The legacy of Cathollic Sisters in Saskatchewan was celebrated in Regina on Oct. 1. The event followed a similar one in Alberta a few years earlier. One is also being planned for Manitoba.
The Grey Nuns were the first religious community to offer health care services in 1860, in Ile-å-la Crosse in the then-Northwest Territories — 45 years before Saskatchewan became a province. Soon other religious communities followed, responding to calls to establish hospitals.
In a similar way, religious communities provided the first teachers in schools established in ethnic communities more than a century ago.
Among the dignitaries attending the legacy event were the bishops of Saskatchewan, Rev. Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio to Canada, and Deputy Premier Minister Don McMorris. More than 180 sisters were present to represent the 5,500 sisters who have served here in the past 155 years.
There is much to distract us this month of October.
The Rider Nation is lamenting the current trajectory of its team, which has only managed two wins to date. Meanwhile, Canadians are celebrating the newfound prowess of the Toronto Blue Jays who made the baseball playoffs and are World Series champion hopefuls. And dominating the religious landscape for three weeks is the world synod of bishops on the family in Rome.
Pope Francis opened the synod with his usual words of encouragement. He reminded synod members that the synod must be a place of prayer where bishops speak with courage and open themselves to “God who always surprises us.” He encouraged the synod’s 270 voting members to have courage, “pastoral and doctrinal zeal, wisdom, frankness and to keep always before our eyes the good of the church and of families and the supreme law — the salvation of souls.”
He urged synod members to be faithful to church teaching, saying the deposit of faith “is not a museum to be visited or even simply preserved, but is a living spring from which the church drinks to quench the thirst and enlighten” people.
Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest introduced the discussion by outlining questions the synod will be called to discuss until Oct. 25. An anchor, he noted, is Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. The pastoral question is how to minister to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, as well as to celebrate those in stable and healthy relationships.
One of the primary challenges familes face today is economic. Too many families do not have food, shelter or employment. Young people delay marriage and parenthood because they do not have or think they do not have the means to support a family. Millions of families are torn apart by war and migration. In addition, with an exultation of individualism there is a widespread distrust of institutions — including of the church, the state and the institution of marriage.
The synod is not a negotiation session, the pope said. However, expect the media to treat it as such.