By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
The need to provide resources to support the mission of the church in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon was the focus of a Bishop’s Annual Appeal Orientation and Training Day Sept. 11 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
Representatives from across the diocese gathered for the morning-only session, which included celebration of the Eucharist with Bishop Mark Hagemoen, and presentations about the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, including best practices, statistics and an overview of materials, such as this year’s “Our Faith in Action” video, which highlights a few of the many ministries and services funded by the Appeal.
“The mission comes first and it orients everything, but the resources are important,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in his homily. “The resources support the mission… we need to bring all of our resource to bear in support of that mission.”
In visiting a number of rural parishes across the diocese in recent months, Bishop Hagemoen reported that he has heard a similar message from parishioners who have said: ““Bishop, we love our churches, but we don’t just want to maintain our buildings. If that’s all we do, we will die. We have to engage in the mission of Jesus Christ.”
The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is about bringing to bear the needed resources to support the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ through his Church, said Hagemoen.
Gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal support catechesis and sacramental preparation and support, vocations promotion, youth retreats and mission experiences, RCIA evangelization, and Adult Faith Enrichment, as well as funding seminarian education for future priests, and orientation for international missionary priests.
Other ministries supported by donations to the Annual Appeal ensure a voice for the most vulnerable through justice and peace advocacy, addressing such issues as abortion, human trafficking, poverty, truth and reconciliation, euthanasia, and conscience rights.
The impact of the Appeal is also experienced in such healing ministries as Retrouvaille (help for marriages in trouble), Transitions (ministry to the divorced and separated), Miscarriage Awareness ministry, Mourning to Dawn grief ministry, healing circles and parenting programs at the prison, and visits to the sick, the dying and the bereaved through hospital chaplaincy.
“This is very practical work – but I do say this as well: this is holy work,” the bishop said of the efforts that volunteers, parish leaders and pastors put in to the Annual Appeal.
During the morning event, Bishop Hagemoen expressed his appreciation to all those who assist with the Appeal and his hope that all might participate. “The issue is not about how much we give. The issue is that we all participate. Every gift has value.”
“The Lord calls us to bring our lives to bear on this: the mission is as important as ever,” he said. Three new areas of support introduced last year continue, noted the bishop, namely a fund to help support the building of new churches, a fund to support the renovation of existing church buildings, and assistance for the northern Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.
Don Gorsalitz, Director of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation, announced the 2019 goal for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal: $1.405 million. He also described how revamped goals last year meant that double the number of parishes achieved their BAA goals in 2018.
Both Gorsalitz and the bishop noted the willingness and generosity of parishes in the city to increase their Appeal goals last year, in an effort to offset a reduction in the goals of struggling rural parishes. “Rural parishes expressed great appreciation for that,” added Hagemoen.
Gorsalitz, along with Bishop’s Annual Appeal Manager Cathy Gilje, and Stewardship Coordinator Jocelyne Hamoline, reviewed the factors that ensure a successful Appeal, such as follow up, personal story telling, and home visits. They also provided practical information about the BAA materials, the Appeal database and the eight-week schedule and process that parishes are asked to follow.
Several speakers described ministries that are supported by gifts to the BAA: Marilyn Jackson, Director of Ministry Services in the diocese and coordinator of Evangelization and Catechesis; Jennifer and Blair Carruthers, coordinators of the Adult Faith Enrichment Program (previously known as Lay Formation; and Jackie Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy.
Jackson described work underway to assist parishes in finding effective catechetical resources for sacramental preparation, including a pilot project in one parish to implement a new program.
Blair and Jennifer Carruthers gave a report about the recent first weekend of the newly-renamed Adult Faith Enrichment Program (previously known as Lay Formation) and the impact it is already having upon participants. The coordinators stressed that there is still time for interested adult Catholics to enrol in the program, offered one weekend a month from September to May over two years. Those interested can contact Blair or Jennifer Carruthers at (306) 659-5846 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator Jacqueline Saretsky described how the hospital chaplains and volunteers make it a priority to visit patients from out of town who may not have local support when they are admitted to Royal University of Saskatoon City Hospitals. In addition to ministry in hospital, Saretsky described administrative tasks, such as recruiting and training volunteers, increasing awareness about hospital chaplaincy in parishes, and offering the Dying Healed workshop developed by Life Canada to empower participants to recognize the impact their caring has on the lives of those who are ill, suffering, or dying. The Dying Healed program is available to parish communities by contacting Jackie Saretsky at email@example.com or (306) 659-5839.
Stewardship Coordinator Jocelyne Hamoline shared the story of her best friend, who was in hospital a year and a half before her death, and described the vitally important role of Hospital Chaplaincy, funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Hospital chaplains and chaplaincy volunteers regularly visited, brought Holy Communion, and “lifted her up in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so she could have a peaceful passing.”
This was also a powerful witness to members of the patient’s family, who did not attend church, added Hamoline. “That is evangelization…. When we support the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, we are supporting evangelization. We are meeting people where they are at, and we are there for them as a faith community.”
In the past, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal orientation session has been part of a broader Administration Day in the diocese – this year, the two events are separate. Administration Day, which will include the launch of a new Pastoral Plan for the diocese, will be held Friday, Sept. 20 at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon.
Watch this year’s Our Faith in Action video: