On Thursday, September 30, 2021, people from across the country will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The ongoing journey of healing and reconciliation has a particular relevance for Catholics throughout Canada given the involvement of many Catholic religious orders and dioceses in operating close to 50% of the residential schools in our country.
We invite the Catholic community throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto to take time on Thursday for prayer, reflection and education. If you are able, please join us virtually for a prayer service with Cardinal Thomas Collins from St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. You can access the service at www.stmichaelscathedral.com/live – it will also be archived for viewing when your schedule allows.
We have a responsibility to take genuine and meaningful steps to journey with Indigenous people and communities on the path to reconciliation, and to assist in healing the trauma experienced from the residential school system. We mourn the suffering and loss of those who have died as well as the intergenerational trauma that remains for survivors and their loved ones.
Just a few days ago, the Bishops of Canada released a public apology to the Indigenous Peoples of this Land – as part of your reflection, you may wish to view the apology.
Planning is also underway for the December 2021 delegation to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. Over four days, the Holy Father will engage in dialogue with residential school survivors, Elders and Knowledge Keepers from First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
On Monday, Canada’s Catholic Bishops also announced a $30 million national financial pledge to support healing and reconciliation. As previously communicated, the Archdiocese of Toronto will participate in this effort and we are working closely with Indigenous partners to determine key areas of funding and support.
We have also worked together with staff and clergy to learn about the history of residential schools in this country while also providing additional resources and opportunities for Indigenous cultural awareness.
The journey to healing and reconciliation is one that will take time and require concrete action, ongoing dialogue and authentic partnership. We are committed to these steps.
Please join us on Thursday, in whatever way you can, as we observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.