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Report from Saskatoon

April, 1997

Dear Interchurch Families and Friends,

Greetings to each of you from our group in Saskatoon; Nick, Alison & Marcel, Bryan & Mai, Paul & Juanita, Ellen, Bernie, Shirley, Juanita & Anthony. It's hard to believe that another year is coming to a close and we do have much to be grateful for. Our group is celebrating its 5th birthday.

Last year at this time when we were preparing for our supper with our priests and pastors we were looking forward to the conference in Virginia. Well, Virginia has come and gone, but the memories and friendships that we renewed and made live on. Our trip to the conference was awesome. During our four week trip we saw many new and interesting places, met some wonderful people and experienced some gorgeous scenery. Our greatest and fondest memory of the trip was no doubt the meeting with our fellow interchurch family people. What a joy to finally be able to put faces to the names we had corresponded with over the past few years from around the world and especially Canada. WOW! We enjoyed the presentations of the conference immensely and are still digesting some of the information. On July 26/96, the Canadian Association of Interchurch Families was Born. What a cause for Jubilation! Bernie has all the conference presentation speeches on video tape. If any of you are interested in viewing these tapes , they are available through Nick at the Center. Also this summer a video which was in the process of being made during the conference and throughout the rest of the year should be completed. This will be an International tape and will be available from Father George Kilcourse, Louisville Ky. We will keep you posted on this happening. The next conference will be held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1998.. We are hoping as a Canadian Association to send a few representatives to it.

This year our group has actively worked to spread the good news and needs of interchurch families through various presentations. On Thanksgiving weekend we had the privilege of meeting with Father Phil Thibodeau from Montreal at Bryan and Mai's home. We enjoyed very much the informal evening. Father Phil is the director of the Canadian Center of Ecumenism in Montreal

On Nov. 6/96, Mai and Shirley gave a presentation on behalf of our group to the leaders of our city churches and dioceses, at the Center of Ecumenism. We were grateful for this opportunity and privilege. The dialogue and discussion from this meeting was very uplifting. These leaders shared in our concerns and needs as interchurch families and our work towards church unity. However we were saddened by the absence of three leader representatives from the Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, and Orthodox Churches.

On Nov.18/96, our new Roman Catholic Bishop, James Weisgerber , was present at our monthly meeting. Being new to our diocese and unfamiliar with our group he chose to remain quite silent and just listen to our presentation regarding who we are and what we are up to. We were somewhat disappointed that he didn't contribute much to a discussion, but were filled with hope when he offered to come back to our meeting at a later date. Our next meeting with him is tentatively set up for this coming Nov. In his letter to us he writes "I very much enjoyed meeting with you and I look forward to further collaboration." We as a group believe that it is very vital that the bishop support his priests in meeting the needs of mixed marriages and interchurch families.

On November 20/96, Bernie and Shirley along with Alison and Ellen met at a luncheon meeting with a ministerial group of pastors and priests, at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Thanks to Pastor Vern (Mennonite) for inviting us to share with your group and to Pastor Hugh (Lutheran) for being such a wonderful host. We enjoyed sharing with you all and appreciate your encouragement and concern for our group.

In December. Bernie, Shirley, Juanita and Anthony went to Regina for a gathering with a newly formed group of interchurch families there. We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon and discussion with them. We felt very much a part of their family.

On January13/97, Mai and Shirley were invited to give a presentation on interchurch families to the pastoral workers from our Catholic Churches. Although the number of persons present was very few we had a fruitful afternoon with those that were there. Thankyou Cathy for inviting us.

On April 13/97, Alison, Marcel, Ellen, Bernie and Shirley had a wonderful afternoon and evening trip to Eatonia , a little town about a three hour drive from Saskatoon. We were invited by Pastor Carol Dennison,(Lutheran) to give a presentation on interchurch families to her congregation as well as the congregations from the United and Catholic Churches which she invited. It was an interesting afternoon in observing and sharing how mixed marriages survive in a small town. We had a very open discussion with the people who were present and learned of some of their problems in a small community, especially when they do not have services every Sunday, because of the shortage of priest and pastors. Their choices for worship are very limited compared to those of us who live in the city.

We look forward to our birthday supper with our priests, pastors and other guests on June 2/97 at St. Philip's. This is always a wonderful time of fellowship and food.

In looking back over this past year, we are pleased with our progress as a group. We have certainly taken some positive steps forward and hope to keep walking the path toward unity.

To our pastors and priests who share in our lives in a more personal way we want to thank you for your prayers, support and encouragement. Please keep praying for us. Please continue to help us to offer support to other families who are having difficulties worshipping as a family because of their church leaders or other circumstances which make life for them somewhat unbearable.

We as Interchurch Families believe that God is daily calling us to witness to everyone that unity is possible even though we are brought up to believe in the same Jesus through different religious traditions. Our children, grandchildren and others in mixed marriages need to be given a hope and witness by the church, which is you and I, that God loves each of us equally, regardless of our Christian upbringing. Like Jesus who was assertively compassionate, when He chose to heal the man with the paralyzed hand on the Sabbath, much to the Pharisee's objections, we too must see the needs of people as more important than rules. As church, let's not like the Pharisee's emphasize rules and regulations that overshadow a person's saving relationship with God. Rather let's be like Jesus, assertive and proactive-offering a caring involvement that commands a response and expects results.

Thankyou for another year of praying, sharing and caring for us. To those of you from around the world who have kept in contact with us through the computer and correspondence thanks a bunch. God be with you all in a special way throughout the summer and into the coming year.

Yours in Christ,

Saskatoon Interchurch Families c/o Bernie Karstad

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