Bishop's Blog

2018 Lenten Message

February 13, 2018

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday as we gather to receive the “mark of ashes,” an exterior sign of our desire for interior change and renewal.  The time period of Lent mirrors the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, the 40 years the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness – a biblical number reflecting the passage of a generation and the emergence of a new one.  Lent is an annual opportunity in the liturgical year to engage in a spiritual renewal and to prepare for Easter by returning to the Lord in every aspect of our lives through the practices of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. 


Daily life can be occupied with many distractions which impact upon the peace in our hearts and draw us away from the practices of prayer.  Lent is a time in our faith lives that invites a return to solitude, silence and prayer.  Lent resounds with the words of the psalmist calling us to “be still and know that I am God.”  (Ps. 46)  Pope Francis has described the experience of prayer in this way, "In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could lead to a hardness of heart, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of the boundless love of God, in order to experience his tenderness."


The pace of life sometimes isolates those who live in poverty or with underemployment.  This isolation reduces our personal contact with people living with insufficiency and those who could help can become disconnected from the needs of others.  The time of Lent echoes with the exclamation, "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." (Mt. 25: 35)  It is this reconnection which Lent summons in our hearts.  Through acts of sacrificial giving and in being truly present to the needs of others we recognize the sacred reflection of God in another person, we see their needs and our faith inspires us to respond generously.


When speaking of fasting, the third penitential practice of Lent, Pope Francis says, “Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”  This penitential practice helps us to control our desires and to be freely attentive and open to the love of God.

This is indeed a holy season in the liturgical year.  May this season of prayer, almsgiving and fasting be a time of true spiritual conversion for all of us which in preparing our hearts to rejoice with the Risen Christ at Easter!

Yours in Christ,

Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, D.D.
Bishop of Calgary

Related Offices Bishop's Office of Liturgy
Related Themes Catholic Life Lent

Canada Summer Jobs Program


February 16, 2018

Organizations which have applied to the Program (either by altering or modifying the problematic attestation, or submitting a paper application without checking the attention box) have begun receiving notification from Service Canada stating that their applications are deemed incomplete. Service Canada is giving organizations 10 days from the date of its letter to check the attestation box or have their applications rejected. Service Canada is giving organizations 10 days from the date of its letter to check the attestation box or have their applications rejected. Attached is a copy of the Service Canada letter which was scanned from a website.

Mr. Barry W. Bussey (Director, Legal Affairs for The Canadian Council of Christian Charities, one of the organizations that signed the interfaith faith statement released 25 January) is recommending that charities, which are still unwilling to affirm the attestation, respond to Service Canada’s letter by requesting an accommodation under the Charter and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Although it seems unlikely such a response will alter the government’s position, it may be of evidentiary value in future litigation at either the Federal or Supreme Court. A template of the letter is available below should it prove useful to any applicant wishing to respond in this way.

February 8, 2018

As you may already be aware, the Government of Canada has extended to Friday, 9 February 2018, its deadline for applications for the Canada Summer Jobs program. The government however has not changed its position about amending or removing the attestation.

  1. CCCB has updated its website with the statements and letters by Catholic dioceses expressing their concerns. Click here.
  2. Please check the CCCB website regularly for updates on this matter. Or check this page regularly.
  3. If your organization is going to suffer a loss by not being able to participate in this program, or if you have an individual story, please send the details to: or call 403-218-5500

Letter from the Bishop McGrattan

January 29, 2018

Re: Changes to the Government Requirement for Canada Summer Jobs Program 

Employment and Social Development Canada has changed the application process for the Summer Jobs funding program in 2018.

The following attestation is now required to be checked off by all organizations applying for federal funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program: "both the job and the organization's core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression." The government's website further specifies this includes "the right to access safe and legal abortions".  

A number of faith-based organizations are deeply concerned and cannot acquiesce to this new requirement since it would infringe on our beliefs, in the “dignity and sanctity of the human person from conception to natural death”, and the right to freedom of conscience and religion in our democratic society. I share this adamant objection and am advising all Catholic parishes, organizations, and charities in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary not to sign this attestation if they are applying for a grant through the Canada Summer Jobs program.  

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary operates many programs that serve people living in poverty and difficult life circumstances without asking about a person’s background or belief.  We serve because it is our witness of Christ through our faith that motivates us to do so. Therefore, I am disturbed and angry that our long-time tradition of service in our community has been disregarded in the formulation of application process changes. I strongly encourage you to contact your Member of Parliament asking them to remove the attestation from the application process and the determination of eligibility for funding. 

Yours in Christ,

† Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, D.D.
Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary

- Download Letter in PDF 


Contact your member of Parliament 


Photo: Interfaith Press Conference on #CanadaSummerJobs - CCCB/CECC

Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, D.D.
Bishop of Calgary

Related Offices Bishop's
Related Themes Catholic Faith CCCB Freedom of Religion Catholic Teachings

2017 Christmas Message

Friends, as the days of Advent pass and the celebration of Christmas approaches, I extend to you my greetings and prayers.  

Each Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, in a Bethlehem stable, to parents who were sustained by their trusting faith and their love for God and each other.  The historical circumstances of Jesus birth serve to remind us that we are to look for His divine presence first among the poor and vulnerable.  Within hours, an angel announced the good news of His birth to shepherds tending their flocks in the fields, to those who held no social status or political power, and they were the first to seek out the Child, Jesus.   Those who encountered Him recognised the incarnate embodiment of love, of hope, of joy, and peace in that stable. We are told that they glorified and praised God at this wondrous event.

In Jesus, God emptied Himself and became human like us.  God, who created the universe in majesty, showed His generosity and love, in accepting to be born and placed in a lowly manger among the animals and in the presence of the poor.  God who holds the world in His hands was himself embraced in the arms of a young woman from a Galilean village.  From this sign of self-emptying love, the path of salvation was set for us through sacrifice, humility, and solidarity with those who have no importance or true dignity in the secular world.  

This Christmas, let us try to look beyond the cultural signs of this festive season to the darkness that is in need of this Radiant Light. To see this light in the work of those helping refugees become resettled in our city, in those who volunteer at food banks or Feed the Hungry, in nurses and doctors caring for the elderly, in our peace keepers, in the patience of teachers who believe in students who struggle, in the faces of those who support women living in situations of domestic violence, those who offer respect and dignity to young mothers and their children rebuilding their lives through Elizabeth House, in those who stand beside the addicted in their struggles and the thousands of people who live every day the challenges that Christ embraced in his humanity.  

The birth of the Son of God can be received with great joy.  Christmas offers us the hope that the light of His birth will never be eclipsed by the darkness of human pain and despair. God comes among us and calls us to become ever more generous and evermore active in serving the needs of others.  As Christians we are called to be a path of hope and through our outreach the presence of Christ who is being reborn into our world with such acts of love and service. Let us find new ways to share the joy of the Incarnation through our prayer and acts of charity.

I invite you to reflect for a few moments this Christmas in front of the crèche and ponder the riches that we have received into our hearts. To know once again the great love that is born into the world through Jesus Christ and to profess our belief in Him whom we follow. 

May the blessings of Jesus’ Presence be with you and your families.  May Christ’s Love, Peace and Joy embrace you this Christmas and each day of your life.  Merry Christmas to everyone! 

Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, D.D.
Bishop of Calgary

Related Offices Bishop's
Related Themes Christmas
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