Ottawa events for Pope’s visit to Canada kick off with ‘prayer service for reconciliation’ on Sunday

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With Pope Francis set to land in Edmonton for a “penitent journey” to Canada, the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall has planned several events marking the papal visit, including a “prayer service for reconciliation.”

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The pontiff will not visit Ottawa, but the archdiocese, which has 130 parishes serving more than 400,000 local Catholics, said that as “Canadians and Catholics, we are all invited to walk the path of reconciliation with indigenous peoples.”

The 30-minute service is at Canadian Martyrs Church at 100 Main St. at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Holy Redeemer Parish in Kanata will livestream the Pope’s Mass from Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton beginning at noon. Register online.

On Thursday, there is a noon Mass at St. Joe Parish, 151 Laurier Ave. E., “where we will offer our prayers of support and intercession for the Pope’s visit” with fellowship following.

Pope Francis embarks on a six-day visit aimed at reconciliation with indigenous peoples over the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools.

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During his stay in Alberta, the Pope plans to visit the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School in the community of Maskwacis.

That is where you are expected to apologize to indigenous peoples for the abuses they have suffered.

An estimated 150,000 indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools in Canada, where physical and sexual abuse and neglect were rampant. More than 60% of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.

Treaty 6 Grand Chief George Arcand Jr. said the survivors have suffered unimaginable trauma for many generations. The pope’s acknowledgment of their pain is a crucial step, he said.

“This is an important historical moment for the survivors of the residential school system and the damage caused by the Catholic Church,” Arcand Jr. said last week.

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Francis will travel to Quebec City on Wednesday, where he will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon and then deliver a public address. The next day another great mass is planned in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre.

Archbishop Marcel Damphousse will attend the events in Quebec City accompanied by two busloads of people, including 23 local survivors and those traveling with them, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall said Sunday.

“The Pope’s visit will provide the Holy Father with an opportunity to listen and dialogue with Indigenous Peoples, express his sincere closeness and address the impact of residential schools in Canada,” Damphousse said in a statement last month.

“The papal visit will also provide an opportunity for the pastor of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to connect with the Catholic community in Canada.”

The Pope’s visit will end in Iqaluit on Friday before Francis returns to the Vatican.

The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their families who are suffering from trauma invoked by the memory of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.

with files from The Canadian Press

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