Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
October 29, 2001
Meeting nurtures Catholic aborigional faith
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is seeking ways to nurture faith within Catholic aboriginal communities.
In the first such meeting of its kind - organized by the CCCB's Commission for the Evangelization of Peoples and the National Office of Religious Education - about 40 people involved in native catechesis gathered Oct.12-14 for informal discussions on meeting the spiritual needs of Catholic aboriginal communities.
Entitled Echoing God's Word, the meeting included bishops, priests, women religious and native representatives from across Canada.
"What we're hoping will come out of it is a further way of facilitating the evangelization of our own people," said Sister Priscilla Solomon in a CCN interview.
"We're looking for the direction that we need to move in so that something concrete can come out of this," said Solomon, a native religious serving in North Bay, Ont., who was the facilitator.
"We're really trying to look at how to communicate the faith in aboriginal communities and what kinds of resources are available in terms of the people and the materials that we have," she said.
For far too long, the native Church has been a circle unto itself while the "other circle" - made up of bishops, priests and nuns, have been trying to find ways to help the native Church, Solomon observed.
"What we have articulated (at this meeting) is that we can't continue as two circles," she said. "Somehow we need to find new language and new ways of recognizing that we are Church together."
Archbishop Peter Sutton of Keewatin-Le Pas told CCN the consultation was the first such initiative of the bishops' conference. "We're hoping that some of the content we come up with can be given to various commissions of the CCCB, so it's not just 'catechetical,'" he added.
"We don't want to repeat what we've done in the past of sometimes producing materials really not thought out by native people themselves," said Sutton. "We need their insights."
About 65 per cent of the population of Sutton's diocese is aboriginal but catechetical material is aimed mainly at the minority, he said.
Sutton anticipates more such meetings will be held in the future. "We have to," he said. "We can't let this die out or we're back to square one."
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