Ross River, December 25, 2019
The drive across the Yukon -- stretches of snow, tall trees fence the road, winding bends – point to Ross River Nation. I am with a seminarian from Toronto -- from Croatia -- accompanying me to serve solemn Mass… Christmas day.
The morning is still dark at 10am. The sun begins to break through clouds directly overhead. Our destination hidden somewhere behind the white hills, frozen lakes, and Pelly River. Daylight dispels morning darkness. Visibility. I identify fir and hemlock and pine.
Gas station, general store, the mission Church appears at a distance. Logs hold the sacred space, House of God, together. We are in Ross River Dene Nation. Jean-Claude sets the furnace toasty warm; a welcome from the freezing eastern Yukon cold. Mirko, the seminarian, prepares the incense and indicates the pages for the Roman Canon.
I meet members of the community; Dillan and his son, Theodore. Then, Irene, Jean-Claude’s wife, introduces me to Maggy, Theodore’s great-grandmother. Maggy transmitted her Catholic faith to the family, something of a matriarch. Gregg and Pamela sit in prayer, having driven from Faro to join us for the Christmas celebration.
In the sanctuary hangs a picture of St. Katheri Tekakwitha. Dillan holds his son, Theodore, sitting in the front of the Church directly in my line of vision. The three-year-old remains attentive throughout the entire liturgy: incense, homily, bells Consecration, capture the little boy’s attention -- and he comes up for a blessing.
One Faith, one Baptism (Dillan told me Theodore was baptised), one Spirit, one Body, adhering to the Catholic Church professing the same Gospel for two thousands; the Word that transforms our lives – the Word made flesh that saves us.
Together at the centre of Ross River, like the angels and shepherds, we worshipped our Saviour, the Christ Child.
Fr. David Bellusci, O.P.
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