By the spring of 1885, there was trouble brewing in the West. Louis Riel protested conditions to the Canadian Government on behalf of the Metis and some Cree bands in central Saskatchewan and started the North West Rebellion. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sent soldiers on the CPR to put down the uprising and protect settler’s communities on the prairies.
The Blackfoot Confederacy had been approached by Riel to join in the fray and people in Calgary and surrounding areas were nervous. What would Crowfoot do?
Once again, Fr. Lacombe was called upon to take his place on the national stage and he made several visits to Crowfoot to ensure his loyalty and control over the heavily-armed young warriors.
One of the most important telegrams in Canadian history was sent to Ottawa by Lacombe. It simply read: “I have seen Crowfoot and all the Blackfoot. All quiet. Promised me to be loyal no matter how things turn out elsewhere.”
The Riel Rebellion was over by the summer of 1885 and one of the outcomes of the danger in Saskatchewan became a benefit for Calgary. Bishop Grandin transferred some Sisters of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, the FCJs, away from the area near the rebellion. Fr. Lacombe had just finished building a brand new two-story Oblate rectory and chapel for the mission. He gladly turned it over to the Sisters for their convent and a school room. Once again Fr. Lacombe would be living in a tent on the prairie… but it was all for a good cause!
In December of 1885, the first school district in the North West Territories was erected… Lacombe Roman Catholic School District #1, with Mother Mary Greene fcj, as its first superintendent. Later the name would be changed to the Calgary Catholic School District.
In 1886, Prime Minister Macdonald invited Crowfoot and the other chiefs from southern Alberta, who had remained loyal during the Rebellion, to tour eastern Canada and receive honors. Fr. Lacombe accompanied them and was effectively their tour guide. On their visit to Ottawa, Crowfoot got up to make a speech and he acknowledged his friend: “This man, the Man of Good Heart, is our brother — not only our Father, as the white people call him — but our brother. He is one of our people. When we weep he is sad for us, when we laugh, he laughs with us. We love him. He is our brother.”
Crowfoot died in 1890, after being baptized by Fr. Doucet. Fr. Lacombe honored his friend, the Great Chief, by writing a biography of his life for newspaper publication. It was the end of an era.
The last 30 years of Fr. Lacombe’s life were not filled with the dramatic history-making events of his hey-day in the national spotlight, but his travel schedule and the list of his accomplishments is still impressive. From the age of 60 Fr. Lacombe tried to retire at least five or six times, but there was always something to do!
He had built himself a chapel-cabin at Pincher Creek, in southwest Alberta in 1885, dedicated to St. Michael, and called it his “hermitage,” a place he could go for solitude and use as a home base. He would return there repeatedly over the years until 1908… but he was never there for long.
In 1909, he was inspired to create what he called, “the most beautiful dream of my life!” It would be located in the Calgary area and called the Lacombe Home… for orphans and the elderly.
He approached Patrick Burns, one of the Big 4 founders of the Calgary Stampede. Burns owned the large Bow Valley Ranche and donated 200 acres of land on a bluff overlooking Fish Creek, close to Macleod Trail and the Midnapore CPR station. Lord Strathcona, of CPR fame, made a significant donation as did many of Lacombe’s old friends.
The Sisters of Providence agreed to administer and serve at the Home and it was opened in November, 1910. An aging Fr. Lacombe was its first resident.
At the dedication he said: “We are now ready to receive all those in need who will come and knock at our door. The elderly will find solace in their time of suffering. The little ones will find devoted mothers to care for them.”
The Lacombe Home was declared a Provincial Historic Site in 1979, but the building burned down in 1999. The area today is home to St. Mary’s University, the Sisters of Providence Convent, the Fr. Lacombe Care Centre, and the Providence Care Centre. The Fish Creek/Lacombe C-Train station honors the history of the area.
By 1913, Calgary and southern Alberta had become its own Diocese led by Bishop McNally. St. Mary’s was now a Cathedral and Fr. Lacombe made his last public appearance there in March of that year. He finished his remarks with these words:
“Many years ago, I stood here on this piece of ground and pictured myself the time when a great Cathedral would stand here.
I will not be with you very long now. I want to plead with you for the poor and the needy and the destitute. God bless you for your kindness to those needy ones at Midnapore. God bless you, people of Calgary, God bless you!”
Fr. Lacombe died on December 12, 1916 in his room at the Lacombe Home. After a funeral Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, his casket was taken by a CPR “ceremonial train” up to Edmonton to lie in state at St. Joachim’s Church for a few days of public veneration… a parish he had founded 60 years earlier.
Later he was buried at St. Albert, crossing the Sturgeon River Bridge for the last time. His body lies in a crypt beneath the St. Albert Church beside those of Bishop Grandin and Fr. Leduc.
That’s in Treaty #6 Territory, traditional lands of the Cree. They called him… “the Noble Soul.”
But his “heart,” at his request, is still in southern Alberta, buried in a small cemetery behind the Sisters of Providence Convent overlooking Fish Creek Provincial Park.
That’s here, in Treaty #7 Territory, traditional lands of the Blackfoot. They called him: “The Man of Good Heart.”
As part of the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation the Bishops of Canada will be consecrating our country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Diocesan Prayer Service on July 1, 2017
- Parishes are also invited to hold a parish celebration on one or more Saturdays within the anniversary year (July 1 2017 – July 1 2018).
- Download Prayer Service Templates
- Download Rosary Intentions Booklet
- Catechetical Materials.
Bishop McGrattan will consecrate the Diocese of Calgary on 1 July, 2017. All are invited to St. Mary’s Cathedral at 10am for a service of Adoration, Scripture, rosary, and the consecration followed by a BBQ. The regular daily Mass at St. Mary’s remains at 9am followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Register here.
All parishes in the diocese are invited to pray the consecration prayer at the Vigil Mass on Saturday July 1st. Click here to download the prayer.
The CCCB has provided catechetical materials. Check out resources here.
Please read the attached documents concerning two timely issues of special importance to Indigenous People where Catholic parishes, missions and organizations can offer practical assistance.
- Suggestions on residential school burial sites (PDF – English and French)
- Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ( In English)
- Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ( In French)
Please consider how your parish can help.
This year, the Church celebrates the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady to the three children in Fatima, Portugal. According to the witnesses in 1917, Our Lady appeared to Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia on the 13th of each month, from May to October of the same year, except in August when she appeared on August 19. The Fatima Apparitions are special in that their universal message of salvation is strongly connected to the Gospel. The message of Our Lady of Fatima calls us to prayer, reparation, penance and sacrifice.
In his Introduction to The Message of Fatima published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus) points out, “These manifestations can never contradict the content of faith, and must therefore have their focus in the core of Christ’s proclamation: the Father’s love which leads men and women to conversion and bestows the grace required to abandon oneself to him with filial devotion. This too is the message of Fatima which, with its urgent call to conversion and penance, draws us to the heart of the Gospel.” Cardinal Ratzinger also said that, “Fatima is undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions.”
By decree of the Bishop of Calgary and in honour of the Centennial Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, the faithful who visit Our Lady of Fatima Church in Calgary and who devotedly pray before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, invoking her intercession from May 13, 2017 to December 31, 2017 will receive a partial indulgence provided that they are “baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace at least at the end of the prescribed works” [CIC 996 §1].
By decree of Pope Francis, a plenary indulgence is also available to the faithful who meet the ordinary conditions — go to Confession and Communion, be interiorly detached from sin and in a state of grace, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father — and “who visit with devotion an image of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly displayed for public veneration in any temple, oratory or adequate place, during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions (the 13th of each month from May to October 2017), and devotedly participate there in any celebration or prayer in honour of the Virgin Mary, pray the Our Father, recite the symbol of faith (Creed) and invoke Our Lady of Fatima” [ Jubilee Year of Fatima, Concession of Plenary Indulgence ].
The Church of Our Lady of Fatima will hold a mass and rosary the 13th day of each month at 6:30 p.m. After the mass and rosary, the chapel will be open for those desiring to further fulfill the conditions of the plenary indulgence.
An indulgence is a remission of sin before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven. According to Saint John Paul II, through an indulgence, God grants the prayer of the Church that the temporal penalty for sin be remitted. By God’s grace, participation in a prayer or action that has an indulgence attached to it brings about restoration and reparation with God. “The Church has a treasury, then, which is ‘dispensed’ as it were through indulgences. This ‘distribution’ should not be understood as a sort of automatic transfer, as if we were speaking of ‘things’. It is instead the expression of the Church’s full confidence of being heard by the Father when, in view of Christ’s merits and, by his gift, she asks him to mitigate or cancel the painful aspect of punishment by fostering its medicinal aspect through other channels of Grace” [ St. John Paul II, General Audience, Wednesday, 29 September 1999, 4 ].
By celebrating the Centennial year of Fatima, we give thanks to God for all the blessings He spread over us. Our Lady of Fatima parish had its genesis in 1970. For many years Fr. Vozza of Holy Trinity Parish offered monthly masses for Calgary’s Portuguese Catholics. Then, Bishop O’Byrne appointed a priest to assist the Portuguese community. Fr. Franklin E. Trudeau was sent to Portugal to learn the language of the people. He was the first pastor of the Portuguese Catholic Mission and the masses were offered at the Croatian church. The mission continued to flourish in the 1980s, with St. John’s Parish extending assistance from 1979 to 1984 when the congregation acquired its own makeshift church. With the enthusiastic guidance of Fr. Valentino de Freitas, parish pastor from 1987 to 1995, the Portuguese community built Our Lady of Fatima Church. The Portuguese faithful of Our Lady of Fatima parish have kept the message of Fatima burning in their hearts and embodied in their worship since the earliest days. The event of Fatima has provided a spiritual compass that guides the faithful to Jesus through Mary.
(Our Lady of Fatima Church is open to the public from May 13 on every Tuesday 3:00 to 8:00 p.m., Wednesday 1:00 to 8:00 p.m., Friday 3:00 to 8:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for those desiring the obtain the above partial indulgence or simply to pray)
In the May 2017 edition of The Carillon, an icon of Our Lady of Fatima was featured on the front page. The painter, sacred art artist Vivian Imbruglia, offers us an explanation of the icon and its symbols. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord.’ –Luke 1:41
The 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima is approaching. It will be a celebration of one of the most dramatic accounts of Marian apparitions in our time. Beginning with three visits by the Angel of Peace in 1916, three shepherd children in Portugal claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary during six apparitions that concluded on the 13th of October 1917. Our Lady had promised to reveal three secrets to the children, and offered a miracle upon her last visit, which was witnessed by upwards of 60,000 people. One of these secrets is said to have predicted the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981. Lucia Dos Santos, the eldest of the three children, later saw an apparition, of the Child Jesus and the Virgin Mary, in her convent room in 1925.
Dating back to the 1500s, the Anglo-French word “aparicion” references the Epiphany as an opening of Heaven to the world. Just as the revelation of the Christ child to the three wise men offered a glimpse of a greater glory, so too can an apparition be understood to open a door to divine understanding. Over time the word has come to be used as a signifier of anything ghostly and unexpected, but it traces itself back to holy origins. Marian apparitions occupy a unique place in our Catholic faith, and pilgrimages to major sites in Lourdes and Tepeyac (near Mexico City, Our Lady of Guadalupe), for example, are legendary.
As important as the visions themselves, are the “messages” Mother Mary is said to have brought, from requests to build churches, to prayers to end a world war. The visions reveal a call to hope, though they also warn of challenges and crises, for which faith is offered as a refuge and an antidote. A particular feature of Marian apparitions is the disclosing of secrets that tell of impending tragedies or momentous events. In the end, such apparitions are powerful reminders of our belief in Mary, and her place as a mediator for humanity – a bridge to Our Lord.
As a university named in her honour, the St. Mary’s community looks forward to the month of May, which is traditionally understood as Our Lady’s month. As Marge Fenelon, writing in the National Catholic Register put it, “The idea of a month dedicated specifically to Mary can be traced back to baroque times. …It was in this era that Mary’s Month and May were combined… with special devotions organized on each day throughout the month. This custom became especially widespread during the nineteenth century and remains in practice until today.” For many, including me, every day is Mary’s day: a time to celebrate a blessing of incredible mystery and approachability. As St. Josemaria Escrivá once said, “When you see the storm, if you seek safety in that firm refuge which is Mary, there will be no danger of your wavering or going down.”