Support for Missionaries
Our missionaries live and work in poor mission communities, where the Sunday collection is not enough to keep the church open or maintain a missionary presence. Your support helps our missionaries put food on their table, heat in their trailers and fuel in their trucks. Travel—in every kind of inclement or severe weather—is a way of life for all mission priests and religious sisters.
Catholic Missions In Canada is our only source of financial support. Everything here is so expensive because it has to be flown in…the cost of food is so high because of that. We also have huge heating costs; it’s hard to describe how cold it gets here. And without Catholic Missions In Canada, we would not have the books we need to teach the children about the Lord Jesus and prepare them for first communions… I could not get to Peawanuck…there’s no road, the only way to go is by plane…
– Father Vézina ministers in the remote Northern Ontario First Nations communities of Attawapiskat and Peawanuck
Travelling to snow-bound parishes to celebrate Mass is one of the hurdles of mission work. A missionary, originally from Lesotho, finds ice jams and ice-breakups even more challenging for parishes without resources.
Isolated and priestless missions: From Lesotho to Canada’s North
By Father Pali Pascalis Pitso
As an Oblate missionary from Lesotho, Africa, working in the Diocese of Moosonee in theJames Bay area in Northern Ontario, I have encountered many challenges in ministry.
Before I was appointed pastor of Holy Angels in Fort Albany, I was an itinerant priest helping several parishes in Moosonee diocese, particularly Christ the King in Moosonee, Holy Angels in Fort Albany, St. Francis Xavier in Attawapiskat and Blessed Kateri in Peawanuck. The distance between these parishes is so enormous that to get to the next parish, one has to travel by plane most seasons of the year, except in winter when some of these missions are accessible by winter road. And because the diocese is also faced with insufficient personnel, I also used to visit Peawanuck during Christmas and Easter time.
On these trips to and from Holy Angels parish, I would often encounter ice break-ups that usually cause ice jams which could lead to the flooding of the community. I usually have to take a helicopter to get to my parish. Even when I have to visit patients at hospital, I could only travel by helicopter, or by going around the big ice blocks in a canoe or small boat to get to the other side where community stores are also located.
If ice jams last long, the residents suffer because it costs money to travel by helicopter and canoe. This is also costly for our parish since our parish has not yet reached the stage of self-sufficiency. This becomes more burdensome because the daily survival of the community members is already costly. Imagine the situation happening in other missions, to people living in isolated communities such as ours.
Oblate Father Pali Pascalis Pitso is pastor of Holy Angels parish in the Diocese of Moosonee in Northern Ontario.