St. Kateri Bible Study Series

November 12, 2014

Conrad Artibise and Greg Dunwoody of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Aboriginal Catholic Church in Winnipeg.

By James Buchok

Parishioners at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Aboriginal Catholic Parish in Winnipeg gathered for “good food and good prayer” Nov. 5 as they shared a meal of soup and bread before beginning a four-evening bible study series on the Gospel of Mark.

Conrad Artibise, who is part of the prayer group that planned the first evening, said his hope “is that those who attend will get to know more parish members and by meeting, eating, singing, praying and studying, they will strengthen their understanding and faith in their community and the Roman Catholic faith each of them chose to be part of.” Families were encouraged to bring their children who were led in their own activities by a group of volunteers.

The bible study was presented by Greg Dunwoody, chaplain at Headingley Correctional Centre just west of Winnipeg. The meal and bible study gatherings continue on Nov. 12, 19 and 26 starting at 6 p.m.

The group is studying Mark because the church calendar for 2014-15 is a year devoted to gospel readings from Mark. The gospels are read in three-year cycles, beginning with Matthew, then Mark, then Luke. Because Mark is the shortest Gospel, readings from John are also heard during a number of weeks in a year of Mark. The Gospel of John is also read throughout Easter, and is used for other liturgical seasons including Advent, Christmas and Lent where appropriate.

Dunwoody explained that the gospels are really compilations of stories told and collected over decades after Jesus' death and no one can say who the actual authors are. He said the Gospel of  Mark was the first of the four to be created, and is believed to have been written in about 72 a.d.

“How do we get from an event in Jesus’ time to what we read in the gospel today?” he asked.“Someone around Jesus had an experience of an event. They started telling somebody and how the other person heard the story changed some details of the event. Some people will write down parts of the story and when you start writing you start interpreting again. Then someone put all these stories together, into a gospel, which becomes another interpretation through the editing process.”

Dunwoody said this explains how the four gospels in the Bible tell similar stories, but in different ways.

Most of the New Testament is written in Greek, Dunwoody said, although in Jesus time most Jews spoke Aramaic but many also understood Greek. He said the writers of Mark knew Greek, “but not very well. One way to look at Mark is that he wrote in Greek but in a very simple Greek.”

Dunwoody said the Gospel of Mark speaks of release from sins rather than forgiveness of sins, citing chapter 1, verse 31 when Simon’s mother-in-law is “released” from her fever. “Mark is saying physically and spiritually Jesus has come to release us from from those things that have kept us limited, it points to freedom of our spirit.”

In verses 21 to 23, when Jesus enters the synagogue and begins teaching, a man with an “unclean spirit” cries out, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God. The unclean spirit knows who this is yet the disciples still haven’t quite figured it out,” Dunwoody said. In Mark,  the apostles are portrayed as “not very bright,”  Dunwoody said, “Jesus has to keep on explaining what is happening.”

The Gospel of Mark starts by stating The Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God. By chapter two Jesus is called the Son of Man. “The Gospel of Mark is telling us Jesus is God and man right from the beginning,” he said.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish was originally founded by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the 1970s as a downtown mission church that was also a drop-in centre for informal gatherings and where clothing and meals were provided to those in need. In 1979 Sacre Coeur Parish began sharing its church space with the Kateri congregation and in 1991 Kateri moved to its own present church on Ellice Ave., with the support and guidance of Archbishop Adam Exner.

The church is named for St. Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk woman, baptized a Christian, who lived in Quebec in the 1600s. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in October, 2012.

Aside from the Sunday Liturgy,  Anishinabe Mass is celebrated at St. Kateri on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m.

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