During the first week of Advent 2023, the senior students of St. Michael School were blessed to share in a visit by Archbishop Emeritus Sylvain Lavoie. Bishop Lavoie currently serves as chaplain, spiritual director and presenter for the Star of the North Retreat House in St. Albert, AB.
The bishop’s visit to Weyburn included presenting at retreats for Holy Family Central Office staff and Board of Trustees, presiding at weekend masses at St. Vincent de Paul parish, facilitating Advent retreats at the parish as well as visiting the school. While in the community, he also enjoyed celebrating Christmas with the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League members of the parish.
The visit to the school included several half hour meetings with the older students in their Religion or homeroom classes. During each visit, Bishop Lavoie addressed a few topics our youth are currently considering: how one knows a ‘call’ and answers, what it is like working in northern communities and what are the keys to feeling a sense of belonging and value in one’s life.
In sharing the story of his upbringing in rural SK, of his journey to becoming a priest and eventually a bishop and his experience in guiding others spiritually and faithfully, Bishop Sylvain was able to generate interest and enthusiasm amongst the students and staff. Including a few activities such as prayer and drumming as well as some humour helped to further encourage the comfortable atmosphere the students needed to really engage with both the presenter and the information shared.
From Bishop Lavoie’s teaching, some fine examples of Embracing God’s Grace, the system theme for the year, were demonstrated:
- Journeying together with Jesus allows one to experience not only the joys in our faith journey but also navigate the ‘unsuredness’ with peace
- Being open to relationships with others that cause us to realize our value and experience a positive sense of belonging will always serve us well
- Sometimes the right path or right answer for the calling God has for us will take time to find … continue forward one step at a time with the knowledge that you are loved and gifted with the Holy Spirit always.