Lay missionaries Mike and Tina Girard with four-year-old son Johnathan, at Christ the King mission, Mayo, Yukon, in the Diocese of Whitehorse. Photo courtesy of Mike and Tina Girard, Diocese of Whitehorse, Yukon and Northern British Columbia.
‘Mayo is located near 63 degrees latitude, half way between
When we moved to the
The village of Mayo has a population of a little over 400 people, predominantly the Na Cho Nyak Dun First Nation. For a small community, it boasts of many services and amenities, such as bank, post office, store, school, gas station, airport, arena, outdoor swimming pool, and a Catholic and Anglican church. Roads are paved and the area is scenic, with mountains, hills and open uninhabited land.
Although we did not move to the Yukon to work in the missions, it seems God had other plans. Sister Angela Shea of the Sisters of Notre Dame was resident administrator for Christ the King mission. She had been here for almost 20 years where she led the Catholic community and was an integral part of the larger community. During our first year, there was talk of the eighty- year-old sister leaving Mayo and retiring to her native
There are about 47 Catholics in Mayo. Besides keeping the lights and heat on in the church and rectory, we help keep the Catholic faith alive in the small community. We arrange for the priest in
Many joys and challenges of lay ministry abound in this remote part of Canada. Mayo is located near 63 degrees latitude, half way between
While there are both joys and challenges, the joys definitely outweigh the latter. Other joys include living in the rectory which is attached to the church and having the Blessed Sacrament available 24 hours a day. There is joy knowing that although at times we feel we have a small role, it is nonetheless vital for the Catholic faith and church locally. There is a deep inner joy knowing we are in the service of God and His work.
On the Feast of Christ the King, last November, we hosted a dinner to mark the occasion. Bishop Gordon and visiting priest Father Ernest concelebrated Mass in our little historic church, and 14 people attended. After Mass, we went to the curling rink lounge where we enjoyed pasta dinner with salad, homemade bread and dessert prepared by the men of the parish. Despite the minus 45 degree temperature, 34 people enjoyed the food and fellowship, which included the new Anglican pastor with several of his flock. The evening was wonderful and a good time was had by all.
I pray that more lay people—single and families—will be open to working for the Church in the missions for a time, be it a year or two or more. Perhaps an interest and desire might be awakened and one may hear a call. As a lay couple and family, it is not for everyone, but it has certainly been rewarding and a real blessing for us, not to mention the great adventure!
(Mike and Tina Girard are lay missionaries at Christ the King mission in Mayo, Yukon Territory, in the Diocese of
Reprinted with permission from Catholic Missions In Canada Magazine. (www.cmic.info).