The Diocese of Valleyfield is celebrating its 125th anniversary during 2017. The anniversary will be highlighted during the celebration of the Chrism Mass on 11 April at 7:30 pm in Sainte-Cécile Cathedral Basilica, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. The Most Reverend Noël Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield, will preside. The Most Reverend Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, will be present together with other guests and the diocesan faithful. The Diocese of Valleyfield was established 5 April 1892 by Pope Leo XIII. The Most Reverend Joseph-Médard Émard was its first Bishop, from 1892 to 1922. The Diocese of Valleyfield today has 24 parishes and missions with a Catholic population of 199,390, and is served by 50 diocesan priests, 13 priests who are members of institutes of consecrated life, 15 permanent deacons, 37 religious Sisters and Brothers who are members of religious institutes, as well as 16 lay pastoral workers.
In view of concerns by Churches and ecclesial communities regarding Canada's refugee policy, in particular its refugee resettlement targets as well as the bilateral "Safe Third Country Agreement" between Canada and the United States, the General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), the Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, has written to the Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is a CCC member. In October 2016, the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton and CCCB President, also wrote to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, then the Honourable John McCallum, concerning Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.
Link to the letter of the Canadian Council of Churches (PDF)
Link to the letter of Bishop Crosby (PDF)
The 10th annual International Earth Hour will take place on Saturday 25 March 2017 at 8:30 p.m. The Roman Catholic – United Church Dialogue has prepared an ecumenical prayer service to help congregations, parishes, and other groups observe, in prayer and worship, International Earth Hour. The resource is available in French and English and is entitled Earth Hour Vigil. Earth Hour stems from a grassroots movement that began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. The goal of Earth Hour is to create greater awareness about energy consumption and to encourage communities to consider turning off their non-essential lights for one hour, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, 25 March. The Earth Hour Vigil is an optional resource, and can be used flexibly on or around 25 March by parish communities and other Catholic groups who wish to engage with local ecumenical partners in organizing an event. The Roman Catholic – United Church of Canada Dialogue is sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and The United Church of Canada.
Link to the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil (PDF)
Link to the Earth Hour website
The Most Reverend William Terrence McGrattan will be installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Calgary, on 27 February 2017 at 7:30 p.m. (Mountain Time). The Most Reverend Frederick B. Henry, Bishop Emeritus of Calgary, will preside. The Most Reverend Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, will be present, participating with other Bishops from across Canada. At the time of his appointment by Pope Francis on 4 January 2017 as Bishop of Calgary, Bishop McGrattan was then Bishop of the Diocese of Peterborough. Bishop Henry was Bishop of Calgary for the past 19 years. The celebration will be broadcast live on the website of the Diocese, as well as on Salt + Light Television at 9:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).
On Tuesday, 14 February 2017, five representatives from the Canadian Council of Imams met in Ottawa with the members of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). The five Bishops on the Commission are representative of the ecclesial, linguistic and geographic realities of the Catholic Church in Canada. The Commission is responsible for coordinating the Conference's national ecumenical and interfaith outreach. Currently, the CCCB sponsors eight ecumenical and three interreligious dialogues.
The fifth National Week for Life and the Family will be celebrated across Canada, May 14 to May 21, 2017, from the 5th to the 6th Sunday of Easter. The 5th Sunday of Easter also coincides with Mother's Day. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is again offering dioceses/eparchies, parishes and other non-profit groups possible resources and options for planning and organizing local activities. The theme this year is "Love Grows by Giving". The resources have been prepared by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), working in collaboration and consultation with the CCCB and in cooperation with diocesan organizers for Quebec Family Week / Semaine québécoise des familles.
The Christian Interfaith Reference Group of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) has released a statement on religious freedom. At its November 2016 meeting, the CCC Governing Board provided general approval making the resource available to the Churches. The Reference Group includes representatives from a number of Christian Churches which are members of the CCC, including a representative from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Its mandate is to facilitate sharing and reflection on the experiences of CCC members engaged in interreligious dialogue. Referring to Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the statement reminds Canadian society: "A healthy pluralism, one which genuinely respects differences and values them as such, does not entail privatizing religions in an attempt to reduce them to the quiet obscurity of the individual's conscience or to relegate them to the enclosed precincts of places of worship."
Link to the statement on the CCC website
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has appointed Ms. Isabel Correa, Director of Youth Ministry at the Archdiocese of Montreal, as the National Coordinator for the Canadian delegation at World Youth Day (WYD) 2019. She succeeds Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, who has served Canadian WYD delegations in this capacity over the past years. The 2019 WYD will be celebrated in Panama, 22 to 27 January 2019, on the theme "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:30).
A delegation including CCCB representatives and organized by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace / Caritas Canada is visiting the Middle East, 29 January to 9 February 2017. Intended to be a tangible sign of the charity and solidarity of the universal Church for the Catholic faithful in the region, the delegation is focusing on Catholic communities in Lebanon and Syria.
The delegation is led by two Bishops from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB): The Most Reverend Raymond Poisson, Bishop of Joliette, Quebec, and The Most Reverend Ken Nowakowski, Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian-Greek Catholic Eparchy of New Westminster, B.C. The two are accompanied by Gilio Brunelli, Ph.D., Director, International Programs Department, Development and Peace; Mrs. Hélène Tremblay-Boyko, from Sturgis, Saskatchewan, Vice President of the National Council of Development and Peace; and Mr. Kyle Ferguson, Advisor for Ecclesial and Interfaith Relations with the CCCB.
The International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking is observed on 8 February, the liturgical memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947), a former Sudanese slave who eventually was freed and became a religious Sister. The Day of Prayer and Awareness is encouraged by Pope Francis, and is an initiative of what is now the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in collaboration with the International Union of Superiors General. The new Dicastery incorporates the former Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, together with the former Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
Link to resources from the Canadian Religious Conference on human trafficking
Link to an outline of Saint Josephine Bakhita's life and spirituality
In 2017, the Message of Pope Francis for Lent is "The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift." Based on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Luke 16:19-31), the Holy Father invites Catholics to find "inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion."
Link to the Message
A pamphlet to help Canadian Catholics better understand their Muslim neighbours is available from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). Published through the CCCB Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue, the resource is entitled Catholics and Muslims in Canada : Believers and Citizens in Society, and which is part of a CCCB series of resources, A Church in Dialogue.
The first part of the resource presents the origins of Islam, its main currents today, and its similarities with and differences from Christianity. The second part provides an overview of the history and present state of interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Muslims, both at the national and international levels, concluding with some suggestions on how everyone can contribute to such dialogues.