Thank you for your interest in our Archdiocese.
“I would like to take this opportunity to give you an insight into our home, the North. At first look you may see only challenges: our harsh climate, isolated communities, cultural upheaval and all its pain in the face of vast changes. However, if you stay with us for awhile I am certain you will see something more: vast, pristine land, quiet beauty and deeply friendly and spiritual people. We are blest with a variety of rich cultures and languages which have lived here for thousands of years. We are also blest with people of many cultures from all areas of the world. The north is not for everyone, but if you do spend some time with us you will find it does get in your blood. Like the rest of the north, we are a people who appreciate adventure and our church is made up of real character.
Jesus may be wearing more clothing than in other climates, like mukluks and beaver mitts, but He is here too. In His words, you are welcome to come and see.”
SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE MISSIONARIES
Adapted from Bishop D. Croteau, OMI, October 31, 2000, article in http://www.dioceseofmackenzie.com/interested-in-ministering
New Missionary Approach
It is not an easy task for those who want to be “prophets” of a new way of being church. The new evangelization demands a new heart, a new spirit, new techniques, a greater respect of charisms, personalities, culture, a greater trust and confidence in people and their personal life and faith experience. To believe, in one word, that the Spirit is at work in the lay people as well as in the priest, is for many people (lay and priest) a giant leap of faith. It demands also on the part of all, great humility, great self‐discipline, and extraordinary openness and above all a patience beyond the limits of common virtue. They would first have to have a very deep spiritual life because the work is demanding and the visible rewards may seem very few. They would need complete dedication their love of God.
The candidates would need a good human balance, or psychological stability and maturity. The North is a difficult land. It will always remain a challenge. Not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. It offers though great rewards in friendship, simplicity of life and human contacts. One who is running away from a problem should not consider the North. The North, contrary to what is often believed, brings those problems to the fore and amplifies them.
To succeed, candidates would have to accept to go to the school of life and be open to learn new ways. They would have to learn the ways of their adoptive family, i.e. the aboriginal people. Nothing would have to be accepted blindly but they would have to be willing to withhold judgment till after they get accepted by the people they came to serve. Our best missionaries are the ones who love the people as they are; who are proud of them in the right way.
Another factor to consider would also be the ability to live in isolation. Our missions are sometimes hundreds of kilometres apart with only planes as means of communication. One has to be very strong psychologically speaking and very zealous pastorally speaking to say nothing of one’s spiritual stamina… The smallness of the communities allows for true and enduring friendships to develop, but one has to know how to thrive in the execution of daily chores without much excitement, in a long winter and without the frills of the South.
A condition for a missionary to be successful with the people of the Canadian North would be his ability to do teamwork. As it has been shown above, there is a great need of pastoral animation to establish the Church of tomorrow. In the Archdiocese, I would say that “second evangelization” is first of all animation, inspiration, calling forth, challenging, etc.. We need priests who are priests‐animators. In the past we could build the Church with priests administrators, not any more. One of the main qualities demanded from a candidate would be his ability to work in the spirit of Vatican II. We would never accept a candidate who is his own boss, controls everything and is too set in his ways. Shared leadership is the motto in this diocese. We insist on lay people doing all that they can do to leave the priest in his role of “unity maker” through preaching and the Eucharist.
To be a missionary in the Canadian North today is a very unique and special way of life, with many unexpected challenges and blessings.