Message to Kateri Native Ministry and All Indigenous Catholics
Dear Donna, Father Hasina, dear brothers and sisters in Christ;
Under ordinary circumstances this would have been the annual Long Weekend in May at which you gather for healing, reconciliation and building a hope-filled future.
I was looking forward to being with you for Mass, conversations and exchanges. However, the Covid-19 pandemic requires that we be apart to protect the health of all, especially our elderly and vulnerable persons. So I can be with you only through this message. In it I wish to assure you of your presence in my thoughts and prayers, especially as you gather this Sunday for Mass and a spiritual communion through social media.
Next year, my presence will be as the emeritus or retired archbishop of Ottawa and Cornwall. My successor has been named, even if it will be some time before he assumes office. He is Coadjutor Archbishop Marcel Damphousse, of the Sault Sainte Marie diocese, which has a sector devoted to Catholic indigenous peoples. He was also for three years Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall, which is close to Akwesasne. You may count on his support for Kateri Native Ministry and all whom you represent.
Today’s Mass takes us back to Jesus’ farewell address to his disciples at the Last Supper. He tells us that after his death, resurrection and ascension, he will send us another “paraclete”, another one who will bring us comfort, consolation and peace. He speaks of the Holy Spirit—and don’t we need that gift of someone defending us, standing by us—in this time of the Corona virus—but also to help bring us the healing we and Canadian society need!
Jesus says he will send another “paraclete” another defender to stand by us, because he is our first defender and stands by our side. May this message bring you the inner joy and peace you desire for yourselves, for all in your family and your community and in our country Canada.
Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you”. Jesus does not say, “Love me as I have loved you”. Instead, Jesus says, “receive the love I freely give you, right up to my dying on the cross for you and rising again to give you my risen life and my Holy Spirit and, having received my love, pass it on to others near and far.” Wow! What a big challenge! But with God, all things are possible.
God bless you one and all!
✠Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall
May 17, 2020