Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina (right), former bishop of Saskatoon, presents a symbolic set of keys to Bishop Mark Hagemoen during a dinner held before the installation mass Nov. 23 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. (Photo by Kiply Yaworski)
SASKATOON — In his first homily as the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, delivered during the Nov. 23 installation mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Bishop Mark Hagemoen emphasized the call and the challenge to live in righteousness, following the example of Jesus Christ.
Hagemoen cited Pope Francis’ message on the World Day of Consecrated Life in which he calls for overcoming “the temptation of survival (which) turns what the Lord presents as an opportunity for mission into something dangerous, threatening, potentially disastrous.” Followers of Christ are called to look deeper, and discover the hope provided by living beyond survival, said the bishop.
This is a way of life that calls for “ongoing healing,” he said, expressing appreciation for his time among the indigenous peoples in the north, “for what they have taught me about faith and our common journey, of healing and growth as we come to know the heart of the one God.”
Hagemoen described how his appointment to Saskatoon came unexpectedly, and there was a bittersweet quality to it as he bade farewell to the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, “where there is much work yet to do.” He expressed his appreciation for the welcome and support he has received since his appointment, and for the pastoral leadership that has formed the church in the Diocese of Saskatoon.
“I am very grateful and wish to acknowledge the pastoral leadership of this diocese’s recent shepherds: Bishops James Wiesgerber, Albert LeGatt, and Donald Bolen” — three of the 20 bishops attending the installation. “I come to a diocese that is in good shape, in large part because of them, and of course the excellent work of a committed and dynamic people of God.”
Hagemoen asked for prayers and patience as he takes up his new role, pledging “to serve this local church to the best of my ability, with God’s help.”
At the conclusion of the celebration Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, the apostolic nuncio, brought greetings from the pope: “It is a joy for me to transmit to you as a representative of Pope Francis in Canada, the closeness, the prayers, the affection, the benediction of Pope Francis to each one of you, to the Diocese of Saskatoon and to the dioceses of all Canada.”
He encouraged the diocese to welcome its new shepherd, as they have welcomed others. “This diocese, along with the wider community, has welcomed the stranger, the immigrant, and the refugee, making true the motto of the province: Multis e gentibus vires — from many peoples, strength.”
Saskatoon is a diocese that embraced the Second Vatican Council. “It is a diocese with a tradition of healthy relations between clergy and laity, where the gifts of laypeople have been summoned forth,” the nuncio said, turning to Hagemoen. “Please continue fulfilling this witness which I have received and which I pass on to you.”
Bonazzi encouraged the diocese to continue to treasure and protect Catholic education, noting that, with the new bishop’s love for education and youth, he “will accompany with great interest and support this important tool for evangelization.”
Bonazzi quoted from testimony received during the time of discernment prior to Hagemoen’s appointment: “One of the major social and pastoral challenges for the Diocese of Saskatoon and the upcoming bishop will be the ongoing challenge of building healthy relations with the indigenous population and guiding the church in learning to walk with indigenous people in addressing the systemic injustices and social challenges they face in Saskatchewan. This is a major challenge facing the people of Saskatchewan, and it is also a great pastoral challenge.”
The nuncio urged the faithful to continue to pursue “this mutual desire within the Catholic Church, within the society and within the indigenous population — this desire for a new friendship, this process of reconciliation — that it may grow for the benefit of all.”
Rev. Kevin McGee addressed the new bishop on behalf of the people of the diocese. “As we began our celebration this evening you were welcomed by a number of individuals and groups who represent the diversity of our diocese and the unique gifts and culture of the province of Saskatchewan,” he said. “Many hands extended themselves. From this moment on, these and many more hands will extend themselves to you and invite you into their lives as our shepherd. You will find much support here. You will be much loved. And I assure you that, wherever you go, you will find an open door.”