St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Parish Blog.

It has been our privilege to bring glory to The Lord. May others see His Light shining through us and be drawn through His goodness.

Thank you to Fr. April. Without his guidance and his blessing on this second year, this mandate would not have taken place. We thank our Parish Pastoral Council for their confidence in us to carry forward the Youth Mission for the second of a three year commitment. We thank the wonderful and giving parish community for ALL the contributions bestowed on us to carry forward.  We thank you for your prayers, gracious words and love that carried us through.  Mahsi Cho to Fr. Wes and our sister parish 'Our Lady of Providence RC Mission Church' together with all the kind people of Fort Providence, North West Territories for your friendship and the willingness to all grow spiritually by sharing the love of God with us.

Even though we were awakened to a slower pace of life that is different, ultimately we are all trying to accomplish the same fundamentals such as liturgy, faith formation, sacramental prep, building & maintenance, youth ministry, all the basics that it takes to run a viable parish.

Fr. Wes participated in an audio conference based out of Yellowknife on organizing and forming a youth advisory committee on the future of the youth ministry in the diocese. This was only possible through modern technology: Skype and Facebook. Fr. Wes was able to reach out even further than the four corners of the diocese.  Fr. Wes' wish is to connect with St. Philip Neri PPC four times per year via video conference or Skype.

We have learned that a mission trip allows you to be engaged with the community through service and outreach. This, along with our Faith, personal commitment and energy, is something we bring back in our hearts to share with our own faith community.

As we walk the road of ministry together, we are eternally grateful to God that he has chosen us to be one of his people.

Parish Mission ~ your servants in Christ, Debra and Randy


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September 29, 2013

The temperature is a cool 7 degrees with a light wind blowing off the Mackenzie River.

Sunday morning mass was celebrated at 11:30 a.m. in the small church. Fr. Wes started with one decade of the rosary as people continued to arrive by foot, atv and truck.  All the pews were filled and extra chairs were needed. The children were seated at the long table behind us at the back of the small church where they coloured the scripture image. At the end of the Gospel Father held the coloured pictures up to the congregation, displaying the children’s handy work for all to see.

     Mass      Group_behind_Altar

Instead of giving a homily, Fr. Wes asked us both to speak on our own reflections and what the Gospel meant to us and our mission in Fort Providence. This was followed immediately with the presentation of the monetary gift from St. Philip Neri Parish to the Our Lady of Providence Parish.

           Randy__Fr._Wes_with_cheque         Our_Father_in_Dene


When mass ended and Father gave us his final blessing and his invitation to return next year, we were able to visit and give our thanks to each church member individually. Saying farewell to the elders was extremely difficult, knowing that some might not be with us next year. Their loving embraces were heart-warming and we could feel the difference in how they were opening up to us after only our second year. Mass was bitter sweet because after the celebration, we knew this would be the last time we would see all the warm and caring people of Ft. Providence gathered in the house of The Lord until next year.

Parish Mission ~ your servants in Christ, Debra and Randy

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A well known priest once said "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans".  As was the case with the Fort Providence mission this year, things changed.  Time takes on a whole new meaning in the Northwest community.  The pace of life is slower, but yet time moves faster.  Things still get accomplished but not as quickly as you would like them.  We were observers, as much as learners, and workers, thankful the Holy Spirit guided us through it all.

On instructions from Fr. Wes, we renovated the back end of the small church. As a result of the new furnace being installed, the cold storage area needed a sealable door installed to keep the new heat in.  The old confessional was removed to allow for greater storage capacity and the church underwent a major reorganization with help from two pastoral parish elders.

               Debra_at_Work        Randy_Fixing    

With Debra and I staying in the rectory while Fr. Wes stayed in Behchoko waiting to administer last rites, we became Father's emissaries.  We were lay presiders at evening masses, held council with some of the elders, were parish secretaries, official church bell ringers, and provided transportation to and from mass.


Upon Fr. Wes' return, Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) was held in the rectory.  Along with a delicious potluck of traditional food consisting of fish, buffalo, bannock and burgers we had an extremely productive meeting.  We hoped we were able to provide energy, resources, and input. Throughout the evening it was abundantly clear that we all shared the love of God through ministry.

We were so pumped up, Fr. Wes, Debra and myself brainstormed until 2:00 a.m.  Fr. Wes summarized the effects last year’s mission team had on the community, the anticipation of the arrival of this year’s mission team and together we formed a new outline for next year.

Parish Mission ~ your servants in Christ, Debra and Randy

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With the Pope calling Bishop Murray Chatlain to be the new Archbishop of  Keewatin-LePas, Father Wieslaw Szatanski, OMI, also received a new position.  Fr. Wes was pastor to seven communities in the NWT;  Fort Simpson, Fort Laird, Trout Lake, Wrigley, Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte, and Fort Providence. He was logging 150,000 kilometers a year.

His promotion now involves two parishes. The hamlet of Ft. Providence pop.1000 and Behchoko pop.2000. Fr. Wes spends two weeks in each location respectively.  It was here that Fr. Wes asked us to meet him.

Two hours further north of Fort Providence and one hour from Yellowknife, the permafrost based highway permitted us to enter this rich and colourful community. This community has strong faith, strong culture, and strong language. The church service is bilingual with the Dogrib and English languages. In 2003, Behchoko, together with three other communities, became a self government consisting of 39,000 sq. kilometers which includes the diamond mine.

The parish mission house built in 1958 needed a second opinion on whether the building should be repaired or torn down. He asked this of Randy. While we were there we were fortunate to witness the Dené hand games as well as fellowship with the local people.

                     Sep_30_Baptisms       Empty_Church

At Sunday morning’s mass at St. Michael's parish, Fr. Wes celebrated 9 baptisms. It was also for us both, a renewal of our own baptismal promises. The music ministry choir consisted of three Dené elders. They have been singing for 40 years at St. Michael's. Their angelic voices could have been coming from the gates of heaven.  Alleluia! Alleluia!

Parish Mission ~ your Servants in Christ, Randy & Debra

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Originally, Old Fort Providence was a supply centre operated by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) in 1823. This trading centre brought lots of people to the area.  Present day Providence was chosen as a mission site in the early 1860s by Roman Catholic Oblate Bishop Grandin. They were in steady competition with the Anglican Church.

This present day community of Fort Providence is located on the banks of the mighty Mackenzie River. The translation of its slavey name is 'mission house'. It became established by missionaries when an orphanage and mission were started by the Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns of Montreal) in 1867. Through the work, spread the Gospel according to the RC church.

The community grew around the mission school and a large farm. Both are long gone, but what remains is a fine old church. Our Lady of Fort Providence church is a major landmark situated on the bank of the river and widely photographed.



Locally, it is simply known as 'the big church'! It is used throughout the warm months for mass and all ministry gatherings. Fellowship is hosted outside where delicious bannock and tea are enjoyed along with the beautiful views of the river flowing by.  No timbits and coffee here!

The big church is astronomically expensive to heat through the entire winter.  With the St. Philip Neri donation from 2012, the faith community was able to purchase fuel (propane) for Christmas mass and the numerous funerals, many of them being for elders.

With temperatures changing, it was Parish Council's decision to move this Sunday's mass to 'the small church'.  This church was the one the 2012 youth mission stained and painted. It was a project that is still talked about by the community to this day.  As I sit here writing and looking out the rectory window, I glance over at the steeple, and am most appreciative that Randy does not have to rebuild the scaffolding for me to climb up there and repaint it. This year the work has moved inside the small church and we have been working up a storm!

Nightly mass is held here at 7:00 pm when Fr. Wes is in residence.  He lets the community know by ringing the church bell at 6:30 pm for five minutes.

Parish Mission ~ your Servants in Christ Randy & Debra

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Two blogs in one!

Fort Providence ~ The Road Trip

Friday, September 20, 2013, our mission started early at 5:00 am with cool temperatures of 3 degrees and a full trailer.


As we headed out on the Yellowhead highway to Edmonton, we made our way north to Peace River Alberta and the start of the Mackenzie highway. The further we travelled, the serenity of the North country set in.  As we witnessed the highways lined with endless trees in spectacular shades of deep rich autumn colors, we were reminded that God's beauty is everywhere.

After logging 1150 kilometers, Manning Alberta was our first nights rest stop. Thankful for a safe journey so far.

Trailer_by_Manning       Moose


Welcome to the Northwest Territories

Traveling along uncrowded highways, we are welcomed to the Northwest Territories by the north of 60 sign. The majestic splendor and tranquility of God's north country is absolutely breathtaking!

As the kilometers rolled by, and the deafening silence of the wilderness assaults our senses, we are reminded that it is in silence that God speaks to us and clarity merges.

River     River_Closer 

As we approached the turn off to Fort Providence we crossed the much awaited new Deh Cho Bridge. This 202 million dollar project replaced the Merv Hardie Ferry that brought us across the mighty Mackenzie River last August.  It was exciting to drive across the completed bridge.

After 1992 kilometers Fort Providence welcomed us with sunny blue skies, 24 degrees, gas prices of $1.45, and those darn old pesky flies!

We_made_it    Ft_Providence_Welcome_Sign


Thank you Lord for getting us here safely.

Parish Mission

Your servants in Christ,

Randy & Debra

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Saturday August 25:

It was absolutely a perfect end to a very productive day of completing the painting on the small church.   Fr. Wes promised us a tour and dinner at the Healing Lodge.  After the six of us attended evening mass we left at 8:00 pm on a peaceful boat ride on the mighty Mackenzie River towards our destination.  These ultra clean northern waters, ultimately named by the Europeans, but to the Dene people it has always been known as ‘Deh Cho’, which means ‘big river’.  The scenic and tranquil Mackenzie River has been the key to life in the region since the days of birch bark and moosehide canoes.  We reached the Healing Lodge (only accessible by boat or snowmobile) 25 minutes later.  Its existence has only been there for seven years when the community band contracted the rural college carpentry students to build a main cook house and cabins on this beautiful land of pines and birch trees by the rivers edge.  The first purpose was to counsel people with addictions.  Now it is also used as a community-gathering place where community people come from all over the area.  The Healing Lodge is also part of school programs where teachers and students are encouraged to participate in puberty programs and leadership programs.  The Dene elders also teach cultural and traditional skills in the picturesque setting.  While our stew and bannock were warming over the open fire we toured the grounds and could feel the spiritual energy of the land and this very special place.  As moonlight guided our boat back to the hamlet of Fort Providence, nestled alongside the mighty Mackenzie, it truly was God’s blessing to a perfect day. Mahsi Cho, Heavenly Creator.


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Mass and Liturgy Schedule

Office Hours:

Monday thru Friday:  9:00 am – 12 noon & 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm (Office is closed for lunch from 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm) 

Phone: (306) 343-0325

Fax: (306) 343-0900


Regular Mass Times:

Saturday - 5:00 pm

Sunday - 9:30 am & 11:30 am

Summer Mass Times:

Saturday - 5:00 pm

Sunday - 10:00 am

Weekday Masses: Tuesday thru Friday - 8:30 am

(Rosary ½ before weekday Masses)


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