Spring Congress 2023: “We are the plan – we have to make it work!”

Spring Congress 2022 was held March 16-17 in Saskatoon, focused on evangelization and making disciples. (Photos by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Marilyn Jackson, Director of Ministry Services

Last Thursday and Friday, March 16-17, close to 100 people gathered at the :Cathedral of the Holy Family for Spring Congress 2023 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

We heard about disciple-making from four different speakers, and each one left us with so much to ponder. A week later, I’m still sorting through my notes and attempting to listen to what the Holy Spirit is up to next.

What resonated throughout the two days, for me, was: what is our purpose, do we believe that it is our purpose, and what are we doing about it?

The theme for Congress was “The Great Commission – Go and Make Disciples.” All four speakers talked about practical ways to do this, and all four quoted Pope Paul VI: “Our deepest identity is to evangelize.” (Someone said to me: “I found the talks a little repetitive,” and I chuckled to myself, thinking that maybe if we hear it enough times, we might actually begin to do what we’re all called to!)

When I say “we,” please know that I mostly mean “me.”

I have been studying, reading, praying, working in ministry for many years now, and I know what my identity is as a follower of Christ, but I have yet to put it 100 per cent into action! Or maybe I just don’t recognize my own efforts yet. What I do know is that the 12 disciples were the plan, and now we’re the plan – we have to make it work.

Of course, God could do anything He wants without us, but He desires to work through us.

John Hickey said in one of his talks: “There are gifts of grace intended for each of us, that are still unopened.”

“Grace always comes with a mission”

Okay, so we know what our deepest identity is, and we know we are called to evangelize. What if our charism is not evangelism? For me personally, this is what I have to sort out. What are my gifts, what is my purpose in the big picture?

One of the speakers last week told this story:  “In 1962, President John F. Kennedy visited NASA for the first time. During his tour of the facility, he met a janitor who was carrying a broom down the hallway. The President then casually asked the janitor what he did for NASA, and the janitor replied: ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon.’ The subtext was that every job at NASA was vital to the effort, and that every employee at NASA was dedicated to the mission. The janitor knew something that most of us struggle with – the purpose of his work.”

Marc Cardaronella used this story to demonstrate what the reality is when our identity and our culture are aligned, as it was for the NASA janitor.

He said that our culture is the deepest essence of our organization – what people do when they’re alone. Our identity is the public face – what we show to everyone else. When our identity and our culture are aligned, everyone in the organization is bought into the mission, they know what their purpose is in the big picture. When the two are not aligned, we experience crisis.

This is the million dollar question I am pondering this week: where is crisis happening in my work and is the culture of our workplace lining up with what we say we believe in?

Related: Spring Congress a “how to” for evangelization



Maria Gursky was the MC for Spring Congress 2023 in the diocese of Saskatoon.



Representatives from parishes across the diocese gathered March 16-17 in Saskatoon for Spring Congress 2023.


John Hickey, Evangelization and Mission Leader, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon


Matthew Courchene, Parish Life Director, St. John Bosco Parish, Saskatoon


Mark Cardardonella, Diocese of Kansas City


Michael Hall of Catholic Christian Outreach


Fr. Kevin McGee, Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon