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Fr. Wes and the Road to Behchoko (Rae)

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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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    Thank you Randy and Debra for representing St. Philip Neri so well. God bless you both! Patrick Clarke

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