Ministry among First Nations is simply not possible without grants sent from CMIC. Both Qu’Appelle Valley Missions and Valley Native Ministry are allotted these funds through the Regina Archdiocese. Thank you for your support and encouragement as we celebrate the service of Fr. Wojciech Wojtkowiak for 20 years among Indigenous Peoples.
Father W, as he was known, came to Canada around 1978 from Poznan, Poland. He served in various positions before being posted to the Regina Archdiocese in 1993. The following year, Archbishop Charles Halpin asked him to take up residency in Lestock and to serve all First Nations communities in the Archdiocese. This included 21 separate Reserves across a large territory.
First Nations Peoples knew that they could count on his presence for Sunday liturgy, sacraments, funerals, hospital visits, pipe ceremonies, feasts and other gatherings.
His heart’s desire was to continue working with and learning about native communities. He once took part in an 8-day sweat and fast to better understand the culture.
In 2013, Father W was transferred to East Selkirk, MAN, but his heart remained with the First Nations Peoples of “the west.” He later suffered a stroke, but returned to SK yearly thereafter and was always welcomed back. He took part in ministry and celebrations while there and enjoyed meeting friends at Too Good to Be Threw or the Lebret Museum, which he’d helped to found.
Father W wrote 2 books on his experiences – one each in Polish and English – and was working on a third at the time of his death on April 14, 2023.
He had an impact on many people and performed 431 Baptisms, 159 First Communions, 127 Confirmations, 41 marriages and about 40 funerals per year from 1993 – 2013.
As an Elder said, “Fr. Wojciech was loved because he respected First Nations, he attended our feasts and pipe ceremonies.” He worked for the coming together of Catholic ritual and teaching with Indigenous culture and ceremony. He often participated in Pipe Ceremonies, both by incorporating them into Catholic rituals and when invited to participate in First Nations’ ceremonies.
Father W’s advice was to “smoke a pipe slowly, as you discern, respond, react, act, answer, judge, understand, ponder and situate your experiences and mysteries in life.”
Thank you, Father W. Rest from your labours.