WINNIPEG — Hundreds of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg gathered Oct. 16 at St. Paul the Apostle Church for a mass with Archbishop Richard Gagnon to celebrate the conclusion of the 10-year archdiocesan Pastoral Vision and look ahead to the archdiocesan centennial in 2015.
Gagnon’s predecessor, Archbishop James Weisgerber, introduced the Pastoral Vision: Building a Church of Communion, in 2005, calling for a renewed focus on liturgy, stewardship, faith formation and community building. Weisgerber said his intention was “to set priorities for the next ten years so that we can celebrate our centennial with minds and hearts renewed.”
In his homily, Gagnon said “building a church of communion, a church abiding in God, is about putting our faith into action. A thousand years passes in a day for God,” Gagnon said, alluding to Psalm 90. “The past 10 years was an honourable moment in God’s life. If we look at the greater church, something happened. Hundreds of people were involved in many capacities.”
The archbishop said over those 10 years many of the plans and events became great achievements, others less so. “Pastoral planning is very messy,” Gagnon said.
“There are successes and there are failures. We can say we didn’t do this or didn’t do that.” But he told the gathering to keep in mind the words of Paul in Philippians: “Whatever is good, think about those things, raise your heart to higher things. There has been much thought and action in our community over the past decade about building a church of communion,” Gagnon said.
To acknowledge the work of the religious serving in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, two Sisters of the Grey Nuns, Sisters Jo-Ann Duggan, SGM, and Elaine Baete, SGM, brought bread and wine for the eucharist to the archbishop.
Representatives from each parish of the three Winnipeg-area deaneries came forward to present the archbishop with an offering from the parishes in support of Hospitality House Refugee Ministry, which is administered by the Archdiocese of Winnipeg and the Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land, both of which are a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the Canadian government. Hospitality House is the largest individual private sponsor of refugees into Canada.
Gagnon said in the evening’s reading from James, the writer asks “what good is it to say you have faith but not have works? This is referring to a fundamental vision of Christian life.”
He quoted Pope Benedict XVI, saying, “since God has first loved us, love is now no longer a mere command. It is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us to love others and that faith erupts in good works.” And he quoted Blessed Mother Teresa. “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.”
Gagnon spoke of the message of Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. “If we want to experience more joy we will have to give our faith to others.”
“There is a legacy of things learned from the Pastoral Vision,” Gagnon said. “In 2005 this archdiocese put its hands to the plow to prepare for the year of the great jubilee. We must go forward with Christ and our great patron, St. Joseph.”