By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Community and the strong foundations provided by faith are among the touchstones for the new Executive Director of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation.
Raissa Bugyi will begin her new role July 5, 2021. Her appointment was announced May 27 by Ray Kolla, Chair of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation, the fund-raising arm that supports the work of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
“On behalf of the Catholic Foundation and Bishop Mark Hagemoen, I am delighted to announce the appointment of a new Executive Director for the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation,” said Kolla in a letter to parishes, pastors, staff and parishioners across the diocese.
“Raissa comes to us with a deep understanding and appreciation for the importance of community and faith. Most recently she has served as Executive Director of Preston Park II Retirement Residence in Saskatoon, and has extensive experience in marketing and management,” Kolla said.
Raissa Bugyi will succeed Executive Director Don Gorsalitz, who has served as the Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation since it was established. Gorsalitz is leaving that role in order to focus more time on his consulting firm, DCG Philanthropic Services Inc.
Thanks to Don Gorsalitz
On behalf of the Catholic Foundation board and the diocese of Saskatoon, Kolla thanked Don Gorsalitz for his “dedication, commitment and outstanding service.”
“Don’s generosity in providing his expertise, professionalism and passion in a volunteer capacity, leading the Catholic Foundation through its establishment and growth, and his many stewardship and fund-raising accomplishments in our diocese over the years has had an immeasurable impact on our diocesan Church and the wider community,” said Kolla.
Reflecting on the transition, Bishop Mark Hagemoen said: ““We will miss Don Gorsalitz very very much. He has contributed so much to building our diocese. However, I am very grateful that God has provided us Raissa, to build on the good work and strong foundation established by Don.”
Introducing the new Executive Director
Raissa (pronounced “Ray-sha”) Bugyi was born in Lestock, SK, and grew up in Wishart, SK, as a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. She points to the faith and the example of her parents as the foundation for her own sense of community.
“It is those roots that matter so much,” she said, describing the great example her parents provided as she was growing up.
“Faith was always important. My parents’ doors were always open. If one more person came for a Christmas meal or a family meal, my mother would never turn anyone away. She would say ‘invite whomever you want, we will make it work.’”
That strong spirit of generosity and service is behind Bugyi’s interest in philanthropy and working with the community to make the world a better place. “I feel it is so important to give, and to teach people how to give, to provide an opportunity for them to give, and to help them to realize that when you give, you get so much back.”
The blessings of serving at Preston Park II have reinforced that firm belief, she added. “The people I have met here do not realize how much they have given back to me,” says Bugyi, describing her “soft spot” for seniors.
Children and youth are another priority for Bugyi, the mother of four. “As a community, we can do so much more to give our kids solid roots.”
She added: “Everybody has a story, everybody has challenges and hardships – it is what we do with that experience that matters. Instead of focusing on the struggle, we can turn that into a positive…. And when you have a sense of community and of acceptance and belonging it comes easier.”
A long-time figure-skating coach, Bugyi and her husband moved to New Zealand for a time, before returning to Canada to live and work in Meadow Lake and then Humboldt. In Regina, she and her husband set up their own business, selling it after nine years to move with their four children to Saskatoon in 2013.
In her time at Preston Park II Bugyi says she has worked to “establish a community within a community.”
Listening and compassion have been integral to her leadership at the retirement residence. “Change is always difficult at any age, and transitioning into a different stage, new residents are afraid,” she described. “We worked to create an experience that sets up everyone for success, that lets each person know ‘there is a place for you here.’”
In his message to the diocese about the appointment, board Chair Ray Kolla looked ahead to the ongoing mission of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation.
“We look forward to Raissa’s arrival, as we continue the Catholic Foundation’s mission to provide the financial resources for current and future needs of our diocese through good stewardship practices, fund-raising and helping parishioners to be actively engaged and supported through their faith journey,” Kolla said.