Fall 2016 – Winter 2017 in the Diocese of Mackenzie

The Fall began with the gathering of the Diocesan Clergy, Religious, and Lay Leadership for our Fall Study Days, which this year featured focus on the Truth and Reconciliation “Calls to Action.” Various regions of our Diocese reflected on pastoral priorities that addressed these, and planned how these would be approached in the various communities in these regions.

The beginning of freeze-up at Trapper’s Lake near our Retreat Center.


Following the September 2016 CCCB Fall Plenary in Cornwall, Ontario, Bishop Mark visited St. Michael’s High School in Stratford as part of a Catholic Missions in Canada Catholic High School awareness project.


Pastoral visits to the north Tlicho

October 2016 featured visits to the Tlicho communities of Whati and Gameti. The weekend visits included community meetings with members of the communities, as well as celebration of Holy Eucharist.

Meeting and Sunday service with the NORTHERN RANGERS outside of Gameti


Visit by CARNEY High School in Coquitlam, B.C. October 2016

Teachers Reg and Laura Clichos led a team of grade 11 and 12 students for a service learning trip, which included visits to Yellowknife, Ndilo, Dettah, and Bechokho.

Gym night with youth of Dettah.


Carney Team gathers for Dinner at Trapper’s with Rene Fumoleau


Fall Visit to Fort Good Hope – Celebration of CONFIRMATIONS!

Mackenzie River Freeze-Up on Banks of Fort Good Hope Mission House


Confirmands and Sponsors – October 2016


Rectory in Norman Wells moved behind St. Anthony’s Church Spring to Fall 2016.


In early November the Colville Lake community gathered for the Funeral of the revered elder, Marie Kochon. The community mourned a woman who had a colossal spiritual impact on all of the community. The funeral was one of the most moving I have ever celebrated!! The people say that the blessings of Marie’s life are only beginning to be felt by all of the members of the community.


Visit to Deline to Celebrate and Pray for New Self-Government

Visit to Deline in November 2016 to celebrate and pray for the recent achievement of Deline Self-Government and to pray with elders, self-government leadership team, and members of the community.



Members of the Yellowknife Catholic School Board attending the Alberta-NWT-Yukon Catholic Schools Trustees meeting in Edmonton, November 2016.


New SACRED HEART CHURCH in Fort Simpson – DECHO Region

Foundation work on new Church site began in early September 2016.

New Sacred Heart Church during construction – November 2016.

Old Bell Tower on Sacred Heart Church site.

Fall season also featured completion of newly-erected yellow cedar log tee-pee mega-structure over papal site where Saint John Paull II celebrated Mass in 1987.


Blessing on the New Bechkoho YOUTH CENTER – November 26, 2016

After many years of work and waiting, the Tlicho community celebrated the completion of the new youth sports and recreation facility. The center promises to provide children and youth the opportunity for various sports and physical activities, as well as provide a center for other community, social, and service opportunities.

Chief Daniel Clifford and Michele Rabesca address the assembly for the official blessing and opening, followed by a drum prayer.

Sunday Banquet following Sunday Mass on the weekend of the Opening.


Visit with Myra and Eric Hagemoen (parents), and brother Dan with wife Lori, at a 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration in December 2016.


Sr. Celestine Giertych, CSSF and Sr. Margaret M. Padilla, CSSF, members of the Felician Religious Sister Leadership Team visit in December 2016. The team came to visit our Felician Sisters working in our Diocese: Sister Celeste Goulet in Tulita, Sahtu Region; and Sr. Mary Lee Przybylski in Yellowknife.


Road to Fort Liard & Nahanni Butte to celebrate Christmas 2016

Peter Dai Nguyen, having returned for the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission for Christmas break, joined Bishop Mark on the road trip to the western Decho to celebrate the Christmas season. The trip featured the ‘capture’ of road chickens, which were the main course the Christmas Eve evening meal.


Midnight Mass at Fort Liard


Lay Formation Training in Norman Wells – Sahtu Region January 2017


Crucifix at St Patrick’s Church in Yellowknife.

Fiery Winter Sky outside Fort Good Hope.

Update from Our Lady of Victory in Inuvik

February 6, 2017

Dear Confreres, Associates, Family and Friends

The last time I wrote I was waiting ardently for the sun to show after returning from her long December hiatus. I am please to say that more recent days have been clear, sunny and relatively mild for this time of the year with the thermometer hovering around -15 degrees. The hours of daylight increase significantly each day by as much as 10 to 12 minutes so a month’s time has made a huge difference and it can be felt both physically and psychologically. Less sleep is needed, appetite decreases and people sure seem to be smiling more when I pass them in the street or see them at the grocery store (maybe because I am smiling more as well).

My friend and temporary roommate Hart, who I introduced briefly in my last letter, finally made his way to Tuktoyaktuk where he had a good few days visiting with Sr. Fay. His troubles were not over however as he continued to battle rough weather on the way home and finally, south of Eagle Plains on the Dempster Highway, he developed some serious car trouble due to the cold temperatures. Paradoxically his car overheated when the radiator fluid froze in minus 40 temperatures. With no heat in the car and having to stop every two kilometres to let the engine cool down, he limped to Dawson City over the next 12 hours where he finally managed to get the vehicle repaired. Now, able to rest, he discovered that he had severely frostbitten his hands during of the ordeal. When I next heard from him Hart was in Whitehorse getting specialized medical treatment so he wouldn’t lose any fingers, a reminder to all that winter driving in the north can be a dangerous endeavour and you can’t be too prepared. The last I heard Hart was down south again heading towards his home in Ontario and healing well. It was a trip that he won’t soon forget and will give him plenty of stories for the years to come.

Two very important parish events took place during the past month. First, Gerri Fletcher, Religious Education coordinator for the diocese, and Roger Plouffe, pastoral leader in Fort Good Hope, came to Inuvik to offer the second of our annual Lay Formation workshops. This time the theme was on the bible and sacred scripture. We had a great turn out with nearly a dozen zealous learners from Inuvik, Tsiigehtchic and Tuktoyaktuk taking part. Roger spent time talking about biblical history, liturgy, translations. interpretation and many other fascinating topics. The input was great but perhaps even better were the conversations that were sparked and the sharing that took place among the participants. We are already looking forward to the next gathering.

The second event and a real highlight of the month was our parish mission which began at the end of January and is concluding as I write this letter. Our mission preacher is Dr. Megan McKenna a scripture scholar, author and story teller from New Mexico. Megan is a friend of the Redemptorists and our Provincial, Fr. Mark Miller, invited her to come to Canada and preach in our parishes with Inuvik being her first stop. Megan has a passion for sharing the Good News and people first become aware of her familiarity with the scriptures when she proclaims the Gospel without a word of text in front of her.

The theme for the first night of the mission was baptism and Megan shared with the small, but enthusiastic, group the Gospel from Mark about Jesus’ own baptism. She talked about how, when God spoke, he revealed how delighted he was in Jesus. Megan asked us to place ourselves in the story and to hear God saying how delighted he is in us and to know that the purpose of our being is to be God’s delight. Do we really experience the joy that we are called to at the baptismal font of living water?

The second evening brought out even more people than the last as word was getting around. Our theme for the evening was “Who is Jesus?” Megan asked us think about who Jesus was to us and how that image of Jesus has, or at least should have, changed through the years as we grew in faith. In the call of the disciples from Mark’s gospel we find that those who Jesus approached each had their own idea of who it was they were talking to as they listened and watched. Some called Jesus rabbi (teacher) others called him Messiah, the long await one foretold by the prophets. Jesus refers to himself as, “The Son of Man”, a title that we don’t normally think of when we think about the Son of God. Megan helped us to realize that Jesus saw his mission as one of bringing justice and compassion to the oppressed and that those who followed him were going to be challenged, as never before, to care for their neighbour and for the vulnerable ones who could not care for themselves.

The last night was about forgiveness and reconciliation. We took pause to look at our shadow side, which everybody has. Through stories we learned that our shadow was there as a reminder of past wrongs we have committed or have experienced, but it was not without hope. The shadow of the cross falls over us and erases our shadow, setting us free. But God’s forgiveness is not cheap grace. It comes with the cost of the hard work of forgiving others as God has forgiven us. The parable of the lost sheep, in which the shepherd leaves 99 good sheep in the field to go in search of the one who went astray, was used as an example of Christian community and how we must never be apathetic towards those who have left the fold. Perhaps they have done so despite our best efforts but more likely they have left because of our lack of care and support. It was certainly food for thought and a challenge to live what we say we believe.

During the week in Inuvik Megan also took the time to share her wonderful repertoire of tales with the young children at the day care and elders from the Long-term-care home. Now, we are waiting for the plows to clear the road to Tuktoyaktuk so that we can drive up and share the mission once again with the faith community there. It has really been a gift and an experience the community will reflect upon and remember for a long time.

Summer 2016 – Spiritual Gatherings, Confirmations and Church Repairs

SUMMER OF SPIRITUAL GATHERINGS, CHURCH REPAIR, CELBRATING CONFIRMATIONS

The summer here in the Diocese has featured attending the various spiritual gatherings throughout the North, celebrating Confirmations in several communities, and of course – attending to greatly need Church building renovations.

12 students and teachers from KINGS University College, London, Ontario returned to the diocese in July 2016 as part of their Aboriginal inculturation and service-learning program. Father Michael Bechard and “Deacon Dennis” led a fine group of students, who provided various youth and family activities during the week-long pilgrimage. The local Athabasca regional pastor, Fr Cornelius Ngurukwem, SMMM, was also in attendance.

image01

Confirmands at Pine Channel Spiritual Gathering on July 7, 2016.

image02

image03

Zach Fitzmaurice meets new friends!

image04

image05

RUSSELL LAKE SPIRITUAL PILGRIMAGE, near BEHCHOKHO

The Russell Lake pilgrimage was held on July 9-13. This year, Emeritus Bishop Denis Croteau preached the pilgrimage. The celebration on Sunday July 10 featured a focus on Pope Francis’s message for the Year of Mercy.

image06

image07

St. Michael’s Behchokho Pastor, Fr. Wes Szatanski, OMI – proclaims the Gospel preceding +Emeritus Croteau’s homily.

image08

image09

image10

Feeding the Fire ceremony following the Sunday Eucharist.

image11

image12

image13

image14

CONFIRMATIONS in TSIIGITCHIC

For the first time in 33 years, Holy Heart of Mary church community in Tsiigitchic celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation for 12 Candidates, on Sunday, August 7. Candidates were prepared for their Confirmation by Fr. Jon Hanson, Ray and Therese Steiner, and Thomas Tyrrell.

image15

Confirmands from Holy Heart of Mary, Tsiigitchic, with Pastor, Fr. Jon Hanson, CSSR.

image16

Candidate Joel Arey answers question during homily.

image17

First Communion candidate Austin Vanloon following Mass

image18

image19

image20

CHURCH and MISSION-HOUSE RENOVATIONS

Work continues on the greatly needed renovations. Following completion of the timber bracing in the basement, work has now begun on the exterior,
including the roof and bell-tower.

image21

image22

image23

image24

This Cony fish is as big as a 4 year old kid, as Theresa-Rose proves!

image25

Thomas Tyrrell with Therese, Kathleen, May, Theresa, and Daniel Steiner.

image26

“Wow, still lots of work to do yet! Good thing the view is nice!!” … muses Thomas!

image27

image28

Taking a day in the Richardson Mountains on the Dempster Highway near the NWT- Yukon border.

image29

image30

The pastoral teams throughout the Diocese are very grateful for the hard work and generous service of the many local lay leaders, visiting ‘church workers’ – families and students – as well as other supporters. We appreciate the great energy and enthusiasm, and deep hope and faith that is shared through working and sharing with the people of our faith communities.

We look forward to further opportunities to hear and follow the Holy Spirit blessing on the people of our Diocese.

MAHSI CHO!

CATHOLIC COLLEGES Return to MFS DIOCESE in 2016

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 2016 as part of an Aboriginal inculturation and service-learning program. Focus of the course is on Aboriginal culture and issues in northern Canada. The team was led by the capable leadership of Christiana Dumont; Jimmy Lam, and Danielle Gannon. Upon their arrival on Sunday June 12, 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, Emeritus Bishop Denis Croteau, OMI, and John B. Zoe of Behchokho. The two week visit featured visiting two communities in the Decho region of the Diocese: Fort Liard and Fort Simpson, NWT. Students also visited the community of Dettah near Yellowknife, Behchokho, and Fort Providence.

CCC students and Diocesan team members at Dettah RC Church near Yellowknife

CCC students and Diocesan team members at Dettah RC Church near Yellowknife

image02

CCC Team Celebrates Mass with Diocesan Staff in Yellowknife

CCC Team Celebrates Mass with Diocesan Staff in Yellowknife

Austin Vaz finds a new friend!

Austin Vaz finds a new friend!

CCC Team in Fort Providence above Mackenzie River

CCC Team in Fort Providence above Mackenzie River

image06

Celebration of 1st Communions during visit to Fort Simpson

Celebration of 1st Communions during visit to Fort Simpson

"Community Days" Cookout, Aboriginal Days

“Community Days” Cookout, Aboriginal Days

Painting Project at Sacred Heart Parish in Fort Simpson - BEFORE

Painting Project at Sacred Heart Parish in Fort Simpson – BEFORE

Painting Project at Sacred Heart Parish in Fort Simpson - AFTER!!

Painting Project at Sacred Heart Parish in Fort Simpson – AFTER!!

image11

Jeremy, Tina, and Jessica take an “ATV” break

Jeremy, Tina, and Jessica take an “ATV” break

image13

Team takes break on Mackenzie Highway en-route back to Yellowknife

Team takes break on Mackenzie Highway en-route back to Yellowknife

Corpus Christi College & the Decho Dene Community Project.

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 students in the future.

image15

Update from Ray and Therese Steiner

Just wanted to back track a little to when we first arrived here….

The church in Tsiigehtchic has been a focal point of the community for over one hundred years, the first church built here in 1896. As you travel toward the village, the church stands out on a point, known locally as Church Hill. There are 2 churches here. The current “old church” was built in the early 1920s and needs repair. It is used occasionally for weddings, but it mostly used now after a death to keep the body until the funeral. The new church is smaller and is joined on to the rectory, our house. In the picture below, our house is to the left. Unfortunately, the house and new church sit on a full basement… in the permafrost, which is causing some foundation movement issues.

Taken from down on the beach of the rivers

Taken from down on the beach of the rivers

Soon after arriving, we decided we probably brought too much stuff!

image002

The days after we arrived were busy unpacking and trying to get organized and clean. The local people were busy hunting caribou. The people of the village were very thankful as the caribou were migrating through about a 2-3 hour drive away. It is the Porcupine herd of caribou, and they had not migrated through the area for about 4 or 5 years. We’ve heard estimates of the herd from 100,000 to 200,000. Daily, we would see pickups leaving the village in the morning with a snowmobile in the back, and returning in the evening or the next day with their caribou.

While we were busy unpacking one evening, a local lady called and invited us over for soup so we could keep unpacking. She said her son had brought her caribou and she was making soup…come around 8 pm. So we did. She was so thrilled to have caribou again. She was very tired that evening since her son and his group had brought 9 caribou the night before and she had been up til 2 in the morning get 5 of them skinned and cut up. This day her husband had been out hunting, but he had come home and didn’t seem to have any luck this time. As we went to leave, we thanked her for the soup and said maybe she would catch up on her sleep as there was no caribou to do tonight. We opened the door to leave and to our surprise, there was a dead caribou on the doorstep. Her quiet husband had actually been successful in his hunt. She accepted our offer of help to cut it up. We dragged it over to the snowbank under the streetlight and skinned it, then cut it up on the hide. Nothing wasted – from the organ meat, to the hooves, to the head (a delicacy for the elders)…all saved and used. We got home before midnight.

image003

Around the village, hides hang on porches, and the dogs happily chew on fresh bones. Many kitchens have thin strips of meat hanging to make dry meat. Dry meat is like beef jerky, but it isn’t cooked, just dried – those with woodstoves praise the stoves in their homes for making good dry meat.

Down at the beach prior to freeze up, checking out the dog food

Down at the beach prior to freeze up, checking out the dog food

Mostly whitefish and some innconu for dog food

Mostly whitefish and some innconu for dog food

The fish is either fed straight as fish or made into a mash with grains, and tallow.

The branches are to keep the ravens away. Many people have dogs here, but not too many dog teams left any more.

One afternoon when Matthias was out sliding, he met some paddlers from Montreal. They had spent 6 months, paddling from Montreal to Tsiigehtchic (not that Tsiigehtchic was their original destination). There were 6 of them, with 3 canoes, and they were hoping to make it to Inuvik. Unfortunately, by the time they reached Tsiigehtchic, they found that the last stretch of the river to Inuvik was frozen, so their trip ended here. They had paddled 7000 km, starting in April in Montreal and ending here in October. Their longest portage was 24 km. They stayed a night or so in Tsiigehtchic, then travelled by truck to Inuvik. They stayed in the church hall in Inuvik until it was time for their flight home.

The end of a long journey for some cross country paddlers

The end of a long journey for some cross country paddlers

At the time I took these pictures, things were winding down for fall. Most families had had the chance to get the caribou they needed. People knew that it wouldn’t be long until the Mackenzie River froze and the ice would be thick enough to start fishing for egg fish.

A local fisherman takes one last trip up the Mackenzie prior to freeze up

A local fisherman takes one last trip up the Mackenzie prior to freeze up

Hello again from the land of plenty.

The abundance of the caribou and the egg fish have been a great blessing for the people this year.
There is plenty of food from the land for those who have been able to get out, and those they share with.

Once the river ice was safe, the people started to set nets for the egg fish. The egg fish are the female whitefish that are filled with eggs. The eggs are eaten either cooked inside the fish, or raw. Some of the local fisherman say the best is just squeezed out on the ice, with a little salt on top.

Setting nets for egg fish on the Arctic Red River

Setting nets for egg fish on the Arctic Red River

It seemed counterintuitive to us to wait for the ice for the main harvest of fish, but of course the locals know what they are doing! With a couple holes in the ice, and a jig to move the net along, the nets are set under the ice and are checked a couple of times a day.

Father and son checking their nets

Father and son checking their nets

Ray offered to help one of the elders with his nets. They would routinely get 80, 90, 110 fish each time they pulled their nets which are about 75 long.

Theresa Rose by the whitefish from the net

Theresa Rose by the whitefish from the net

The fish are whitefish, though occasionally there is lingcod and inconnu in the nets.

The fish freeze on the ice. They are taken home in the big toboggans pulled behind the skidoos and shared or stored for the winter.

There are different ways to cook them, but a common way is to bake them whole – not gutted – the eggs are cooked inside the fish. The eggs and fish meat are eaten together, though there is not a lot of meat on the egg fish – maybe 1/3 eggs, 2/3 meat. Another favorite recipe of many people here are fish patties.

We enjoyed helping a local fisherman, George, with his net. He is very knowledgeable about the land. He is 80 years old and lives in a wall tent by the river. He has lots of stories and enjoys teasing us. He has about 1000 fish for the winter. He needs the fish for his family, and his dog team of 10 dogs. He saves the female egg fish to eat, and the male fish are for his dogs.

Helping check George's net

Helping check George’s net

Meanwhile on the river, the ferry continues to travel back and forth through a single channel in the ice to keep the highway from Fort McPherson to Inuvik connected.

An excavator works steady, all day, every day, pulling ice from the river and has amassed quite a pile of ice.

Tsiigehtchic has been cut off for a couple of weeks now, but the crew is out in all weather building the ice roads. Building the ice roads is very much manual labour with shoveling, chiseling ice, running pumps – basically building a big skating rink. The men are out there working from morning into the night, and may soon work 24 hours a day. Yesterday the temperature was -31C. They have pickups they can warm up in time to time. They all have to wear floater suits for safety working on the ice.

The ice bridge crew on the Arctic Red River ice bridge, with the ferry and excavators in the background keeping the Mackenzie River crossing open

The ice bridge crew on the Arctic Red River ice bridge, with the ferry and excavators in the background keeping the Mackenzie River crossing open

Yesterday, the Arctic Red River ice bridge opened, so now we can go by milk!

A week or so back, little Theresa was really wanting some milk. She still is not used to the canned milk or powdered milk, and we had run out of frozen milk. I went to our little store. They had long since run out of milk. I was pleasantly surprised when I found one lonely container of chocolate milk in the back of the cooler. When I went to pay they said “oh, this is really out of date…you can just have it”. It was still palatable and Theresa was thrilled.

As we settle in for the winter, we are enjoying getting to know the people here and learning the rhythm of life in Tsiigehtchic.

God bless,

Therese, Ray, Matthias, Kathleen, Mae Theresa Rose and little Daniel

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.

image08

image09
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.

image10

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.

image14 image15 image16

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.

image19 image20

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.

image30


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.

image32

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

image35 image36

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

Catholic Colleges return to MFS Diocese in 2015

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.

image01CCC students with Principal Liz Baille at Weledeh and St. Patrick’s Schools

image02Visit to the NWT Museum in Yellowknife

image03CCC Team with Diocesan Staff following Mass

image04CCC Team with Fr. Joe Daley, Martina Norwegian, and Dolly T’sella at Pope John Paul II site in Fort Simpson, NWT

image05CCC Students participate in “Hand Games”

image06Austin Vaz carries a Dene lad

image07Youth from Wrigley gather with CCC students in preparation for the evening celebration of Mass

image08CCC and Wrigley students show ‘attitude’

image09Team sets to work on Wrigley Church

image10Brenna hard at work!

image11CCC group & the repainted Our Lady Heart of Mary Church

 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.


image12

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.

image13

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.

image14

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.

image15

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.

image16

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.

image17