Delegates representing Canada's First Nations, Métis and Inuit are pictured in the Vatican's Clementine Hall during a meetig with Pope Francis April 1, 2022. CNS photo/Vatican Media

Hamilton steps up reconciliation commitment

  • May 19, 2022

Above and beyond. Having promised to contribute a substantial chunk of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ national commitment to donate $30 million over the next five years to the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, the Diocese of Hamilton is now planning to raise even more money with annual envelope collections.

Hamilton ran its first envelope collection in the pews of 124 parishes and at least 25 mission churches on May 15.

All money raised by the pew collections will be in addition to Hamilton’s $4-million pledge, which is more than 13 per cent of the national commitment.

“We wanted to do both. The Church is here, and we’re going to step up,” Diocese of Hamilton Vice-Chancellor of Temporal Affairs Francis Doyle told The Catholic Register. “It’s really important to allow the people that opportunity, and invite them into this.”

How much the diocese is likely to collect is hard to predict. This first year for the collection faces the challenge of being something new as well as the still-emerging nature of the charity.

In future years, Doyle expects the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund will have a higher profile locally, when Hamilton’s local Indigenous consulting group for the fund is established and specific programs to be funded have been identified.

Since the Kamloops discovery of probable unidentified graves near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School May 31 last year, the Diocese of Hamilton has been hearing from parishioners concerned about the Church’s response, Doyle said.

“They really feel we need to respond to this,” he said.

The first step was a clear and serious commitment Bishop Doug Crosby made to commit the diocese’s own resources to the $30-million fund. But allowing ordinary Catholics to participate was just as important, said Doyle.

“The people who are passionate about it are very passionate about it,” he said.

For now, the plan is to run the pew collection every year through the five-year commitment Canada’s bishops made to the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund. The collections are meant to be one small part of restarting a relationship between non-Indigenous Catholics and the surrounding Indigenous communities.

“The important word is relationship,” said Doyle.

The Archdiocese of Toronto is also planning a pew collection in its parishes some time closer to the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30. The Toronto collection will help the archdiocese to reach its $6-million goal over the next five years.

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