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Remembrance Day church service reminds listeners to strive for peace

Even in a world where there are ongoing wars, listeners were reminded to not allow themselves to be consumed by hate.

CANORA - Local residents gathered at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Canora for the Remembrance Day service on Nov. 11, ever mindful that wars continue to happen.

In the opening, Ken Rolheiser paid tribute to living veterans.

“They made great sacrifices for peace in our world,” said Rolheiser. “Their presence is a constant reminder of the Words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God,’ (Matthew 5:9).. If our world has learned from the past, wars would have been history now.

“May the lives of the living veterans, their sufferings, their fears and experiences, their voices help us all to work towards peace and reconciliation in our world, just as God has reconciled us to Himself in Christ Jesus, (2 Corinthians 5:18). May our living veterans find peace and fulfillment in the dedicated services they rendered and sacrifices they made when they were able, to secure the welfare of all humanity.”

Scripture readings included Micah 4:1-4, and Matthew 5:3-12, read by Lucas Vaughters and Rolheiser respectively.

The much-repeated Remembrance Day poem In Flanders Fields was read by Pastor Mavis Watson.

Pat Thompson read the Roll Call.

Congregational singing, accompanied by Leanne Buchinski, included the popular hymns Amazing Grace and O God Our Help in Ages Past.

The message, entitled Remembrance Day Reflection, was presented by Thom Carnahan, padre of the Canora branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“Comrades are we not indeed fortunate this day that we can once again meet together in peace and fellowship?” asked Carnahan. 

“This Remembrance Day service has special meaning this year, bearing in mind the wasteful and illegal war that Russia has forced unto peace-loving Ukraine. We are aware that 13 per cent of Saskatchewan people identify as part Ukrainian with a higher percentage in Canora area.

“Seven per cent of the Canadian population were in uniform during the First World War and 10 per cent in the Second World War. From Canada, a total of 66,000 enlisted personnel died in the First World War and 45,000 in the Second World War.

“Saskatchewan has 15,300 veterans; 800 served in the Second World War and Korea. A total of 40,000 Canadians served in Afghanistan and 158 died; 17 from Saskatchewan.

“We know that Canadian combat and peacekeeping operations continue in the world, providing us with more veterans. We currently have 2,000 troops stationed in 20 locations including 150 assisting the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis. Our veterans have served us very well indeed. Just think for a moment about what sort of world we would have today had the evil leaders on the other side won the Second World War. We don’t know what else may be heading toward us at this time, such as who might be next. We will need to be ready. 

“Our veterans died that we might live and we honour their personal sacrifice this day. In addition to providing our veterans the earned respect and remembrance due them, we also need to ensure that they shall not have died in vain. Those of us who remain shall continue their living legacy of peace and freedom and not accept less. This is what we strive to continue this day.    

“In 2 Corinthians 13:11, the Apostle Paul indicates that God wants us to live in peace with the following powerful words: ‘Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.’ We need to try our best to establish peace whenever we can as an individual priority.

“We need to be ever mindful of the supreme sacrifice of the many men and women who offered their lives that we might live well and freely. We respect and remember them. When we leave this special place, we shall go in peace, in faith and in love. We will remember them.   

“We reflect on Russia’s war on Ukraine. We unfortunately need to accept that we may now be in a long-term adversarial relationship with the bully nation Russia. By directly providing training and equipment to Ukraine, we are in effect waging a proxy war against a new potential enemy, the international pariah Russia. This war is an illegal act of aggression against a sovereign nation, against the United Nations charter.

“But let us not be consumed by hate. From Saint Paul, in Romans 12:20 we are told ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.'

”This war is in opposition to God’s desire for living peacefully in the world. Proverbs 12:20 deals with this: ‘Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.’

“And we find further biblical admonition in 1 Peter 3:11 ‘They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.’ Would that it be so.”  

Following the message, Pastor Mavis Watson led in The Lord’s Prayer and gave the blessing.

The service closed with the singing of God Save the King.

Following the service, those in attendance were invited to lunch at the Legion Dugout. 

There, Carnahan said grace before the meal.

“Let us pray. All praise and thanks to you, oh God, for the experiences of this day. We thank you for the loyalty and persistence of those who planned and participated in this event, those who laid wreaths in memory of veterans and the many who by their very presence contributed to the significance of the day. 

“Be present at our table, oh God, as we remember before you those who laid down their lives for freedom and justice. Now in comradeship of this shared meal, satisfy both the hunger of our bodies and our personal need for fellowship and appreciation. Bless those who prepared the food and each one who in honest gratitude partakes of the mercies you have made possible. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”


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