Catholic school board in Mississauga ‘deeply disturbed’ by pastor’s comments

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Published June 25, 2021 at 1:06 am

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The Catholic school board in Mississauga says it is “deeply disturbed” by a comments that a pastor made about residential schools and Catholic schools flying rainbow Pride flags.

On Thursday, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) emailed two statements to all staff and parents about the remarks that astor Owen Keenan made during a sermon at Mississauga Redeemer Parish on Sunday

“The DPCDSB was surprised and deeply disturbed when made aware of remarks by the pastor of Merciful Redeemer Parish regarding residential schools,” says the first statement, which addresses Keenan’s comments about residential schools. “We immediately brought our concerns to the attention of the Archdiocese of Toronto, as Merciful Redeemer is a parish within the Archdiocese.

“The DPCDSB continues to be steadfast in our resolve to uphold the dignity and the rights of all Indigenous Peoples. We are firm in our commitment to provide awareness, education, and advocacy, with a view to meaningful and tangible change.”

Keenan had referred to the residential school in British Columbia where it was recently discovered that the remains of more than 215 Indigenous children were found.

“Two-thirds of the country is blaming the church, which we love, for the tragedies that occurred there,” he said.

“I presume the same number would thank the church for the good done in those schools, but of course, that question was never asked and we are not allowed to even say that good was done there. I await to see what comes to my inbox.”

On Thursday, the remains of 751 Indigenous children were confirmed to be in unmarked graves where Marieval Indian Residential School operated in Saskatchewan. 

Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation, which led the search at Marieval, referred to it as “a gravesite that began in 1886.”

The remains of 1,323 children have been found so far in searches, according to Nahanni Fontaine, a New Democrat MLA in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The DPCDSB also expressed “deep disappointment” in the remarks Keenan made about Pride flags being flown at Catholic schools and board offices. 

“Students who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ often face discrimination,” it reads in part. “We are all created in the image and likeness of God, deserving of dignity and respect. Discrimination undermines the dignity of individuals.”

Merciful Redeemer Parish is located at 2775 Erin Centre Blvd., near St. Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic Secondary School. 

Portions of the sermon have circulated widely on YouTube, and the church was vandalized with graffiti on Thursday.

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