Apostolic Vicariate of Keewatin
The Apostolic Vicariate of Keewatin (Latin: Vicariatus Apostolicus Keevatinensis) was a Roman Catholic missionary pre-diocesan jurisdiction in northern Canada (see Keewatin proper) which included the northern half of the Province of Saskatchewan, and was bounded on the north by the Arctic regions, on the south by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint-Boniface, on the east by the then Apostolic Vicariate of Temiskaming, and on the west by the Diocese of St Albert and the then Apostolic Vicariate of Athabasca.
This largely barren land of lakes and forests, possessing timber and mineral resources but sparsely inhabited by Indians, Métis and a few whites, was first visited by pioneer missionaries in the nineteenth century, when Mgr. Norbert Provencher, Bishop of St. Boniface, sent Abbé Thibault to Île-à-la-Crosse (1845), Abbé Louis-Francois Richer Lafleche (later Bishop of Three Rivers) to explore the Cumberland district (1846) and Father Taché, O.M.I. (later Archbishop of St. Boniface), to join Lafleche at Ile-à-la-Crosse (1846), and thence visit Reindeer Lake (1847). These and surrounding missions were subsequently served by Oblates of the Manitoba or Alberta-Saskatchewan Provinces.
Prominent among these since 1887 has been the Rev. Ovide Charlebois whose administrative capacities, proved during sixteen years' ministry at Fort Cumberland, led in 1900 to his nomination as Visitor of the Cumberland District Indian Missions, in 1903, to his appointment as director of Saint Michael's Indian Industrial School at Duck Lake (Saskatchewan), and in 1910 to his preconization as titular Bishop of Berenice and Vicar Apostolic of Keewatin, with residence at The Pas.
There were in the vicariate in the early 20th century 15 Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate, 8 Oblate Brothers of Mary Immaculate, 12 Grey Nuns (Montreal), 16 Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart and Mary Immaculate (St. Boniface), 4 more Grey Nuns (St. Hyacinth), 10 churches with 16 out-stations; 11,000 Indians, Dene, Cree and Inuit, of whom 7000 were Catholics and 5000 non-Catholics or pagans (chiefly Inuit religion). Indian boarding schools at Norway House (Oblate Sisters, 20 pupils), Beauval Residential School at Lac La Plonge [Grey Nuns (Montreal), 50 pupils], a general hospital at Le Pas [Grey Nuns (St. Hyacinth), 25 beds], a Catholic (French-English) school at Le Pas [Grey Nuns (St. Hyacinth)].
It was renamed and promoted Metropolitan See of Keewatin-Le Pas in 1967; its archbishop now has an ecclesiastical province with two suffragan bishops in Churchill-Baie d'Hudson and Moosonee; the third, Labrador City-Schefferville, was suppressed in 2007.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Daniel, J. E. (1913). "Vicariate Apostolic of Keewatin". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 16. New York: Robert Appleton.
- Daniel, J. E. (1913). "Vicariate Apostolic of Keewatin". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 16. New York: Robert Appleton Company.