Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 15, 2008
Monument honours the unknown dead
Dedication ceremony mingles native spirituality with Catholic prayers
By LORRAINE TURCHANSKY
“We are all created by the same Creator, therefore we are one people, one family.”
- Fr. Jim Holland
It was a young tilesetter from Sacred Heart, Wayne Ashley, who last year told Holland that he felt called to produce a marker to honour those people.
Holland told him to go for it and directed him to Edmonton Catholic Cemeteries. The monument, a mosaic rich with native spiritual symbols, is the realization of a dream for Ashley, who believes his artistic talent is a gift from God.
The traditions of native spirituality make some in the Catholic Church uncomfortable. And it’s no secret that the abuses of the residential school system have harmed relations between the Church and aboriginal people.
But on Sunday, the stress was on shared beliefs, not differences, and on love and forgiveness rather than grudges.
“We believe in the sacred circle,” Holland told the group.
“We welcome you not as strangers but as members of our family. Because truly it is our belief that we are all created by the same Creator, therefore we are one people, one family.”
Is it possible to be a good Catholic while practising native spirituality? Mustus says yes. “The beliefs are just different methods, usually complementing nationalities,” he said.
“Our process for accommodating spirituality is similar. We refer to the supreme Creator, to the Catholics it’s God.
“There are a lot of similarities between Catholic beliefs and our spirituality. Over this last little while over the residential school experience, there’s been some tarnishing of that belief, but I think all and all, our people . . . have chosen to and been encouraged by our elders to take the best of both worlds.”
“The only difference, as I see it, is at the outset . . . there was never a devil in our spiritual world.”
Anne Glas, manager at Holy Cross, said Catholic Cemeteries is honoured to be part of a dream fulfilled.
“The dedication on this plaque says it all,” said Glas. “The dedication is to those in our cemeteries and in many cemeteries that lie unmarked but never not remembered.”
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