We continue to hear news of the discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools. As Fr. Bryan shared in his June 4th address (scroll below) on the topic of residential schools, “the impact is horrifying, and our Indigenous brothers and sisters are made to relive personal, familial, and communal trauma every time new information is revealed or new discoveries are made. This trauma must be met with a frank acknowledgement of the past, a sincere apology in the present, and concrete action for the future.”
On Sunday, June 6, Archbishop Dunn offered the Mass for the repose of the souls of the 215 children found in Kamloops. During his homily Archbishop Dunn shared his reflections on residential schools and renewed his commitment to walk with our Mi’kmaq communities to seek a path towards healing and reconciliation.
June 4th – Statement from Father Bryan on the Discovery of the Remains of 215 Children at the Former Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia
There is a palpable and justifiable outrage across the country following the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Indian Residential School in Kamloops, BC. Hearing about that discovery left me feeling incredulous. How could this happen on our watch? Reading the stories of survivors, stories that fit a common pattern of abuse, grave neglect, and inhumane conditions in the schools, left me feeling disgusted and disturbed.
The impact is horrifying, and our Indigenous brothers and sisters are made to relive personal, familial, and communal trauma every time new information is revealed or new discoveries are made. This trauma must be met with a frank acknowledgement of the past, a sincere apology in the present, and concrete action for the future.
I therefore want to acknowledge the role that the Catholic Church had, through various priests and religious, in committing abuse in residential schools in this country. I also want to acknowledge the failure on the part of diocesan officials and religious superiors regarding their exercise of governance over personnel and institutions within their remit. This was grave negligence and abuse.
As a priest, a pastor, and a faith leader in my community, I want to apologize on behalf of my Church for the abuse, neglect and deplorable conditions that Indigenous children suffered under for decades, and for the Church’s role in committing and perpetuating that abuse and neglect and sustaining those deplorable conditions.
As for action, the first thing I offer is my prayers. Time does not heal all wounds. It helps. But God alone can heal hurt this deep. And so I entrust our Indigenous brothers and sisters to the Lord, and will be praying for continued healing, reconciliation and peace. The second thing I offer is my time. If there is anyone who has experienced the residential school system themselves, or who has family, friends, or members of the community who have, and want to share their story, pray together, and seek reconciliation, please reach out, and I will meet with you. Third, the Holy Trinity Leadership Team is committing to better understanding the impact of residential schools for victims, survivors and their loved ones. As a team we desire a truthful and clear understanding of this depraved chapter within our Church’s history, so that we can communicate that history accurately, and do our part in seeing that such atrocities will never be repeated again.
I realize that words, and even actions, cannot erase the past. But I hope they can help in the present, and for the future. A future in which the dignity of each and every person, beloved by God, is acknowledged and upheld.
Fr. Bryan Sabourin, CC
Pastor, Holy Trinity Parish