Parishioners thank Pope Francis for hearing them and helping them release their trauma

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As part of his tour of forgiveness and reconciliation, Pope Francis visited the Church of the Sacred Heart of the First Peoples. This church was declared a national parish of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people in 1991.

Two parishioners shared their testimonies with the Pope. They explained the parish's work in serving the needy and their journey in overcoming the horrors of the residential schools.

We are an indigenous Catholic parish.  

We thank you Holy Father for hearing our voices. Your presence today gives us the opportunity to confront, to understand, to release and to transcend our trauma.  

During the ceremony, an indigenous group sang the hymn How Great Thou Art in both English and Cree to welcome Pope Francis to the parish.

In his message, Pope Francis touched on the theme of reconciliation and emphasized that the Church is place full of diversity. 

This place is a house for all, open and inclusive, just as the Church should be, for it is the family of the children of God, where hospitality and welcome, typical values of the indigenous culture, are essential. A home where everyone should feel welcome, regardless of past experiences and personal life stories.
He also warned against proselytism as a form of evangelization.

He does not sustain with his Spirit those who dominate others, who confuse the Gospel of our reconciliation with proselytism. One cannot proclaim God in a way contrary to God himself. And yet, how many times has this happened in history!    

 Young people of the parish presented Pope Francis with pieces of their art showing images of the earth, animals, and nature, important symbols in indigenous culture.

Before leaving the Church, the Pope greeted and blessed the elderly in wheelchairs. He blessed a statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first indigenous woman of North America to be declared a saint—a symbol of the beauty of the Catholic faith intertwined in the indigenous culture.

Pope Francis left the Church in a wheelchair, but took the time to greet people in the streets before getting into the car.


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