Québec City, Canada. To fulfill one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) calls to action given to the Church, Pope Francis made his 37th Apostolic Journey to Canada from July 24 to 30, 2022, to present the excuses in person on the land of the indigenous peoples. Thus, he fulfilled the call-to-action number 58.
Yes, with a group of 12 pilgrims (3 people from St. Kateri Mission, TFN & 9 people from St. Anne Mission of Winneway), we made our pilgrimage to St. Anne Shrine (more than 1000 km) on the 27th of July from New Liskeard. We heard that there was a group of 12 pilgrims from St. Clothilde Mission of Kitcisakik.
On the 28th of July, we participated in the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at the Shrine. In his homily, he reiterated his apology and invited everyone to walk together on the path of hope, healing, and reconciliation. For the pilgrims, it was a grace and joy-filled experience to be inside the shrine and to participate actively in the Mass. We would have loved to have reserved places, finally, it was not done, so we were a little scattered and sad too. Some Claretians priests and Fr. Luc Ngonda-Nkoy Losalia were with us too. We had a chance to meet with the premier of Quebec Mr. Francois Legault, and the Prime minister of Canada, Mr. Justin Trudeau before the commencement of the Holy Mass. There were about 1,200 people inside the shrine, and it was a mixed population, the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. There were about 5,000 – 6,000 people outside the Shrine.
In the evening, Fr. Luc and I had an opportunity to attend the Vespers, wherein Pope Francis participated. It was a very moving experience because we had the chance to see him very close when he was praying at the tomb of St. Francois de Laval. His message was one of the best during all of his apostolic journeys to Canada, which is his 37th one. In his message, he apologized for the sexual abuses done to minors in Canada for the first time during his visit. He told that three women inspired and accompanied him during his journey, they are the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Anne, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha. He started his apostolic visit in Edmonton, came to Quebec, and ended in Iqaluit. Thus, he was able to show his closeness and reiterate his apology to all the indigenous peoples of this land called Canada: Innuits (esquimos), First Nations, and Metis Nation (that is 1. 5 million, which is 5% of Canada’s population). We had the opportunity to meet with our Bishop Guy Boulanger and other bishops too, and that was a blessing for us. While coming back, we had the chance to meet with Fr. Remi Cadieux, who has worked for almost 36 years among the people of TFN & LPFN. He was full of joy and emotion, and so we were.
These are some words he has been using in his messages which we should take them to our hearts to meditate upon and continue to walk together: Memory, forgiveness, grandparents, history, multiculturalism, inclusion, healing, hope, reconciliation, youth, culture, future, truth, justice, the grace of God, and working together.
Some of the images that he has used in his messages: Moccasins, tree, teepee, drum beats, water, native dress, Lilly flower, maple leaves, stars, GPS, and ice hockey.
We thank our beloved Bishop Guy Boulanger for all his guidance in organizing this pilgrimage and the Claretians Missionaries of Victorville Frs. Percy Diaz and Vincente for their kindness and generosity in preparing the rooms, breakfasts, and collation for us all. We thank the band of the LPFN who paid completely for the bus from the fund that they received from the government for the Pope’s visit.
Let us continue to implore the grace of the one Creator God so that we can continue to walk together with openness, humility, fraternity and solidarity. Kitchi Meegwetch/ Thanks a lot.
Fr. Jegan Joans Reegan S., CMF