Praying for Residential Schools

On April 1, 2022 at the Vatican, in an address to representatives of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, His Holiness Pope Francis apologized to the Indigenous Peoples. After listening to the voices of the Indigenous Peoples he said, “I was able to enter into and be deeply grieved by the stories of the suffering, hardship, discrimination and various forms of abuse that some of you experienced, particularly in the residential schools.”  He said, “I feel shame – sorrow and shame – for the role that a number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had in all these things that wounded you, in the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.  All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For the deplorable conduct of those members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon… I wish to tell you the Church stands beside you and wants to continue journeying with you.”

Pope Francis spoke on behalf of the whole Church. He spoke on behalf of you and me. He encouraged “the Catholic community to continue taking steps towards the transparent search for truth and to foster healing and reconciliation.”

One step we can each take is to pray and to talk to the Creator about what happened in the residential schools and see how it was in many ways a continuation of what happened to Jesus on his Way of the Cross. In solidarity with the Indigenous elders and the survivors of the Indian Residential School System, we are invited to pray this Way of the Cross for Canadian Indian Residential Schools.

Way of the Cross For Canadian Indian Residential Schools

This Way of the Cross was composed at the Martyrs Shrine in Midland, Ontario in June, 2021. The Scripture Passages were taken from the NRSV translation of the Holy Bible. The prayers were composed by Father Robert Foliot, SJ.

The passages on the Residential Schools are, with only a few exceptions, exact quotations from the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada submitted on December 31, 2011 and printed in They Came for the Children.  This book can be obtained from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Chancellor’s Hall, 177 Dysart Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T-2N2 or by email at

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