Hamlet prepares to host hundreds at May 30 ordination mass
06 May 2013
Preparations are underway in Rankin Inlet at the Mary Our Mother church for the ordination of the eastern Arctic’s next Roman Catholic bishop, in what promises to be the largest ceremony ever held.
“We expect around five to six hundred people,” said Rankin Inlet parish priest Martin Rumik. That amounts to the maximum capacity of the church.
“People will come from all over Nunavut, from each community, and also from all over Canada,” Rumik said.
Bishop Rouleau will preside over the ceremony, which will see him pass responsibility of the Churchill-Hudson Bay diocese over to Krótki, or Father Tony, as he is known throughout Nunavut.
Krótki will oversee the largest Catholic diocese in Canada by area, and will supervise most Catholic parishes in Nunavut and northern Manitoba.
Up to 15 Canadian bishops are expected to attend, as well as the Papal Nuncio in Canada, who is the equivalent of the Papal ambassador, Pedro Quintana.
Although the diocese’s central office is in Churchill, Rankin Inlet was the best choice to host the ceremony due to its central location, and because the community is home to a large number of Roman Catholics, Rumik said.
“We have almost 1,600 in Rankin,” said Rumik, saying that amounts to more than half of the hamlet’s population.
Preparations for the event began at the end of March, he said.
“It’s really huge,” he said, with work done to reflect northern realities — including sealskins for the altar — and preparations for a community feast at the community hall in the afternoon, and a square dance in the evening.
“It will be a day full of joy. Obviously the most important is the mass,” Rumik said.
The mass, like the community feast and dance, is not limited to Catholics — but open to all.
“We also want to share our joy with everyone.”
In line with this, Krótki has invited his Anglican counterpart to the ceremony, Bishop David Parsons of the Anglican diocese of the Arctic, which covers Anglican churches in all three territories.
Catholic priests and delegates from all communities of Nunavut are expected, with the outgoing bishop leading the mass.
The ceremony will be “very meaningful and very intense,” particularly for Inuit, said Rouleau.
“It’s like a kind of community gathering, with a lot of communication — a kind of experience of communion, relationships, being connected.”
Pope Benedict named Krótki as bishop on Feb. 16, when Rouleau’s retirement was accepted.
The changes will be made official at the ordination. Krótki served in his position as pastor of St. Stephen’s Church in Igloolik until Easter, Rumik said, and left the community shortly afterwards to prepare for the ordination.
As pastor in Igloolik, where he served since 2001 following other assignments in Nunavut and Manitoba, Krótki weathered controversy caused by a previous priest, father Eric Dejaeger, who was accused of many sex charges at a residential school in the community from the ate 1970s to the early 1980s.
“The police were saying that they were unable to ensure his protection,” said Rouleau, adding it was more prudent to leave to keep any incidents from happening.
“Tactically it was preferable to go out,” he said.
“The perception through some media was that he was threatened by the whole people, and that’s not true. The people of Igloolik were very supportive and they were against what happened. They did not accept what the guy [making threats] was saying.”
More aggravating, said Rouleau, is that the court case against the accused is still pending. “That’s unbelievable. After something like more than two years,” he said.
Even though he doesn’t believe the effects of the case will be felt in the ordination ceremony this month, Rouleau said it must be resolved soon.
“What happened is so damaging and distressful,” he said. “It’s difficult to understand that we did not see what was happening.”
Krótki, 48, was ordained a priest in his native Poland in 1990. He first came to Canada that year to serve in Manitoba, then what is now Nunavut in 1991, which has been his home ever since.
The bishop-elect is currently travelling in southern Canada as he prepares for his appointment.
“The people are very happy that they have a new bishop,” Rumik said from Rankin Inlet, noting that “Father Tony” is already well known in the community.
“They appreciate very much that the new bishop speaks Inuktitut,” he said. “He knows the reality of the North and he knows the people.”