Fall 2017

Training – Farewells – Moving Forward in MFS Diocese

On September 12, 2017, Pope Francis announced my appointment as Bishop of Saskatoon. The installation day will be November 23, 2017. This announcement came as quite a surprise, given my relative short time in this Diocese. However, God’s ways are not always our ways – and this circumstance reminds us that we are part of a much larger church-faith community. Thus, much of this fall season has been devoted to carrying out scheduled training events, saying goodbye, and sharing hopes and visions for faith communities across the diocese as we all look ahead given this time of transition.

The passage of Sacred Scripture comes to mind: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24)

Visit to St John Paul II High School, Toronto, to promote Catholic Missions in Canada and share about life and ministry in the Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese.


Students from Archbishop Carney High School in Coquitlam, B.C. visit the Diocese in October 2017 as part of an inculturation and service learning week.

At the end of the Tulita project, members of the community present the work team members of hand-made drums and jackets at a celebration of thanksgiving and sending. The members are: Douglas Pham; Peter Dai Nguyen; Roman Blain; Patrick Le; Joseph Bennoit.

The St. Theresa’s Church and Mission house near the end of the restoration project.

New Northern Catholic Foundation

In the Fall of 2017, a new northern Catholic Foundation has been launched. The “Nohtsi Gots’adi Catholic Foundation” will assist the Catholic communities of the Diocese with needed support to deal with the difficult tasks of church building restoration, and program development and support. The goal is to create endowment funds that can be the basis for matching funding. While this is a long-term project that will take time to build – it is great to start this new beginning for the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.

Confirmations in the South Slave

Celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation in the South Slave Region in the communities of: St. Joseph’s Cathedral Parish in Fort Smith; Assumption Parish in Hay River; St Ann’s Church at Katlodeeche.

Alex Tambour – elder from St. Ann’s, Katlodeeche – plays guitar during the Confirmation ceremony.

Fr. Don and Julia Flummerfeld are presented with a gift painting by the local Anglican Pastor on the occasion of the retirement event at Assumption Parish, Hay River.

Fall Training: “Christian Leadership and Collaborative Ministry”

Training workshops continue through the Fall in the communities of Fort Simpson (Decho Region), Hay River (South Slave), and Bechokho (Tlicho Region). The focus is ministry by clergy and lay people, with an emphasis on ministry leadership, and the role of Parish Pastoral Councils and Finance Councils.

The community training events feature community sharing and great food. It is common to leave training about five pounds heavier!

Clergy Assistance from the Jesuit Community

The Diocese is grateful to again be receiving clergy assistance this coming Advent and Chrsitmas season for the Sahtu and Athabasca regions of the Diocese. Fr. Justin Glynn, SJ will be assisting in Deline and Tulita, while Fr. Clyde Muropa, SJ, will be assisting at Black Lake, SK. Both are canon law students at St. Paul’s in Ottawa.

Fr. Justine Glynn, SJ, will be assisting in the Sahtu communities of Deline and Tulita.

Fathers Justin Glynn, SJ and Clyde Muropa, SU – Jesuit priests studying at St Paul’s in Ottawa, will again assist the Diocese for Advent – Christmas 2017. (Here pictured with Archbishop Terri Pendergast, SJ, of the Archdiocese of Ottawa.)

Farewells, Celebrations, Moving Forward

The last several weeks since the announcement of the re-assignment to the Diocese of Saskatoon has been an opportunity to visit and share challenges and hopes with the communities during special gatherings and celebrations.

Thanksgiving weekend in Whati was an opportunity to celebrate First Holy Communion for several young people. Following the celebration at the Church, the community gathered for a feast and to express farewell.

At St. Michael’s, Behchokho, a farewell celebration was held for both Bishop Mark and Sister Diane Naud, SJL, who has now moved to Yellowknife after 28 years of ministry in the community.

Sharing a farewell “Pot Luck” meal with Fr. Jon Hansen, CSSR, and members of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Inuvik.

Sunday Mass with community at Fort Providence.

Sam Gargan leads the music.

Community of St Theresa’s Parish in Deline say farewell ….for now!!

New Sacred Heart Church in Fort Simpson opened for regular Sunday Mass in mid-November, 2017.

There is apparently no Dene word for “Good-bye” Therefore, “Until we meet again.” is the more appropriate sentiment!!

Blessings, and Mahsi Cho, to the People of the Diocese of Mackenzie!!!

+MARK