Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 8, 2002
Paschal mystery in Arctic Circle
Northern celebrations combine traditional ritual with local customs
By ANITA TOLENTINO
"There's never enough telling of this story of God's love for us."
- Fr. Pawel Zajac
Over in Toloyoak, Nunavut where the Church community is mostly Anglican, the 120 Catholic families of St. Michael Church celebrated the Triduum also with devotion and participation.
Holy Thursday was spent in devotional prayers and the Mass of the Lord's Supper. The Inuit participated in the re-enacting and reading of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Father Bogdan Osiecki was proud to see the Inuit parishioners becoming more self-reliant and confident in assuming liturgical ministries in their Church.
"I did not play the part of Jesus this time," he said. "They wanted to do it themselves and they volunteered, so I respected their leadership and enthusiasm. Of course, everything is in Inuktitut and perhaps it is more meaningful for them to experience it that way and I learn from them."
Osiecki, who recently replaced Oblate Tony Krotki who ministered there for eight years, said he is still in the process of getting to know the people and learn their language and culture.
The Liturgy of the Light and the Blessing of the Water were well attended by the Inuit. They came together in prayer and remembered the Passover of the Lord.
Easter Sunday was a "happy time of celebration" even at minus 30C. "A transformation for all of us physically and spiritually as a community," said Osiecki.
"Jesus came to save everybody. People may live in different parts of the world, belong to different communities, have different languages, sing different melodies, but every Christian comes from the same roots, believing in one God, belonging to one God's family.
"So we here in Nunavut love God, praise God and thank God for his faithful love for all of us and we unite with the rest of the Christian world during this Easter season."
Bearing witness to Osiecki's statement about the global nature of Christianity, both priests came from Poland to minister in Canada's Arctic.
Osiecki was ordained in Poland in 1996 and spent a year as a parish priest there before coming to Canada. He was assigned in Saskatoon to learn English in 1997-98 and served in Igloolik, Nunavut, from 1998-2001 before he was assigned to St. Michael's Parish in Toloyoak.
Zajac is also a Polish priest whose first experience of the North was in Gjoa Haven where he spent a year as a deacon and was eventually ordained last December. He enjoys ministering in the North, learning the Inuit language and experiencing their culture.
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