Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
November 3, 2003
WCR Letters to the Editor
Can we gamble on our people's lives?
When I read the Oct. 13 article on gambling I couldn't help but think that there is something gone terribly wrong. No doubt most, if not all of the causes that these casino funds go towards are worthy. However, I fail to see how it justifies turning our backs on the marginalized and the vulnerable.
How many sad stories of family breakdown and financial ruin caused by gambling do we need to hear about before we stop accessing these funds? I think that one is enough. Those that justify this "easy money" will tell us that there are programs to help people who become addicted to gambling.
Jesus provides us with a powerful story that relates to this issue. He left the 99 sheep to go and look for the one that was lost. He didn't say to the 99, "Okay, everybody into the stock trailer, we are going to work the casino this weekend so that we can start a fund to look after the one that is lost."
I believe the message he left us was it is our responsibility to look after the one that is lost. So we have to stop the cycle of gambling by saying "no" to casino and lottery funds.
Our local newspaper, The Community Press, had some shocking statistics this week. From a 1998 survey, $7.4 million was gambled away in VLTs in Flagstaff County, the county in which we reside. Our population is about 8,500. Draw your own conclusion.
The Catholic Church has a proud history of people building churches, schools and helping the marginalized with their "time, talent and treasure." This was indeed "good news" and a great example of communities living the Gospel.
Today, I have to wonder what message are we sending to the future of our Church, the youth, by taking this "easy money?" When we close the door to this type of fundraising, there will no doubt be some tough times, but we will be a stronger faith community for it, and an example of true leadership.
Bishop Denis Croteau of Mackenzie-Fort Smith was ahead of his time and a shepherd showing compassion and caring for his flock, when he banned gambling as a fundraiser. We need to join him on the road less travelled.
Blessed are the Oblates
Re: Oblates Search for New Life (WCR, Oct. 20).
If I might comment on this article and the Oblate search for a new path in their long journeying in Western Canada. First, I am very happy that the name of the new Oblate structure will bear the name of Father Albert Lacombe.
Lacombe, who is buried in the crypt at St. Albert alongside Bishop Grandin and Pere Leduc, was a wonder to behold as he walked, snowshoed or rode sleds and Red River carts throughout the early pre-history of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
A friend to First Nations and Metis, Lacombe was a particular thorn in the side of politicians as he furthered the causes of these groups. Much legend surrounds Pere Lacombe but I believe the court of history will find that many of his contributions and events were indeed very close to being legendary whether it was attempting to physically intervene in a battle between Cree and Blackfoot or teaching the Catholic faith through his "Lacombe Ladder," a visual aid Lacombe used that included most of what Catholics believe.
Although Lacombe is best known for his contributions in the St. Albert area, Lacombe's footprints can also be found at treaty signings, ministering to the great Metis settlement of Tail Creek and at burials at the Fur trade Posts of Rocky Mountain House and Fort Edmonton.
It was a reburial at Rocky Mountain House that brought me into contact with Father Camille Piche. Several years ago an old fur trade cemetery near the present national historic site was disrupted during excavations. The 28 remains included several children, First Nations adults, Metis and one 23-year-old Scot Highlander. Several of the remains bore crucifixes. The remains were reburied in a very moving ceremony almost one year ago to the day.
Because of the many aboriginal groups, chiefs and elders from several First Nations were present including Peigan, Blackfoot, Cree, Metis and Dene. Several Christian groups were also present. Piche represented the Oblates. It is quite likely that Lacombe himself presided at some of the original burials. The ceremony also included the appearance of Chief Peter O'Chiese of the O'Chiese nation. He is 105 years old and the elder statesman of First Nations peoples in Canada.
The event was a window into our history. What was particularly moving was when Father Piche rose to speak in the great ceremonial tent before all these legendary elders and chiefs. He began to not only speak but also to sing in Dene. It moved all present.
This was not just some priest who showed up to represent the clergy but someone who worked for years among these people in the North, who prayed and sang their songs in their language and who, like Pere Lacombe, did it with much love.
Rocky Mountain House
Of course we can applaud
Personally, I must say that applause during Mass is still an unsettling experience, even after several decades in Canada (from Austria). But, banning applause altogether (during announcements for instance)?
Applause is our socially accepted way of showing support, recognition and approval. I can see Mark Mallet's concern (WCR Letters, Oct. 13) how stifling it would be, especially for the younger generation, not to be allowed to applaud during a performance, even it is in a Church.
Applause has its place in society and definitely has its place in our churches.
Thank you for the pope's celebration
Allow me to publicly express my gratitude to Christine Foisy-Erickson and Mi Casa Ministries for organizing a tribute and Mass of thanksgiving on the holy father's 25th anniversary date as pontiff.
Thank you also to the priests who provided spiritual manna to the standing room only crowd. Your faithfulness is honoured!
In union with many similar celebrations throughout the world, ours was an uplifting reminder that we are a universal church, guided by the supreme shepherd Jesus Christ, who chose Peter and his successors to lead the Church.