Pope Francis to visit Canada’s only designated indigenous church

Just a week before Sacred Heart Church reopened after suffering an accidental fire two years ago, parishioners are ready to welcome Pope Francis following his official apology for the Catholic Church’s role in the school system. residential.

The Edmonton church released the pope’s itinerary, which includes indigenous cultural songs, prayers, a papal address and the blessing of the statue of Algonquian-Mohawk Catholic saint Kateri Tekakwitha. A special will air live on CTVNews.ca covering the Pope’s visit to the Church of the Sacred Heart of the First Peoples beginning at 6:30 pm EDT.

“This meeting with the Holy Father is intended as an encounter with indigenous members of the community, who may not have a particular connection to an indigenous organization or group,” the press release said Monday.


  • Pastor’s words of welcome
  • Words of welcome from two parishioners
  • Sharing indigenous culture through song
  • Address of the Holy Father
  • Prayer of the ‘Our Father’
  • Blessing

Nearly 250 guests will attend, many of whom are parishioners, with others traveling from communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, NWT and Manitoba to represent their land.

Established in 1991, Sacred Heart Church became Canada’s only designated Catholic church with indigenous rituals woven into its liturgies. On August 30, 2020, the church suffered an accidental fire which opened the opportunity for renovations to redesign the church to better represent the Catholic-Indigenous community. A tipi structure was added above the altar as the four poles that support the tipi symbolize the four stages of life in Catholicism and are also used as tents in indigenous culture.

“It has allowed us to truly reclaim this building as something that we can be proud of and that is truly indigenous. So now we can indigenize the rest of the community, indigenize the city and of course nationally in Canada and hopefully the world,” the Sacred Heart council member told CTV News Edmonton on his day of reopened last week.

Prior to his visit to the church, the Pope visited Maskwacis, home to the former Ermineskin Residential School, where he issued a public apology for the role the Catholic Church played in Canada’s residential school system.

“I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is to ask you for forgiveness again, to tell you once again that I am deeply sorry. Sorry for the ways in which, sadly, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that be oppressing indigenous peoples. I’m sorry,” the Pope said in the official apology from him on Monday.


If you are a former survivor of a struggling residential school, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419 . Additional resources and mental health support for indigenous peoples are available here.

Leave a Comment