Posted on: December 30, 2019

December 25, 2019

Posted on: October 21, 2018

Fr. Thomas’ First Nations Report

It is now more than a year, from June 9, 2017 to October 2018, since I arrived in Saanich Penin-sula Parish after a brief introduction to Canadian culture and way of life in St. Ann’s parish, Dun-can. Thank you for the warm welcome that made me feel at home and easier to adjust to the new environment.

For two months I started to familiarize myself with the four First Nations Reserves within the Parish territory. Later, there was a First Nations funeral for an Elder, Pamela, held in their gym-nasium and I was privileged to observe Native burial traditions, including a Reception afterwards where all who had helped the family in any way were thanked.

Sarah Modeste, an Elder from Duncan, together with her daughter, Freda, visited with me and took me to the Tsartlip Reserve to visit members of the Sampson family & Thelma and Cristy Underwood in their Social Welfare Office. I felt their acceptance and support. They invited me to attend the Pow Wow. Again, it was an opportunity for me to observe their cultural practices for three consecutive days. During the event, Maurice, an Elder, introduced me to the communi-ty gathered there. Norman Underwood, Tswaout Elder invited me to visit him at his home and was invited to attend his birthday celebration and later to their Thanksgiving dinner and intro-duced me to family members who were preset and announced that I would be celebrating Mass in his home. A week later I celebrated Mass in his home with 13 family members attending.

In the first week of December there was a funeral at the Pauqu’achin Reserve for a member of the Williams family. They asked me to bring Rosaries and lead them in a prayer service. I felt accepted by their community. The next day there was a funeral Mass which I celebrated, fol-lowed by a reception. As part of their tradition and culture I was offered handshakes by family members.

On Christmas Day I celebrated Mass on the Tsawout Reserve attended by 28 Band members. But for the snow, more had planned to attend.

On Good Friday, 2018, a service was held at Tswaout Band Office with 9 Elders and a few pa-rishioners attending.

Gradually, some First Nations families have invited me into their homes. On September 12, 2018, I celebrated Mass in Norman Underwood’s home together with 30 family members, in-cluding one family from Tsartlip and one family from Tseycum attending. Now, every first and third Fridays of the month I bring Communion to Norman, Thelma and Geraldine Underwood in their respective homes. I have been invited to join his family for Thanksgiving Dinner.

On the social side of life, Scott Sam took me out for a day’s fishing in the Salish Sea and we came home with fresh fish for his family.

Historically it would appear that the majority of the four Coast Salish peoples forming the four Reserves in Central and North Saanich were baptised and raised in the Catholic faith. Tswaout Reserve had its own Cathoic Church and Pastor, and still has a street named Church Rd. where the Church was situated.

On the occasion of Native cultural events, I have been contacted and have contacted them in order to participate. I have been invited to attend funeral ceremonies at the Shaker Church on the Tsartlip Reserve and to participate.

The history of Residential Schools, the banning of Potlach ceremonies appears to be defining moments in Native families choosing to return to their traditional beliefs.

My presence and ministry among them is not one of proselytism but of healing, of friendship and support.

Fr. Thomas Chinnappa

Posted on: October 7, 2018


At this time of year, we reflect upon all of our many blessings, one of which is our Parish Family. The Ministry to the Sick and Shut-ins ensures that those who are sick and homebound in our parish feel "connected" to our faith community. The volunteers to this Ministry recently gathered together to share ideas, to reflect upon their calling and to strengthen each other. Below is a photo from the recent gathering. Thanks to all the volunteers and especially to Fatima Warner, the Ministry Co-ordinator who organized

this event.

"I was sick and you visited me...

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Matthew 25: 36,40