REGINA — The Regina archdiocese’s new parish life animator is working with the archdiocese’s approximately 150 parishes to help them be vibrant and relevant within their communities. Jennifer Thompson’s appointment was Jan. 1 and she has already visited several parishes and deaneries.
“The visits have been very positive,” said Thompson. “The priests have been very open and shared with me some of their struggles, their needs, and have made suggestions how the (chancery) office can help them in their mission.”
Archbishop Daniel Bohan said the new position grew out of the Vision Quest process that began in 2001 to develop a new vision for the church to carry out its mission in the face of challenges posed in modern society. It resulted in the development of the Pastoral Plan that called on parishes to be welcoming communities, have programs for promoting social justice, youth ministry programs, promote good stewardship, and more involvement of the laity, among other services. The archdiocese office was to provide support to the parishes.
Pope Francis has now called the church to refocus its vision, said the archbishop. “He calls us to see ourselves as a missionary church, not caught up solely in our own preservation but rather as seeing that our parishes need to go out to the society around us and let people know the good news of our life in Jesus Christ. The purpose of the parish life animator is to help our parishes find a way for each community to become a missionary, evangelizing parish by looking at their resources and their vitality.”
Thompson usually has other members of the chancery office accompany her so they can communicate the services of their office.
“It’s all about relationships,” said Thompson.
Some priests have told her they feel isolated from their fellow priests and from the archdiocese office and don’t know the resources available to them from the archdiocese office.
“Each parish has strengths and gifts,” said Thompson. “We show them how we can help them, how they can access the resources here.”
The Regina archdiocese is one of the larger dioceses in Canada, covering all of Southern Saskatchewan within the Alberta and Manitoba borders and everything south of a rough diagonal line running from just north of Maple Creek in the southwest to just north of Preeceville in the northeast.
Thompson first joined the Regina archdiocese in 2013 as Annual Appeal co-ordinator. She has a degree in religious studies from the University of Regina, is currently working on a master’s degree and taking a class on redemption and the sacraments from Campion College, University of Regina. She said the last 10 years of her life have been spent in supporting the church in various roles.