Canadian Participation at the Synod on the Amazon

September 24, 2019 — The Synod on the Amazon is fast approaching (October 6–27). Other than Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, one of two special secretaries for the Synod, are Canadian Jesuits invited? Fr. Peter Bisson, SJ, explains Canada’s place at the event.

A Canadian and American Delegation in Rome on the Sidelines of the Synod

“The churches of Canada or the US are not invited to the Synod because we are not in the Amazon Basin. But in Canada we certainly do have analogous interests because of the connections between Indigenous Peoples and the Great Lakes as well as the Boreal zone,” explained Fr. Bisson.

Fr. Peter Bisson, SJ during the Truth, Reconciliation and Hope Conference in 2016, © The Catholic Register

Because of interests like these that are similar to those of people in the Amazon Basin, the Synod organizers are also hosting a parallel, concurrent meeting in Rome called “Tienda de la Casa Comun”, whose participants can regularly meet the Synod delegates. Fr. Bisson detailed the North American group that will be present at this meeting. The two Canadians in attendance will be the country’s sole representatives.

Calvo in Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala, during a USCCB solidarity visit to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador focused on the environmental and social impacts of mining in these countries.

The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States has been invited to send a delegation to this concurrent gathering. It will be led by Cecila Calvo of the JCCU Office of Justice and Ecology. The rest of the delegation will be composed of two Canadians and two Americans. The Canadians will be Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina and Sister Priscilla Solomon, CSJ. Sr. Priscilla is Ojibwe and a member of the CSJs of Sault Sainte Marie based in North Bay, ON. She is also a member of the Guadalupe Circle. The Americans will be Rodney Bordeaux, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in Rosebud, ND, and Richard Coll, a staff member of the US Episcopal Conference. This JCCU delegation will be in Rome Oct 15-21.


Archbishop Donald Bolen named Saint Paul University’s 2017 Alumnus of the Year, © Saint Paul University


“Tienda de la Casa Común” will be an open and common space in Rome where activities will be held to support and complement the Pan-Amazonian Synod in October 2019. It will be located near the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, in halls that are made available by the parish’s Carmelite priests in Rome. “Tienda Casa Común” will be connected to the Synod so that the Synod priests can remain up to date with the reality of the Amazonian territory and with all considerations regarding the mission in this region.

Cristiane Murray, journalist with Vatican News, spoke with Fr. Jaime Carlos Patias, IMC, regarding this gathering, and he explained that it will take shape in the form of “debates, vigils and prayers, conferences, photo exhibits, book and documentary presentations, material and project exchanges, testimonies regarding the mission on Amazon land, and more.” He stated that this will also be a place to “interact with the Synod priests and disseminate new paths for the Church and for ecology in its entirety.” In addition, explained Fr. Patias, the Synod priests will participate in other academic, theological, and pastoral events to bring the Amazon to Rome and bring awareness to the cries of the people and of this Earth.

Fr. Patias explained that participants at this meeting will focus on three matters:

  • Share what each organization, congregation, and institution foresees in terms of events at the time of the Synod.
  • Create a shared calendar to mark what has been done, to avoid overlaps.
  • Coordinate joint activities and initiatives to move forward together and in communion.

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