Pictured: The congregation on Passion Sunday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Keith is behind the mother and baby. Ben is to the left of Keith.
By Father David Reilander
It’s an exciting title, don’t you think? It’s what I did on my way back from the Arctic at Easter. I left Gjoa Haven and flew to Yellowknife. Next day, I flew to Vancouver to catch a plane to get into Halifax so that I could make a presentation to the Atlantic Episcopal Assembly. I was at three oceans in two days.
Our previous magazine displayed a photo essay of my experience with the Inuvialuit of the Western Arctic. For Holy Week, I went to the Eastern Arctic. Gjoa Haven of the Churchill-Hudson Bay Diocese is in Inuit land of the Netsilikmeot, or People of the Seal. Gjoa Haven in Inuktitut is Uqshuqtuuq.
At Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, there are seven lay leaders trained by Sr. Dorica Severs.
They were fully prepared for the various Holy Week Liturgies. It is an excellent example of donations resulting in verifiable results. Lay leadership training is one of CMIC’s disbursement areas. Having those seven people has made a world of difference for the community. Fr. Lukasz
Zajac, OMI, is currently stationed in the grouping of Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak and Kruggaaruk. Having three fly-in communities for Fr. Lukasz to look after gives the lay leaders much to do.
Keith Nimiqtaqtuq, a beneficiary of your funds, is the go-to person of the group. He was of tremendous help to me setting up for all the various ministries and things to be done for the week of liturgies. This community responds in Inuktitut during Mass. The parishioners are lovely singers and very responsive. To compliment Keith, I can honestly say that the Vigil lacked nothing. That’s high praise.
Ben Porter is another product of Sr. Dorica’s training. He is, among other things, a visitor of the sick and homebound. Ben took me to the Heritage Comprehensive Care Centre where he distributes Communion tosome of the residents. Ben also took me to a house where I gave
the Blessed Sacrament to another man when his family was present. Ben also accompanies Fr. Lukasz on communion calls. The dying especially request Ben’s presence.
A third example of lay leadership is Peter Akkikungnaq. Simona, his wife sings in the choir, while Peter translates Fr. Lukasz’s homily into Inuktitut. Peter also lectors.
Gjoa Haven is a good news story for lay leadership in our missions. I’m glad I went there and experienced it. Sr. Dorica is now in Baker Lake conducting the same kind of training. Bishop Anthony Krotki is lucky to have her for she is a fine example of the Canadian missionaries that CMIC sponsors and the programs we fund.
Father David Reilander