Secular Franciscan National Bulletin of the Secular Franciscan Order in Canada - July 2021
Building a More Fraternal and Evangelical World National Minister, Doug Clorey, ofs
The recent discovery of the unmarked graves of children attending residential schools for Indigenous people in Canada has cast a dark shadow on our country‘s history and on the role played by the Roman Catholic Church. The atrocities committed at these institutions has left us with a deep sense of sadness and shame. It is also important to note that the impact of this tragedy continues to be felt today by survivors, their families and their com-munities.
Many of us are descendants of settlers who colonized the land of the First Peoples of Canada. This fact alone should prompt us to work towards bringing about reconciliation with them. While significant steps have been and continue to be made by the leaders of government, church and the Indigenous people (refer to letter to CCCB included in this bulletin), there are many ways each of us can bring about further reconciliation and heal-ing. While the expression of individual sentiments and prayer are important, reconcilia-tion always requires the presence of a relationship with another; to move forward, we must find ways to be present to our First Nations, Métis and Inuit sisters and brothers.
The following are some of the ways in which we can reach out: Attend events lead by Indigenous communities in your local area; for example, vigils for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and children who died in residential schools, Pow Wows and days of celebration such as those held on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Participate in events taking place for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 (recently declared a Canadian statutory holiday). Talk to your chil-dren and grandchildren about what they are doing to commemorate this day.
Invite someone from your local Indigenous community to your fraternity to share about their culture.
Support local Indigenous artists (musicians and artisans).
Read books by Indigenous authors; watch films with an Indigenous theme.
Lobby government for just resolution to Indigenous issues (94 ―Calls to Action‖ from the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Report, 231 calls for Justice in the Red Book-let on MMIWG). Together with our Indigenous sisters and brothers, let us build a more fraternal and evan-gelical world!
Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. (OFS Rule, Article 14)
Letter From The National Fraternity Most Rev. Richard Gagnon, President The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) 2500 Don Reid Drive, Ottawa, ON K1H 2J2
Dear Archbishop Gagnon,
On behalf of the National Fraternity of Secular Franciscans in Canada (ofs), I am writing regarding the Roman Catholic Church‘s involvement with the operation of Indian Residential Schools in Canada, and the atrocities that were committed while these institutions were under the care of Catholic organizations within our Canadian church.
As you know, this situation has cast a dark shadow on the country‘s history with our Indigenous peoples. However, we are pleased to note, in a recent news story (Winnipeg Free Press, 8 June 2021, John Longhurst) that a working group of Catho-lic bishops and Indigenous leaders have been meeting for the past four years to dis-cuss ways the church can fulfill its commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people, and the role of the Pope in that process.
We are also pleased to hear that a delegation of Indigenous people expects to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican this fall to discuss the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada's residential school system, and the possibility of the Pope visiting Canada, and that you expect to be part of this delegation.
As members of the Secular Franciscan Order, who pledge to live in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, we wish to recognize the ongoing work that has already been done in support of healing and reconciliation by members of the CCCB. We also wish to encourage you, and the working group of Catholic bishops and Indigenous leaders, to continue working towards reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Please know that we too are committed to working with our First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in whatever way we can, to address the enormous suffering that they have endured over the years – survivors, their families and their communities.
In the meantime, we are grateful to the individual Bishops who have publicly offered their apologies on behalf of their dioceses. We are also encouraged by your statement that, if an apology from Pope Francis were forthcoming, it would be ―very significant and important‖ and ―would mean a lot to Indigenous people‖. You and your brother bishops are in our thoughts and prayers. Wishing you peace and every good, Doug Clorey, ofs, National Minister Secular Franciscan Order of Canada