Bishop Peter Hundt of the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador talks with kindergarten class in Mushuau Innu Natuashish School in Labrador, while Innu classroom assistant Lloyd Rich looks on. Photo by Theresa Michelin.
‘The work will begin next week. There is so much energy around this project. Who knows what the future will bring!’
On October 6th, Bishop Peter Hunt boarded a Twin Otter in
After Bishop Hundt’s two-hour flight up the coast of Labrador and a rather rough landing, off we went to join the elders at the cemetery to bless the graves and pray for the souls of the faithful departed and those who were grieving their losses. It is a very sacred spot and the Bishop took his time following the elders to bless the final resting place of their dear ones. We all went back to the church for sandwiches and nice hot tea, with the Bishop helping with the clean-up.
Later, Bishop Hundt celebrated Mass, with the elders responding in Innu Aimun, their first language. We had a quick supper. An engaged couple soon to be married came for a special blessing and to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then we went to bless their home.
That evening, in the apartment-rectory, the Bishop watched a presentation on the history of the Innu Nation. We were joined by two women who helped explain in detail some of the events as they were experienced by the Innu. They were delighted to have this time with the Bishop and to share a cup of tea at the end of the day.
The blessing of the
A house in Natuashish in winter. Photo by Sister Sheila Fortune, C.S.J.
During the next two days, there were more requests for blessings for some homes and the Safe House. The elders were anointed during one of the Eucharistic celebrations. The eldest of the elders—Madeline—who was unable to leave her home, received a special blessing from Bishop Hundt who came accompanied by other elders. Madeleine also received the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick in the presence of her friends, a very special time for her. We made good use of the time in between visits and at meals to share ideas and discuss plans for the future.
At the Sunday Liturgy, ten babies were baptized. It was a very happy occasion and a great opportunity for the Bishop to meet the people. Time went by quickly, and soon it was departure time to get to the airstrip. True to form, the Bishop took a broom and helped with the clean-up until one of the parishioners came to pick him up.
Bishop Hundt baptizes baby in Natuashish, Labrador. Photo courtesy of Sister Sheila Fortune, C.S.J.
Bishop Hundt’s visit and delightful missionary zeal met many spiritual needs of the people, leaving behind new hopes for the future of the community.
As for me, having just returned from five-and-a-half wonderful years in
My first year was spent organizing and monitoring the repairs to the church (mostly water damage) as well as having cupboards built for vestments including shelving in every area. Some renovations to the office, the sacristy, and some repairs in the furnace room will complete the tasks on my list. With help from the people, there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. This past summer, the entire church and the apartment-rectory received a fresh coat of paint. A new Nativity Scene was purchased, as well as a Holy Water container and other smaller items. We are all so proud of our church—Tshukuminu St. Anne (or Grandmother St. Anne). Of course, throughout the year were pastoral opportunities which helped to build my relationship with the people.
This is my second year of ministry in a mission where the possibilities are endless, or so it seems. I live in that cozy apartment above the sanctuary, sometimes called “the penthouse of Natuashish.” The garage has been empty since it was built five years ago. Recently, the Chief has agreed to turn the building into a multipurpose room where the mission’s pastor, Father Chris Rushton and I can respond to requests for resource allocation programs as well as provide space where the sacramental programs can be taught.
The work will begin next week. There is so much energy around this project. Who knows what the future will bring! I recall some words of wisdom from a great and noble woman, Corry ten Boom: “Never be afraid to entrust an unknown future to a known God.”
Sister Sheila Fortune, of the Sisters of
Reprinted from Catholic Missions In Canada Magazine, Spring 2012