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. Continue reading


Pilgrimages – Fixing Churches – Youth Teams Visit Our Diocese

This summer is shaping up to be very full. It is in keeping with our theme for this year: FAITH In ACTION. This is a summer of celebrating the faith throughout the pilgrimages across the North, but also doing some very needed repairs on the churches of our Diocese.


Materials delivered via the winter road in March 2017, to prepare for summer work.

Members of TEAM TULITA and TEAM TRAPPER’S gather for photo before Team Tulita departs to the Sahtu region.

Ray and Therese Steiner and family prepare to depart in boats from Wrigley to Tulita on June 19.

Ray and his “angels”

TEAM TULITA arrives for the project. (Peter Dai Nguyen; Joseph Bennoit; Douglas Pham, Roman Blain; Patrick Le).

Ray Steiner, his brother Ken, and friend David install the truss carry system to provide secondary foundation for the foundation.

Installing insulation.

Newly insulated building, with new windows and roofing, takes shape.

An exhausted-looking Ken Steiner eyes the delicious pizza and pasta after a hard day of work!

TRAPPER’s LAKE RETREAT CENTER – always in need of maintenance and renovation

The summer season is also a very important time to do the greatly-needed maintenance on the Retreat Center. Much of the work includes: scraping and staining/painting  the exterior of buildings and walkways, replenishing the fire-wood stock for winter, and grounds maintenance. This year the team focussed on the difficult-to-access lake side of the main lodge.

A rainbow arcs over the retreat center.

Members of TEAM TRAPPERS, (Thomas Bruneau, Paul Vo, Halle Manangan, MC Vaz – with visiting Kings College Service Team Coordinator, Zack Fitzmaurice) meet us at Yellowknife airport.


The interior of the Church area as insulation and windows are being installed.

Exterior of new building takes shape.

Sacred Heart Church Community continues to gather at Bompas Elementary School until completion of the new Church.

The old bell tower sits on the parish site. Upon completion of the Church and Residence, the community plans to restore and move the bell to a new ‘tower’.

WRIGLEY CHURCH gets new Wood Furnace

Volunteers pose with our beautiful church.

New wood stove arrives for the Wrigley Church. The stove was donated by Kings University Parish community. Members of Wrigley purchased an insulated stove pipe and installed the stove.

Members of the community warm up around the new stove.

COLVILLE LAKE COMMUNITY begins planning for Church Restoration

Our Lady of the Snows Church – as the foundation and log structure deteriorates, community members plan for a new building before the current one is unsafe.

Elders Hyacinth Kochon and Johny Tutcho, Sr with Richard Kochon examine site.

The young community of Our Lady of the Snows gathers for the Easter celebrations in the old church.

Candidates celebrate their Confirmation.


Funds for church restoration projects were in part raised through this year’s Bishop’s Dinner. The hard work of many – in the communities and in Yellowknife – makes it possible for the Diocese to help the communities restore their Churches.

The Bishops Dinner Coordinating Team

The Catering Team. (These guys work also part time as teachers, and then on the side as professional wrestlers!)

Visit of Bishop Robert Kasan, CSB, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto

From June 12 to 15, Bishop Kasun visited our Diocese, as part of the beginnings of a relationship between our two Dioceses of support and ministerial sharing.

Visit of Bishop Kasun to St. Michael’s Parish with Grand Chief Eddie Erasmas Chief Clifford Daniels, and John B. Zoe.


For the 27th year, the people of the Athabasca Region gathered to Pine Channel for spiritual pilgrimage. As typical, the weather began hot, then became cold and rainy, and then finished hot and dry again.

The pilgrimage again included guests from Kings University College, London, Ontario, who participated in various youth activities throughout the week.

Pilgrims arrive via boat.

Father Cornelius ‘Cornelius Ngurukwem’ joins the beach front greeting for new arrivals to the Pilgrimage.

Team from Kings University College.

Youth of the Athabasca region play “Hand Games”, as King’s Students and community looks on.

Willy-John Laurent prepares fire-cooked trout for the students.

Passing of my Mother: July 5, 11:15 p.m.

My mother Almyra suddenly passed away while I was attending the Pine Channel pilgrimage, late evening on Wednesday, July 5.

My Mother Almyra

We celebrated her funeral at St. Clare’s of Assisi, Coquitlam on Tuesday, July 11. My mother had struggled with dementia for the last several years. During her last hours, she was with my father, Eric, and my brother Dan.

At the time of her dying, the young people of Fond du Lac and Black Lake unexpectedly wanted to share an honor with me on my last evening – a drum song. I feel now that song was for Mom and my family.

May Myra rest in Christ’s Peace and Light. Mahsi Cho!

AD LIMINA March – April 2017

Western Canadian Bishops visit Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The Western and Northern Canadian Bishops participated in their Ad Limina visit in late March to early April 2017. I take this opportunity to update you regarding highlights from our meeting with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Our visit to the Vatican included the celebration of Mass at several significant churches: i) the tomb of the Apostle and first Peter; ii) St Basil’s church at St. Peter’s Basilica at the chapel of the relics of St. Josephat; iii) St John Lateran Basilica; iv) St. Mary Major Basilica; v) the Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls.  In addition to the audience with the Holy Father, we have a number of dicasteries (Vatican departments) whose officials form the Roman Curia.

The meeting with the Holy Father was on Monday morning, March 27, and lasted about 2.5 hours. Pope Francis was welcoming and fraternal, and after sharing his opening words, invited the bishops to share experiences and to raise any number of topics that we wished. We were all quite overwhelmed with the Holy Father’s openness and candour.

Highlights of topics included: the reality of migration and the encouragement to be generous to immigrants; the lived situation of our Indigenous peoples and our life and work with them; the challenges and response to secularization; exploring models for ministry for our church communities. The Holy Father listened intently to our comments and questions, and responded thoughtfully, and with a pastor’s heart!

The Holy Father encouraged us to stay close to our people, to accompany them with the truth and beauty of the Gospel, to enter into dialogue, including with people who are far from the Church, and to be men of prayer, attentive and open to the life the Holy Spirit, who moves us from any fear to a hope and enthusiasm for the mission of Christ. He emphasized the importance of listening to our people. Finally, he encouraged us to be see the great things that God is doing, to reflect joy, and to always have a good sense of humour!

I left my time with the Holy Father is the Pope – the one who is the present successor of St. Peter – with not only a strong sense of awe and respect, but also with a sense that he is a brother bishop among bishops who shares with us a common life and mission.

A visit and experience that will be with me for a long time!!

Entering St. Peter’s square in the early morning.

Mass with the Bishops at the Basilica of Tomb of St. Peter.

Meeting with the Congregation for Bishops – Cardinal Marc Ouellet in the foreground, left. Topics included: expression of gratitude for support of northern dioceses who have now moved out of the Congregation for Evangelization of Nations; “Synodality” as an opportunity to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to the churches, and the need for the capacity of LISTENING; strengthening of the belief in the grace of the Bishop; ‘Reconciliation’ is an important emphasis for Canada, and for the Church world-wide; religious life as founded by Jesus Christ existing as a gift to the Church; integrating consecrated life into the local church; the apostolate and charisms of religious life; ‘Vision’ vs. only practical ministry and administration; on ‘maturing’ and ‘suffering’; the call to go to the poor.

Pontifical Council for Culture. Topics included: understanding culture in a globalized world: the new phenomenon of “transhumanist movement”- ‘enhancing human beings’ – what is enhancement vs. perversion; ‘Glocalization’ – affirming local identity in global context vs. new forms of radicalization; the multi-form face of the Church; fostering healthy conversations and ‘growing in empathy’; the current emphasis on ‘heart’ and ‘experience’ and the Church’s mystical tradition.

Meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Topics included: Towards a good theology of human anthropology; finding the central place between the extremes of papalism and congregationalism; dealing with new forms of ‘kenosis’: mind vs. body issues; moving from documents to stories; “Religious Life exists in its own way as exclusively founded by Jesus Christ…and integrated as testimony and apostolate.

Meeting with Secretariat for Communications. Topics included: Communication and proclamation of the Gospel: is not only technology; the importance of ‘proximity’ to people and message; re-thinking our systems of communication.

Meeting with the Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. Topics included: review of the Jubilee Year of Mercy; “Evangelization” as first a personal encounter; intensifying the grace of the moments of the beginning and end of life; focusing on pilgrimage for themes of the New Evangelization; new movements in the Church.

Dicastry for Life, Family, and Laity. Topics included: our post-Christian culture of today; the need to always focus on conveying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to God`s people; Teaching the Faith and pre-Evangelization; World Youth Days, including Panama 2019.

Meeting with the Vatican Secretary of State. Topics included: Supporting “Freedom of Conscience and Religion;” concern in the world for persecuted Christians, & Human Trafficking; building relationships with our Aboriginal peoples; relations with the Holy Sea and Canada.

A fresco from the Redemptoris Mater Chapel built for John Paul II, dedicated to the bringing together of the eastern and western Christian churches.

View early evening from the Vatican, following meeting with the Secretary of State. The Bishops cannot stop taking pictures!!!

Celebration of Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran: Archbishop Don Bolan, celebrant.

Session with the Congregation for Divine Worship. Topics included: “inculturation”as helping people, cultures grasp what is the Gospel and the Catholic faith; culture and catechesis; the need for “humility” as we approach issues re: catechesis, evangelization, relationship with culture and faith.

Meeting with Congregation for Clergy. Topics included: relationship of clergy with their dioceses and religious congregations; seminary formation that addresses current social and cultural context of seminarians; seminary candidates and the family of origin; ongoing formation of clergy; training and helping “formators;” the need for “community” in the clerical life.

Bishops gather outside of the Offices of the Congregation for Evangelization of Nations.

Topics for Meeting with the Congregation for Evangelization of Nations Topics included:  the meaning of ‘missionary presence’ and evangelization; inviting all the People responsible for Faith; ‘dialogue’ and announcing the Gospel; ways of ‘listening’; foreign clergy and ‘the missions’; the ‘2 Lungs’: Mission & Communion; ‘transparency’ as capacity to administer well & accountability.

Msgr. Brian Ferril speaks to bishops at Meeting with Congregation for Christian Unity. Topics included: building the relationship between the Latin and Oriental churches; Sacraments and mixed marriages; issues with Evangelicals: documents on ‘proslytism’ and ‘the new charismatic mega-churches’.

Bishop Tony Krotki raises an issue at the Dicastry for Integral Human Development. Topics included: issues related to Migration: sponsorship; concern re: racists and xenophobic reactions; developing an enlightened response to challenges re: human anthropology.

Group of bishops prepare to celebrate Mass.

Western Bishops gather each evening for informal meeting to review the day.

Visit to the Congregation for Oriental Churches.  Archbishop Lawrence Huculak, Eparchy of Winnipeg, raises several questions Topics discussed included: visit of Western Bishops Conference as occasion to communion; joint Eucharistic celebration at St. Basil’s altar at relics of St. Josophat at St. Peter’s Basilica by Western  Bishops; upcoming 100th anniversary of Oriental Congregation in Canada.

Preparing for the meeting with the Congregation for Catholic Education.  Topics included: Catholic schools in Western Canada: similarities and differences re: fully and partially public funded schools; Catholic colleges and universities: features and current priorities.


Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Topics included: responding to religious communities whose charisms are either being born  or seem to be dying; God has plans for the charisms of communities: they are not only the community’s charisms;  “Christian Witness’ is move important than even vocations or dogma; ‘Diminishment’ versus ‘Promotion’; the call to ‘community’ for religious and consecrated life; the need for evangelical HOPE: even when something seems to be dying; towards a better structure for the lay sharing of the religious charism; structuring civilly and canonically new juridic persons to carry on the religious charism.

Redemptoris Mater Seminary Chapel: Tabernacle with Holy Scriptures.

Bishops Krotki (Churchill-Hudson) and Hagemoen at St. Mary Major Basilica.

Archbishops Pettipas and Chatlain before Mass; Bishops process into sanctuary.

Western Canadian Bishops with His Honor, Denise Savard and his wife -Canadian diplomatic envoy to the Vatican – co-hosts a dinner at the Canadian College, on the last evening of the Ad Limina.