Danny Bayha (second from left), Sahtu Dene leader, worked closely with Bishop Mark on a number of diocesan projects.
After Bishop Murray Chatlain was called to the Archdiocese of Keewatin - Le Pas, we the people of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith watched and waited for a new bishop.
In the fall of 2013 we got the news that Rev. Mark Hagemoen from Vancouver had been appointed to be our bishop. I recall meeting Father Mark at the airport in Yellowknife on Oct. 23, 2013. He arrived just as our diocesan staff was celebrating the 81st birthday of Bishop Denis Croteau, OMI, a former bishop.
The episcopal ordination of Bishop Mark Hagemoen was celebrated on Dec. 15, 2013, in Yellowknife, on a sunny, frosty winter day.
We soon realized thatour new bishop was indeed a gifted shepherd!
He possesses the unique combination of a keen intellect and great practical wisdom. From his former ministry, he brought an understanding of youth, with a love of education, which quickly endeared him to everyone in Yellowknife Catholic Schools and to educators throughout the diocese.
During summer months, he invited university students from London, ON, and Vancouver to spend time with youth in our northern communities, where bonds of friendship were formed.
Bishop Mark - who seems to have an inexhaustible source of energy - soon visited all the communities of this far-flung diocese, which covers the Northwest Territories, a couple of communities in Nunavut, and part of northern Saskatchewan.
Everywhere he asked the same question: "What do you ask of the church?"
Many replied - especially the elders - that they wanted guidance in leadership.
So Bishop Mark set up a three-year lay formation program, to be held in different regions. He spends much time himself in meeting with people and teaching.
He soon saw the need for upkeep of church property, so he began an ambitious repair and building program - which included the construction of a new church at Fort Simpson.
We are grateful for his strong and faith-filled leadership.
In these last days of the church year, we look to the future with hope in our hearts. Next Sunday on the feast of Christ the King, we will sing or say: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalm 23).