By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Priests, lay staff and ministry leaders gathered on the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross Sept. 14 for an annual diocesan Administration Day held at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.
The day started with an opening Mass celebrated by Bishop Mark Hagemoen and a number of priests from across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
“We begin the fall season with a very practical day,” the bishop noted in his homily. “I am inspired that this particular day falls upon the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross.”
He noted that the cross and “having the mind and heart of Christ Jesus” shows the way for parishes, ministries and the diocese to navigate and move forward in proclaiming the Kingdom of God in a spirit of humility and patience, even in the face of many challenges and a polarized, divided world.
The Administration Day program was led by MC Greg Chatlain, the new diocesan Director of Finance and Administration at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, and included introducing and welcoming new priests, parish and diocesan staff members, followed by a range of information updates and presentations about ministry and upcoming events and programs in the diocese of Saskatoon.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen introduced the newly updated Pastoral Plan prepared by the Diocesan Pastoral Council after several months of reflection. Determining that the original plan launched four years ago in September 2019 is still pertinent, the decision was to update some of the priorities, rather than to launch an entirely new plan, he said.
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 – along with several additions. (See: related article HERE)
Raissa Bugyi of the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation, provided a presentation on planned giving, noting that information and a video about planned giving are now available to parishes.
Later in the day, Bugyi also introduced the Bishop’s Annual Appeal 2023, which will begin in parishes in October in support of a range of ministry and programs in the diocese of Saskatoon.
Administration and Finance
Amit Raj, the new Senior Accountant at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, provided information about the benefits and logistics of setting up electronic transfers to make payments. He noted that electronic banking has a shorter processing time than paper cheques, is less costly, and protects private information. He reviewed supports available from financial institutions and the diocese for making the transition, and best practices for security, administration and accountability.
Ejibha (Jibsy) Ehkeng, the new coordinator of Human Resource at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, gave a presentation about the importance of “Emotional Intelligence” in improving team performance and building empathic, compassionate workplaces and parish communities.
Information about other Administration and Finance matters included reminders about reporting and insurance, and an update about the diocesan Office of Migration’s work in refugee sponsorship.
As a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the federal government, the diocese of Saskatoon was recently evaluated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Chatlain reported on behalf of Office of Migration coordinator Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard. The diocesan Office of Migration and its parish and community sponsorship groups passed that evaluation and were placed in the top category (A1) with no issues raised.
Dating from 2015, the diocese has sponsored 331 refugees to come to Canada, with another 144 either arrived or still in sponsorship to the end of 2022. In 2023, 27 people have been sponsored so far, with more applications underway. There are currently 13 parish refugee committees plus one community group community who are sponsoring refugees through the diocesan Office of Migration.
“September will be a big ‘graduation month,’ with 21 people completing their 12 months of sponsorship, noted Chatlain. “This is a huge achievement by the parish and community settlement teams, as well as by the newcomers themselves.”
“You Will Be My Witnesses”
A joint Bishop’s Annual Appeal and diocesan ministry “resource guide” publication was introduced during Administration Day. The 12-page booklet will be mailed to parishioners, as well as being available online at https://rcdos.ca/resource-guide
John Hickey, diocesan Evangelization and Mission Leader compared the 12-page booklet to the city of Saskatoon’s “leisure guide” of swimming lessons and recreational programs. In addition to diocesan programming, a number of parish and group events are also included in the publication.
A letter from Bishop Mark Hagemoen about the Bishop’s Annual Appeal and its 2023 theme “You Will Be My Witnesses” is also included in the resource guide publication, along with a BAA donation form.
Ministry coordinators provided updates and information about programs and events during Administration Day, including Astrid Alas, Adult Faith coordinator; Myron Rogal, Justice and Peace coordinator; Sr. Marta Piano, co-coordinator of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica Formation Program; Jaqueline Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy; and Marilyn Jackson, Director of Ministry Services. (See: related article HERE).
Development and Peace – Caritas Canada
Michael LeBlanc, provincial animator with Development and Peace – Caritas Canada, provided an overview of the Canadian Catholic organization and its work, describing the current “Stand for the Land” theme, and the work of the organization to raise awareness about issues, to encourage advocacy among concerned Canadians, and to raise funds to assist partners in the Global South.
Heeding the call of Development and Peace partner ERIC-Radio Progreso, the Canadian Catholic organization is mobilizing to support communities in Guapinol and the San Pedro sector in Honduras whose lands, waters, livelihoods and even lives are threatened by an open-pit iron mine. “Since the mine was irregularly established in a national park, it has polluted the rivers. The communities’ peaceful protests have been met with violence and repression. Trumped-up charges have been laid against 32 people, eight have spent over 900 days in detention, and three have been killed.”
LeBlanc noted that Development and Peace also supports humanitarian efforts in times of crisis, such as the recent devastating earthquake in Morocco. Development and Peace – Caritas Canada (DPCC) is in contact with organizations in the region, including Caritas Morocco. The wider Caritas Internationalis network, too, is mobilizing to help as necessary.
RELATED: Donate to Development and Peace – Caritas Canada online at: devp.org/en/ or call toll-free: 1-888-234-8533 or mail labelled donation to: 555 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 8th Floor, Montreal, Quebec, H2Z 1B1.
Communication updates and diocesan communication platforms were also briefly reviewed at Administration Day, and Julie Leblanc, Executive Assistant to the Curia, provided information about an upcoming cybersecurity training session for pastors and Catholic Pastoral Centre staff.
Diocesan safeguarding coordinator Brenda FitzGerald joined Chatlain to provide an update about Covenant of Care safeguarding, including a new process for requesting a Vulnerable Sector Search for volunteers.
To conclude the day, Bishop Mark Hagemoen gave an update about policy development, before providing a closing blessing to participants.
Kiply Lukan Yaworski is the communications coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – rcdos.ca