On October 13 -15th, 2011, I participated in a Returning To Spirit Reconciliation session at Queen's House of Retreats in Saskatoon with about 50 aboriginal and non-aboriginal participants. RTS is a powerful program that brings together both groups, after a 7 day process separately, for three days of dialogue and reconciliation. The evaluation below tells the story.
EVALUATION OF THE RETURNING TO SPIRIT RECONCILIATION SESSION
Saskatoon, October 11-15, 2011
Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie OMI
**********************************************************This reconciliation session was a very positive experience for me, both as a former trainee, and now as an archbishop. Through respectful listening to aboriginal participants, I gained a deeper understanding of the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools and its impact not only on former students but also on their descendants. I heard firsthand how even persons who stayed within the church carry heavy burdens of shame and anger, and are in need of healing. I also grew in my appreciation of the power and depth of the RTS process to go the bottom of the hurt and move participants, using very effective concepts, images and rituals, beyond victimhood and story to a new freedom. The presence of four international priests, the quality of their participation and what they gained from it affirmed the relevance of this process for all people. There was some personal healing in my own life and inspiration to deal with some issues more directly.
I truly appreciated the marvel of aboriginal and non-aboriginal persons working together, healing and praying together, leading all to let go of the past and move into a healthier future. The skill and competence of the facilitators was impressive. I have an even stronger conviction to promote and support this program and help find funding for it into the future. I would encourage all priests, religious, pastoral ministers, non-aboriginal laity and my brother bishops to take it as perhaps our most effective way of forging a renewed relationship between the churches and the aboriginal people in our country today. Indeed, I would encourage every Canadian, and certainly every member of our archdiocese to become part of this unique process of healing and reconciliation.
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