Spring Congress 2021: “Jesus, Light the Way” provides message of hope for those at in-person and online diocesan event

Some 100 participants were inspired by a diocesan Spring Congress held in-person and online April 25.

(Updated May 12, 2021)

By Marilyn Jackson, Director of Pastoral Ministry

[This article is part of a “Fuel-Up Friday” series in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon]

On Friday, April 23, 2021, 100 participants journeyed together at three host sites and over Zoom to hear three very different messages of hope.

It was a beautiful time of reflection and fellowship. Even though all 100 people were no t in the same room together, we were united through a journey shared by all.

Nobody has been exempt from a year of living through a global pandemic. Thanks to technology we were able to gather as a large faith community and share our experiences.

“I will give you treasures of darkness, riches hidden away, that you may know I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name” – Isaiah 45:3

Lessons Learned – Finding Treasures in the Darkness

Sr. Claire Rolf, OP, Prioress of the Dominican contemplative Queen of Peace Monastery near Squamish, BC, started the day with a gentle, beautiful reflection around the text of Isaiah 45:3.

In this world, we have day and night. When darkness falls and we can’t see very well, sometimes it can be frightening. It doesn’t mean we are alone, Sr. Claire assured us. Our emptiness can be a space for God, but we spend so much energy trying to fill the void. We fail to see the treasures in the darkness.

Sr. Claire’s message was a reminder for us to find joy in the routines of everyday life.

Sr. Claire also shared her beautiful surroundings as she led us in an awe-inspring meditation using images of nature: mountains, standing majestic and still; flowers, turning simply and quietly toward the sun; the cedar, roots deep in the fertile ground, reaching great hheights; the glacier, appearing inert and when exposed to the light, becomes brooks and creeks and then rivers to irrigate the earth.

Lessons Learned – Hope is an Anchor of the Soul

Sr. Malou Tibayan, a Verbum Dei Missionary (who recently began serving in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon), gave participants a hopeful message for living in the light of Christ today, and moving forward in hope – not just with optimism, but with great hope.

Sr. Malou told us: “We should never confuse or alter hope with optimism, because they are not synonyms. Research shows that optimism and hope are related to some degree, but clearly distinct from each other.

“Optimism is a psychological term. It is defined as a positive emotion, a feeling of confidence that something that you want may happen. But the great problem is that when things don’t turn out the way we expect, it can quickly flip or turn into pessimism. Therefore, we can say that optimism can be considered an unreliable friend, simply because it is unpredictable.

“Optimism vanishes away when faced with adversity and ambiguity, while hope enables us not only to live with ambiguity and adversity, but also to work through them.”

Setting the World Aflame

The third speaker – Michael Dopp (founder of the New Evangelization Summit, who works with Mission of the Redeemer Ministries – reminded us that nothing has changed in terms of the Great Commission.

The heart of the mission has not changed. Nothing that has happened in the world has ever changed the mission of the Church, which is to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

He suggested that the pandemic has provided us with an opportunity to re-set, a precious moment to re-assess, re-imagine and be bold!

He outlined three ways to evangelize:

  1. Live a radical witness of faith
  2. Proclaim the “Kerygma” in a clear and simple way: Relationship: We were created to live in relationship with God for eternity / Rupture: Our relationship with God was broken by sin / Redeemer: Jesus Christ died for our salvation / Response: Make a decision to put Christ at the centre of our life.
  3. Create places of encounter in our parishes


Sr. Claire gave us a way to draw closer to God in prayer and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings and the beauty in our daily routine. Sr. Malou inspired us to have a new vision of hope, a gift that we need to cultivate, in order to keep it alive. Michael encouraged us to get up, dust ourselves off (my words, not his), and get on with the mission of the Church.


Marilyn Jackson is the Director of Ministry Services for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – subscribe to her weekly “Fuel-Up Friday” mailout of updates and inspiration by e-mailing mjackson@rcdos.ca