Over the past months, our country has become keenly aware of the hardship and trauma endured by many Indigenous Peoples in this land, much of it stemming from the legacy of residential schools.
We cannot erase history, but we can look forward to – and help create – a better future. We, as members of the Catholic Church and citizens of our nation, continue to walk the long road towards national healing and reconciliation, with Indigenous Peoples showing us the way.
The summer and fall of 2021 witnessed a formal apology by all Catholic bishops in Canada followed by a $30M National Financial Pledge to support healing and reconciliation initiatives. The Archdiocese of Edmonton specifically committed to $3M toward that goal.
The Holy Father himself wishes to walk with us all. Pope Francis will welcome three distinct groups of Indigenous peoples to the Vatican during a series of unprecedented meetings March 28-April 1. This will be a pivotal moment in the history of the Catholic Church in Canada as Pope Francis hears directly from Indigenous Peoples in extensive personal encounters with each group – First Nations, Metis, and Inuit – and in an historic final audience with all delegates together.
On March 28, 2022, as the encounter begins, in solidarity with the Indigenous Fire Keepers keeping the Sacred Fire in your region and across this land, we invite all of you to light a fire or a candle and to pray. It is suggested each Diocese/Eparchy partner with the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, Knights of Columbus, and/or other groups to ensure commitment to continuous prayer across each region’s prayer time zone(s).
- ATLANTIC: NS, PEI, NL and NB 5 am- 9 am
- EASTERN: QC, NU 8 am – 11 am, ON, NU 11 am – 1 pm
- CENTRAL: MB 12 noon -3 pm SK 3 pm – 6 pm
- MOUNTAIN: AB, NWT 5 pm – 8 pm YT, NWT 8 pm – 11 pm
- PACIFIC: BC 9 pm – 11 pm
We, the Catholic faithful, have an opportunity to be in spiritual solidarity with the delegation in Rome, by educating ourselves on the history of residential schools in Canada and by praying that the Holy Spirit may guide these grace-filled encounters.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has facilitated working groups to develop education, reflection, and prayer materials for use during this time: https://www.cccb.ca/indigenous-peoples/indigenous-delegation-march-28-to-april-1-2022-vatican-city/educational-resources/. Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle (OLGC) has developed a prayer card and invites dioceses, parishes, other organizations and individuals to download the prayer for their use and/or for printing; it can be found on the OLGC website here: https://ourladyofguadalupecircle.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/OLGC-EN-prayer-card-Final.pdf.
We express our gratitude to you as you receive this invitation. We will pray that Our Lady of Guadalupe intercede with her Son to shower abundant graces among and between us, for the conversion and healing of hearts, as we continue our journey of truth and reconciliation. In the Catholic Church, light has always had a special significance because it represents Christ. In Indigenous spirituality, the Sacred Fire starts a ceremony or sacred event; it is a sacred practice meant to make individuals feel open, grounded, and connected with all people on Earth and those who have moved on.