Vocations & Ministry

Social Justice Ministry

The Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith participates in social justice initiatives through the work of a volunteer social justice coordinator. The work focuses on alternatives to unfair social, political and economic structures. Examples include anti-poverty initiatives, lobbying for early childhood services and development that favours our communities and the land. The work is guided by the social teachings of the Church. These include the call to community and the Common Good, the dignity of the Human Person, the principle of solidarity, the preferential option for the poor and care for God’s creation. The work is primarily carried out with a coalition called Alternatives North.

Interested in this type of work? Call and leave a message at the Diocese for Suzette Montreuil.

Are you interested in ministering and the diocese?

Thank you for your interest in our Diocese.

“I would like to take this opportunity to give you an insight into our home, the North. At first look you may see only challenges: our harsh climate, isolated communities, cultural upheaval and all its pain in the face of vast changes. However, if you stay with us for awhile I am certain you will see something more: vast, pristine land, quiet beauty and deeply friendly and spiritual people. We are blest with a variety of rich cultures and languages which have lived here for thousands of years. We are also blest with people of many cultures from all areas of the world. The north is not for everyone, but if you do spend some time with us you will find it does get in your blood. Like the rest of the north, we are a people who appreciate adventure and our church is made up of real character.

Jesus may be wearing more clothing than in other climates, like mukluks and beaver mitts, but He is here too. In His words, you are welcome to come and see.”

Suggestions for future missionaries

Bishop D. Croteau, OMI, October 31, 2000

New Missionary Approach
It is not an easy task for those who want to be “prophets” of a new way of being church. The new evangelization demands a new heart, a new spirit, new techniques, a greater respect of charisms, personalities, culture, a greater trust and confidence in people and their personal life and faith experience. To believe, in one word, that the Spirit is at work in the lay people as well as in the priest, is for many people (lay and priest) a giant leap of faith. It demands also on the part of all, great humility, great self‐discipline, and extraordinary openness and above all a patience beyond the limits of common virtue

Spiritual Stamina
They would first have to have a very deep spiritual life because the work is demanding and the visible rewards in general are few. They would need complete dedication to the Kingdom of God.As our communities are rather small (75 ‐ 900 people) there are not too many consolations to be obtained from the administration of the sacraments. There are very few baptisms, even fewer marriages but more funerals.

Human Maturity
The candidates would need a good human balance, or psychological stability and maturity. The North is a difficult land. It will always remain a challenge. Not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. It offers though great rewards in friendship, simplicity of life and human contacts. One who is running away from a problem should not consider the North. The North, contrary to what is often believed, brings those problems to the fore and amplifies them.

Cultural Awareness
To succeed, candidates would have to accept to go to the school of life and be open to learn new ways. They would have to learn the ways of their adoptive family, i.e. the aboriginal people. Nothing would have to be accepted blindly but they would have to be willing to withhold judgment till after they get accepted by the people they came to serve. Our best missionaries are the ones who love the people as they are; who are proud of them in the right way.

Self‐Sufficiency
Another factor to consider would also be the ability to live in isolation. Our missions are sometimes hundreds of kilometres apart with only planes as means of communication. One has to be very strong psychologically speaking and very zealous pastorally speaking to say nothing of one’s spiritual stamina… The smallness of the communities allows for true and enduring friendships to develop, but one has to know how to thrive in the execution of daily chores without much excitement, in a long winter and without the frills of the South.

Team‐Work
A sine qua non condition for a missionary to be successful with the people of the Canadian North would be his ability to do teamwork. As it has been shown above, there is a great need of pastoral animation to establish the Church of tomorrow. In the Mackenzie Diocese, I would say that “second evangelization” is first of all animation, inspiration, calling forth, challenging, etc..We need priests who are priests‐animators. In the past we could build the Church with priests-administrators, not any more. One of the main qualities demanded from a candidate would be his ability to work in the spirit of Vatican II. We would never accept a candidate who is his own boss, controls everything and is too set in his ways. Shared leadership is the motto in this diocese. We insist on lay people doing all that they can do to leave the priest in his role of “unity maker” through preaching and the Eucharist.

Conclusion
To be a missionary in the Canadian North is today a very difficult task. But some did it before us and I believe that some still can do it.