Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 20, 2008
Mission society had humble beginnings
Catholic Missions In Canada marks 100 years of supporting remote churches
Special to the WCR
- photo supplied
In the 1930's, Oblate Father Delalande of Coppermine, N.W.T., admires his reserve of fish that will provide the main source of food supply through the winter.
These letters complemented the articles in The Catholic Register, which by 1908 was owned by Church Extension.
And responses came in with donations, small and large as well as pledges of regular future donations.
Soon, and then very regularly, Burke was seen at the Wellesley Street house of Archbishop Fergus McEvay, the apostolic chancellor of the society, and the two of them began the first steps of allocation of funds to the needy missions.
Letters soon came in, expressing appreciation for the people’s generous support of the faraway missions.
The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada was well on its way to fulfilling its goals of missionary assistance to the growing Church in a growing nation by the end of 1908.
When the board of governors would meet around the big table at the archbishop’s house, with McEvay chairing the meetings, the concerns were more than financial aid to churches.
They discussed the need for clergy to serve the people and thus the need for a seminary, but also the dire situation of the Ukrainians, moving and settling in the West with few of their own clergy.
Building of chapels and mission churches, provision of accommodations for mission priests and sisters, modes of transportation of priests and brothers and their assistants, equipment for proper worship in the Latin and Ukrainian rites, and charitable assistance to the poorest of parishioners — these were the subjects of concern to the board.
It is interesting to observe 100 years later that many of these concerns continue, but one that was not foremost on the agenda in 1908 is now one of our greatest concerns -- ministry to native people throughout the nation.
Great things were done in the cramped quarters of Wellington Street in 1908, but after a few years, the society moved to an office building on Bond Street in Toronto, where it remained for decades, still with second-rate, hand-me-down furnishings.
Then, in the 1990s, Church Extension moved with the Toronto Archdiocese to a newer office building at 1155 Yonge St., and continued its good works, this time with modest but adequate equipment.
In 1999, a new name was chosen for the society, Catholic Missions In Canada, to simplify the title, and accurately reflect our purpose.
In the most recent Catholic Almanac, published for American readers, a description of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada has a cogent observation: “The greatest concentration of Catholics is in the eastern portion of the country. In the northern and western portions, outside metropolitan centres, there are some of the most difficult parish and mission areas in the world.”
So, after 100 years, the challenge is equally formidable, and Catholic Missions In Canada will continue its mandate and its vow to uphold the living faith throughout the nation.
We do this with the enthusiasm and joy that comes from the assistance of generous and dedicated donors, the encouragement of Canada’s bishops and, of course, the prayers of so many supportive women and men across the country.
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