PRINCE ALBERT — Approximately 130 pastors and parish representatives met recently at St. Joseph Parish in Prince Albert for the annual Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) meeting.
“We have embarked on something new,” was the message from Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr.
He explained how the pastoral centre staff and DPC executive committee (DPCE) changed their approach to the annual spring sessions to help parishes understand ways they could better adapt to their new journeys. The goals of DPC would remain the same, but the results were hoped to spread throughout the parishes.
Morning prayer began the all-day meeting, led by the new director of liturgy, Rev. D. J. Vu and co-ordinator Heidi Epp, and commission members.
Rev. Maurice Fiolleau, director of DPC and vicar-general explained that the changes proposed in this spring’s meeting included substantial time for parishes to share their successes and failures in smaller groups due to the evaluations from the fall extended deanery meetings.
Diocesan director of stewardship, Lawrent Fournier, began the meeting by refreshing pastors and parish representatives on the paradigms presented first in the spring of 2013.
He explained: “A paradigm is a circumstance, like a floor plan, which facilitates the fulfillment of a goal, how our parishes feel and are seen, and are perceived by others. How you set this up should be something that facilitates the direction you want to go with your parish. It is about how you want your parish to be perceived and how that can assist in the fulfillment of your mission, which is evangelization. Evangelization is not a program. It’s a lifelong enrichment of a loving relationship with God.”
He knows it can be difficult to keep focused when parishes are facing problems like debt or diminishing populations.
He stated that evangelization was about the common good and very much aligned with church teachings on justice, peace, health and generosity. Following Jesus’ way, evangelization gives direction toward the common good, and realizing a person’s potential.
Rev. Jim Kaptein, director of vocations, introduced SERRA from Winnipeg and their chosen mission to help promote vocations and begin parish clubs. They spoke on their history, current activities and offered assistance to parishes.
Concluding the meeting, Thévenot spoke on the similarities between the morning’s readings and the possible difficulties and tensions during the beginning of the church.
“On the day of his resurrection, he approached his disciples and said to them ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ That is what we’re realizing today, that we are sent to go out.”
Regardless of what paradigms parishes had chosen, he pointed out that they all had parallel elements. He reminded those in attendance, “We all have a duty to play in the establishment of the kingdom of God, as we are all prophet, priest and king.” He described prayer as creating a relationship with God, keeping our focus on Christ, who has called us to fulfil his mission in the world of today.
“We have to meet a person eye to eye, that is our mission. To get out and encounter others as we have encountered Christ. A prophet stands for the truth of Jesus Christ, not necessarily the truth that we might think is right solely to be different from others, but because we have to change the current of our world by going forth. It’s God’s mission, not ours. We have to be on fire to be the Good News, to set fires in the hearts of people so that they feel joy about their faith.”