Support for Missionaries
Our missionaries live and work in poor mission communities, where the Sunday collection is not enough to keep the church open or maintain a missionary presence. Your support helps our missionaries put food on their table, heat in their trailers and fuel in their trucks. Travel—in every kind of inclement or severe weather—is a way of life for all mission priests and religious sisters.
Catholic Missions In Canada is our only source of financial support. Everything here is so expensive because it has to be flown in…the cost of food is so high because of that. We also have huge heating costs; it’s hard to describe how cold it gets here. And without Catholic Missions In Canada, we would not have the books we need to teach the children about the Lord Jesus and prepare them for first communions… I could not get to Peawanuck…there’s no road, the only way to go is by plane…
– Father Vézina ministers in the remote Northern Ontario First Nations communities of Attawapiskat and Peawanuck
Travelling to snow-bound parishes to celebrate Mass is one of the hurdles of mission work. A missionary, originally from Lesotho, finds ice jams and ice-breakups even more challenging for parishes without resources.
Isolated and priestless missions: From Lesotho to Canada’s North
By Father Pali Pascalis Pitso
As an Oblate missionary from Lesotho, Africa, working in the Diocese of Moosonee in the James Bay area in Northern Ontario, I have encountered many challenges in ministry.
Before I was appointed pastor of Holy Angels in Fort Albany, I was an itinerant priest helping several parishes in Moosonee diocese, particularly Christ the King in Moosonee, Holy Angels in Fort Albany, St. Francis Xavier in Attawapiskat and Blessed Kateri in Peawanuck. The distance between these parishes is so enormous that to get to the next parish, one has to travel by plane most seasons of the year, except in winter when some of these missions are accessible by winter road. And because the diocese is also faced with insufficient personnel, I also used to visit Peawanuck during Christmas and Easter time.
Oblate Father Pali Pascalis Pitso is pastor of Holy Angels parish in the Diocese of Moosonee in Northern Ontario.
East Coast Missions
Covering Newfoundland, Labrador and much of eastern Québec, our East Coast missions are often isolated outposts perched between rocky hills and water. Pastoral visits regularly require that missionaries drive long distances before completing journeys by boat or small plane.
Your support will help Catholic Missions In Canada provide $744,000 to answer 51 requests for financial aid from missionaries serving in the 6 mission dioceses of Canada’s Atlantic seaboard—all so that the Gospel message of everlasting life is spread throughout the rugged lands of Canada’s Northeast.
Here are examples of what your support is making possible in …
St. Paul’s River, Québec:
Weather, terrain keep mission isolated
St. Paul’s River is one of Eastern Québec’s oldest settlements and sits surrounded by water and atop rocks and lichen on the Province’s Lower North Shore. Sister Catherine Arsenault, C.S.M., came to St. Paul’s River 25 years ago, and knows well the challenges faced by its 400 residents: isolation, hazardous weather conditions, high cost of living.
“Priests were not always available to travel here because of poor weather and travelling conditions,” she writes, “so people made the most of it when the priest arrived, which could be once a year.”
Today, Father Anthony Anh travels about 100 km monthly from West St. Modeste in Newfoundland to celebrate Mass in St. Paul’s River.
UPDATE FOR St. Paul River’s Church
This year, with Sister Catherine Arsenault, C.S.M., taking a new assignment from her religious congregation, the St. Paul’s River mission has organized a team from the local community.
The pastoral delegates are: Priscilla Griffin, Tanya Smith, Marie Roberts and Nita Walsh, with Priscilla Griffin as the contact person.
Black Tickle, Labrador:
Unemployment remains high
Located off Labrador’s coast, the remote out port of Black Tickle is accessible by air and boat. About 230 people call Black Tickle home—99 per cent of whom are Catholic. While the community’s mainstay has traditionally been fishing, unemployment remains high; work is seasonal and sporadic—especially since the 2012 closure of the local fish plant.
Last year was made more difficult when a generator fire knocked out power, and problems at the local water treatment plant caused a lack of safe drinking water. The mission on Black Tickle is appropriately named Church of the Good Shepherd.
Thanks to your support, residents can indeed experience the Light of His comfort and strength of His presence during these difficult and trying times.
Don’t talk retirement to Sister Alice Walsh, P.B.V.M.!
A member of the Presentation Sisters since 1953, Sister Alice was a teacher and administrator in schools throughout Newfoundland and Labrador for 38 years—until her “retirement” when she was asked to consider doing parish work on the west coast of the Island. Sister Alice was then appointed pastoral minister at Our Lady of Fatima in Piccadilly—where she serves today, over 20 years later!
Sister Alice glows with the Light of Christ—whether chatting with people in shops, welcoming children in for a visit after school, walking along streets, encouraging lay leaders, or gently tapping people on the shoulder to say they’re missed at Sunday liturgy! And sure enough, back they are the next Sunday in the small mission church—where they are, as always, warmly welcomed by Sister Alice.
Presentation Sister Alice Walsh, left, with visiting priest Father Aidan Devine and First Communicants at Our Lady of Fatima mission parish in Piccadilly, Newfoundland. Photo courtesy of Sister Alice Walsh, P.B.V.M.