By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Adult Faith directions, priorities and programs were highlighted as part of an annual Administration Day Sept. 14 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
Adult Faith programs
A “Wednesday Afternoon Live” panel at Administration Day 2022 highlighted upcoming events in the diocese, including a Transform conference Oct. 15; a Fall Congress Day Oct. 20; a “Horizons of Hope” palliative care workshop available to all parishes; and an Adult Faith series running weekly from Oct. 4 to Nov. 1.
AWAKEN – “A Christian Witness in the World” – A new five-part Adult Faith diocesan ministry series will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays Oct. 4 to Nov. 1 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1235-12th Street East, Saskatoon. SCHEDULE: Oct. 4 – John Hickey: Evangelization in the Family / Oct. 11 and 18- Jackie Saretsky: Horizons of Hope: A Toolkit for Palliative Care, Pt. 1 and 2 / Oct. 25 – Myron Rogal : Human Trafficking in our Communities: From Harm to Hope / Nov. 1 – Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard: Refugee Ministry – “It’s Complicated”
The Admin Day afternoon panel opened with a testimony from Our Lady of Lourdes parishioners Jim and Brenda Tryhuba, who shared their faith journey of searching for a better understanding of their Catholic faith and the teachings of the Church, describing how they have been enriched and nourished by recent Adult Faith programs in the diocese.
“We heard about the Awaken Series and that sounded like something that we wanted to do, and participated in Modules 2 and 3 this winter and spring. The topics presented in both modules were appealing to us, and the convenience of one evening a week for four weeks worked well with our schedules,” said Brenda.
“Module 3 was presented by Fr Geoff (Young) and he had a lot to say about our Church’s mission, our call to holiness, why we worship and how we are a sacramental people. He is full of knowledge and a great resource,” she described. Module 2 was a ministry series with four different modules, including focus on evangelization, palliative care, prison ministry and truth and reconciliation.
“Through these sessions we realized just how important evangelization is, even if it is in small doses, and that we are called to participate in this mission,” she said.
“We were learning ways of just being there for someone who is struggling with their faith, being a good listener, not judging and offering advice,” summarized Jim. “We are both feeling more confident, and yes, maybe bolder in how we are doing evangelizing. We have these specific Catholic perspectives, from all the sessions that we have shared with our family and friends, that may have doubts or struggling with their faith.”
The format of the Adult Faith sessions means the commitment is manageable, added Brenda. “The breakdown of the various sessions is not so daunting as a year or two commitment to faith formation.”
Jim added: “If we want to grow in our faith, we have to work at it.”
The panel discussion continued with diocesan ministry leaders Myron Rogal, coordinator of Justice and Peace; Jackie Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy, and Jennifer Petersen, coordinator of Adult Faith providing information about upcoming programs, including a diocesan Fall Congress Oct. 20 with a focus on ending human trafficking; a Horizons of Hope workshop on palliative care available to parishes; and a new Awaken five-part Adult Faith series Oct. 4-Nov.1 .
FALL CONGRESS 2022: “Working Towards Freedom” – A Day of Prayer, Dialogue, Study and Action to End Human Trafficking, with keynote speaker Sr. Nancy Brown will be held Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, 123 Nelson Road, Saskatoon, beginning with Mass at 8:45 a.m., followed by Congress sessions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $25 per person (includes lunch). Register at Registration LINK or for more information contact Myron Rogal at email@example.com or (306) 659-5841.
HORIZONS OF HOPE workshops are available this fall, using a resource created by the CCCB as a toolkit for Catholic Parishes on Palliative Care. The four-module workshop weeks to empower and educate parishioners and address important question about palliative care, dying, death, suffering and bereavement. The goal is for the workshop to be taught in every parish community across the diocese. Contact Jackie Saretsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or (306) 659-5839.
“Every Catholic a Disciple Maker”
In an earlier presentation entitled “Every Catholic a Disciple Maker,” Evangelization and Mission Leader John Hickey offered an overview of an ongoing and renewed focus on evangelization and creating missionary disciples.
Common challenges facing many churches — getting people back after COVID-19, declining numbers of volunteers, strained finances — are all reflections of the same thing, he said. “What many of our parishes are experiencing is a lack of engagement, even disengagement, in the church.”
Hickey noted that for several years, speakers at diocesan events have focused on such themes as intentional discipleship and the importance of introducing people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and encouraging them to make a conscious choice to become his disciple (presented by Andre Regnier, founder of Catholic Christian Outreach in 2020); and the fundamental call of the Church to evangelize (presented by Michael Dopp of Redeemer Ministries).
In another session held in the diocese, Brett Powell of the Archdiocese of Vancouver proclaimed “Christendom is dead,” and how “as Catholics we need to have the courage to see the reality of the situation we find ourselves in and be willing to chart a new course, a new vision of where we need to go, remembering that we have the power of the Holy Spirit on our side,” Hickey continued.
To continue the discussion of finding new ways for parishes to evangelize and to create missionary disciples, Hickey invited input from Marc Cardaronella of the diocese of Kansas City (via Zoom) and local Parish Life Director Matthew Courchene of St. John Bosco Parish, which is eight years in to a renewed focus on evangelization and discipleship.
Cardaronella described his diocese’s “Clear Path” program to bring missionary disciples forward in parishes, by answering the call of recent popes to put energy and resources into once again making evangelization a priority and create disciples who could in turn make other disciples.
“The pathway of discipleship is put together from two resources — the thresholds of conversion from Sherry Waddell (of the Catherine of Sienna Institute) and a series of thresholds re-developed from FOCUS (the Fellowship Of Catholic University Students),” Cardaronella reported, saying both steps are needed.
“After people have made a decision for Christ, what do you do with them then?” he queried, stressing the importance of having a pathway of next effective steps to take. “If you don’t make those stepping stones easy to cross… you are going to have people fall away from their faith.”
The resource “Every Catholic a Disciple Maker,” written by Cardaronella was distributed to participants at the Administration Day in Saskatoon. “We were thinking how do we reach the people who are not in the parish, the people who are not Catholic? And it comes from our own every day ordinary associations with people,” said Cardaronella.
Mobilizing each parishioner to be a disciple becomes the most effective way to reach those who are not in the pews, he said. The resource is designed to help equip parishioners for that initial evangelizing connection. “What are very basic things that every one could know and understand to be an initial disciple-maker?”
The challenge and biggest hindrance is to move parishes from all the things they are used to doing — many of them good things — to a more single-minded focus on mission, Cardaronella said. “We only have limited resources in terms of money and time and people who can give their time… if the mission of our parish is to be missionary, what has to give? What do we need to get rid of that is less important than mission? How do we stream-line the missionary plan?”
He noted that the “Every Catholic A Disciple Maker” resource draws heavily on the book “Intentional Accompaniment,” written by Michael Hall of Catholic Christian Outreach — who will be the keynote speaker at the diocesan Transform workshop to be held 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.
Transform will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, featuring Michael Hall of CCO, author of “Intentional Accompaniment.” Cost is $30 (includes lunch and refreshments. Register at Registration LINK or for more information contact John Hickey at email@example.com or (306) 659-5847.
During the session, Hickey also read a message from Fr. Matthew Book of Light of Christ Parish in Denver, Colorado, who shared the journey of that large American parish to focus on making disciples.
“For many years as a parish, we placed an inordinate amount of attention as a parish on those who were already very engaged in the life of the parish… as a leadership team our focus was on keeping the already-highly-engaged, highly engaged,” wrote Book. “Yet at the same time we were dismayed and confused at the large amount of parishioners who came every Sunday but who were otherwise disengaged from the life of the parish.”
Parish leadership felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to become more outward focused, and the parish team attended an Amazing Parish conference, and began working on becoming “less focused on keeping volunteers, but laser-focused on making disciples.”
Consulting expert help, and enlisting CCO resources, the parish developed a strategic plan and a discipleship pathway called “Follow Me.” Ministries that did not fit into identified steps of evangelization were cut. This has brought transformation to the parish in many ways, including parishioner engagement and increased giving.
“Most importantly, there is a noticeable change in the disposition of our parish,” wrote Book. “There is a renewed sense of confidence, of zeal and participation. Shifting gears as a parish was hard work and it took commitment at all levels and resulted in many difficult conversations. But I can say confidently that going from maintenance to mission is where the Holy Spirit led us and we are better for it.”
Hickey then invited Matthew Courchene, Parish Life Director at St. John Bosco Parish in Saskatoon to give an overview about that parish’s eight-year journey to focus on creating missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. “This isn’t just an overnight fix. It does take time, but it is a process that can be accomplished,” he said. “Every parish is going to be different. Every parish is going to have different people, and different ways needed to engage those people.”
At the same time, there are some foundational principles that every parish needs to do to grow disciples in their parish, including a vision and a strategy, Courchene said. “What you are called to do is make disciples of Jesus Christ. This is the only misison that the Church is given. This is your mission,” he said, describing how the parish took time to reflect and discern, reading Acts 6, which states that the primary mission is to proclaim the gospel. “As we read that, two things occurred to us. We were spending way too much time on the secondary, and not on the primary,” Courchene said. It became clear that the parish needed to make some changes – “and we did.”
St. John Bosco parish eventually articulated its mission in its over-arching description: “A parish that helps people walk with Jesus,” said Courchene, stressing that everything the parish now does is oriented toward that end.
The parish examined what a disciple is — someone who worships God, connects with others, grows in faith, gives with joy, and shares the gospel — and then developed “discipleship drivers” of focusing on “outsiders,” providing a great Sunday experience, offering clear discipleship steps, and focusing on the Word, sacraments and virtue. “We want to make sure that we bring people into a relationship with Christ,” summarized Courchese.
The parish then worked on finding practical ways to fulfill those “drivers” — including clearly communicating the goals and opportunities to parishioners, and providing concrete and practical opportunities to worship, connect, grow in faith, give with joy and share the gospel. In everything the parish does, people are always invited to take the next step, he added. People who are new to faith need someone to walk with them, he stressed. “Hopefully as you train them, they are going to invest in other people”
“We also connect all of our ministries to our values,” Courchene said, noting that ministry training for parish leaders is provided online, with the parish website serving as a source of formation as well as information. “It doesn’t matter what you are doing in our parish, everything you do is connected with one of our values.”
A new program called “iShare” has been developed to help parishioners reach others and to engage in “intentional accompaniment,” to help them grow in their relationship with Jesus. “We want to make sure that the infra-structure we are inviting them to are hospitable environments,” he said. “It has to be something solid. Something where they are given a clear pathway for growth.”
“The mission is what we are doing, the strategy is how we are doing it, but the impetus behind all of this is the why,” said Courchene. “First of all we are doing this because Jesus tells us to do it… and if we want a future in our Church, and if we want vitality and growth in the future, we need to make disciples.”
Adult Faith events