April 17, 2018


The Representatives of the Canadian Federation of Presbyteral Councils from the organization's Western Region, convened in the City of Saskatoon for three days of presentations and discussion. The representatives are appointed delegates from potentially each of the Catholic eparchies and dioceses established in Canada. Every year the Federation holds a National Assembly to which all representatives are invited as well as other interested clergy. It is also the practice that each of the three regions of the federation - Atlantic, Central and Western - would hold an annual "gathering" to deal with matters that pertain to priestly ministry within the particular region. The Western Region decided some time ago that Saskatoon would be the site of the 2018 Regional. Fr. Gregory Windsor-Smith, the Saskatoon Representative and the elected Western Vice-President of the Federation was the principal organizer of the event that was scheduled for 16-18 April 2018.

The highlights of the first day included a Mass concelebrated at the former Cathedral Church of St. Paul in downtown Saskatoon with Bishop Mark Hagemoen as the main celebrant. Bishop Mark also preached a brief homily related to the Scripture readings of the day [Acts 6:8-15; John 6:22-29]. In the evening, Bishop Mark was also the opening speaker at the gathering. He offered a fascinating presentation on his four years of episcopal ministry in the northern regions of Canada. Needlesstosay, his presentation brought out many aspects of priestly ministry in general that would resonate with any pastor throughout the Church. What ensued was a very helpful "q&a" and open discussion and sharing that went on after the formal schedule and into the evening fellowship. His Excellency graciously stayed as long as the priests wanted to talk.

The second day began with a double session in the morning with Catholic lay speaker on Evangelization and youth ministry Ken Yasinski. His talk was engaging and challenging about the great benefit of the Church to revisit it's whole mission purpose to always and enthusiastically and relentlessly live the commandment of Christ to, "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age!" [Matthew 28:19-20]. He openly and honestly shared a wealth of his experience and insight and successes and challenges. His presentation also inspired the priests gathered to raise many questions and share many insights and concerns of their own.

The clergy made their way back over to St Paul's which was only about half of block away, but they had to walk in winter conditions again as it had decided to snow in Saskatoon and the streets were covered with snow and it continued to fall. The pastor of St Paul's, Fr. Nestor Silva was not present, but assistant priest Fr. Richmond graciously hosted the swarm of CFPC representatives that gathered for the regular daily noon-hour Mass. Vice-President Fr. Greg preached the homily of the day [Acts 7:51-8:1; John 6:30-35], but first he gave a brief explanation to the fair-sized congregation what the Federation is all about and why they had gathered in Saskatoon.

Everyone returned to the hotel for a late and therefore much appreciated lunch. Bishop Bryan Bayda, also of Saskatoon, but for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy, joined the group for lunch. Federation President, Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski (with whom he had attended the Redemptorist Fathers' minor seminary "back in the day") introduced him all the representatives. Bishop Bryan enjoyed the surprise of meeting up with his one-time director of a Clinical Pastoral Education program that he attended in Alberta prior to ordination. St. Boniface CFPC Representative Fr. Gilbert Gariepy was very involved with the development of the program in Canada back in the 1980s and 1990s and that is when he had Bishop Bryan as his student. Bishop Bryan also spoke about the bold and exciting new program of stewardship that he is introducing into the Eparchy of Saskatoon.

The third day of the Gathering, Wednesday, began again with a Eucharistic Liturgy at which the representative from the Archdiocése de Saint-Boniface, Fr. Gilbert Gariepy did the honour of serving as the main celebrant. The Federation invited him to do so as they wanted to recognize the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Fr. Gilbert also preached a very appropriate and moving homily.

Following the Liturgy, the final full-morning session turned immediately to toward dealing with some Federation business before the representatives had to start leaving for home. Each representative gave a report on the pastoral activity in their home eparchy/diocese. They also discussed various questions concerning the direction and immediate plans for the Federation itself. These plans include: expansion of the CFPC in the west; the organizing of a western gathering for all priests in the region; their own participation in the National Assembly in Charlottetown in October; the distribution and implementation of Federation resources among clergy; putting together new materials - especially regarding financial stewardship; a more effective realization of the CFPC's fundamental mission; etc. The gathering was to conclude with a lunch, but the discussion spilled over into the lunch-hour so that information was being shared and points made as members took their last bites and then hurried off to the airports or highways to make their way home throughout Western provinces.

The next Federation event will be the Gathering of the Representatives of the Central Region in Toronto in May. This is being prepared by the Central Vice-President Fr. Louis Groetelaars from the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall.

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