For the third time, an Indigenous Mass will be held at the Church of the Gesù on Sunday, June 20, at 6:00 p.m., on the eve of National Indigenous Peoples Day, for Joyce Echaquan, Raphael André and the 215 children whose remains were discovered in Kamloops, B.C. Elders Tom Dearhouse and Marie-Laure Simon will be present, and Auxiliary Bishop Alain Faubert of Montreal will preside. The Mass will be broadcast through their YouTube channel with thanks to the Jesuits for their warm generosity.
By Louise Royer - Social Action Ministry Office
Beginning with the 2019 Corpus Christi procession through the streets of downtown Montreal, a new feature has been visible: the presence of Indigenous people. During this procession, Tom Dearhouse of Kahnawake, standing alongside the Archbishop on the moving platform, incensed the Blessed Sacrament with the smoke of sacred herbs. Subsequently, two Masses were held at the Church of the Gesù in similar tradition: one in August 2019, on the occasion of the First Peoples' Festival and the other on December 12, 2020, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, for the Pan-Canadian Prayer in Solidarity with Aboriginal Peoples.
Are ceremonies the best path towards reconciliation? They ring hollow unless they are the culmination of other meaningful gestures of love, justice and peace. Still, the Eucharist has a significance that may not be evident at first glance. Indeed, aside from all other treaties, the covenant in the blood of Christ commits us to the renunciation of privileges, prejudices and grudges. It is a path of thanksgiving, of reverence for our common home and of love to the point of giving one's life. The elders, sensitive to the symbolic aspects and the profound reality of the ceremonies, understood this well. Many of them are consciously committed to this covenant. The Mission chez nous organization is a sign that this covenant is still relevant today.
In Montreal, the manifestations of Christian faith within an Aboriginal spirituality originate with the initiative of Ojibwe, Anishinaabeg, Kanien'kehá:ka and Innu people who believe that their identity is strengthened by their Christian faith and that their cultures are an essential contribution to a Christian humanism that is in balance with Creation. They want to provide a space to develop and express these identities with others. Their leaders are inspired by pastoral experiences – urban and ecumenical - and are creating something entirely new in the downtown area in the name of Saint Kateri.
Sainte Kateri au centre-ville has a long history of solidarity. A native of Kanesatake, Sister Marie-Laure Simon c.n.d. founded the Wampum Centre in the wake of the Oka crisis in the 1990s, in order to make the First Peoples better known and appreciated. The Centre dissolved in 2019. The Social-Action Ministry Office joined the Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK last year. It offers:
- the Kairos blanket exercise - on the dispossession of the first peoples
- Listening to Indigenous Voices groups based on the booklet of the same title launched in May, 2021, by the Centre Justice et foi and the Jesuit Centre
- Back to the Spirit days: basic workshops and Semences de réconciliation (Seeds of reconciliation) session.
May these moments of collective prayer bring consolation to the survivors, raise awareness and encourage our commitment to solidarity with First Nations people.
To assist the mass, please click on this link.