An ever evolving parish
Since 1976-77, the ministry has focused solely on the life of the parish, its church and church-related activities. The School and Hospital administration was transferred to a lay board; the boarding house for both boys and girls was closed. The mission had run the movie projections for twenty-five years; on April 30, 1977, the mission relinquished this responsibility to the parishioners. The parish no longer has a resident pastor. The priest's ministry is being shared with the missions of Buffalo Narrows, Michel Village, St. George's Hill and Dillon. Sister Sheila Whelan, GSIC, and Sister Leona Meier, SMS, are presently living at the former rectory. They serve as parish workers and pastoral assistants to Father Albert Ulrich, OMI.
Father Germain Turcotte, OMI, is chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital providing the opportunity of a daily celebration of the Eucharist. He also remains involved in the Red Road to Recovery movement and in the Cursillo Ultreyas.
Two Grey Nuns, Lucie Lefebvre and Therese Lesage, work in the health department at the hospital.
Since 1970, a Parish Pastoral Council has been functioning quite normally with ten elected members including an executive of four members. Today's executive are:
Harry Laliberte (chair)
Irene Desjarlais (vice-chair)
Claire Daigneault (secretary)
Norma Laliberte (treasurer).
Especially since 1972, the laity has become more and more involved in taking responsibility for decorations, crib mounting, monitoring parties and family picnics, and other church-related activities. Church renovations and financial responsibility to a certain extent are being assumed by the parish.
The laity, both men and women, have been trained and mandated to lead Sunday Services of the Word in the absence of a priest.
Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers have been serving since 1975. The first ones to be mandated were: Daniel Daigneault and his son Magloire; Nap Johnson, Antoine Laliberte, Cohn McCallum and Amable Roy.
Religious Education, sacramental preparation especially), is being taught outside the public school. The parish and district catechetical centre, built in 1972 on Lajeunesse Street is known as the "green house", was in operation for about ten years when religious education was at its height; it then closed. The responsibility is now entirely with the families.
Families are encouraged and called upon to do the sacramental preparation, hence adult education is an established diocesan priority to prepare parents to fulfil their responsibility as educators. "Builders of the New Earth," a formation program covering what Catholics believe, has been introduced.
To provide a resource for Marriage Preparation for the Metis and Aboriginal, a four-part video program, was produced by the Archdiocese in Ile-a-la-Crosse in 1992. In this program, the hosts, Marie Favel and her husband, Jim, are joined by other guest couples: Dorothy and Louis Dubrule, Liz and Frank Bouvier and others, leading viewers through some of the real-life situations facing today's marriages in the North.
Youth Groups and AA Meetings, have continued from the time that they were very active, especially during the years 1972 - 76. Red Road To Recovery, iS now making its way into the lives of families.
"Wellness Groups," for men, women and youth are held each summer at South Bay. These groups were started about four years ago after a few women attended two training sessions in New Mexico to enable them to set up their own groups.
"Women Care Groups," meet with elders at least once a month to assist them in various ways: gathering them for prayer, entertainment, a special meal, or for an outing. The women do their own fundraising for these care groups.
Prayer Groups, are still held, although they are less numerous than from the time that Sister Briege McKenna, ASU, came from Tampa, Florida in 1976 to lead the faithful in a charismatic renewal form of prayer.
Cursillo Ultreyas, are still somewhat occasions of gathering for prayer.
Traditional private devotions are kept very much alive, especially by elders: the rosary, the Way of the Cross, First Friday Mass, and sacramental's such as statues, medals and holy pictures. The use of the Cree language is still evident at Sunday services when traditional Cree hymns are occasionally used. Metis elders also pray the "Ave Maria" in Latin, French, English, and Cree.
Healing Sessions and Native Spirituality Studies, have been facilitated by Sister Kateri Mitchell, SSA.
The openness of these adults to pursue healing, promises to empower parents with the strength needed to pass on their faith, their culture and traditions to their children -tomorrow's St. John the Baptist parishioners.
Homecoming Celebration - 1996
The celebration of 150 years now begins a new chapter in the rich history of St. John the Baptist parish of Ile-a-la-Crosse.
From June 28 - 30, 1996 the parish celebration, coinciding with the Homecoming, will draw many who will come to take time to pause and to give thanks for the past and to say a confident "yes" to the future.
As in the Centennial Celebration, the blessing of the people themselves will be highlighted blessings to acknowledge the 1,100 Metis, the 310 First Nations, Cree and Dene, and the 200 non-Natives who make up the richness of a mixed culture. Many of these, reassuring the traditional lifestyles of their ancestors, will gather as elders and re-tell their stories and share their wisdom.
Archbishop Peter Sutton, OMI, by his presence, will give due recognition to the faithfulness and accomplishments of the people who have made Ile-a-la-Crosse "a special place with a special past, looking towards a special tomorrow". 150 years of a proud heritage...a time to sing of the legends and the songs of the ancestors.
The glorious pages of its history will freely boast about the faithfulness of St. John the Baptist parishioners ever becoming an "adult church". The faith that will be celebrated in the year 2,000 is being planted and nourished even now as these people of blessing "give thanks".
Sources Of Information Used:
Oblate Codex Historicus Church Registers,
By Sister Rose Arsenault, RSR Chancellor
of the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.