Archbishop’s Message on Faith and Political Engagement

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina,

In the coming days, the people of Saskatchewan will be going to the polls for both provincial and municipal elections. As you know, Catholics are called to be engaged citizens, and to participate in the electoral process as able, using every opportunity to serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good. We are all aware of unhealthy developments in our democracy and in the erosion of public discourse about meaningful issues. A few days ago I sat down with a few colleagues to reflect on how we bring our faith to bear in the way we approach the election. These reflections are a result of that conversation.

The first thing we did was to attend to Pope Francis’s new Encyclical on human fraternity, Fratelli tutti, and on the fifth chapter, on “A better kind of politics.” Pope Francis observes that “for many people today, politics is a distasteful word” (176), but insists that it needn’t be so. Our current needs globally and in each nation call for “a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good” (154), one “capable of reforming and coordinating institutions” (177), upholding the dignity of the human person, and putting social love at the forefront rather than economics. Love is not only personal and devotional; it has a civic and political dimension (181). It is an act of love, for instance, “to strive to organize and structure society so that one’s neighbour will not find himself in poverty…. If someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity” (186).

Pope Francis offers challenging words to those engaged in politics, noting: “politics is something more noble than posturing, marketing and media spin… we do well to ask ourselves, ‘Why I am doing this?’, ‘What is my real aim?’ For as time goes on, reflecting on the past, the questions will not be: ‘How many people endorsed me?’, ‘How many voted for me?’… The real, and potentially painful, questions will be, ‘How much love did I put into my work?’ ‘How much social peace did I sow?’ ‘What good did I achieve in the position that was entrusted to me?’” (197).

Asking hard questions isn’t reserved for political candidates. At a time of polarization and hardening of political lines, it is also important to think about how we participate in the political process, and to recognize the ways in which our political engagement shapes both our own spiritual health and that of our communities. In addition to carefully studying how our Catholic values are or are not represented in the various party platforms, we need to also attend carefully to the impact that politics has on our souls. Do we find that our engagement with our neighbours who might not share our political commitments builds up our capacity to engage in rigorous but respectful dialogue, our willingness to work together for the common good? Do we ever find it difficult to imagine that a good person might come to a different political conclusion than we do? If we are honest before God in prayer, do we find ourselves more or less charitable, or patient, or honest, or generous, because of our political activities and commitments? As Catholics, we should recognize that the health of our society depends more on our own and our community’s growth in virtue than on who wins the next election. So I invite us all to consider that an election is not merely a matter of deciding who to vote for, but a way in which we grow or fail in virtue, a way to build up or tear down our communities.

With the forthcoming provincial election in mind, the Saskatchewan Bishops have approved a non-partisan resource for voters in our province, in collaboration with an organization called Catholic Conscience. We have set up a website, , which “offers voters an opportunity to ensure that Saskatchewan is guided by leaders who will provide practical and efficient leadership with the good of all in mind – including the unborn, the elderly, the young, families, and those who are too often forgotten by society – as well as workers, farmers, business owners, and all future generations.” The website provides a range of information to assist with your discernment, and most notably, a chart which identifies various aspects of Catholic social and moral teaching, and provides the statements from the platforms of the parties running in the forthcoming election. Political parties have been approached and invited to update or provide new information so that anyone using the website will have as comprehensive information as possible. We are immensely grateful to be able to work with “Catholic Conscience,” and hope that you will find this website helpful.

The Catholic voting process always involves informing ourselves about the teachings of the Church and issues relevant to the election, and looking at what our voting options are. Once the election is over, we are also encouraged to stay actively and respectfully engaged with those who have been elected – whether they are our own preferred candidates or not.

Finally, we are encouraged to bring our own discernment, and those running for office, to prayer. Let’s conclude this reflection in prayer:

Lord, Father of our human family,
Your Son Jesus taught us in the Parable of the Good Samaritan
that each of us is called to care for our brothers and sisters
without concern for our differences or what divides us.

Pour your spirit out upon each and every one of us:
Give us, and all involved in the forthcoming election,
a spirit of humility, to acknowledge our failures,
a spirit of gratitude for each of the gifts that you have given us,
a spirit of wisdom, to guide our actions in accordance with your teaching.
a spirit of fraternity so that we might have concern for the most vulnerable,
and a spirit of love, so that we might abide even more fully in you.

O God, Trinity of Love, from the profound communion of your divine life,
grant each and every one of us a deeper sense of unity.
Give to us a desire to sacrifice ourselves for our brothers and sisters.
Help us live like your family did, with simplicity in Nazareth
and as the early Christian community did, whose charity spread throughout the world.
O Good Shepherd, Christ the King,
you are our guide.
Continue to guide us, then, to your will
in this, and in every moment of our lives.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
St Joseph, pray for us.
St Joan of Arc, pray for us.
St Juan Diego Cuahtaltoatzin, pray for us.
St Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message – Watch HERE

Archbishop’s Weekly Message

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message

Watch HERE

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina,

Warm greetings in the Risen Lord. It is now 3 months since my last video message. It was the start of the Summer, and now we are into October. Regarding the pandemic and the guidelines for faith communities, not that much has changed. But I thought it would be helpful to give a quick overview of where we are at, and identify a couple of areas where questions have arisen and where we face challenges.

The protocols for celebrating a Mass in the Archdiocese of Regina remain unchanged. The need to sanitize hands and surfaces and the 2m physical distancing between households continue. The number allowed to attend a Mass can be 30% of building capacity, to a maximum of 150 people, and parishes need to be keeping track of the people who attend each Mass. The way communion is handled is determined locally by each parish priest and his parishioners from a short list of options that have been provided. Singing is only permitted if everyone present is wearing a mask.

The archdiocesan protocol team has recently developed some directions for parishes to hold gatherings outside of Mass. As we enter a season when catechesis and sacrament preparation would normally begin, there are ways for these type of gatherings to be held safely. Attention to detail and pre-planning continue to be important when making the decision to return to any type of meeting or gathering. Staff at the archdiocesan offices are available to assist parishes in navigating the decisions and the details.

As you are likely aware, there are different interpretations about how we as society and as church ought to respond to the pandemic. Are the directives too rigid? Are they too lax? Taking part in the societal debate on this can be fruitful, a good thing to do. Right now it feels as though on the internet you can find experts who take radically different stances. But the church here needs to work with our Saskatchewan civic and health officials, and to be guided by their directives. The working relationship we established gave health officials the confidence to allow faith communities to minister within the parameters just laid out. We continue to raise questions as they arise, and to work within their guidelines.

One question that has arisen internally in the Church concerns the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, a dispensation which has been widely granted by bishops throughout the world. Of course, bishops have sought to protect vulnerable people from feeling obliged to gather with groups where they might contract a serious and possibly fatal disease. We also recognized that the need to limit the number of people gathering indoors at any one time meant it was simply impossible, in larger parishes, for everyone attend Mass, at least on Sunday. As the pandemic drags on, the question of when this dispensation might end is a legitimate one. If Mass is, in fact, the center of our Catholic faith, the place where we meet Christ in the Eucharist and where we truly become who we are as Church, we dare not give the impression that it is unimportant.

The increasing likelihood of further waves of the pandemic and the continued vulnerability of many in our faith community means that the dispensation is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, here and around the world. That said, I would like to remind us all of the immense value of our attendance at Sunday Mass. A dispensation granted for specific legitimate reasons is not an announcement that Mass is unimportant. If you are able to safely attend Mass, I strongly encourage you to join your parish community, to receive Christ’s gift of himself to us in the Eucharist, and, in this time of separation, anxiety, and loneliness, to remember in prayer those members of our community who are not able to sacramentally join in “the source and summit” of our Christian life. It is my fervent prayer that, whether we are or are not able to attend Mass, the Lord might use these trying circumstances to draw each of us closer to Himself, given for us.

One other challenge that we face in our contemporary situation concerns the reception of the Eucharist. In offering different ways in which communion can be received, we worked with the more general guidelines of health officials, and asked questions about what would be safe and what would put people’s health in jeopardy, and we made decisions accordingly, decisions not everyone is happy with. Here, I would like to stress two things. First, the Eucharist is to be treated with reverence. Our deep conviction is that Christ is present in the Eucharist, and we should not lose sight of that. Deep love and reverence for the Eucharist is a good and holy attitude that we want to encourage in the Church. Second, it is also our deep conviction that we see the Body of Christ in the lives of all the faithful, especially the most vulnerable members of our community. Listen to this homily excerpt from St. John Chrysostom in the 4th century, about how we are to revere Christ in the Eucharist and in caring for our vulnerable sisters and brothers: “Do you want to honour Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honour him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said ‘this is my body,’ and made it so by his words, also said: ‘You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me.’… Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.”

Dear brothers and sisters, may you know God’s bountiful blessings as we walk together as church, both treasuring the Eucharist and caring for the vulnerable. Perseverance to you all!


Regarding Racism in our Society and a Call for Respect and Caring

From the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan

As Catholic bishops of our province’s Catholic churches and institutions, we express our great concern regarding racial injustices. We join others in our community who support efforts at addressing racial injustice and respond to the scandal of how people treat one another.

The protests that began over the tragic death of George Floyd in the United States have expanded as protesters raise awareness of widespread injustice. In our own provincial context, people across the province are calling on government, businesses, and all institutions to address inequality and injustices caused by systemic racism. In our context, such systemic racism continues to impact Indigenous Peoples, and those of African and Asian descent, including most recently anti-Asian assaults and offenses in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We also continue to hear of incidents here in Saskatchewan and in other parts of Canada that are of grave concern. As we observe this deterioration of human respect and kindness, we need to affirm the intrinsic dignity of every human person and seek respectful and constructive ways to solve problems and differences, versus spiraling into increasing disrespect and violence. There is far too much at stake to continue down this fateful and destructive path!

There is much to affirm on this issue in our Catholic tradition, beginning in the first book of the Bible, where we read how all peoples are created in the image and likeness of God Himself. (see Genesis 1:26-27) With the privilege of being created fully human comes the responsibility to live and act towards others as God acts towards us. St. Paul affirms this call when he states,

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2: 1-5)

The privilege of our humanity carries with it the great responsibility of the preferential care of our brothers and sisters – especially those who deal with obstacles, injustices, or other barriers to their human flourishing.

One of these barriers is systemic racism. Racism affects our culture in many ways. Times of crisis – such as the current circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic – further aggravates racism’s effects as people are under further strain and feel threatened. If not addressed, racism will tear apart human solidarity as it corrupts our minds and hearts.

Let us work together to end the scourge of racism and intolerance by encouraging respectful dialogue that addresses our society’s major justice issues, including addressing obstacles to human dignity, and seeks ways to bring about constructive growth and change. In the biblical tradition, such change always first involves a personal change of mind and heart – an ongoing interior conversion. “Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” (Ezekiel 18:31) We can work constructively for systemic change and growth when we are open to this in our own lives.

Such change also needs to address how we engage and dialogue about difficult topics and issues. In all ways – the Christian community and all people of good will need to hold the bar high in how we behave ourselves and as we seek constructive and respectful dialogue versus the way of destructive confrontation or melancholic disengagement. Pope Francis highlights the primacy of dialogue as follows:

“If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. We are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society. The culture of dialogue entails a true apprenticeship and a discipline that enables us to view others as valid dialogue partners, to respect the foreigner, the immigrant and people from different cultures as worthy of being listened to. Today we urgently need to engage all the members of society in building a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter’ and in creating ‘a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society.”

Let us pray and commit ourselves to this honourable and very needed path! As bishops we join with all of you in expressing the good work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, completed in 2015. We have only just begun to carry out its vision for achieving reconciliation. The circumstances that we face highlighting racism, injustice and violence in our world remind us that we are at an important threshold. May we choose wisely and walk courageously as we, “… act justly, love kindly, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).


Archbishop’s Weekly Message – June 25th

One of my favourite prayers – well, it’s really an invitation to prayer – comes from the Proslogion of St. Anselm of Canterbury, and it seems to me very opportune as we enter into the Summer season. St. Anselm writes, “Come now, little one, turn aside for a while from your daily employment, escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside your weighty cares, let your burdensome distractions wait, free yourself awhile for God and rest awhile in him. Enter the inner chamber of your soul, shut everything out except God and that which can help you in seeking him, and when you have shut the door, seek him. Now, my whole heart, say to God, ‘I seek your face, Lord, it is your face I seek.’”

The invitation to rest a while in God is vital for us to hear. It is Summer, and while we remain in the midst of a pandemic, some aspects of life that we have missed are being reopened. We aren’t back to normal, but we are as close to normal as we’re likely going to be for a while. It’s good to walk by parks and see people having fun, enjoying the beautiful weather, enjoying public spaces in our communities, even if we all stay 2 m apart.

The pandemic has hit each of us differently, but all have been impacted. Some have lost jobs, and some have had their work expand exponentially. Many have been cut off from their loved ones. It has dragged on, and I’ve noticed in recent weeks a collective fatigue setting in. There is a fair bit of anger and irritability in the air. You sometimes encounter a real venting of emotions about something that seems really small, and you think, something else is going on here. Sometimes you encounter that in yourself.

When we read in the Scriptures about keeping holy the sabbath, it’s interesting to see how strong that invitation is from God. We are to rest on the 7th day. When Jesus and his disciples are traveling through Galilee and Judea, he invites them to step away and rest for a while. There are many things in our culture, not bad in themselves, which move us to be busy all the time, to produce, to accomplish, to achieve, to become. There can be a strong moral overtone to all of that as well. That can set us up for burnout, or at the very least, for exhaustion, with a restlessness that keeps driving us. It’s good to remember that the one who created us, who has great plans for us, who is at work in the depths of our being, tells us on a regular basis to step aside and rest for a while.

Sometimes when I go to bed at night and start thinking about the 300 things still on my to do list or the 1100 emails in my inbox, and how I haven’t reached out to people who have asked for help, or I’ve reached out to one and ended up elbowing another in the process, I find it hard to sleep. Pope John XXIII used to pray at night, Lord, it’s your church, you look after it for a while, I’m going to sleep. My prayer is simpler, rising from the heart: O God, let me rest in you. Let me rest in you.

Many of us feel that fatigue and exhaustion, including those who have been cut off from their work. I think we would all do well to hear the Lord invite us to come away for a while and rest in him. There’s a lovely little story from the Jewish tradition that suggests that when God wakes up in the morning, God gathers the angels together and asks, “where does my world need healing today?” Sometimes the answer is, it needs healing from all the busy-ness, the hectic pace, the chaotic pursuits which keep us running all the time. We would all do well to rediscover some of the wisdom and grace of keeping the sabbath, whatever that might mean for us.

On that note, I am going to sign off for a little while from these weekly messages. I will return to them at some point in the next few weeks, sooner if there is something urgent to communicate. But before signing off, I want to extend a few thank yous: thank you for watching or following these weekly messages, and for following the livestreamed Masses and other video resources we have produced during this pandemic; thank you for carrying the burdens that this strange time has placed on you, and for the ways in which you have been able to reach out to others in the midst of it; thank you to the clergy and staff, parish council and other lay leaders who have worked to keep our communities intact over the past months; thank you to those who have worked on the financial front to secure subsidies which keep us from financial crisis, to those who have made possible those subsidies, and to those who have continued to contribute to our parishes despite not being able to celebrate our faith in the usual ways; thank you to the archdiocesan staff who have persevered, and to those who have been creative and energetic during this pandemic, especially in the field of communications; thank you to little groups I have gathered to brainstorm about homilies and about the content of weekly messages, and who have generously allowed me to share their ideas without indicating the source of those ideas; thanks to the many committees who have continued to work over the past months, with special thanks to those who work on policy and protocol and education to prevent sexual abuse and address the painful legacy of clergy sexual abuse; thanks for your understanding to those who are still waiting for a response to emails or letters, and thanks for your patience to those who are frustrated with our efforts to take steps forward as safely and faithfully as possible in our churches.

Wishing you all some time of rest during the Summer months. May we all heed the Lord’s voice to come and rest for a while, to live deeply the life he has given us, and to seek his face. God bless!

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message Watch HERE

Archbishop’s Weekly Message June 18th

Expanding Numbers: Blessings and Challenges

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina, and all listening to this message, warm greetings in the Lord Jesus.

As anticipated, at the end of last week, we were informed that the numbers allowed at services of worship, including Catholic Masses, has risen significantly. We are now allowed to gather up to a third of the normal capacity of churches, up to a maximum of 150, but with the following stipulations, which are very important, and have not always been clearly presented in media reports. What is permitted, if our space allows, is up to five groups of 30 people. Each of those 5 groups need to be separated by 5 m. Within each group of 30, we still need to keep 2 m distance between families or individuals. So in fact we don’t actually have a facility that could hold 150 unless we also used halls, auditoriums, and other meeting spaces. But it is good news that we are able to gather to that extent, and is a real step forward. Of course those with health risks, the elderly, and anyone who is not yet comfortable gathering in a public place at this stage of the pandemic, are free to remain at home. The dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass remains in place.

The government-appointed liaison team that has been working with faith leaders has helped us to interpret the government directives, assuring us that a certain trust has been extended to faith communities, in part because of the work we have done to this point in taking the precautions which reduce the chances of a further spread of the virus. Faith leaders have been invited to make decisions for their congregations, and as Archbishop, I in turn entrust local pastors, in dialogue with their parish councils and drawing on our archdiocesan guidelines, to make decisions and take appropriate steps in each parish. We need to make those decisions with public safety and care for the most vulnerable ever in mind.

From the discussions with the government’s liaison team, here are a couple of cautions that I would identify for all concerned. First, given the physical distancing directives from the chief medical officer and government, it is more helpful and more realistic for us to think in terms of how many groups of 30 (or less in smaller churches) we can safely accommodate, rather than to think in terms of 150 at the outset. Second, have a plan for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces touched by parishioners prior to and after each Mass, a seating arrangement, and a plan for entering and exiting the church. Third, and most difficult of all in terms of giving communion, when people come within 2 m of each other, both need to be wearing masks.

While many have rejoiced in the last couple of weeks at being able to go to Mass for the first time in several months, there has been much discussion and in some circles, no small controversy, about how communion is being given in various parishes within the Archdiocese. We can understand why some people are upset, and feel so passionately about how we receive communion. It is a sign that your faith matters to you greatly. For some who have shared their concerns, the greatest priority is doing things in the most appropriate liturgical way possible; for others, it is doing things in the safest way possible from a health perspective; for some it is being able to receive communion in their preferred way; for others, it is holding everyone in the community together in the midst of an enormously challenging situation.

When we prepared guidelines based on the government’s directives, including several possible ways in which communion could be given, we sought to take all of these concerns into consideration. But these values need to be held in relation to each other. While we are grateful that the numbers allowed at Mass have risen, the current restrictions are indeed challenging. The surge in new cases a couple of days ago is a reminder that we need to remain vigilant.

Thank you for your patience, care and perseverance, including with those with whom you may disagree; these are tangible signs of your love for your neighbours. Thank you to all who have found creative ways to reach out to parishioners and those in need around you amidst the pandemic, ways within the parameters of what is allowed, which are genuinely helpful to others. Thank you for your efforts at maintaining communication with your fellow parishioners, for your care for the vulnerable, for your love for the Eucharist and your patience with us as we try our best to find a way forward, and to remain united as a community as we do so.

May God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – keep us all in communion and in His peace.

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message Watch HERE

Archbishop Bolen’s Weekly Message – June 11th

Warm greetings on a beautiful late Spring day. I hope that in your part of the Archdiocese, you have received enough rain to give our crops and gardens the moisture they need to keep growing. Here in Regina, we certainly could have used more rain than we got.
As you know, the numbers allowed in our gatherings for Mass have risen to 30 as of Monday. The work of our faith leaders group with the government appointed liaison team is continuing, and has been very fruitful. It is very likely that the number of people allowed in worship facilities will rise again, possibly before the next weekly message. Announcements from the government are coming rapidly; please be mindful that when these address the functioning of our churches, we then need to study what is said and revise the guidelines for our own parishes in the Archdiocese, which takes at least a couple of days. So I ask that you please be patient with your local parishes as they try to keep apace with evolving government directives and the guidelines coming out from the Archdiocese. And please know that asking for your patience does not mean that we are not working very diligently at the diocesan centre and with our leadership team as we continue to move forward.
Now that we are taking significant steps towards reopening our churches and indeed our society, it is time to enter intentionally into a time of discernment. We know very well that our society, prior to the COVID crisis, was unhealthy in many ways. The crisis has shed light on some of our shortcomings and failings, including the need to pay greater attention to the way we care for the elderly, the need to work hard in addressing racial inequality and injustice, the importance of caring for the environment so that we can live well on the planet that God has given us to dwell upon, and that future generations might do likewise. The dysfunction of our society is probably most clearly in evidence in all the ways that the dignity of being human, the sacredness of human life, the gift that this human life is, are not recognized, received, celebrated. That, and the way that we tend to be polarized over what to do about it, what issues need to take precedence, and how to take meaningful steps to restore human dignity and build up the common good. 
Winston Churchill was apparently the first one to say, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” The word ‘crisis’ comes from the Greek word meaning decision. It refers to a key turning point, often a turning point in a disease, the moment where we find out whether things will get better or get worse. Every crisis brings opportunities for change.
The decisions we make coming out of the pandemic – mindful that this may be a year-long process – are very important. A friend brought to mind a football analogy that is helpful here. Coaches work with fine young quarterbacks like Cody Fajardo to help slow down in their minds what is happening on a pass play, so that they can see what the various defenders are doing, all while at least 4 very intense pass rushers are trying their best to throw him to the ground. Great quarterbacks have the ability to slow things down in order to make the best decision possible on any given play.
Likewise, instead of jumping back to as many aspects of normal life as quickly as possible, we do well to slow things down a little, to read the situation as clearly as possible, and to make good decisions. About a month ago in my weekly message I reflected on what we would like people to say 20 years from now about how we lived through and came out of the pandemic. That isn’t an arbitrary exercise, but was a way of getting us to think about how we are called to change going forward.
At the start of his mission, Jesus proclaimed, “The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news.” That word ‘repent’ means change your ways; be converted. The old Chinese proverb also comes to mind: if you do not change directions, you are likely to end up where you are heading. The Lord is always calling us to new life, to a deeper life, which involves letting go of some things that are not life-giving.
I would invite you to bring to your prayer life how you as an individual, how we as church, and as society, are being called to change. Crises carry within them opportunities to break away from old patterns, and to shift systems that are not functioning well, or are unjust and destructive. And I would invite you not only to bring this to prayer, but to enter into discussion with others – with family, friends, associatates – where do we need to hit the reset button?
Some examples: as church, in recent months bulletins have given way to all forms of communication which are serving us in new ways. How should our communications evolve going forward? More importantly, how can we draw on the gifts of all the people of our parishes more effectively so that we all use our gifts generously and well? How can we foster dialogue and strengthen the unity within our parishes and in our society? It has taken the whole community’s efforts to stop the Covid-19 virus. How can we be just as committed and organized and ready to make sacrifices in order to care for the most vulnerable, and uphold human dignity? How do we reach out to those who have been marginalized and pushed aside, those we don’t see in our pews any more, or never did see?
Lest this feel in any way overwhelming, remember. The Holy Spirit is leading us. This is God’s work, the transforming and redeeming of us human beings and of our world. This is the work of Ordinary Time, to open ourselves to that Holy Spirit and to find our part in God’s work in the world. As the Psalm refrain proclaimed not long ago, the Lord is our refuge, a rock, a fortress, our stronghold. In him we trust, in him we find rest.
Oh, and the last word. This Sunday, feast of Corpus Christi, in the evening, please check out the premiere of “The Diocese Tonight. It’s going to be great. Rich blessings, friends.

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message Watch HERE

Father Peter Nijssen has died



Reverend Father Peter Nijssen

Father Peter Nijssen was called home to our Merciful Father on Sunday, June 7, 2020 at Trinity Manor.  Fr. Peter was 96 years old.  He was predeceased by his parents and is survived by a sister, a nephew and a niece as well as other relatives in Holland.


Father Peter was born in the Netherlands on January 10, 1924. He didn’t begin his vocation to the priesthood until he was 25.  He spent 6 years in the minor seminary in Holland before coming to Canada in 1955 when he entered a major seminary at St. Peter’s in London, Ontario.  He studied there for two years and then another four years at the Regina Cleri Seminary in Regina.  He was ordained at Holy Rosary Cathedral on June 3, 1961.


He served at Holy Rosary Cathedral and Little Flower Parishes in Regina as well as numerous rural parishes – Rowatt, Pangman, Ceylon, Wolseley, Lanigan, Nokomis, Sinnett and Estevan, Midale & Macoun.  Even at 74, rather than retiring, Fr. Peter continued to assist with ministry in Estevan until he retired to Martha House in the fall of 2014.


Fr. Peter served for five years on the Victims Committee and seven years as the Director of the Ministry to Priest Program.  For 37 years he was a member of the Lion’s club and in 2007 he received the Lions International Foundation Award for dedicated humanitarian services.  Fr. Peter was awarded the Diocesan Award of Merit in 2010.  He also taught a human behavioural course at St. Mary Elementary School in Estevan.  It seems he was well known for his legendary green thumb and magnificent flower gardens that people would come from miles around to see.


When Fr. Peter came to Canada he was determined to learn and speak English well.  His sermons were written.  He was one of the first priests to have a computer.   He lived a simple life with few needs – a car, a fishing rod and an occasional trip to see relatives in Holland.  In his old age he did go to Alaska for a fishing experience.  He rarely spoke about growing up as a teenager in occupied Holland during the Second World War.  He told of a signal used to warn the population of danger, having the windmill stopped either horizontal or vertical or in between. Tulip bulbs were made into soup.  A desperate woman traded her wedding ring for a loaf of bread.  Occupying forces took a farm animal.  Fr. Peter, with a laugh, quoted how they paid with money they printed at the kitchen table, “it was worthless.”  He always was prayerful, very generous, and gradually in his old age he accepted his limitations of mind and body. 


In the words of Father Tony Dizy who spoke at Fr. Peter’s 50th Anniversary, “Through all these years you have been a faithful servant and shepherd in the various parishes to which you were appointed.  Your devotion, your deep faith, your dedication, your care and compassion for people and your commitment has not gone without notice.”   Father Peter, you have served the Lord well.


We are grateful for the care Fr. Peter received from staff, nuns, and others while at Martha House, during a brief stay at Regina General Hospital, and in the end at Trinity Manor. 


Funeral Arrangements entrusted to Speers Funeral and Cremation.  Prayers will be held Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. at Holy Rosary Cathedral, 2104 Garnet Street, Regina, The Funeral Mass will be Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Rosary Cathedral, and the Interment at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning at Riverside Cemetery.  To leave a message of condolence, please visit .  May his spirit rest in peace.


Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message – June 4th

The serious restrictions brought about in response to the pandemic began as we entered into the season of Lent. Three months later, as we return to Ordinary Time, we are starting to see the easing of restrictions. Last Sunday and this coming Sunday, Mass is being celebrated in many of the churches throughout the Archdiocese with up to 10 people present. That will rise to 30 persons on the weekend of June 13/14, with the prospect of those numbers rising as we show that we are able to celebrate the Eucharist and gather congregations without jeopardizing the health of those attending. There is reason to be grateful that faith communities have been heard. After not being included in the Saskatchewan Reopening plans, heads of faith communities gathered by videoconference, wrote to the Premier, and met with the leader of the opposition. Two extraordinarily gifted members of the Covid response leadership team were assigned by the provincial government to work with us, and this led quickly to the publication of directives for faith communities, and an easing of restrictions. The meetings are continuing, and we can expect further steps to be taken as early as next week. I take this opportunity to express our thanks to those we have had the opportunity to work with. Meanwhile, our Archdiocesan working group is diligently thinking through the implications of these new directives for our parishes. We continue to ask for your patience, perseverance and prayers.

Ordinary time is a beautiful season, because God has blessed our ordinary lives in extraordinary ways. The mystery of God’s presence in the ebb and flow of our daily lives is a source of wonder and joy which never grows old.

But events put in motion by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week have turned our attention elsewhere, and I would like to offer a few reflections in that regard. Our neighbours to the south are in some ways the most advanced nation in the world; but they are also a society deeply divided, with an embedded racism that is deeply destructive. Archbishop José Gomez, the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, opened his statement of three days ago with these words: “The killing of George Floyd was senseless and brutal, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice. How is it possible that in America, a black man’s life can be taken from him while calls for help are not answered, and his killing is recorded as it happens?”

The days following this tragedy have given rise to protests and riots, to acts of generosity and to acts of aggression. A light is being shone on many things, among them: how racism can lead to violence; and how racial injustice gives rise to inequalities in terms of poverty, incarceration rates, access to quality education and to health care, family breakdown, and other experiences of marginalization. We are hearing an outcry against all of that, and we are witnessing a backlash against protestors, and a stifling or distorting of those who cry out for justice.

As church we are called to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer, all those who yearn and actively work for a just society. Non-violent protests against injustice are a powerful way to bring about change, and the life and teaching of Jesus give witness to peaceful but costly ways to transform situations of injustice. It is above all in his death on the cross – which was a death by asphyxia – that the Lord ultimately witnessed to how the deepest transformation is brought about by God. George Floyd too died by asphyxiation, and the Lord who invites us to stand with the crucified in our day summons us to solidarity.

The polarization and embedded racism of American society brings forth lament from us. But here in Canada, here in Saskatchewan, we too struggle with an embedded racism. Why is it that our Indigenous people are on the losing end of so many societal indicators of well being – education rates, incarceration rates, health struggles, economic struggles, children taken from their parents, suicide rates? Why is it that these injustices persist? Why are we so slow to walk with our Indigenous Peoples, to stand with them in their struggle for justice, to address and to root out the seeds of racism? How is it that our churches, inspired by the Gospel of the crucified Christ, are so often blind to the suffering and injustice, humiliation and wounds of our sisters and brothers? Those are questions that should shape our agendas and draw on our best energies and resources, in our churches, and in our society, going forward.

Years ago I had the privilege of studying the writings, speeches and life of Martin Luther King Jr. Grounded in the Gospel, he points a way forward for the people in the United States, past and present, and for us too. King noted that one who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as one who perpetrates it. The civil rights movement he led sought to bring change, but to bring it in a non-violent way. He noted, “I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many sheriffs…, too many Klansmen of the South to want to hate, myself…. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” But that love was not to be passive. Love never rests easy when people unjustly suffer.

One last quote from Martin Luther King Jr., which speaks to us powerfully today, in Saskatchewan as in Minneapolis; in the church as in society. He writes, “Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective…. the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as sisters and brothers, or we’re all going to perish together as fools.”

I trust and pray that the God of all creation won’t let that happen; but that same Lord and God summons us to remove all hate from our hearts; to love and walk with those in greatest need; to stand up for justice, to seek peace, so that our lives witness to a Gospel-inspired way of living together. Now is the time to learn how to transform our lives, our churches, our society, that we might truly reflect the Gospel we proclaim and the Kingdom Jesus came to bring.

God bless you all on this journey.

Message from the Archbishop

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina, and all tuning in to this message, warm greetings in the Risen Lord on this fine Spring day. May Spring rains soon find their way to us to water our fields and gardens.

Yesterday we released directives regarding the next steps in the reopening of our churches, which will take effect on Pentecost weekend, just over a week from now. They are released in the midst of no small tension within our local church, which is an echo of tensions across the country and beyond. There have been a lot of shrill comments made as of late, arising out of the frustration and hurt that many are feeling. Critical comments are coming from many directions: from those who are upset that our churches were closed to public Eucharistic gatherings, and are slow to reopen; from those who don’t feel they are ready to reopen their churches to even small numbers at this time; from those who feel abandoned at this difficult time. I have also heard from persons who have long ago been hurt by the church, and who know well the experience of being cut off from the sacraments because of insensitivity and a lack of compassion, who feel their voices are never heard. I lift all of you and the entire diocese before the Lord and ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit over all of us as we prepare to celebrate the great feast of Pentecost.

The new directives begin by identifying underlying principles guiding our actions, including concern with the spiritual and sacramental life of our people, a concern for the physical health of all people, a desire not to contribute to the spreading of the COVID-19 virus, and the importance of following directives from Saskatchewan health authorities. I invite you to read the directives, which you will find on our website. They map out carefully what has been and continues to be allowed in our churches; the opening of our churches to Eucharistic gatherings of up to 10 people as of Pentecost; and the prospect of further steps in reopening. I also shared that faith leaders from across the province have requested a meeting with government and health officials, so that faith leaders can communicate their questions, concerns, and proposals, helping the government to help us through the phases of reopening. This will include a discussion about number restrictions as they apply to spaces for worship that could accommodate many more than 10 people while maintaining 2 metres distance between those gathered. Conversation with political leaders has begun, and a meeting is in the process of being set up.

Those called to exercise leadership at this time have used various metaphors to describe the challenges that it brings. We are in uncharted territory, we are building the plane while flying it. But those images don’t communicate the faith perspective, which reminds us that we are always needing the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit, the guidance of the Risen Lord. That is very much the case today, but it is always the case. We need and depend upon the help of God. 

When, like most dioceses around the world, we made the decision to suspend public gatherings of the Eucharist, it was not first and foremost because of government restrictions. It is true that we were not listed as a critical public service, not listed among those exempted from closure. It is true that leading up to Easter, both the Premier and the Chief Medical Officer encouraged us not to gather outside of our households, to find ways to celebrate in our homes. But it resonated most with us when we were encouraged to do everything we could to protect the most vulnerable in our societies, and to do our part for the common good of not spreading the virus. The Church is called to protect the most vulnerable, and we knew that we needed to do our part and to model that for others.

Now that we are able to take steps towards reopening, people are rightly asking us how we are making key decisions and scrutinizing each step. As with previous steps, so too with steps going forward. I would offer you this, acknowledging our limitations, sinfulness, and sense at times of being overwhelmed, here is where we put our trust. We place it firmly in the Holy Spirit, for whom no situation is hopeless or impossible, and who continues to communicate with us in many ways. Among them, we have heard the Spirit call us to listen to people who know more about epidemiology and virology than we do. We have listened to the sick and the vulnerable, including those who have tested positive with the virus, and those whose lives can be saved by a careful response to this crisis; we have sought to learn from communities near and far who have suffered outbreaks, and have kept them in prayer; we have listened to those who hunger for a return to the Eucharist, and those who have asked for us to reach out in other ways to address their spiritual needs. We have attended to directives and recommendations from the government, and have asked to open a respectful conversation so that faith communities can be included in phases of reopening. We have drawn on the authoritative, consultative bodies of laity and clergy to seek input. And we have been in regular communications with other Dioceses, learning from each other as we have prepared protocols and policies. In these and other ways, none more so than in prayer, we have sought the guidance of the Risen Lord and have felt his presence. In the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, we can say, “and dost thou touch me afresh; over again I feel thy finger and find thee.”

From multiple perspectives, people will critique and carefully monitor the steps we are taking. That is fine, right, and good. But I kindly ask all of you to safeguard the unity of the Church in your questioning; to not underestimate the complexity of the situation we are in; to not judge harshly those who, prayerfully and out of their own experience, see things differently than you.

Let me close with a quotation from John Henry Cardinal Newman, writing 150 years ago about decision-making in the Catholic Church. Newman writes that “Catholic Christendom is no simple exhibition of religious absolutism, but presents a continuous picture of Authority and Private Judgment alternately advancing and retreating as the ebb and flow of the tide; it is a vast assemblage of human beings with wilful intellects and wild passions, brought together into one by the beauty and the Majesty of a Superhuman Power, into what may be called a large reformatory or training-school, not as if into a hospital or into a prison, … but brought together as if into some moral factory, for the melting, refining, and moulding, by an incessant, noisy process, of the raw material of human nature, so excellent, so dangerous, so capable of divine purposes.”

As we prepare to celebrate the great feast of the Ascension, let us ask the Triune God, who authors, sanctifies and redeems us, to put our humble efforts at the service of such divine purposes. God bless you all.

Bishop Don’s Weekly Address Video – Watch HERE

Letter from the Archbishop

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina,

Warm greetings in the Risen Lord.

Today when the provincial government announced numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the province, we could see that at present there are no known active cases of the virus in Regina, nor anywhere else in the Archdiocese. That is exceptionally good news. Heartfelt thanks to frontline workers, and to all who have made sacrifices in order to minimize the spread of the virus and to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. We continue to stand in solidarity with places and people that are less fortunate. And we pray especially for the people of La Loche, who have been hit hard by the recent outbreak there.

After much discussion and discernment, and provided that our situation remains stable within the Archdiocese, we have made the decision to allow Masses of up to 10 persons in our parishes beginning on the weekend of Pentecost at the end of this month. Detailed directives about how we are to proceed will be made available early next week. These will address the preparations that will need to be carried out prior to the celebration of the Eucharist, safety measures for during the Mass and the reception of communion, and cleaning to take place after the celebration, to ensure that all health directives are met. To keep the numbers at a legal limit, and to ensure that equal opportunity is provided to anyone who wishes to attend Mass, each pastor or administrator is going to need a system by which people can sign up to attend a particular celebration. The guidelines will be clear, consistent and concise, but will be somewhat onerous to carry out. That is the cost of doing everything we can to ensure people’s safety. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass will remain in place during this time when numbers are restricted by government and health authorities.

The decision to proceed was reached after long conversations with laity and clergy. The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council urged us to be very cautious in taking steps towards reopening our churches. The Council of Priests deliberated at length, and a working group reviewed input from other dioceses, as well as carefully studying the current health directives to make sure that what we were proposing was within the acceptable parameters. We continue to work with other faith communities in seeking clearer directives from the provincial government, which will shape how we proceed going forward. We also listened to those who urged us strongly to reopen our liturgical celebrations to the extent legally possible for the spiritual wellbeing of the faithful, as well as those who recommended that we proceed with greatest caution for the physical wellbeing of people. Faithfulness to God has required listening to both perspectives, which are equally important.

Until Pentecost, much is still possible, as is detailed in the church and sacramental guidelines posted on the archdiocesan website, guidelines which have been in place for several weeks. These include celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation, private prayer in churches, celebrating baptisms and funerals – but always working within the limits set by the government directives currently in place. Some of these activities have been going on in your parishes in recent weeks, and that is a good thing. This has looked somewhat different from one parish to the next, as priests and parish councils have deliberated regarding what is appropriate and responsible in their particular contexts. Masses will continue to be livestreamed so that all in the Archdiocese are able to participate in Mass in that way. We continue to reach out, on parish and diocesan levels, to accompany you in whatever ways are possible.

Dear friends, these next steps are not going to be easy. Even after Pentecost, with numbers for gatherings restricted by provincial directives, only a small percentage of the people of the Archdiocese are going to be able to participate in person at a Mass any time soon. For some, that will be because you belong to large parishes. Others of you will not be attending Mass for health reasons or because you are part of the vulnerable sector of the population. Those who are able to attend a Mass are strongly encouraged to come bringing the prayers of others not able to be present, such as prayers for our Elect, who are eagerly awaiting their sacraments of initiation, and for the many people who are suffering or struggling at present. The Mass is not meant to be limited in numbers, and there are going to be tensions as we find a way forward. I would encourage you to remember that God’s grace is with us, as much now as ever. Let us be patient, show kindness and mercy to each other, and live this challenging time as generously and compassionately as possible.
I would like to close this letter with excerpts from two prayers that Pope Francis has been praying during this time of pandemic. The first is a prayer to Mary:

O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the Father’s will
and to do what Jesus tells us:
He who took our sufferings upon Himself,
and bore our sorrows to bring us, through the Cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.    Amen.

The second prayer includes excerpts of a much longer
litany to Jesus:

Our Savior, God with us, faithful and rich in mercy
We adore you, O Lord.
King and Lord of creation and of history,
Conqueror of sin and death,
Friend of humankind, the Risen One, the Living One who sits at the right hand of the Father.
We adore you, O Lord.
Should sin oppress us
Open us to hope, O Lord.
Should hatred close our hearts, Should sorrow visit us,
Should indifference cause us anguish, Should death overwhelm us,
Open us to hope, O Lord.
Protect your Church which crosses the desert, Comfort us, O Lord.
Protect humanity terrified by fear and anguish,
Protect the sick and the dying, oppressed by loneliness,
Protect doctors and healthcare providers exhausted by the difficulties they are experiencing, Protect politicians and decision makers who bear the weight of having to make decisions,
Comfort us, O Lord. God bless you all.

✠ Donald Bolen
Archbishop of Regina

Easter Messages from Archbishop Bolen

On this Holy Saturday, we prepare to celebrate the event in history which most gives us hope and fills us with courage in times of trial, the Resurrection of Jesus.

Below, please find a link to my Easter message for this year.

I am also forwarding my Holy Thursday/Good Friday message, though some of you will have seen it already.

Much joy to you all as you celebrate the Resurrection, amidst circumstances less than ideal.

In Communion of Spirit,

Bishop Don