Ask the children to describe something that they really like to do as a family, something that makes them feel special. For example, “each night before bed, Daddy reads to me and then we say our prayers together,” or “when Mommy makes my lunch she puts a special treat in the bag – something that she knows I will really like,” or “Mommy always knows what to say when I am feeling sad,” or “Daddy and I play outdoor hockey together on the weekends.”
- What makes these moments special? Is it because it is one-on-one time just between the parent and child?
- After everybody has had a chance to talk about their special times with mom or dad, read the scripture passage – John 19:25-27. If you don’t have a children’s Bible, you can paraphrase the passage in words that the children understand. It is important to mention that when children get older, they want to care for their parents, just as their parents cared for them when they were younger. Jesus wanted to make sure that his mother would be looked after. He wanted to make sure that his mother and John would take care of each other.
- Jesus also has a special relationship with his mother, and he wants us to care for her, and for her to care for us. That is why we pray through Mary that she will ask God to help us when we need it. We are comforted in the knowledge that Mary loves us and cares for us just as our parents do.
- This year Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. As Jesus entrusted the disciple John to his mother Mary, and his mother Mary to John, we, as Catholics, are marking this special occasion by entrusting our country to the care of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. By doing so, the Blessed Virgin, Mary, the mother of Jesus, will ask God to help us live together in peace and harmony.
Ask the children to colour the image of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Pray the Hail Mary together:
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
The Church has always recognized an affinity for the Blessed Virgin Mary. From its very origins this affinity is recognized in Luke by great meaning of the word “blessed.” The Greek word for “blessed” is “Echaritomene,” which literally means a person “having been graced” or a person “having been loved.” The Church responds to the injunction of scripture and responds with the same love for the Blessed Virgin: “‘All generations will call me blessed’: ‘The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.’ The Church rightly honours ‘the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honoured with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…. This very special devotion… differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.’” [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 971].
The greatness of St. Mary is often perplexing to people and even to Christians from other denominations. Blessed John Henry Newman acknowledged that scripture does not talk too often about The Blessed Virgin Mary. However, he notes that this in itself is something to be acknowledged to her praise. That despite being the Mother of God, who played a large role among the apostles, she never made this point to be important. Even the biblical authors mention the Virgin about the same number of times as the lesser known disciples. This is however, to Mary’s glory, since it is by being humble that “the meek shall inherit the earth” [Matt. 5:5]. The 19th century book, Fear and Trembling, describes the Blessed Virgin in this way: “To be sure, Mary bore the child wondrously, but she nevertheless did it ‘after the manner of women,’ and such a time is one of anxiety, distress, and paradox. The angel was indeed a ministering spirit, but he was not a meddlesome spirit who went to the other young maidens in Israel and said: ‘Do not scorn Mary, the extraordinary is happening to her!’ The angel went only to Mary, and no one could understand her” [Johannes de Silentio, Hong p. 65]. As we declare the Gospel to the world, to our families, to our husbands, wives and children, we look to St. Mary whose only goal was to serve Christ and God alone!
A blessed tradition dating back to some of the earliest times of the Church is the consecration or entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Saturday, July 1, everyone in the Diocese of Calgary is invited to meet at St. Mary’s Cathedral with Bishop McGrattan at 10:00 a.m. See Diocesan Dates on page 20 for details. The other dioceses and archdioceses in Canada will also meet on this day to consecrate Canada to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This consecration is an act of prayer where we will ask St. Mary, the Mother of God, and of all Christians, to pray to Christ from her Immaculate Heart for us.
Our fellowship with the saints and other Christians does not end in this life, but carries onto the next [LG 49]. This is the same living heart that said “yes” to God, and it is the same heart that prays for the world to recognize Jesus as the Savior and Lord of Canada and the Savior and Lord of the universe.