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Fr. Barry Bercier, A.A.A few days ago the first rays of sunlight returned to the Arctic Circle, the first since November, and the new home of Fr.  Barry Bercier who became pastor of a Inuit parish in Igloolik,  Nunanvut (Canada) last summer (see  Recently he wrote describing some of his activities in the far north.

“….every day, sometime twice a day, kids come over here wanting to eat, and so I fetch them soup or chili or eggs, pancakes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, etc., and give them hot chocolate, tea or coffee. (Kids up here typically drink coffee).  The tea and coffee they load with sugar, enormous, breathtaking amounts of sugar.  I try to persuade them to ease up on it, but everybody up here is hooked.  I was talking to one of the young hunters (he should be in school but he prefers to be out on the land—and it seems to me it’s just the place he should be)... He said about ‘pop’— what they call Coca Cola—‘When I’m out hunting, it keeps me warm.’  Makes some sense, but still, they take in way to much sugar.  And there’s no dentist in town, so the effects are evident whenever they smile. There is a project for feeding people, They call it ‘Feeding Nunavut.’  They used the parish hall once for one of their feasts.”

some of Fr. Barry’s young parishioner playing chess in the rectorysome of Fr. Barry’s young parishioner playing chess in the rectory

He continues, “There was another suicide this past week.  I got called out in the middle of the night... A twenty year old guy.  At least they think it was a suicide...  There was some question about it and so the funeral is delayed until the body is brought back from forensic autopsy.  Don’t know when that will be. There’s a funeral tomorrow for Ammia, a sweet old woman who died from cancer. Funerals up here are kind of awful.  People wail and howl, and it goes on for two hours.  Not quite like a funeral in New England...  But, as I’ve been told and as I can pretty much see for myself, afterwards it’s done, and they go on with life.  Mostly.  The effect of these suicides (and other really bad things that happen more than I want to know) builds up, and suddenly a person will breakdown and weep or scream...or do something as bad as what he or she has suffered... “

And he concludes, “Next week I’m to head up to Pond Inlet. The priest who usually takes that as his second parish will be away on vacation, so I get to go instead.   It’s the town I had been hoping to be stationed in, but the bishop needed someone in Igloolik.  (And as it happens, I’m fine with being here.)  Pond Inlet is, I think, the northernmost Catholic parish in the world.  It’s a beautiful place, judging by the pictures and what people say.

Pond Inlet, CanadaPond Inlet, Canada

It’s up at the northern end of Baffin Island.  I expect to be there for two Sundays and the time in between.  Everything depends, as always, on the weather... The bishop told me that, whenever you travel, you have to be prepared to get stuck, and maybe neither in the place you meant to leave nor in the place you intended to go, but wherever the plane was forced to land.

Anyway, judging by the presence of the sun this week, I seem to have survived the Arctic night.  It wasn’t so bad, somehow.  The fact is that the time flies by with incredible speed. How to figure, but so it is.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 12:10
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