New Roman Catholic bishop to be ordained in Rankin Inlet

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Hamlet prepares to host hundreds at May 30 ordination mass

Nunatsiaq Online

06 May 2013

PETER VARGA

Father Anthony Wieslaw Krótki will succeed Reynald Rouleau as bishop of Churchill-Hudson Bay on May 30 at an ordination service in Rankin Inlet. (FILE PHOTO)Father Anthony Wieslaw Krótki will succeed Reynald Rouleau as bishop of Churchill-Hudson Bay on May 30 at an ordination service in Rankin Inlet. (FILE PHOTO)

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.

Father Anthony Wieslaw Krótki will succeed Reynald Rouleau as bishop of Churchill-Hudson Bay on May 30, in an 11 a.m. mass that will include Krótki’s ordination.

“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.

When charges to Dejeager surfaced in 2011, Krótki received threats from at least one member of the community and left the hamlet for almost three months for his own safety.

“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.”

10 Responses to New Roman Catholic bishop to be ordained in Rankin Inlet

  1. Sylvia says:

    I still have trouble with this. It was “Father Tony” who abandoned his flock before Easter 2011. On the heels of the uproar over the Father Eric Dejager deportation from Belgium tp face charges in Canada there was a threat of some sort made against Father Krotki. He was scared. He bolted. The Igloolik flock were left without a priest.

    I was shocked when I heard of such fear exhibited by a priest, a priest who was prepared to nurture his own fears rather than stay feed his flock through an extremely difficult spiritual time. For me personally there was something extremely cowardly about a priest abdicating his flock in their time of need.

    Unsettling.

    And Father Tony Krotki has been chosen to be bishop.

    That means that when the Father Eric Dejaeger sex abuse trial finally makes its way to trial in October of this year Bishop Krotki will be at the helm of the diocese. The trial is scheduled for ten weeks. Emotions will undoubtedly run high throughout all of Nunavut as one witness after the other testifies. Without doubt entire families will be directly impacted, as will entire communities.

    And it will be Bishop Krotki at the helm.

    Perhaps he found some backbone during his three month sojourn from his flock? Yes, I suppose all things are possible. For the sake of lost and abandoned sheep in Nunavut, I hope so.

    And, as a point of interest, it was the departing Bishop Rouleau who as at the helm of the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay away back in 1989 when Eric Dejaeger was first charged with sexually assaulting children in Baker Lake.

    It was Bishop Rouleau who was at the helm in 1990 when Dejaeger entered a guilty plea.

    It was Bishop Rouleau who as at the helm in 1991 when Dejaeger was charged again and again entered a guilty plea.

    It was Bishop Rouleau who was in charge in February 1995 when Dejaeger was charged yet again.

    It was Bishop Rouleau who in charge in June 1995 when Dejaeger eluded justice by fleeing Canad for his native Belgium.

    It was Bishop Rouleau who was in charge for the many years that Dejeager, a fugitive from justice, was wanted in Canada, and by Interpol – and was nestled away in Belgium amidst his fellow Oblates.

    And, yes, it was Bishop Rouleau who was at the helm when Father Eric Dejaeger was deported by the Belgium government.

    Bishop Roleau, is, like, Dejaeger, an Oblate priest.

    I have no idea what Bishop Roleau knew of the allegations against Father Eric Dejeager. I have no idea what Bishop Roleau knew of Father Eric Dejeager’s exodus from Canada in the mid 90s to elude justice. I have no idea what, if anything, Bishop Roleau did to urge his fellow Oblates at home and abroad to get Dejaeger back to Canada to face his, Dejeaeger’s, accusers. Nor do I have any idea what Bishop Roleau did or did not do to inform the Bishops of Belgiun that they had a convicted child molester in the midst and that children were at risk.

    All I know is that come October when Father Eric Dejaeger finally stands trial, it will not be , as it always had for Dejeager, Bishop Roleau at the helm of the diocese. No, it will be Bishop Krotki, the priest who abandoned his flock in their time of need.

    Who I wonder decided that Father Krotki has what it takes to be a bishop? Especially in the North?

  2. JG says:

    Good one Sylvia.
    Plus…

    ….what does he know to deserve a “promotion payoff”?….He is simply a coward who will be quite at ease when he follows his “orders”.
    Promotions in certain “environments”is not necessarily for those who are innovators or even mildly “rebel”…
    Quite often the one which will cause less ripples and stick to his text is the wise choice for the “hierarchy”!!!
    Simply put, the “YES man” seems to be the recurring choice within “the church”…
    Whatever it is it must be the same old delaying, denying…with maybe a new twist with this one: “I don’t know, I don’t understand”…
    He’ll “fall” if it is necessary! He has run once…he can do it again and no one will be surprised!
    Another delaying tactic?…
    At this time, quite possibly to “detract” from the Court cases. Just watch the “timing”…

    jg

  3. tanya says:

    Krotki is another institutional/maintenance bishop. He will offer the people of Nunavut and northern Manitoba no vision and no hope. I suspect he is unable to perceive any reality that is not refracted through his Polish optic.

    Fleeing Igloolik was an act of personal self revelation. He fears the flock he has been appointed to lead. Where I live the situaton among some Roman prelates has deteriorated to such an extent that they now employ security personnel on the sanctuary when officiating at liturgies.

    Has Krotki a similar vision for his episcopate? I would not be surprised.

  4. Tanya; “he fears the flock he leads”. A very interesting and revealing observation!!

    Thomas Jefferson once said ” When people fear their government, there is tyranny. When government fears the people there is democracy”.

    I wonder if this could be a good thing? Mike.

  5. tanya says:

    Thank you Mike for your reply. I like Jefferson very much.

    The Roman Church is an autocracy. The prelates are psychologically and temperamentally incapable of change. Democracy has no place in this world they inhabit.

  6. 1yellowknife says:

    As a resident of Northern Canada, I just want to point out that speaking Inuktitut is a great asset to the new appointment. I wish Father Tony a (multi-lingual) listening ear and a stiffened spine.

    I hope we hear again from Bishop Emeritus Roleau. In order for healing to occur, those affected need to have clarity regarding his role in the Eric de Jaeger horror story. There appear to be massive systemic failures which involve(d) Roleau directly and for a long duration. I would not want to be him, at this time.

  7. Tanya says:

    Hello Yelloknife1. Thank you for your interesting comment.

    Systemic failure? Surely the eupehmism par excellence for criminality? Will Krotki now use his appointment to flood the diocese with Polish clergy and their very particular eastern European brand of ecclesial regulation and piety. I suppose only time will tell……..

  8. Leona says:

    There was a small contingent of Polish survivors at the Dublin S.N.A.P. conference. It was interesting to hear that there is a Canadian connection. Apparently there is a Canadian blogger who has brought attention to the issues in Poland. Is anyone aware of that blog?

  9. 1yellowknife says:

    Actually, it is my belief that Polish and other immigrant clergy/priests are currently making valued contributions to spiritual life in the North. Often working in isolated settings and harsh climatic conditions. Who would want the job! My comments do not imply negative comment about immigrant priests working here. That tangent was taken by others.

  10. Michel Bertrand says:

    Rouleau snake in the grass….I read in the above how Rouleau is claiming it is taking so long for poor Dejeager’s court to be settled…no doubt a tactical decision to to be heard in court. I might put forward that Rouleau was aware of everything right from the time of Baker Lake 1989 and I am sure that Rouleau could have brought this to a more speedy conclusion prior to his aided escape from justice to sanctuary in Belgium. I agree somewhat with yellowknife…just because you put something in policy does not change the personalities….persue and defrock..purge the clerical ranks of criminals and criminal supporters as intensely as the spanish catholic grand inquisition exept this time leave the sheep alone. As for Krótki “Pope Benedict named Krótki as bishop on Feb. 16, when Rouleau’s retirement was accepted.” time will tell he already has two strikes against him fleeing the community rather than addressing the pain of disclosures and secondly as indicated above his appointment’s background with respect to abuse matters.

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