First Nations Ministry
Ministry with and for First Nations people is an important part of the mission of the Diocese of Prince George. There are numerous First Nations communities scattered throughout Northern British Columbia and within these communities are mission churches served by the pastors of nearby parishes. As well there are three major initiatives that specifically involve First Nations people:
St. Theresa’s Mission
St. Theresa’s Missions evolved from the Flying Missions that served some of the more remote communities before there was adequate road access. In the early 1960s, Father Ivan McCormack, OMI, purchased a plane with the help of generous benefactors and Catholic Church Extension (now known as Catholic Missions in Canada). This enabled him to minister in these communities on a regular basis and with relative ease. Father Tom Lobsinger, OMI (later Bishop Lobsinger of Whitehorse Diocese), took over from Father Ivan, followed by Father Brian Ballard, OMI.
After the plane crashed in August 2001, taking the lives of both Fathers Brian and Ivan, the ministry became St. Theresa’s Missions, named for St. Theresa of Lisieux, patroness of missions and secondary patroness of the Diocese of Prince George. Elaine Farrell, who ministered side-by-side with Father Brian for many years, was assigned as Pastoral Life Director. For the most part, she was able to drive a truck to the missions in Fort Babine, Fort Ware, Tsay Keh Dene and Takla Landing, but when necessary she would take a scheduled flight through the local airline. Spending most of her time in one or another of these communities, she was able to share the gospel in a ministry of hospitality, teaching and celebration.
In 2012, Fr. Nestor Silva, OMI took over Elaine Farrel’s ministry after she decided to work in another field. Since August 2015, Fr. Johmer Faderanga has been assigned to meet the spiritual and sacramental needs of the communities served under St. Theresa’s Missions.
Rose Prince was a First Nations woman who attended the Lejac Residential School and touched the lives of many during her short life and since her death in 1949. Many revere her as a saint and have been blessed through her intercession. Click here to read more about this remarkable woman and the pilgrimage that brings First Nations people and others together each year at the place where she died.
Returning to Spirit
Returning to Spirit© (RTS) is a non-profit organization that designs and delivers workshops and training programs for reconciliation, especially within the context of residential school issues. The focus of the workshops is to move people forward through the principles of personal empowerment. This goes beyond healing; it provides conditions for transformation in personal, family, community and organizational life.
Click here to learn more.