Welcome to our News Page! Here you will find news stories from the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, the Church in Canada, and beyond! We also invite you to submit your own articles to our Communication Services Office. Selected articles may be included here, as well as our Weekly News Bulletin sent to all parishes in the Archdiocese. Questions and submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless!
Note: Click on the small arrow beside each news heading to expand to the entire article.
Archdiocese of Winnipeg - "As everyone is aware the Province of Manitoba is requesting that all non-critical services shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19. Currently this shut down will be from April 1-April 14, 2020. In keeping with this request the Catholic Centre will be closed effective today at 3:00 pm until 10:00 am on April 14." For the rest of Archbishop Richard Gagnon's memorandum, please click here.
Archdiocese of Winnipeg - Please note the following dates and times regarding our Holy Week Celebrations:
Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020: Mass from St. Mary's Cathedral will be live-streamed beginning at 11:00 am on our Archdiocesan website: www.archwinnipeg.ca.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper, April 9, 2020: Mass from St. Mary's Cathedral will be live-streamed beginning at 7:30 pm on our Archdiocesan website: www.archwinnipeg.ca.
Good Friday, April 10, 2020: The Service from St. Mary's Cathedral will be live-streamed beginning at 3:00 pm on our Archdiocesan website: www.archwinnipeg.ca.
The Easter Vigil, April 11, 2020: The celebration of the Easter Vigil from St. Mary's Cathedral will be live-streamed beginning at 8:00 pm on our Archdiocesan website: www.archwinnipeg.ca.
Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020: The Mass of Easter Sunday will be live-streamed from St. Mary's Cathedral beginning at 11:00 am on our Archdiocesan website: www.archwinnipeg.ca.
Archdiocese of Winnipeg - A few days ago someone posted a map of the United States on social media intended to illustrate the extent to which the Coronavirus was impacting public celebration of the Eucharist. To do this the developers shaded each area of the country experiencing an archdiocesan-wide suspension. The whole of the country was black. The stark image reflected both a literal and spiritual reality.
As citizens of the world, we are engaged in a great social experiment. Unlike scientific experiments that maintain strict controls from beginning to end, those that govern our freedom of movement have been changing daily, as governments weigh the social and economic impacts against the potential spread of the virus. As a free nation we are not used to having our movements curtailed, but of all of the restrictions being placed on us the most difficult, for many, is the inability to gather together in worship. The move to close churches seems counter-intuitive to a people who understand the sacrificial nature of the Mass that we offer for the sake of the world. Is this a test? And does the decision to cancel Masses reflect a lack of supernatural faith that suggests we have failed?
In considering these questions, I was drawn to the book of Leviticus. Leviticus, which means ‘Law,’ follows Exodus and refers to the Law given to Moses at Saini. The precepts, many of which are found in other Biblical texts, are in addition to the Ten Commandments. These were given after the golden calf incident and demonstrated that the forty years in the desert had been insufficient time to break God’s people of Egypt’s pagan influence. The theme of the book is holiness. “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Lev. 19:2) To be holy is to be whole…complete…undefiled. Although these qualities can only be properly applied to God, God invites each of us to grow in holiness through the faithful observance of His Laws. The New Testament reiterates this in Jesus’ words, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48)
Concerned with promoting fidelity to God and establishing and promoting a societal and liturgical order for a new nation occupying a new land, Leviticus contains a wide variety of prescriptions. These include rules for ordination and the duties of priests; regulations regarding the liturgical year and the celebration of feasts; prohibitions against idolatry; and matters of social justice. But also included are regulations for the slaughter and consumption of animals and matters dealing with bodily contact including those of a sexual nature. While many of these latter laws can seem antiquated, or even discriminatory to our modern ears, reading them in the light of the Coronavirus reveals the wisdom of a God whose regulations predate modern medicine by more than 3,000 years. While there is much to be gleaned from the book, here we will only consider those laws that have some impact on public health.
Mosaic laws governing food prohibited Jews from eating any animal that died of its own accord. Living animals were divided into ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. The clean were unblemished mammals with cloven hooves and that chewed their own cud, fish with both scales and fins, and fowl able to fly. Those deemed unsuitable included predators, scavengers, pests and bottom dwellers. Slaughtered animals were to be drained of their blood, salted (which removed any remaining blood), and taken to the priests who would then inspect the lungs, entrails, liver and spleen. The blood, thought to contain the life of the animal, was offered back to God, and the fat burned. These laws served to protect the spiritual integrity of God’s people, as the foods they were permitted to eat included those worshiped by the Egyptians, while those that were forbidden were often served at their pagan feasts. There was also, however, a bodily application in that the prohibitions safeguarded the people from the many germs and parasites that we now know to occur in the flesh, blood, and fat that surrounds the internal organs. Although Jesus later declared all foods clean, we continue to avoid predators and scavengers, and follow other of the ancient guidelines, despite not knowing their origin. Even my own household rule to not to eat leftovers after the third day finds its source in Mosaic Law! (Lev. 17:10)
Jewish priests were not only concerned with food, but any matter that posed a threat to the health of the community. Those who came into contact with carcass or corpse were required to wash their garments, bathe, and isolate themselves for a period. Contaminated earthenware was shattered, while articles of cloth and leather, suspected of having a fungus, were to be cleaned and later re-examined before subsequent use. Even homes suspected of such an infection were subject to a series of remedial actions. These began with wall washing and escalated to a point of complete destruction and the removal of all debris to a location outside the city.
Rules dealing with circumcision, sexual relations, and the treatment of menstruating and postpartum women, are considered by many to be cruel, discriminatory, or misogynistic. Spiritually, circumcision was a sign of fidelity to God, and marital fidelity was a reflection of the love between God and humanity but taken together we can see that all three were also concerned with protecting the health of the community. The clue to this can be found in a law that deals with bodily waste. In it, we read how individuals are instructed to go out of the community and to carry a stick that would be useful in both digging a hole and covering the excrement (Deut. 23:12-13). While this practice does not seem to have a spiritual application, it would certainly have a practical one as a protection against typhus and dysentery. In the same way, circumcision – the identifying mark of the covenant –guarded males against the accumulation of harmful bacteria, laws prohibiting adultery and fornication shielded the community from sexually transmitted diseases, and segregating menstruating and postpartum women for a time ensured that blood and amniotic fluids - breeding grounds for bacterial growth – remained safely outside the commune. Proof that this last practice was not intended to be discriminatory can be found in a similar edict that required otherwise healthy men to remove themselves after an occasion of bodily emission (Deut. 23:10).
While Jesus was often critical of the Jewish authorities, He never chastised them for enforcing Mosaic Law, nor did he encourage anyone that was sick to approach the Temple in their current state. Rather, Jesus he healed them of both their spiritual and physical afflictions, before sending them to those with the authority to re-admit them to community life (Lk. 5:13-14; Lk. 17:14). Before ascending to the Father, Jesus approached Peter, asking him three times if he would care for His sheep. In doing so, Jesus instructed Peter and the apostles to continue to be concerned with both the physical and spiritual health of the community he was gathering. The three-fold repetition indicates the importance of the matter. This responsibility, passed on through apostolic succession, is the reason why we continue to use the analogy of the shepherd to describe our priests and bishops.
While the Magisterium remains the authoritative body in matters of faith, the identification and control of contagions now rightly belong to the realm of science, and to public health and building officials, whose expertise best enables them to assess risks and determine the most means of controlling the spread of disease. In the case of COVID-19, their recommendation to avoid large gatherings is what informed the decision of many bishops to suspend public Masses. This decision should not lead us to wonder about the depth of their supernatural faith, rather, we should consider it as being in conformity with the vow they took to protect the flock entrusted to their care, and the duty of care we owe to all God’s people. As well, it should serve as a reminder that faith must always be in harmony with reason. Faith leads us to know that God is always with us, while reason allows us to consider the potential impact of various responses. Taken together, we may conclude that this is a time to put our trust in God, while we exercise prudence.
Although public worship is not an option at present, our priests have not abandoned us. All have been called to continue to offer private daily Masses and to respond to requests for viaticum and confession. A good number have begun to find new ways to minister through social media. While we are fortunate that many church doors remain open for private prayer and adoration, some jurisdictions have already seen public officials close places of worship over concern about the length of time the virus can live on hardened surfaces. Pope Francis is calling the world to come together in prayer, and is encouraging us to engage in the small acts of charity that remain within our current capability. Prayer and love are powerful weapons. Historically they have had a significant impact and can again.
While it is too soon for us to see how, or when, this will end, we can trust that God remains in control and that He intends to bring about a greater good. How we come off this individually depends, in a large part, on how well we act on the advice of officials, our willingness to support one another, and the extent to which we take advantage of the many spiritual resources available to us. So, wash your hands, call a friend, and then consider spending some time with sacred Scripture, as it is between the covers of the sacred text that God sits in wait, longing to guide and comfort each of us.
“Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Your testimonies are my delight, they are my counselors. Let my soul live that I may praise you, and let your ordinances help me.” (Ps. 119:18, 24, 175)
This article was written by Linda Chiupka, the Archdiocese of Winnipeg's Synod Implementation Coordinator.
Archdiocese of Winnipeg - "The following Protocols are to be fully implemented as of today, March 18, 2020. Every one of us has been affected by the COVID- 19 Virus, socially, psychologically, physically, financially and spiritually. Most notably we are becoming more and more aware of our responsibility toward our neighbour in preventing the spread of this virus. In particular, I’m thinking of the elderly and the vulnerable since they are in the greatest danger of contagion. In my previous memo I emphasized the importance of personal hygiene and social distancing as practical steps in fulfilling our mutual responsibility toward one another." Click here to view the Archbishop's full memorandum.
Development and Peace - As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, Development and Peace joins our prayers for health and grace and reminds us that this crisis will compound the hardships of many sisters and brothers in the Global South.
Share Lent 2020 campaign going virtual
Every year, our kindly parishioners, like thousands across Canada, work hard to bring Development and Peace’s Share Lent campaign to life and to raise the money it needs to help millions around the world. Development and Peace is eternally grateful for their efforts.
This year, however, following public health authorities’ advice, Development and Peace has decided to cancel or postpone all in-person Share Lent meetings and events across Canada.
Although we cannot congregate, we need one another’s support more than ever. Communities of the Global South, too, need even more help now. Development and Peace is therefore working on a virtual Share Lent 2020 campaign. Soon, they will make resources available to let us experience the spiritual renewal of Lent online and to show solidarity with those who need it most.
Your support is vital
With church closures impacting parish collections, Development and Peace is accepting donations by mail, over the phone and online. Please spread the word and urge family and friends to donate.
Send a cheque to Development & Peace, 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd. West, 3rd Floor, Montreal (Quebec), H3G 1T7.
Donate online: devp.org/GIVE
Ottawa - "Together with all Canadians, the Catholic Bishops of Canada are following with deep concern the current developments in Canada and throughout the world regarding the rapid global spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which can in certain cases be the cause of serious illness and even death." Click here for the rest of the statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Winnipeg, Manitoba - "The Christian life is a spiritual life where prayer is at the centre. "We as Catholics in Manitoba wish to say very simply that we are praying for our whole community, province and country, during these days of trial. The Archdiocese of Winnipeg is encouraging private prayer and Scripture reading in families as we believe that the family itself is a kind of ‘domestic church.’" - Archbishop Richard Gagnon. Click here for Brenda Suderman's full Winnipeg Free Press article.
Toronto, Ontario - In these difficult times as public Masses are being cancelled across Canada and other countries, we know how hard it is for so many of our viewers to be without the Eucharist and without the spiritual companionship of their parish communities.
For this reason, we feel it is imperative for us to reach out to you and assure you that we will continue to broadcast Masses, prayers, and devotions every day. Although they cannot replace participation in the Mass in person, we hope that these opportunities for prayer will offer you some consolation and spiritual accompaniment. Remember, you are not alone and hope cannot be cancelled.
Although most of our employees are now working from home, we are doing our best to keep providing you with the hope-filled content we need so much in these times. Be assured that we remain committed to our brand promise: Your Hope. Our Mission.
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We will continue to take in prayer requests through our website and social media platforms. And if you submit any questions to us via email or are trying to call our office during this time, we ask that you please be patient with us. We will endeavour to respond to each inquiry as soon as possible.
From the Salt + Light Media website: saltandlighttv.org.
Winnipeg Free Press - "For the first time in living memory, the province’s Catholic bishops have cancelled public Easter gatherings and moved all services to a virtual format due to the novel coronavirus. All public masses and assemblies until the end of April, including Good Friday services and Easter celebrations, are cancelled in the Roman Catholic Archdioceses of Winnipeg and Saint Boniface and the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Winnipeg." To view the rest of Brenda Suderman's article on the Free Press website, click here.
St. Anthony of Padua, Winnipeg - "The Knights of Columbus of St. Anthony of Padua (Hungarian) Church in Winnipeg has volunteered its membership during this unprecedented time, to help our parish community out of this nightmare. Council #15596 K of C volunteers have rushed to serve as the COVID-19 Disinfecting Crew for the church o n371 Burnell Street." Click here for the rest of the article submission from Rene Carino.
We thank you, Rene, for this article submission! If you have a faith story you'd like to share, send an email to email@example.com.
Archdiocese of Winnipeg - Is your parish live-streaming Masses for the community? If so, please send details (time, how to access, etc.) to firstname.lastname@example.org for publishing on social media and our Archdiocesan website. Thank you!
Archdiocese of Winnipeg - "Today the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See issued a decree in response to the pastoral, spiritual and sacramental concerns for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic."
- From Archbishop Richard Gagnon's memorandum, March 20, 2020