A Father and Son Journey in Faith

Brother Knights,

At the time that I am writing this I have been working with my youngest son Liam on his preparation for his first Communion and Reconciliation. I recently purchased a book to help him and me through this process and am finding that this time in his life serves as a reminder to me of those things that many of us learned early in our lives in catechism as children and just how different my understanding is now as opposed to as a child. Not only that, but the insight of children with their understanding can be very enlightening. In a world where you hear more and more of people refusing to or, not believing, to hear an 8-year-old explain why he believes in, and loves God is showing me that there may yet still be hope for the survival of our faith.

I recently took him out of class to witness the Mass of the Immaculate Conception at St. Mary’s, where he was able to experience the organ, incense, Archbishop, and most of the Priests of our Archdiocese in the largest Mass he’s ever attended. We got to be present with a holy relic at that time as well.

I’ve been lucky enough as well to have access to the Vella collection while it was set up, to take him and his sister through some of the nativities. He enjoyed finding the differences from the different cultures and getting an understanding as to the history of why. When we were in southwestern Ontario, he was able to see the nativity at the church that his mother was baptized at. Unfortunately, the church was closed while we were there so we couldn’t go inside this time.

I have noticed for the last two years he has been paying very close attention to Mass and the readings each week. He asks questions which make me think as well. Liam has pushed me to continue to explore my faith further and has deepened my love of Christ. We look forward to continuing our faith journey together as we prepare for his first communion this year. I find that this journey with my son has been educational for me more than anyone and I wouldn’t trade this time for the world. To see the level of understanding and faith within my child is the most uplifting feeling. Please pray for us.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Honour, Advent and Christmas

Brother Knights,

At the time of writing this we are preparing for our annual memorial mass on November 15th and in preparation for this mass I find myself reflecting on the significance of the month of November. November is traditionally a month that we remember those who came before us and reflect on their contributions to our lives and to our society as a whole. It is not only significant among us Catholics, but also to our society, as November 11th is Remembrance Day, which is used as the one day each year that our country remember those soldiers, sailors, and airmen that laid down their lives. As a council we traditionally come together each November to celebrate the lives of those Brother Knights of our council who have gone to meet our Lord and Saviour. It is always important to honour the lives of those who have gone before us.

At the end of the month, we turn our attention to preparing the way for the birth of our Lord. Advent gives us time to reconcile with God and prepare our hearts and souls for the arrival of His Son Jesus Christ at Christmas. For many of us this time of year can be incredibly stressful. Instead of focusing on everything that the modern world throws at you this time of year, focus on what this season is really about and why it exists, the “reason of the season”, the birth of Christ our Lord. Too many people these days focus on material things this time of year. We should pray for them and pray for each other. This season, take time to reflect on the Nativity when you pray. When you may feel stressed, turn to prayer, and take the time to pray your rosary daily. God bless you all.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Pray the Rosary Daily

Brother Knights,

This being the September October Newsletter gives me an opportunity to reflect on a personal journey of mine. October 2nd marks Crystal and my anniversary, but that day marks another anniversary for me as well. It was October 2nd two years ago that I committed myself to praying the rosary daily. As a kid I didn’t know much about the rosary my parents weren’t big on going to church and I only knew of two people in my life then that I saw pray it regularly, and that was my great grandmother, Helen Quinn and my great aunt, Marion Waitson. So as a kid I thought of it as more of a girl thing rather than something that we all should pray. It wasn’t until I joined the Knights of Columbus, and the emphasis put upon the rosary that I realized the importance of it.

After becoming a Knight, I committed to praying the rosary daily during lent, but in September of 2020 I decided that beginning October 1st I would pray my rosary daily. If you noticed at the beginning, the date was not October 1st. So, needless to say I screwed it up right off the bat. In typical fashion I missed the first day. So, the next day, on my anniversary I started a journey. I now pray it daily and always finish by asking for Blessed Fr. McGivney and Our Lady of Fatima to pray for me.

Now this is a personal story that I have not shared with many people, and it tends to make me a tad emotional. As many of you are aware, my oldest daughter Aunna was diagnosed with cancer last spring, but what you may not know is the path that we took to finding it. About one month after I began praying the rosary daily, Aunna began having issues that were of no relation to the cancer diagnosis she would later receive. It was a long, complicated process of many hospital stays and much testing. It’s this testing that in the spring of 2021 discovered her cancer and just two weeks after diagnosis resulted in the surgical removal of her entire thyroid where they found cancer in two places.

We still do not know what the initial cause of the illness was. The doctors all said that if it wasn’t for the imaging done for her unexplained illness it likely would have spread further before she would have even started to notice anything wrong. I truly believe that there is no coincidence in the timing. Our Lady interceded and saved my daughter’s life. Praise be to God.

If there is one thing that I can strongly recommend to all my brother Knights and all my friends, it is simply to do what Our Lady of Fatima asked of us and pray the rosary daily. It may just change your life as it has mine.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Blessed Father Michael McGivney, pray for us.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

An Introduction

Reverend Fathers, Brother Knights, Friends,

I am Ryan Karl Polywkan, and I am humbled and honoured to have been elected as your new Grand Knight for this fraternal year. I became a Knight in December of 2014, after arriving back in Kingston upon my release from the Military that summer. At the time my wife Crystal and I had 3 children and were coming from a parish in Shilo, Manitoba where we made up 5 of the 13 or so parishioners. We came back to the church only within the last couple years we were out there. I had been struggling and spoke with my Padre at work, as it so happened, he was a Catholic Deacon who had been in the infantry and was injured, had his calling and came back to the military as a Padre. He told me to turn my focus to God. So, I did. We went to Our Lady of Shilo where we had the most welcoming priest Father Innocent, his love for God and his love for the mass was something to behold. You could truly feel the Holy Spirit working through him. When we were moving back to Kingston, he sat down with us and we were looking at St. Paul’s, being closest to us, but also where I had gone as a child for school. First with Father Karl, then with Father Leo. Not long after being here was I approached by Brother Howard to ask if I would be interested in becoming a Knight. In my now nearly 8 years in this council I have tried to be involved with as many events as I could. To date the only event I’ve not participated in is the Fish Fry. The amount and variety of activities in this council really can keep one very busy. There is something here for everyone.

The last two and a half years have put a damper on our events. We are not completely out of the woods yet, but we are the closest we have been. We can gather once again, without restrictions, we can host events, we can come together as a community of believers, as friends, as family. We must now take this opportunity and move forward, it’s time to put everything back into full swing again. We must contribute as we once did. Without fear. With love for one another. Let’s get out of the shadows we’ve spent the last two years in. We are Knights, we are husbands, fathers, brothers, grandfathers, men, and our parish community needs us. It’s time to bring our parish family back together in the ways that we have in the past, with the many events that bring us all together.

I encourage all brother knights to get involved. Whether it has been two years, ten or more, now is the time to come back out to our meetings and events. Now is an opportunity as everyone has missed time lately. Reintroduce yourselves. Our meeting format has changed a little since the pandemic started. It is now designed to keep the meeting to within an hour, to allow for fraternal social time following the meetings. I would like to get to know more of you using this time and find out what your interests are and how we can help each other make this a success. Our meetings will remain available online for the foreseeable future and will be broadcast from the parish hall where those wishing to come can be there in person. I look forward to working with every single one of you. Each of us has something to offer. I would also like to encourage every one of you to pray your Rosary daily. When you joined the Knights of Columbus you were all given a Rosary, it deserves to be prayed. If you need a replacement, please let me or our Financial Secretary know. It is the most important piece of your kit as a Knight of Columbus.

I would like to take this opportunity to give my heartfelt appreciation to Brother Michael Mombourquette for his steadfast leadership over the last 4 years he served as Grand Knight. His term was one that won’t soon be forgotten. He guided us through a pandemic that saw changes not only to our finances, but also dramatically changed the way in which we hold meetings. Br Michael was immediately successful in running our meetings via zoom and made it look like a flawless transition to online. We were the lucky ones and didn’t skip a beat because of him. We are truly blessed as a council to have had Brother Michael as our Grand Knight. Thank you, Br. Michael and may the Holy Spirit continue to guide you.

As Knights of Columbus, we have a fraternal greeting, “Vivat Jesus”, which means “May Jesus Live”. I come from a Gunnery background where the moto for the Artillery is, “Ubique”, which means “everywhere”. Sometimes I find myself putting these two together and some of you may have seen that in some previous correspondence. I can think of no more fitting way to end this than with that.

Vivat Jesus

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

The Call

The Call, by George Herbert, 1633.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life :
Such a Way, as gives us breath :
Such a Truth, as ends all strife :
And such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength :
Such a Light, as shows a feast :
Such a Feast, as mends in length :
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart :
Such a Joy, as none can move :
Such a Love, as none can part :
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.

An old English poem that references one of the most commonly known quotations in the bible Jn 14:6 “I am the way the truth and the life”.

Christ is telling us that He is the end of all evils of this world, He gives us life, heals us, saves us to life eternal. Let us rejoice in that knowledge. Our faith tells us that this life on earth is temporary. Jesus himself tells us that we will face trials on this earth because of our faith. Expecting that faith in the Saving power of Christ will somehow make our lives all rosy is a risky way to live. What happens to our faith when we find ourselves in a situation that is not pleasant? How do we cope when hardships come, when tragedy strikes?

I recently saw an inspiring movie “Father Stu” starring Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson, among others. The real Father Stu (played by Mark) went through quite a few hardships, seemingly piling up on each other. From a boxer that was going nowhere fast, despite a winning record, to a condition that forced him to give up boxing, to a failed attempt to get “into the movies” in Hollywood to a horrendous motorcycle accident and finally a degenerative muscle disease that ultimately killed him, the real Stuart Long went from atheist to Catholic Priest, not just despite all these hardships, but because of them. I don’t want to tell you too much. See it if you get the chance. Unfortunately, it’s no longer in theatres so perhaps it’ll be on a streaming service.

We too need to have faith in what Christ tells us when he says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. He is talking about eternal life, eternal truth and the Way to all this. But, here’s the thing: If we are really following the Way, the Truth and the Life, then we will have what it takes to find joy, even in the darkest times. When my Mom died 10 years ago, I found hope in reflecting on her life and joy in thinking of her in Heaven. When my Dad passed the following year I cried again, but I rejoiced at the life he had, the faith he gave me and I started to imagine and believe that I had two parents sitting together in Paradise, praying for me and loving me for eternity.

I have more and more been feeling the call to spread the word that Christ is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” to others whom I meet. This fall, I met a student who had an issue with what I said in lecture. It seemed to conflict with his dad’s version of the universe from an evangelical background. By the end of the meeting over lunch, I prayed over him and he had a renewed vigor to go on, knowing that his dad’s faith was strong, that My faith, de-spite being Catholic, didn’t conflict with his Dad’s faith and that we are all on the Way to life and truth.

This winter, my across-the-street neighbor confided in me last November that she had been spending all her days those past weeks at the intensive care ward with her husband who was dying of congestive heart failure and had a few weeks to live. Cynthia and I prayed over her (Hands on her shoulders), right there on the street, asking for healing for her husband and for herself that she would be able to see the Way, that she would find Joy in the Lord. That was 6 months ago. Now, I regularly see the pair of them walking around the neighborhood. He lost his grim attitude and is always happy and joking. It’s a miracle on earth but more than that, They are on the Way to life eternal again, they have joy, despite his grim condition that may still take him before he wants to go. He is amazed that he is living this “new live”, on “borrowed time”, his words.

How about you? Are you on the Way to Truth and Life? Whom are you telling about this amazing good news (Gospel)? We need to all get out there and start telling everyone who will listen and even those who don’t about our faith, about Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. We need to actively share our faith so that others can come along the Way too. Are you ready to step out in faith and begin again to evangelize the world as Father tells us at the end of each Mass? “Go in peace to Love and Serve the Lord” or “Go in peace, to Spread the Good news to the World”

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight


Hope. It’s a word we throw about a lot. I hope the weather is better tomorrow because I don’t like slipping on the ice, or I hope that we can finally get back together again like we used to. Perhaps you are hoping your ticket number is chosen in the big lottery, or you’re hoping that lady friend you like will also like you too (only if you’re single). But we Christians have a much more involved meaning to the word “Hope”. We have a hope that is not just wishful thinking, like winning a lottery. We have a sure hope in Salvation through Christ. Our Hope is not random wishing, which is butting up against superstition; but that’s another essay. Our Hope is also a sure thing. Christ promised that we will be with him in Paradise LK 23:43.

So, what is this Hope? How can it help us now? I mean, if all this is the Hope that eventually, I’ll get to heaven, how is that going to affect me today, years before I die (I hope). Well, we humans are actually pretty oriented people. Some of us will set a goal of getting rich and spend their lives striving for that goal. Some of us will strive for power, others may strive for less wholesome things but no matter, in the end, it will all come to nothing. Remember Jesus’ parables, particularly, of the rich man, who tore down his barns to build bigger ones, only to find that his life was about to end LK 12:16-21.

When I was a teenager, I had largely fallen away from the Church for a while. Out on my own for the first time, living alone, I struggled to know who I was and what Christ was all about. I knew He was real. I was convinced of that, but I had not really figured out how that affected my life. I didn’t see his promise of salvation as something that affected my life in the present moment. At one point, in despair, I had even considered ending my life. Just a bit faster, I reasoned, I could just push the gas pedal down a bit more and I would not make that next corner coming up. No one would know I had done it on purpose. I had just been taken in by a girl I had been interested in. She accepted my ticket to a big dance/drinking spree put on by one of the student groups on campus and when we got in the door, she said goodbye and left to find her friends. I was just the patsy whose money she happily used to get into the couples-only event. My life was not going well. As I approached the curve, I suddenly saw my mother leaning over my casket in tears. I couldn’t do that to her. I backed off and made the curve, albeit with my tires complaining loudly at the load. I finished my drive back to my room and resumed my “hopeless life”, feeling maybe even more trapped because I knew I couldn’t hurt Mom.

I began to see some light though in the Lord. I tried several bible groups and other churches but each one reached the point, where they tried to insist that I needed to recant my Catholicism and join their particular Church in order to be saved. There were even some ex-Catholics in some of those groups trying to convince me it was the only way. My Mom saved me again. I could not believe that she was going to Hell (as these people were trying to tell me) and she and all my extended family was Catholic. I could not imagine they were all going to hell either. I couldn’t articulate my objection to them. I just didn’t know what to say but I was sure they were wrong. Christ was in the Catholic Church, I was sure of it. Clearly, though, I was missing something about being Catholic that I needed to find.

It turned it out it was Christ himself I was missing. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light” Jn14:6 took on new meaning. Jesus was not just telling me that He could bring me to Heaven, He was telling me he would do it. I realized that his promise was a guarantee. I was saved! I know, I know. That’s not a “Catholic” phrase. We don’t run around saying we’re saved, or we’re born again. Yet, that is exactly what we are. We are saved, we are born again in baptism and Through Christ, we have a sure hope in salvation 1 John 3:2–3. My goal now is my true hope in salvation. My goal is to reach that final hope, that final destination of eternity with God in Heaven. No matter what twists and turns my life here on earth brings, my hope is not in this world. My hope is in Heaven, and nothing can take that away from me.

Brothers, as we journey in this new Season of Lent for the next few weeks, we too can share in that hope. We need to rid ourselves of all the things of the world that are keeping us back, that are preventing us from seeing the Hope that is Christ. Those habits that prevent us from spending time with the Lord, and from each other. Those earthly goals and pleasures that only serve to use up our time and resources. Let’s instead all turn our thoughts, efforts and goals towards building up our treasures in Heaven, Mt 6:19-21. I hope that you all will be able to find a new goal, a new Hope in Christ and not focus on the Hopes of this world, which will rust and decay. Instead, let’s build ourselves a new habit of Hope in Christ.

PS: For an excellent book on Hope, I suggest reading “Beautiful Hope”, by Matthew Kelly from Dynamic Catholic. The book is free, you only need pay for shipping. They also have an excellent series called “Best Lent Ever”. It’s a series of short video messages daily that you can listen to. Sign up to receive a link to the daily message now from dynamiccatholic.com. They’re also free.

May God Bless you all with Beautiful Hope.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

It’s Critically important to know our faith

It’s Critically important to know our faith. Far too many people who attend church and call themselves Catholic do not really know the faith that has been handed down to us of the past two millennia. Far too many of us tell ourselves and others things we think the Church stands for but are wrong. The same can be said for many other denominations as well but I think it’s quite a problem among the Catholics. We did not do a good job of passing our faith to our children over the past decades and many of them have fallen away from the Church. I think a key reason we did such a poor job as a generation is that we too didn’t really know our faith. A century ago, everything we did was seen as simply part of the “Christian World” around us. Everyone we saw and interacted with was a fellow Christian and more likely, a fellow Catholic (or Anglican or Lutheran). We as a people did not need to worry about defending our faith or about convincing our children that God exists. It was just assumed that everyone would “Know” that God exists.

Unfortunately, for far too many people, that assumption that our children would just “Know God” was terribly wrong. Additionally, in recent decades, we have seen the rise of “the new atheism” in which it was not good enough to just quietly “not believe” in God, it became imperative to convince others of their (lack of) belief. Whereas our greatest threat was that one denomination might proselytize our youth away from our denomination, we are now being faced with our youth being proselytized away from religion at all.

The factors of poor knowledge of what our youth believe, and the strong atheist influence we see in the very secular world around us means people are no longer following Christ. This is happening in every denomination of Christianity and it’s time we stop attacking each other because we are only contributing to the cause of our decline. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Mk 3:25.

When I say strong atheist influence, I am not only talking about the many who love to ridicule and insult Christians and Christianity. I’m talking about so much of the world in general.

Take Movies. They almost never portray God or Christians in a positive light anymore. Christian beliefs are portrayed as being quaint at best but are not generally portrayed as ‘normal’. Take the long-standing belief that sex should be something within a marriage. Gen 2:24, Mk 5:31 and Eph 5:31: a Man will leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

For example: Nowadays , Love and sex are not connected to marriage in movies or media in general. Typically, now, a man realizes he’s in love with a woman when he wakes up in the morning with her beside him. Even if they didn’t actually show the sex (which is almost never needed), it’s clear that’s what happened. Our children for decades have been taught a moral that is very different from what Christianity has taught for centuries. That’s just one example of the kinds of anti-Christian influences our children face now that we never faced before. It’s just one reason why we need to know our own faith better and teach our own children better in the faith, so they have something to stand on when they find themselves facing those pressures.

In this new year, We need “up our game”. We need to deepen our knowledge of our faith and our own relationship with Christ, and through Christ, the Father and together with the Holy Spirit. As men, we need to know our proper roles in the Church and especially in our own domestic Church. What are you planning to do this year to deepen your own faith? I have an extensive reading list and have some plans to work through the bible again this year. I was working through “the bible in a year with Mike Schmidt” this past year and it was great.

One thing I am looking for this year and something some of you can help with. I’m looking for a group of men who are interested in joining me (and Joe Roddy) in forming a men’s group to work our way through Exodus 90. There have been some postings about this program in the Parish Bulletin. You can look it up at http://exodus90.com. Please contact me (Michael@Mombourquette.com) or Joe Roddy (jroddy1@cogeco.ca). We are looking to form a group (or even two) of men who want to deepen their faith. The program involves daily prayer and reflection and actions to deepen our faith and to teach us freedom from all the pressures and sins of the world. We meet weekly in a group (likely by zoom for a while) where we can share and pray together.

May God bless you and your family in this new Year,

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Protect ourselves and others


We are on the verge of opening back up in many ways. Covid restrictions are being lifted more and more and we are feeling safer as the weeks go by. Our meeting have shifted to in-person meetings after a year and a half of zoom only meetings and we are anxious to get together in per-son again. We do need to keep a few things in mind as we begin to mix and mingle in the coming weeks and months.

COVID-19 is not going away any time soon, probably never. We will never be going back to the way it was in 2019, where we could mix at will and not worry about catching this thing. Not that we didn’t have anything to catch. There was always the flu and other diseases that we were familiar with. We just had learned to live with them and to accept that we might become sick. What COVID brought to us is the realization that if we catch something (yes, even the flu) we can die rather unpleasantly. COVID-19 has us particularly in fear but we have lived with the spectre of death from Flu or even the common cold in the past. So, what do we need to do?

I think we will need to learn to keep ourselves protected as well as protecting our loved ones and friends by protecting ourselves. In the past, we didn’t think much about showing up to work feeling sick or “under the weather” but doing so increased the risk that we might infect our friends and co-workers. Since no one was tracing every-one’s contact (a term we have become all too familiar with) we never even realized all the ways we might be infecting someone else or getting infected ourselves. Now, we do know much better how infection works.

Last year, the flu was almost eliminated, with just 29 confirmed cases in Ontario last year whereas normally there would have been thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths every year. So, what we are doing this year worked. Masking, hand-washing and staying some distance apart has worked to nearly eliminate the flu from our midst. Prepare to see it return as we ‘forget’ all about our precautions this coming year (hopefully not). What we should also realize is that despite all those precautions that worked so well against the flu, COVID has been infecting many more people and killing more of us as well. COVID is much more infectious than the flu and much more deadly. I shudder to imagine what would have happened if we had not been masking, isolating and handwashing these past 19-20 months.

So, if we want to start meeting again, we need to maintain the precautions we have been becoming all too familiar with. Keep our mask on, keep away from each other and just like we used to do in the past, get vaccinated.

I have encountered many people who have resisted that last item and I know there is so much false information out on the web that seems to offer up reasons to avoid getting the COVID shots. Even our own Bishop wrote a letter in September that said a few things that were not quite right and he seemed to equivocate on whether we should get the shot. The Pope did not make such equivocal statements, calling it a moral imperative to get the shot. Reports from the Vatican just this week indicate that both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have now received their third (booster) shots. They are clear that there is no moral objection to getting the shots and they are strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

Now, I have had a few people explain to me that fetuses are aborted to make the vaccine. That is simply incorrect information. The cell lines that these people are referring to originated decades ago and are being used in medical research to test and develop many modern therapies ranging from headache medicine, stomachache remedies, cancer therapies, and hundreds more. A very high proportion of all medical advances made since the ‘60s have used these cell lines because they are a standard, because they are viable and because we need to be able to test our new drugs on human cells but not on humans. So, if you are resisting getting the vaccine because you think there are aborted fetuses in there, then you will want to stop taking pretty much all drugs developed since the 60s, just to be consistent.

There are a couple of cell lines used in medical research that come from fetal stem cells (cord blood). They all date back 50 or 60 years. They are thousands of generations removed from the actual fetus that died way back then and we are not even sure how the baby died. The medical term “Abortion” does not mean that the child was deliberately killed. What we commonly call a miscarriage, is medically called a natural abortion. The word simply means “ended”. So those cell lines are NOT fetal cells. They are a line of stem cells that have been used by medical researchers worldwide for decades and are only distantly related to the original stem cells.

Finally, If you need to totally avoid even the hint of aborted cell lines, then the Pfizer vaccine does not use fetal cells. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine does not contain fetal cells, contrary to online claims (apnews.com) They are completely clear so your conscience can be clear too.

There are, of course, web sites that will dispute that but there are conspiracy theory sites that also claim the vaccine is being used to inject GPS trackers into us (we all have cell phones, why would the government need to inject trackers). There are sites that claim the vaccine is dangerous and will deliberately misrepresent data they pick and choose to make them look useless. Literally every country in the world is trying to get their citizens vaccinated. No conspiracy theory can be maintained with that many conspirators involved. It would be impossible to keep a secret while involving that many people. If you read an antivaxxer’s web site, you can rest assured that it is either a mistake or a deliberate lie.

Another mistaken claim by antivaxxers is that the vaccines are useless, and they misuse various statistics to ‘prove’ that. I have seen people misquote our own medical officer of health to “prove” their antivaxx stance. How is it that some web site has found something that the world’s experts have ‘missed’? That’s impossible to explain other than these antivaxx sites are wrong. The vaccines all work at reducing the spread of the virus. They all do an extremely good job at protecting people from getting very sick. They are not perfect but that is not a reason to not take them. Seatbelts are not perfect either, but we have all come to wear them, despite some strikingly similar arguments against their use when they were first mandated back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

COVID is here for a long time yet, and may never be eradicated, especially if people continue to resist getting the shot and it continues to be able to spread and mutate. For the sake of your vulnerable friends and neighbors around us who may not be as healthy as you, Get vaccinated, wear a mask, stay socially distanced and wash your hands. Let’s do everything we can do to protect ourselves and others.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

A New Season

Dear Brother Knights,

We are entering a new season in our parish life. Fall is coming, Covid is nearing its end (I hope) and a new Parish priest is to be installed soon. I’m reminded of several passages from scriptures. In Luke, 4:38-44, we are told of an incident when Jesus went to the home of Simon. Simon’s Mother-in-law was sick, and he healed her. Later, he healed many others who were brought to him by the people of that town. By the end of a long night, “At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving.”

I think we all have that mentality in our lives. We don’t want to let go of what we see as a good thing and are a bit afraid of the new thing to come. I have seen and heard many things over the course of the past several years that brought this to mind over and over again. Things like “Well that’s not how we do it” or “I miss the old way…” or “I’m not being fed …”. Jesus’ response to the people (verse 43) is pretty clear. “I must proclaim the good news … to other towns too”.

Jesus is alive and moving and he is in each of us. His Word comes to us through many people, and we need to be able to see and hear his word in all His forms and from all His messengers. We are about to receive a new priest and with that will come new ways, new kinds of messages and the old ways will need to be released so as to make way for the new. If you pour new wine into old wine skins, the new wine will burst the wineskins, and both will be lost (Luke 5:37). Jesus is telling us that we must renew ourselves so we can accept the new wine. If we try to squeeze the new into our old, wrinkled wineskins, it will not end well for us or for the new wine.

I know I’m “stretching” things a bit here, but I see the new priest, Fr. Hibbard, as the new wine. Our old ways as the old wineskins that need to be replaced with new skins. We need to see the Word of the Lord coming from our new priest and not hold to the Word as we heard it from one of our former priests. We must see the Word in the new ways our parish will operate and not hold to the old ways from previous priests. This is a new and exciting time for us. It can be a bit scary and nerve-wracking too. Let’s renew ourselves in the Spirit, so we can accept our new wine and thrive in it. Let us welcome our new priest,
Fr. Hibbard with open arms and joyous anticipation of renewal and growth.
I cannot wait!

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

What will be our response?

Brother Knights,

I heard recently that certain people close to the Lord have been receiving a word, telling us that the Church will suffer great persecution. Certainly, if we listen to the news or follow certain people on social media or even certain of our family members, we might feel like the Church is in deep trouble. There have been scandals over the abuse of Children by priests, financial scandals, even calls to boycott the Church over lack of payment of the recompense monies due from the agreement with the Truth and Reconciliation commission. Lately, the news has been filled about graves being identified on the properties of various residential schools, many of whom were run by Catholic Orders for a period from the late 19’th century to near the end of the 20’th century.

What are we to think of all this? I have heard some people jump in with energetic defense of the Church in various ways, and I’ve heard those chime in on the attacks, even certain people who I thought were faithful Catholics have gotten caught up in the rhetoric against the church. So what is the truth? How are we to respond?

I think our response needs to depend on who will be receiving our response. If the person listening is among those many who have been injured then argument is useless and will only serve to divide more. If the person listening is caught up in false claims about things, perhaps they can be reasoned with, but emotional engagement tends to make impassioned discussions of the facts hard to do. For these people, due respect is needed, allow the injured their story, allow the angered their anger and do not respond in kind, but be kind instead. Love and compassion for those who have been wounded is the only response that has a hope of working.

But what of our own personal thought processes? What of discussions among ourselves or others, who are all struggling to make sense of these things? First of all, in this discussion, I want to accomplish two things. I want to try to guide us to a recognition of the truth and I want us to recognize the path forward.

There is a good summary of resources that Father Shawn has been collecting and is listed on the Cathedral web site at https://stmaryscathedral.ca/residentialschools/
Much of what I am writing here uses references from that list.

The news media unfortunately writes headlines with the words “Discovered … and … unmarked graves” when it refers to the grave sites being identified at various locations. These two things together make many people think that no one knew about these graves and that they were “mass graves”, like we might imagine was done if someone had been deliberately trying to hide the graves. Dr. Scott Hamilton, in a report to the Truth and Reconciliation commission “Where are the Children Buried?” offers several scenarios as to how the grave sites arrived at the condition they are in now. Some of them are part of community grave yards and are still maintained. Others were lost to time as schools burned down or were abandoned and the properties re-verted to nature. There is one report by the parish priest in one community (Ft. St. James, B.C.) during the Spanish Influenza pandemic, where most of the children and all the teachers and principal got sick. 78 people dies, including some children, some teachers and some from the surrounding community. The priest describes the situation where by people were dying so fast, they finally resorted to digging a single large grave for the growing numbers of bodies.

So were those graveyards proof that someone tried to hide them? Are they proof that there was some evil plot by the Church? Are they proof that the children were buried without any sense of decorum or respect. Dr. Hamilton’s report makes it clear that most of them were originally marked by wooden crosses, since they were buried by the Orders who were running the residential schools. So, no. They were not hidden, just lost to time and nature. They were not mass graves of a large numbers of children dying together in some atrocity, although there were times that because of disease or pandemic when multiple people were dying at the same time. Generally, they were grave sites of the deceased children whose numbers built up over the decades those schools were operating. The death rates dropped off precipitously in the years after WWII when public health standards were much higher, to the point that death from then on in the schools were rare. So, in the early years, when public health standards were pretty poor, there were high death rates at some schools, especially due to disease sweeping through the children. Several cases of such horrible times are described in Dr. Hamilton’s report.

Another issue that comes up is the issue of students being abused. I have heard people recoil in horror and anger and others completely deny it. Did abuse happen? I can clearly recall times in my own school where teachers did things that I thought were abusive but I was too scared to “tell”. So if abuse was happening in my “white” schools, where the teachers were the same ethnic grouping as the students, it’s impossible to imagine that somehow it was not happening in those schools. Moreover, in those schools, the teachers came were mostly “white” and the students were all from various indigenous bands. Prejudice was far more prevalent and acceptable back then, especially, prejudice by the white population against anyone who was not white. We, as a people, thought we were better than they were. We thought we were doing them good by teaching them to become more like us. Even those teachers who had genuine compassion and love for their charges were, in essence, doing them harm by their very act of telling those children that their heritage was no good, that they were inferior and needed to adapt to better ways. Now, imagine a teacher who, in a regular school might have been prone to abusing children. That teacher, in a residential school, would have felt very little restraint keeping them from abusing the children.

So, was every child who went to those schools abused? Some people have tried to deny that abuse happened, except in rare cases. I don’t think that is correct. Was every child sexually assaulted, or criminally physical-ly assaulted? I doubt it but I don’t know. I like to believe that most people are good and would not have engaged in such criminal behavior. However, I would like to point out three things:  1) By today’s standards, most forms of corporal punishment that were used, even in my own childhood, would be considered criminal now. 2) Those Children came from a culture where that form of punishment was not done so even teachers who did not bend the rules when applying punishment, from the children’s perspective, were abusive. And finally, 3) We had parents and community support if we felt wronged. Those children had no one to turn to and even when they returned home, they had been told that their community was somehow “Less” than ours. So, in essence, yes. Every one of those children was abused in one way or the other.

Some will defend the Church by saying that it was merely trying to evangelize those people, to save their souls. Well consider that the early Church converted people individually, by showing them Christ’s love in their lives and their actions. I’m pretty sure many of those Children did not see Christ in the teacher who was “correcting”, nor in the whole system that did them so much harm. We need to show them Christ in our lives. We still need to evangelize but NOT by trying to force an entire population. We need to convert them by ex-ample, by showing them Christ’s love in our own lives. By looking forward at how we can better understand them and by respecting them where they are.

So, what now? What can we do? We have inherited a mess. And we need to take humbly accept our own historical guilt but we also need to take courage as we look to the future.

There was an interview on CBC with the Chief of the Cowessess first nation, Chief Cadmus Delorme, where the discovery of over 751 graves near Regina was announced just recently, which came after a multi-year re-search project, partially funded by the Regina Catholic Archdiocese. You can find the recording on the Cathedral home page or directly at this link. It’s not easy to listen to but it’s good. https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1914227267751. If someone has a right to be angry, Chief Delorme and his people do. Yet, that is not the message he is portraying. He is looking to the future, to reconciliation, not backwards, for revenge. “I love living in Canada… There is an accidental racism and ignorance in this country, when it comes to history… We are not asking for pity. We’re asking for understanding. We’re asking for you to stand beside us as we are gaining our control again, as indigenous people in our treaty relationship… This country would be some much more well off when indigenous ideology and understand was welcomed in and not just brought in on certain days of the year”

Are you ready to try to understand what we all inherited? And to work together to make this a better country for everyone?

As a follow up comment, Remember my opening statement about the prophecies of tribulation for the Church? Those same prophecies about the hard times coming include prediction of a rebirth of the Church, of a re-invigorating of Christ in the lives of the faithful. Let’s pray for this outcome. I think we have been suffering from the tribulation now for a while. We need to remember that we have hope. Hope in Christ.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

© 2013-2023 Saint Paul the Apostle Council No. 9652 - All Rights Reserved.