As many of you are aware, the remains of 215 children have been found on the grounds of a Kamloops residential school located on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia. I spent a year living in Kamloops before I entered the seminary and, unknown to me, I lived only a five-minute drive from where the former school building and the graves of these children are located. Having lived there and in other rural communities of BC, I had a small glimpse into what these communities and Indigenous peoples have gone through and continue to go through as a result of the residential schools system.
Residential schools are a shameful part of our Canadian history as well as our Church history. Many, like the Kamloops residential school, were run by Catholic religious communities, with funding and directives from the government.
While it was known that unmarked graves existed around residential schools across Canada, the horrific discovery at Kamloops has brought much shock and pain across our nation and beyond. Identifying these children and their graves is a necessity, seated in the action items of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which began back in 2008. Even though this process is necessary, it is unsettling and has re-traumatized many residential school survivors and their families.
Today, many are crying out looking for answers, and rightfully so. These cries rise up with the many other cries of our hearts as we live "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears." We need to hear these cries, listen to the stories, and not be afraid of the truth. It is only when we acknowledge the truth that we can begin the process of true reconciliation.
In the midst of so much pain throughout the world, in our country, and in our city, both past and present, Fr. Tim and I have been discerning what we can do as a parish to respond. Quite often the media bring these items to the forefront and at first we give the news our full attention, but then the news coverage dwindles and our interest subsides. It can be easy for us to be overwhelmed and dismayed, and even numbed over time, but the question remains: what we can do practically as a parish and as individuals?
One way we can respond is to engage in prayer and in particular pray for reparation. Reparation means that we seek to repair, heal, and restore the damage caused by sin, whether by us or others.
Since in the month of June we celebrate both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 11th & June 12th), two hearts that must be broken by the continual sin and injustices in our world, Fr. Tim and I are inviting the entire parish to engage now in a time of prayer for reparation.
During the four Fridays of June, Fr. Tim and I will be preaching on reparation and we will make our homilies available, both on our YouTube channel and at the bottom of this page. Then, in addition to preaching on reparation, we are encouraging all parishioners to engage in various forms of prayer and fasting throughout this month, particularly on Wednesday, June 30th. On that day, we will have a special Mass for reparation and healing, along with Eucharistic Adoration in the church throughout the day. We hope that our prayers can play some small role in bringing about concrete steps that will help towards healing.
Below you will find some links to this preaching series as they become available. We also invite you to read the recent statement from Archbishop Marcel and a FAQ document produced by the Archdiocese of Toronto that seeks to bring clarity to some of the misconceptions circulating in both the news and in social media.
Fr. Tim and I hope that you will engage in this month of reparation with us, as we seek to spiritually respond to the many injustices, wounds and divisions of our time.
Statement from the CCCB