Description of Coat of Arms.
+Sylvain Lavoie's  Ordination as Archbishop

Easter Message from the Archbishop - 2011

“Experiencing the New Life of Easter”

PDF Version: Easter Message 

Dear faithful of the archdiocese,                                         

The Lord is risen, alleluia! Happy Easter to you all. 

At the Easter vigil, we heard these words from the Gospel of Matthew: “Come and see.” “Go and tell.” The resurrection of Jesus gives us a clear mission as the Church.

We are first of all invited to come and see, to believe in and to experience the power of the resurrection. The apostles entered the tomb and believed. For her part, Mary Magdalene was taught to let go of Jesus, to not cling to him, to let him ascend. That means that like them and like her we are to enter our own tombs and grieve, mourn and accept our losses through the power of the Spirit of the Risen Lord. That is how we can experience the appearances of Jesus.

Later, in the upper room, the apostles who had denied and abandoned Jesus, experienced his unconditional forgiveness and were then empowered to forgive. We too, need to let go of resentments and to forgive anyone who has hurt us through the power of that same Spirit. That is our experience of the ascension of Jesus.

Then, having experienced the power of the resurrection in our own lives, we are sent on mission, to go and tell the whole world what has happened to us, what can happen to all humanity, and to invite all others to share in this Good News.

What could be more exalted than that? We are apostles of the resurrection, called to believe, to experience, to live the resurrection of Jesus in our own lives, and to invite the rest of the world to join us in walking in newness of life, and in the likeness of the resurrection of Jesus.

The Returning to our Roots process that we initiated across the archdiocese the First Sunday of Lent is an opportunity for us all to experience more deeply this new life of Easter. Again, I strongly encourage each and every one of us to participate fully in this process. Especially during this initial year with its focus on prayer, I invite each community to consider having a retreat on prayer, as well as special activities throughout the year on prayer. May we thus deepen our experience of the Risen Lord in our own lives, families and faith communities.

Sincerely in the Risen Lord and Mary Immaculate, 

Most Reverend Sylvain Lavoie OMI


The glory of God is young people fully alive.

Properly understood and put into practice, this statement alone, adapted from St. Iraneus, would go a long way to ending the recent epidemic of suicide among our youth. Our task as adults is to help our young people live full human lives that will reflect the glory of God and lessen the incidents of suicide.

A first step in addressing this issue is to define suicide. 

Noted spiritual writer and theologian Ron Rolheiser writes that suicide is a disease and generally the most misunderstood of all sicknesses. It takes a person out of life against his or her will, the emotional equivalent of cancer, a stroke or a heart attack.

Suicide is never a good thing to be desired. It leaves behind an immeasurable pain on the part of the family, relatives and friends of those who do it or even attempt to do it. We don’t have the right to take our own lives. Life is a gift from God, meant to be lived as God wants it to be lived.

Suicide is a desperate response to intense painful emotions such as hopelessness and despair that threaten to overwhelm some wounded youth. They can see no other way out of their painful situation.  There are some people who through life’s hurts have ended up locked in spiritual prisons that all the love in the world cannot seem to break through.

A second step is exploring what brings on suicide.

The experience of a lack of love in all its forms (addicted parents, neglect by parents, absent parents, negative peer pressure, trauma, abuse, put-downs and violence, etc.) leads to a feeling of insecurity, low self esteem, loneliness, disorder and chaos, and finally addiction and even death.

The sexual permissiveness in our society, lack of discipline and desire for instant gratification coupled with an inability to wait for anything is another factor. By the time youth are in their teens, they have already experienced far too much far too soon, and they are burnt out, depleted, with nothing left to look forward to.

Young people are also playing with fire when they indulge in genital sex that belongs in a mature, committed relationship. Their ability to handle their emotions is not developed enough to cope with the devastation that they feel when a partner with whom they have bonded deeply through genital sex casually changes relationships. That devastation can and is a cause of many suicides.

The culture of death that permeates our society also is a factor. When we condone terminating the life of the unborn through abortion and ending the life of the weak and old through euthanasia, we cheapen all life and sow the seeds of suicide as a way to deal with personal pain and inconvenience. Our total disrespect for nature and mother earth, leading to a throw-away society, is another influence.

How do we respond to suicide?

There is a saying that everyone carries within them their own mystery, and we must respect that mystery. God alone knows each person’s heart and story. The one thing that we can safely do when someone does take their own life is not judge that person. We must leave that up to God. We can rest assured that there are no walls or locked doors that the love of God in Jesus Christ cannot penetrate. We can pray for, and hold up to that mercy of God, all those we know who have ended their lives.

We can also extend compassion, understanding and support for the family members who often carry feelings of guilt, shame and profound sadness. We can resolve to make whatever changes we need to make in our own lives to be a more positive influence in our own communities. We can also grow in our understanding of suicide as an illness in the face of which some people are powerless.

How can we prevent suicide?

There are many paths that we can take to prevent suicide. People who are feeling suicidal most often display signs of that intent, such as isolating themselves, less communication, less laughter, lack of friends, poor performance in school, absenteeism, mood swings and unusual behavior. We must be open to those signs and respond to those signs.

We must also teach respect for all of creation and all forms of life, eliminating gossip and treating each person with dignity. And we need to work hard to prevent any future such incidents through education, love and caring community action.

The best antidote to suicide is love and lots of love as trust, caring, affection, listening, affirmation and sharing. Love leads to a feeling of security, a sense of belonging, an experience of peace and order, and ultimately a life of happy free sobriety.

One positive thing we can do is teach young people that spirituality is all about what we do with our pain. A weak spirituality runs away from pain. A strong spirituality deals with pain. Addiction is actually an attempt to avoid legitimate suffering. We need to teach our youth not to be afraid of emotional pain. Suffering and pain is not all bad. In fact, there are some things in life that we can learn only through a certain amount of suffering.

Another path is to work hard at promoting stronger marriages and closer family life where love is present and shown as affirmation, attention, understanding and presence to one another.

We can encourage young people to keep genital sex for marriage. We can bring back religious and spiritual values in the school systems, teaching young people to keep the Great Commandment of loving God, loving others and loving them selves.

Parents especially can put more energy, time and money into meeting the needs of their children to be loved, to belong and to be valued. There is probably nothing more important that parents can do than that. If they have met the emotional needs of their children, then those youth will be secure and strong enough to resist negative peer pressure and they will be able to make positive life choices. Parents who have answered the emotional needs of their youth are truly successful parents.

As your archbishop, along with our archdiocesan leadership team, we are very concerned with the high rate of suicides in our archdiocese, and call on all parents, community leaders, church workers and professional people, to come together in an interdisciplinary way to improve the quality of life of our communities.

As an archdiocese, we are putting much of our energy, time and resources into providing opportunities for individuals and communities to heal through initiatives such as the Emmanuel Process and programs such as Returning To Spirit, Healing Soul Pain and the Christopher Leadership Course.

Working together and praying for God’s help, we can make a difference and help our young people be fully alive rather than try to end their lives prematurely. 

+ Sylvain Lavoie OMI
Archbishop of Keewatin-The Pas

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