By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Bishop Mark Hagemoen has launched an updated Pastoral Plan for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
He presented the updated plan at the annual Administration Day gathering of priests, parish staff and ministry leaders Sept. 14 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.
The mission statement “To Proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom Today” and the scriptural theme of “Have the same mind and heart of Jesus” (Phil 2:5) will continue, as will the six priorities identified in the Pastoral Plan that was first launched in September 2019.
Following several months of reflection on that original plan by the Diocesan Pastoral Council and feedback from a diocesan rural community task force, the updated Pastoral Plan includes several new “bullet points” under the six main priorities, which are:
- Draw people Into a deepening Intimacy with the Lord;
- Make every Sunday matter;
- “Embrace your priesthood” – Discerning God’s call to each person to share in the mission and life of the Lord;
- Build and support family and community;
- Promote the healing journey in the Lord;
- Move from maintenance to mission – Orienting parishes and church organizations from bureaucracy to pastoral effectiveness.
New “bullet point” suggestions and examples under the various priorities includes “promote understanding each other and growing in love for one another – the synodal way,” which reflects the ongoing Synod on Synodality underway in the Church, in particular as a response to increasing polarization in society, Hagemoen noted.
Other additions to the plan priorities relate to the increasing challenges facing a number of smaller rural parishes across the diocese that are faced with changing demographics and declining numbers. This concern was also echoed during a question period at Administration Day, in the comments of a rural parish representative describing challenges faced by small, struggling parishes.
As part of the review of the pastoral plan, the bishop noted that he created a Rural Community Task Force to reflect upon the plan and provide feedback to the Diocesan Pastoral Council specifically about how it can address rural issues. That input is reflected in new points in the plan, including: “sharing experiences, resources – from the rural to the urban;” “foster awareness of and relationship with rural parishes;” and “parish and diocesan re-structuring as an experience of the paschal mystery (new Pentecost versus dying and death).”
Other priority additions include focusing on “significant sacramental celebrations, such as baptism and funerals,” as key moments for evangelization and outreach.
Also, as part of promoting the healing journey, new points added to the plan include building “an awareness and relationship with Creation: foster stewardship;” and addressing “exploitative societal and cultural problems, i.e. human trafficking.”
Hagemoen noted that while it might not be possible for a parish to take on all six priorities, over the past four years “parishes have said what they have found helpful is focusing on ‘what are the one or two top areas that speak to our parish community and reality? Then these will be our focus.’”
Among the themes for the diocese and the ministries provided from the Catholic Pastoral Centre in moving forward with the Pastoral Plan and its priorities, is an ongoing focus on the universal call to mission and a commitment to actively live out the plan’s priorities, said the bishop. It includes “a belief and an ownership of the plan, a belief we can change the culture, especially where it needs to be changed, in our diocese and our context.”
In all of this, it is vital to “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” he added. “We need to put ourselves at the foot of the cross, and allow the Holy Spirit to work.”
Bishop’s Homily Sept. 17 – Introducing the updated plan:
Kiply Lukan Yaworski is the communications coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – rcdos.ca