Father Joseph Baril, left, a travelling missionary from the diocese of Amos, Quebec, with Archbishop emeritus Peter Sutton of Keewatin-Le Pas at the annual Tastes of Heaven Gala April 19. Photo courtesy of Catholic Missions In Canada

Mission dioceses thankful for 'Tastes of Heaven'

  • April 20, 2012

TORONTO - If it hadn't been for Catholic Missions In Canada, many of the missions would not have been able to survive, said Archbishop emeritus Peter Sutton of the archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.

For bringing the Gospel to northern communities, Sutton was presented the St. Joseph Award at the annual Tastes of Heaven fundraising dinner for Catholic Missions In Canada April 19. 

"They were extremely generous to us," said Sutton, who entered missionary work in 1987 visiting the 56 communities, towns, villages, settlements and missions that make up the diocese spread across northern Manitoba, northern Saskatchewan and Sandy Lake, Ont. "And the board members made it happen and made sure that people that really were in need in the north were able to access the resources."

Every year, the St. Joseph Award honours a missionary whose dedication is a light for the world or salt of the earth.

Now 77, Sutton is retired and recalls the "good years" he spent working as a missionary.

"They were good experiences," he said. "And I certainly have no regrets. So I'm grateful to receive an award that carries with it a lot of people."

During his years as a missionary, there was more than one time where he was struck by the importance of the work of Catholic Missions.

"I can think of one time where we were having to do renovations on buildings… and we have to heat places in the wintertime. And things are extremely expensive and transportation is tremendously expensive," he said. "And Catholic Missions rose to the occasion."

About 475 guests attended the gala which raised about $300,000 for Catholic Missions, said Patria Rivera, director of publications and communications for Catholic Missions In Canada. Over the past 10 years, more than $1.2 million has been raised through the Tastes of Heaven Gala.

The event featured a live and silent auction, which included a one-week trip for two to the diocese of Whitehorse in the Yukon with Bishop Gary Gordon as host. The winning bid was $10,500.

Keynote speaker Bishop Reynauld Rouleau of the diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay said he sees the importance of Catholic Missions in his northern diocese which covers northern Manitoba and Nunavut.

"We have very small communities isolated and not easily accessible except by plane, and the cost of operating is so high sometimes," said Rouleau.

With 11 months of winter, it can be a challenge as the communities have little revenue, he said.

"So the Catholic extension is very supportive with giving some allowances or grants but also making it more known in Canada what is (being) done."

Fr. Philip Kennedy, president of Catholic Missions in Canada, said it's important they offer different ways for people to make donations.

"They feel not only more educated about the missions but we also give people an opportunity to associate with others who are helping of the missions," he said. "So it gives them camaraderie."

For 2012, Catholic Missions In Canada has been asked to provide $4 million in funding to support Canadian missions, including $1.8 million to support more than 300 Canadian missionaries living in communities and providing them with food, heat and gas for their cars, $1 million spent on the building and repair of 162 churches and $1.1 million going towards 152 religious education programs for children and adults and ensures that 41 seminarians can study for the priesthood.

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