Oh, Canada: Grateful for Opportunities to Serve

by | Feb 8, 2024

Dear Friends, 

I want to write this month about the blessed opportunities we have had to serve our Canadian brothers and sisters for so many years now and all the interconnecting relationships we have there that work for the kingdom.  

Way back in the early 1980s, the Canadian faithful were donating to Renewal Ministries just because they believed in us and thought it was important that our work continue. We were not yet an approved, tax-exempt non-profit in Canada, so they couldn’t receive a tax deduction for their donations. Now they can, but their commitment before this happened has not been forgotten. 

Once a group of faithful supporters in Canada helped us to become recognized as an “official” non-profit organization there, known as Catholic Renewal Ministries, we also needed to establish a Canadian board of directors. What a blessing that has been! We are deeply honored and humbled that such esteemed servants of the Lord have agreed to serve on our board over the years. How can we forget John and Natti Germaine, who made the first regular pledge to support Renewal Ministries before it was a tax-exempt organization? John was a “tough” former police inspector who played an important role in helping us become incorporated in Canada and supported us in significant ways throughout decades of the Lift Jesus Higher Rally.

I also want to remember Vernon Robertson and his supportive wife, Maureen. Vernon is one of the most inspiring laymen we have ever met. His dedication to evangelization is unparalleled, as is his support for our mission.

Peter Herbeck, Vernon Robertson, Ralph Martin, and Msgr. Gregory Smith

I can’t name everybody who has served on the board in the past, but I do need to tell you something about who is serving now. How blessed we are to have as our chairman Msgr. Greg Smith, who is now the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s vicar general—second in command after Archbishop Miller! We also are blessed to have Bishop Scott McCaig, bishop of the Military Ordinariates of Canada, both on the board and engaged in many Renewal Ministries’ mission trips. His new book on the charisms is a wonderful contribution to the true Holy Spirit renewal needed so much in the Church today. For many years, Bishop Scott was the director of Companions of the Cross, a wonderful new religious order with which we have had many positive interactions. In addition to Bishop Scott, some other Companions have gone on missions with us as well. Additionally, Peter Herbeck and I have at times been asked to speak to the Companions at their annual retreat when they all gather for renewal.

The Canadian Catholic Renewal Ministries Board of Directors (L-R): Robert Shiley, Miriam Wright, Deacon Tom Welsh, Heather Khym, Fr. James Mallon, Angèle Regnier, Ralph Martin, and Jim Cavnar. (Not shown: Episcopal Advisor Cardinal Thomas Collins, Chairman Msgr. Gregory Smith, Domenic Inneo, and Bishop Scott McCaig)

Also on our board is Fr. James Mallon, the founder and director of Divine Renovation, which is mentoring hundreds of parishes around the world to help them become missionary parishes. This is one of the most significant ministries in the Church today. Peter has been asked many times to help at Divine Renovation events. And I have asked Fr. James to speak, via Zoom, to the priests in my Models of Evangelization class at Sacred Heart Major Seminary (SHMS).

Speaking of SHMS, the Companions now send all their seminarians to our seminary, where I have the joy of teaching them during the year before they are ordained priests. They are a good bunch to be sure!

Pictured are all of the Companions of the Cross seminarians, who study at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

 Another board member is Miriam Wright, a successful Canadian businessperson who has been led into significant ministry using the Unbound method to help people get free from past wounds, sins, and blockages. Miriam has been one of our speakers—as have Bishop Scott, Fr. James, and Msgr. Greg—at our annual Lift Jesus Higher Rallies in Toronto.

In fact, the Lift Jesus Higher Rally (LJH) itself has blessed so many people throughout Canada. We have now been doing them for thirty-two years. What a joy to “lift Jesus higher” amid the toxic, secular culture that is trying to crush the Church in Canada! We were amazed last year when a horrible snowstorm was predicted and happened, and yet people came in unexpected numbers! We had thought of canceling but pushed through, hoping for the best. I was shocked when I walked into the Toronto Convention Center and saw the room set up with thousands of chairs. I thought this must be a mistake. How could we possibly fill them? However, we did! People heroically shoveled out driveways or walked with difficulty to public transportation nodes and showed up!

I cannot think of the LJH rallies and not think of Paul Kromer who, along with his late wife Dorle, masterfully organized them for many years and served on the board before retiring. Paul also was a major supporter of our mission work in Lithuania. Sadly, he passed away last month, but it is with great hope that we entrust his soul to our Lord.

We also are very blessed to also have two new board members: Angèle Reigner, from Ottawa, and Heather Khym, from Vacouver. Both have contributed to past Lift Jesus Higher Rallies!

Along with her husband, Angèle co-founded Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), a wonderful ministry to university students that is similar to the US-based FOCUS. We have been friends with CCO for many years and have spoken at several of their events. We also partner with them and help support their work with university students in Uganda. 

Heather and her husband, Jake, help many people with some of the same inner-healing issues that Miriam works with. Heather is also part of the popular Abiding Together podcast. Heather has spoken at many events for our outreach to young people, and her daughter Maria is currently taking a gap year from Franciscan University of Steubenville to serve with Be Love Revolution. 

If space allowed, we could speak more about the wonderful lives and ministries of all our board members, including Jim Cavnar, founder of Cross Catholic Outreach; Domenic Inneo, successful businessman and founder of Dialogue with God; Robert Shiley, a member of our Lift Jesus Higher Rally planning committee since 2006; and Deacon Tom Welsh, another faithful and inspiring brother in Christ. 

We are also extremely grateful to Cardinal Thomas Collins for agreeing to continue to be our episcopal advisor even after his retirement. 

Furthermore, we continue to support the work of the Lord in Canada through our EWTN program, The Choices We Face; our YouTube videos; and our radio programs. We also have been blessed with many opportunities to directly support the faith of the Canadian people. This past year, I spoke in Ottawa at a big evangelistic rally for the archdiocese, led priest retreats in the Dioceses of St. Paul and Prince George, and gave talks at the annual priest convocation in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Peter Herbeck and Pete Burak also regularly speak at the Lift Jesus Higher Rally, and Pete made a major contribution to a big evangelization conference in Vancouver in 2023.

Some of our recent Canadian outreach to priests stems from a promise we made to offer our services at no cost to a number of rural dioceses that could not otherwise afford to bring in speakers to support and encourage the faith of their priests amid many unique challenges. We have been able to speak in some dioceses due to our board’s decision to support this very important work! We are grateful to God for the opportunities we have had to speak in such areas!

Ralph spoke to all the priests of the Diocese of Prince George. Bishop Stephen Jenson is in the front row at the far right.

Other aspects of our ministry also have close links to Canada. Debbie Herbeck, director of our outreach to young women called Be Love Revolution (BLR), helps lead the Lift Jesus Higher Youth Rally. BLR recently started a new chapter in British Columbia, and there is a family from Canada whose girls travel to Michigan to attend Pine Hills Girls Camp in the summer. Additionally, Director of Young Adult Discipleship Rachel Herbeck recently has had the privilege of ministering in multiple locations in Canada. She spoke at a Vancouver women’s conference, and she and Debbie both participated in a women’s retreat in Saskatoon. We also have been privileged to serve young adults in a few different locations in Canada. In London, Ontario, two groups of young adults meet regularly to go through the Spirit-Filled Leader Course. And in Hamilton and Stratford, Ontario, young adults gather, some weekly and some monthly, to go through spiritual and leadership formation that we’ve provided and learn how to live life on mission together.

We also have been blessed to have Steve and Katey Norman, native Canadians, move their family to Ann Arbor, where they are both lending their expertise in youth ministry to our work with high school students.

Steve and Katey Norman and family

Finally, our ministry chaplain, Fr. Graham Keep, also hails from Canada. He has served on many mission trips with us over the years. He also has offered many masses for our supporters over the years! After thirty years as a priest of the Diocese of London, Ontario, Fr. Graham is currently discerning a call to the Companions of the Cross. Our prayers are with him!

I remain grateful to God and grateful to you for the opportunity to be able to make a difference not only in far-off countries but right here in Canada.  

Gratefully yours,


This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ February 2024 newsletter.

About the Author

<a href="https://www.renewalministries.net/author/martinnick/" target="_self">Ralph Martin</a>

Ralph Martin

Ralph Martin is president of Renewal Ministries. He also hosts The Choices We Face, a widely viewed weekly Catholic television and radio program distributed throughout the world. Ralph holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome and is a professor and the director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was named by Pope Benedict XVI as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization and was also appointed as a “peritus” to the Synod on the New Evangelization. Ralph is the author of a number of books, the most recent of which are A Church in Crisis: Pathways ForwardThe Fulfillment of All DesireThe Urgency of the New Evangelization, and Will Many Be Saved? He and his wife Anne have six children and nineteen grandchildren and reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. June Yvonne Kozlow

    When will the videos from LJH Rally in Toronto on Sat. March 02, 2024, be available on UTube?

    • Renewal Ministries Staff

      We are not sure yet, but I will reach out as soon as I know. Did you attend the rally? God bless you!


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