Spiritual Pilgrimages, Summer Travels, MFS Diocese Welcomes New Pastors

Summer 2015 has featured familiar and new spiritual gatherings and events. This summer’s pilgrimages included:

  • PINE CHANNEL, Athabasca Region from July 5 to 12;
  • RUSSEL LAKE, Tlicho Region from June 31 to July 4;
  • LAC SAINT ANNE PILGRIMAGE, Lac St. Anne, Alberta from July 18 to 23
  • DELINE SPIRITUAL GATHERING, Sahtu Region from August 15-18

The spiritual gatherings feature prayer, celebration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, and community events as the Dene peoples come together for retreat and the seeking of the Creator’s blessings.

This year featured the 25th Anniversary of the Pine Channel Spiritual Pilgrimage. This event of the Athabasca Dene Peoples received its inspiration from the MFS Diocesan Synod, which recommended spiritual events for families and communities.

This year featured the 25th Anniversary of the Pine Channel Spiritual Pilgrimage. This event of the Athabasca Dene Peoples received its inspiration from the MFS Diocesan Synod, which recommended spiritual events for families and communities.

However, this summer also featured some unique events. In Late July Deline First Nations hosted a ‘water conference’. People from across the Territories came together to discuss the need to be good stewards of the God-given gift of water, which is so essential for life of people and all of creation, and which is threatened today by the global mismanagement and abuse of creation. Encouraged by Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato Si. The Great Bear Lake is sacred to the Sahtu Dene people, and has been important feature of the teaching of the Deline prophets, and especially Ehtsa Ehya.

‘Feeding the Fire’ ceremony at the graveyard.  Following the ceremony, Mass was celebrated and offered for all the ancestors who had died, and for their families and loved ones.

‘Feeding the Fire’ ceremony at the graveyard.
Following the ceremony, Mass was celebrated and offered for all the ancestors who had died, and for their families and loved ones.

A special Mass was offered on Sunday July 26, which marked the conclusion of the Dene National Assembly hosted in Deline, and also the beginning of the first ever ‘Water Conference.’  During the Mass, the Great Bear Lake was dedicated to God, the Creator of All, who gives us His gift of water to sustain all life.  At the end of the Mass, several elders joined with Bishop Mark in blessing themselves and thanking God for His gift of the Water of the Great Lake.

A special Mass was offered on Sunday July 26, which marked the conclusion of the Dene National Assembly hosted in Deline, and also the beginning of the first ever ‘Water Conference.’
During the Mass, the Great Bear Lake was dedicated to God, the Creator of All, who gives us His gift of water to sustain all life.

At the end of the Mass, several elders joined with Bishop Mark in blessing themselves and thanking God for His gift of the Water of the Great Lake.

At the end of the Mass, several elders joined with Bishop Mark in blessing themselves and thanking God for His gift of the Water of the Great Lake.

Dene Child ‘showing his moves’ at the evening Drum Dance.

Dene Child ‘showing his moves’ at the evening Drum Dance.

The house of the late prophet Ehya. The house is now available for personal and communal prayer and spiritual events. It is always open.

The house of the late prophet Ehya. The house is now available for personal and communal prayer and spiritual events. It is always open.

Cross on the top of St Theresa Of the Child Jesus Church, Deline.

Cross on the top of St Theresa Of the Child Jesus Church, Deline.


While the summer has been hot with many forest fires in the south of the Diocese, in our Arctic North East, summer has been long in coming. Sea ice is still visible on the area near Cambridge Bay – which is very unusual for early August.

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Before and After – Work completed to restore the Old Stone Church: the original Our Lady of the Arctic Catholic Church, built by OMI priests Fathers Lemer, Steinman, and Menez. Materials included whatever was on hand – seal oil, clay, and frost-shattered rocks. The church was originally opened on September 12, 1954.

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Mary Avalak and Thomas Kaohina are present at a blessing on August 6 – The Feast of the Transfiguration, and also the birthday of Mary’s grandson and Thomas’s friend who passed away this past year – Joanasie Avalak.

Mary Avalak and Thomas Kaohina are present at a blessing on August 6 – The Feast of the Transfiguration, and also the birthday of Mary’s grandson and Thomas’s friend who passed away this past year – Joanasie Avalak.

Group of Cambridge Bay community members who are responsible for carrying out the restoration work on the Church.

Group of Cambridge Bay community members who are responsible for carrying out the restoration work on the Church.

An Inukshuk at sunset stands on the shore between the Church and the ocean bay.

An Inukshuk at sunset stands on the shore between the Church and the ocean bay.

The visit to Cambridge Bay also featured the blessing of a new “Retreat & Healing Center” located about 20 minutes outside the community. The center will be provide an opportunity for members of the community to come away for retreat as they seek healing, God’s blessings, and growth.

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Members of the staff from the Wellness Center present for the prayer and blessing of the Retreat House.

Members of the staff from the Wellness Center present for the prayer and blessing of the Retreat House.

View of Kugluktuk and area, early August 2015.

View of Kugluktuk and area, early August 2015.

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The wild and beautiful summer weather of the Arctic, near Kugluktuk.

The wild and beautiful summer weather of the Arctic, near Kugluktuk.

 


Summer Workers, New Priests & Lay Ministers

 This summer featured very helpful assistance from several visitors to the Diocese. They provided assistance at Trapper’s Lake Retreat Center, where important maintenance must be done during the short and important summer season in order to maintain the facility through the rigourous long winter period. They also assisted with some ministry support tasks, such as updating Sacramental preparation resources, and working in our Archives and Finance offices.

Several young men assisted at the Retreat Center this summer, including:  Douglas Pham; Austin Vaz, Sebastien Pacteau. Peter Dai Nguyen is our candidate for seminary studies.

Several young men assisted at the Retreat Center this summer, including:
Douglas Pham; Austin Vaz, Sebastien Pacteau. Peter Dai Nguyen is our candidate for seminary studies.

Sebastien and Douglas work on a new garage at the Retreat Center.

Sebastien and Douglas work on a new garage at the Retreat Center.

Peter showcases his great catch of fish from a nearby lake.

Peter showcases his great catch of fish from a nearby lake.

Maria Wilson and Brenna Maduro assist in a youth program with  young people in the northern Decho community of Wrigley.

Maria Wilson and Brenna Maduro assist in a youth program with young people in the northern Decho community of Wrigley.

Ray and Teresa Steiner and family of Fraser Lake, BC are coming to Holy Name of Mary in Tsiigehtchic for one year beginning in early October 2015. They visited in July 2015 to meet the people and do some preliminary repairs on the church residence.

Ray and Teresa Steiner and family of Fraser Lake, BC are coming to Holy Name of Mary in Tsiigehtchic for one year beginning in early October 2015. They visited in July 2015 to meet the people and do some preliminary repairs on the church residence.

Matthias Steiner checks out the ‘fit’ of the water tank for the residence.

Matthias Steiner checks out the ‘fit’ of the water tank for the residence.

Ray and Cathleen Steiner get ready with Bishop Mark to take one of several loads to the local dump.

Ray and Cathleen Steiner get ready with Bishop Mark to take one of several loads to the local dump.

Blessing the graves at the Church cemetery.

Blessing the graves at the Church cemetery.

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New Clergy Orientation at Trapper’s Lake Retreat Center:  Fr. Marek Pisarek, OMI; Fr. Bernie Black (long-serving Pastor);  Fr. Jon Hansen, CSSR; Fr. Michael Nwuagwu, SMMM.

New Clergy Orientation at Trapper’s Lake Retreat Center:
Fr. Marek Pisarek, OMI; Fr. Bernie Black (long-serving Pastor);
Fr. Jon Hansen, CSSR; Fr. Michael Nwuagwu, SMMM.

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Melody McLeod assists with the orientation.

Melody McLeod assists with the orientation.

Douglas Pham and Peter Nguyen enjoying the Island … before the ‘splash’ !!

Douglas Pham and Peter Nguyen enjoying the Island … before the ‘splash’ !!

The Midnight Moon over Trapper’s Lake, mid-summer

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We continue to be blessed in the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.

Mahsi-cho. In Our Lord,
+Mark

Bishop Mark A. Hagemoen
Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith