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Archdiocese of Winnipeg Blog

Welcome to our Blog! Here you will find faith stories, reflections, and testimonies from our pastoral ministers, as well as many other contributors from throughout the Archdiocese. Please take a look at the rest of the blog entries at the lower section of this page. We also welcome your own blog submissions! Send them to communications@archwinnipeg.caGod bless! 

Featured Blog Post

A Sense of God’s Presence, in Silence, Song and Unity
Faith Stories - Feb 1, 2019

 by Daniel Bahuahud, Communications Coordinator
of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface

A simple, yet contemplative and profound experience, Taizé prayer is a time to rest in God. Short chants, short scripture readings and silence are the key ingredients of these ecumenical gatherings, where Christians of many traditions can meet to praise God together. (1)

On a cold January evening, Joshua Falk, pastor at the Church of the Nazarene, sat intensely at his pew in the 17 Wing Community Chapel, deep in prayer. “This was my first Taizé prayer service. That said, I’m open to many Christian traditions. I have a lot of Taizé music on my iPhone.  I’ve even received contemplative prayer training from Benedictine monks. I really gravitate towards the silence, and the meditative prayer experience. Tonight, I was deeply pulled in. This won’t be a one-time thing for me.” 

Barbara Thuen, a parishioner at St. Jean Brebeuf Roman Catholic Parish, was equally moved. “This was my second Taizé prayer service. I attended one at a Catholic Women’s League convention. But that was many years ago. I wanted to experience that sense of contemplation, prayer and community. Because sometimes, life can be very hectic. And when I pray, it’s hard to quiet the mind. I struggle with that sometimes. But tonight, I was able to open myself up to God’s presence. When the moment came, I felt a peacefulness. And a sense of God being right there, beside me.”

Posted at 17 Wing since 2015, Major Hope Winfield is Senior chaplain, since 2016. The RCAF officer explains why she opened Taizé prayer services to the general public. “Taizé prayer is part of our program to help people develop spiritual resiliency. This quiet form of prayer has allowed many servicemen and servicewomen to find spiritual healing.

“We can all benefit from Taizé prayer. Our staff was looking for a way to open our Community Chapel to the greater community. This was a natural choice. Especially since no other Taizé prayer services are being conducted regularly in Winnipeg.”

A deacon at St. Andrew Bobola Parish in the Archdiocese of Saint-Boniface, Stepan Bilynskyy was invited to conduct the Taizé prayer services at 17 Wing. “I am a physician neurologist, with a Masters’ degree in theology. I have always been concerned with spiritual health. I’ve organized retreats at 17 Wing on grief, emotional support and forgiveness. There are many wounded people that need healing. That need to become whole. Taizé prayer can be very beneficial.

“Of course, Taizé prayer is not just for healing. It’s a way of bringing people together. The Taizé community was founded in France in 1940, during World War Two, by Brother Roger Schütz, a Reformed Protestant. His aim was to bring Christians together, both Protestants and Catholics, so that they might have a communal experience. The Taizé spirit is all about encouraging us to be together. Over the years, people of other faiths and beliefs have also united in Taizé. We can work together and pray together as a people of God.”

Rosella East-Bédard attends Catholic mass at the 17 Wing Chapel, since her husband was in the military. “Opening up the Taizé prayer service to the greater community was a great decision. It’s good to see new faces. This was my second Taizé prayer service. It was thoroughly relaxing. When there’s silence, you really have time to enter in prayer. We are also blessed to have Yanna Courtney, a wonderful singer and flautist, as well as Richard Konrad, an impressive pianist, to accompany us. That really strengthened our singing, and our sense of community.”

Barbara Thuen agrees. “I always knew Taizé prayer was interdenominational, but I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. It’s really nice to come together in prayer. As Christians, we have many things that unite us. We’re more alike then unalike.”

(1) Multilingual Taizé prayer services will take place from 7:00 to 8:00 PM on February 15, March 15, April 12, May 17 and June 21 at the 17 Wing Community Chapel, 2235 Silver Ave, Winnipeg. General Information: 204-833-2500, ext. 6800. For information poster, click here.

Faith Stories Section

A Sense of God’s Presence, in Silence, Song and Unity
Feb 1, 2019

 by Daniel Bahuahud, Communications Coordinator
of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface

A simple, yet contemplative and profound experience, Taizé prayer is a time to rest in God. Short chants, short scripture readings and silence are the key ingredients of these ecumenical gatherings, where Christians of many traditions can meet to praise God together. (1)

On a cold January evening, Joshua Falk, pastor at the Church of the Nazarene, sat intensely at his pew in the 17 Wing Community Chapel, deep in prayer. “This was my first Taizé prayer service. That said, I’m open to many Christian traditions. I have a lot of Taizé music on my iPhone.  I’ve even received contemplative prayer training from Benedictine monks. I really gravitate towards the silence, and the meditative prayer experience. Tonight, I was deeply pulled in. This won’t be a one-time thing for me.” 

Barbara Thuen, a parishioner at St. Jean Brebeuf Roman Catholic Parish, was equally moved. “This was my second Taizé prayer service. I attended one at a Catholic Women’s League convention. But that was many years ago. I wanted to experience that sense of contemplation, prayer and community. Because sometimes, life can be very hectic. And when I pray, it’s hard to quiet the mind. I struggle with that sometimes. But tonight, I was able to open myself up to God’s presence. When the moment came, I felt a peacefulness. And a sense of God being right there, beside me.”

Posted at 17 Wing since 2015, Major Hope Winfield is Senior chaplain, since 2016. The RCAF officer explains why she opened Taizé prayer services to the general public. “Taizé prayer is part of our program to help people develop spiritual resiliency. This quiet form of prayer has allowed many servicemen and servicewomen to find spiritual healing.

“We can all benefit from Taizé prayer. Our staff was looking for a way to open our Community Chapel to the greater community. This was a natural choice. Especially since no other Taizé prayer services are being conducted regularly in Winnipeg.”

A deacon at St. Andrew Bobola Parish in the Archdiocese of Saint-Boniface, Stepan Bilynskyy was invited to conduct the Taizé prayer services at 17 Wing. “I am a physician neurologist, with a Masters’ degree in theology. I have always been concerned with spiritual health. I’ve organized retreats at 17 Wing on grief, emotional support and forgiveness. There are many wounded people that need healing. That need to become whole. Taizé prayer can be very beneficial.

“Of course, Taizé prayer is not just for healing. It’s a way of bringing people together. The Taizé community was founded in France in 1940, during World War Two, by Brother Roger Schütz, a Reformed Protestant. His aim was to bring Christians together, both Protestants and Catholics, so that they might have a communal experience. The Taizé spirit is all about encouraging us to be together. Over the years, people of other faiths and beliefs have also united in Taizé. We can work together and pray together as a people of God.”

Rosella East-Bédard attends Catholic mass at the 17 Wing Chapel, since her husband was in the military. “Opening up the Taizé prayer service to the greater community was a great decision. It’s good to see new faces. This was my second Taizé prayer service. It was thoroughly relaxing. When there’s silence, you really have time to enter in prayer. We are also blessed to have Yanna Courtney, a wonderful singer and flautist, as well as Richard Konrad, an impressive pianist, to accompany us. That really strengthened our singing, and our sense of community.”

Barbara Thuen agrees. “I always knew Taizé prayer was interdenominational, but I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. It’s really nice to come together in prayer. As Christians, we have many things that unite us. We’re more alike then unalike.”

(1) Multilingual Taizé prayer services will take place from 7:00 to 8:00 PM on February 15, March 15, April 12, May 17 and June 21 at the 17 Wing Community Chapel, 2235 Silver Ave, Winnipeg. General Information: 204-833-2500, ext. 6800. For information poster, click here.

YouthInk Section

Imperfectly Authentic, Perfectly Loved
Feb 1, 2019

by Anna Richard

Authenticity is so hard. I often struggle to be completely real with people. This is a common struggle that most of us deal with every day. However, sometimes a fear of being genuine reveals deeper insecurities in us. Recently I’ve been discovering that somewhere along my life journey I started believing a lie. A lie that I was only lovable if I presented certain images of myself to people. I remember being a little girl and trying to be as cute as I could so that my siblings and their friends would love me and express their delight in me. As I got older, I would observe different people whom I admired or who I thought were the most loved and I would adopt their mannerisms so that I too could feel lovable. When I received unexpected affection or love from others, I sometimes would think to myself that they must be showing me this love because I had acted in a certain way or shown them a pleasing part of who I am. When I experienced rejection or distance from certain people, I would reflect that I must have been too much of or not enough of something. 

These lies have carried through to my young adult life. It’s often an unconscious motivation, but it’s ever so present in me: like a weed that has deep roots. I often catch myself thinking ahead of situations and people that I will be encountering and the way that I plan to behave or speak so that I’ll be accepted or approved of. When I’m spending time with friends I find myself unconsciously trying to be what I think will win me their affection. When it comes to romance, I have exhausted myself by constantly fighting to be the image that I think is the most attractive. In my university courses last year, if studying with others, I found myself being terrified of appearing unequipped or dumb to my peers. This fear drove me to something like performance anxiety and would prevent me from even doing what I knew how to do (silly, but true).

 This is not only a tremendous amount of pressure to put on oneself, but it can create deep anxiety because being perfect is something we simply cannot attain, and to think that we need to present perfect images of who we are in order to be loved can only lead to frustration and failure. This lack of authenticity can also block us from having raw connections with others and forming deeper relationships.

 However, a few Sundays ago, I re-encountered Jesus’ perfect love for my imperfect self. I was deep in a daydream. Daydreaming is a really bad habit that I often fall into during mass. This particular Sunday I was quite distracted. I was on my way to receive the eucharist (the eucharist, by the way, is one of the sweetest and most intimate experiences I have of God). I was silently thinking about how much I didn’t deserve to receive Jesus’ precious body when I had been literally pondering everything that wasn’t him during that hour. However, in my heart I heard four small words. 

I still want you. 

The perfect, all-powerful God of the universe still wanted to give me his total gift of self, even though I had given into my weaknesses and ignored his presence just seconds before. This, my friends, is where we need to begin. This is where our foundation is. If we can learn to accept Christ’s perfect love while knowing we are sinners, we can learn to accept ourselves and the love of others as a gift instead of something earned. Additionally, in seeking Jesus we will find who we truly are. In his book, “Thirsting for Prayer”, Fr. Jacques Phillippe sums this concept up beautifully:

“There is a whole aspect of our identity derived from our history, heredity, what we have experienced and the decisions we have made, but that is not the deepest part of ourselves. That deepest part comes to light only in the encounter with God, which strips us of everything artificial in our identity to bring us to what we really are, at the heart of our personhood. Our true identity is not so much a reality to be constructed as a gift to be received. It is not about achieving, but letting ourselves be begotten.”

 So, the journey continues. I know for myself that it’s an ongoing process to learn to be genuine and keep myself from trying to be an image to gain affection. But the more that I discover Christ’s unconditional love for my broken soul, the freer I become to love and be loved. And the more that I try to seek him first, the more I discover who I am.

--

 When you have a few minutes alone to pray, I invite you to take part in a reflection that has personally been helpful to me in opening my heart to Jesus’ perfect love: Close your eyes. Listen to the words of this song. Picture Jesus at end of a long hallway. He warmly gazes at you. He sees you for who you really are – all the messy and broken parts, all the imperfection, and all the beauty. As the song progresses, he’s walking slowly towards you. His eyes are full of love and understanding, and he wants to love you as you are. As he walks towards you, allow your fears of rejection to surface and give them to him. Eventually when he reaches you, he pulls you into a warm embrace. His embrace will last for as long as you want it to. While he hugs you, let him reassure you of his unconditional love.

Waiting on God
Feb 1, 2019

by Cheryl Calitis

It has been on my heart to make my first writing piece about feeling distant from God. I held off on writing this piece until now because after countless times of praying to feel God’s presence and answers, He made something known to me.

I haven’t had it easy for the past two years. I was trying to heal from heartbreak and 2017 felt like the worst year of my life. I had a lot of trouble feeling God’s love and God’s presence in my life during that year and I would constantly pray to God and wait for Him to make 2018 my year. In 2018 I wanted to heal. I wanted to know my purpose and be myself again. It has now been 10 months into 2018 and God has definitely heard and answered my prayers. It felt great feeling God’s presence all over my life again, but recently I have been spiritually dry. 

 For the past two months I’ve been falling back into patterns of feeling sadness and confusion about life. I realized that those patterns stemmed from rejection of what I thought would be breakthroughs, feeling like things in my life recently have not been going right, or that God has been too slow with answering my prayers. Being in that slump has made me lose motivation in intentionally seeking God and talking to God. My period of spiritual dryness has made me question whether or not I was being a good person and if I was being the person that God wants me to be.

 Hours before typing this I poured out all of my anger and frustration to God in my journal since journaling is my form of prayer. Two hours after that I had my own praise and worship in my room. Minutes before typing this God spoke to me while I was listening to music. As cringey or corny as it may sound, God spoke to me through a Hannah Montana song called “Life’s What You Make It”. One of the lines in the song was “Stay mad why do that? Give yourself a break”. Through that song God told me that even if He makes me go through long seasons of silence, or even mini seasons of silence where it seems as if God is not answering my prayers, I do not have to be mad and frustrated with God. I do not have to be mad or stay mad because life really is what I make it. When God makes us wait, it is really an opportunity for us to seek Him even more than we usually do, it is an opportunity for our faith to be tested and strengthened. If we are waiting on God, if we are waiting for God to make something happen in our lives, we can choose to be impatient or we can choose to believe that God is still Good even through the wait.

 Something that I learned from what I have been going through recently has been that waiting on God does not mean to just literally sit and wait for God to do something great and life changing in our lives. It means to make the daily effort to seek God and try our best to be the person that He wants us to be. We all have a choice, and God always gives us the freedom to make our own decisions, to choose Him or to distance ourselves from Him. In the end it is up to us to remind ourselves that with whatever we choose, God is still around, He cares and He is always working things out for our own good.

On Vocations Section

2019 Discernment Retreat: Discovering the Beauty and Goodness in All Vocations
Feb 1, 2019

by Anita Van Der Aa, Executive Director of the CSE

Catholic School of Evangelization, St. Malo - God had many graces prepared for all of us who attended the 2019 Discernment Retreat at the Catholic School of Evangelization (CSE).

I was blessed to be a part of an amazing team of 20 who welcomed, served, and journeyed with 27 young adults hailing from different backgrounds and experiences including participants from Winnipeg and as far as Regina, Brandon, and St. Theresa Point. Those who were on the team included Fr. Peter Nemcek and Fr. Joshua Gundrum - the vocation directors for the Winnipeg and St. Boniface Archdioceses, Sr. Jo-Ann Duggan, SGM and Sr. Marie Moquin, FDLC, Brian Trueman and Christian Mutombo – seminarians for the Archdiocese of St. Boniface; and many other single and married lay people. Kevin Prada, the retreat leader and Associate Director of the CSE, led us into discovering the beauty of each vocation; each vocation being the gift of self that we offer to Christ and His Church. There were talks about each vocation as well as testimonies of those living out their vocations. Archbishop Albert Legatt celebrated the Eucharist with us on Saturday and Archbishop Richard Gagnon shared with us tools for discernment on Sunday morning. Participants also were able to sign up for an Emmaus walk – a time to journey with another person during the retreat; a time to ask questions and share struggles. Saturday evening was an evening of prayer, Adoration and a renewal of our Baptismal vows. Many of the participants shared during our “glory story” time how much it meant for them to be present and how much God had blessed them during their time of retreat. 

“Spiritually, this weekend was probably the best weekend of my life, I feel that the mist has been cleared… and I thank you all for playing a part in that. As soon as I got back to my home (…), I looked in the bathroom mirror and I honestly didn't recognize myself.” – participant

“... the Discernment Weekend was so life giving for me to be among such God filled people. The weekend renewed me in many ways as I sincerely love being with the young people.” – team member

I am looking forward to the conference being held at St. John XXIII parish on March 30th with Bishop Lionel Gendron and Emily Callan who were both at the most recent synod of Bishops in Rome on Young People, the Faith and Vocation. This will be another great opportunity to grow in appreciation of our vocational calls and a time to discern where God is calling local initiatives to grow and continue to serve young people.