By: Archbishop Donald Bolen
Dear Faithful of the Archdiocese of Regina,
In Ephesians chapter 4, St. Paul speaks about the diverse gifts of the Christian community, and that we need to make “every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Unity in the Church is vital because “there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
Maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is a good description of one of the principal works of a bishop. Our archdiocese covers a large geographical territory, and I had the opportunity to travel through much of it in 2018: celebrating over 30 confirmations, from Consul to Cabri on the western end of the archdiocese to Yorkton and Wawota on the eastern side; attending special celebrations, from the annual pilgrimage in Lestock to the blessing of the new church of Christ the Redeemer in Swift Current; installing new pastors and administrators throughout the archdiocese;
and visiting parishes or deaneries where particular issues were being addressed.
I ponder what it would be like to look down at all the life of our church from God’s perspective: to see all the births and the deaths and the living in between; our sacramental life, all of our efforts to share and pass on our faith, and to bring healing; our stumblings and failures; our striving to love and to live deeply. We are an archdiocese full of diversity, with blessings without number, and abundant challenges too; not least of which is maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the midst of all of that diversity.
The diocesan priorities have continued to be a guide for us. In our efforts to build strong parish communities, in addition to meeting with each priest, I wrote to each parish council chairperson at the beginning of the year, asking how things were going from the perspective of the parish’s lay leadership. These consultations with clergy and lay leaders have led to a closer accompaniment of a handful of parishes with particular challenges.
On the diocesan level, we set up an advisory committee which meets 3 or 4 times a year, and an operations committee which meets weekly to make sure that things we commit ourselves to actually get done. Bob Kowalchuk, who had served the archdiocese with great generosity and commitment for four years, retired, and we hired Lisa Polk, who brings tremendous organizational skills and a passion for spreading the faith to her work as director of pastoral services. There were many other staff changes, as noted in Lisa’s Pastoral Services report.
Our efforts to spread the good news of God’s abiding love found expression in our parishes’ weekly faithfulness, and in some special events: the hosting of St. Francis Xavier’s relics for a couple of days in January; the ordination of nine permanent and four transitional deacons in June, followed by the priestly ordination of Fr. Ricardo Escalante in November; restructuring and striving to give new impetus to our communications work over the summer; and in September, reviving the tradition of an Archdiocesan Pastoral Council Fall gathering, now referred to as the Archdiocese of Regina Congress, with Leah Perrault (who worked with us as a consultor one day a week through 2018) as our inspirational guest speaker.
Work in the areas of healing, dialogue and reconciliation continued as major priorities within the archdiocese, none more so than our work with victims of clergy sexual abuse and creating a safe environment in all of our church activities for young and vulnerable people. This included hosting prayer services for victims of clergy sexual abuse in each deanery; the appointment of Fr. Brad Fahlman as my delegate for victims of abuse; the careful study and implementation of the CCCB’s document “Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse”; the establishment of a core working group and several other committees leading us to become more victim-centred, transparent and accountable as an archdiocese; and the posting of videos on our website for victims and anyone affected by clergy sexual abuse.
Our Archdiocesan Commission for Truth and Reconciliation gave special focus on the work of formation in 2018: hosting a three-week workshop for our seminarians and others working with Indigenous Peoples; and hosting study days for clergy and a Social Justice in Motion conference on walking with our Indigenous sisters and brothers in an honest, justice-oriented and reconciling way.
Finally, in terms of growing as an archdiocese in faithful and responsible stewardship, we promoted our annual appeal with the theme ‘be joyful in hope’ and raised more than we had ever raised before, though still falling short of our goal. We face both short-term and long-term financial challenges, and continued to work on those, including preparatory work throughout 2018 towards the launching of a capital campaign for the building of a new pastoral centre and the much-needed renovation
of Holy Rosary Cathedral.
In the midst of all of that activity, we have sought to hold the people of God together on the difficult road to faithful discipleship, trusting that God is faithful and that the Holy Spirit continues to lead us.
Sincerely in Christ,
Archbishop of Regina
Read the full AGM Report HERE
Page URL: http://archregina.sk.ca/news/2019/06/24/road-discipleship-holy-spirit-leads