WINNIPEG — The Archdiocese of Winnipeg’s annual appeal, Sharing God’s Gifts, is entering its 17th year and it was deemed opportune to renew both the appeal and the archdiocesan stewardship office, which has been vacant for nearly two years.
Priests in the archdiocese gathered with Archbishop Richard Gagnon March 8 for an exchange of ideas aimed at revitalizing the appeal and stewardship.
“We’re looking at an important topic,” the archbishop told the 55 priests in attendance at Good Shepherd Parish in Portage la Prairie. He asked the gathering for feedback and direction “in the way we frame our appeal in terms of stewardship.”
The process began last fall with the creation of a steering committee and the enlisting of a consultant specializing in diocesan renewal in Canada and the United States. The Reid Group of Seattle, Wash., was asked to review Sharing God’s Gifts and the stewardship office to examine ways to reconstruct the appeal while integrating the stewardship office with the Annual Appeal and engaging parishes in the process.
Consultant Tom Reid explained to the gathering that the appeal and stewardship office “are two distinct areas, although not unrelated. How do those things work together?” he asked. “The reconstruction will take work and not everybody can be pleased, but what we have to consider is the greater good of the archdiocese,” Reid said.
The consultant’s report and recommendations for change were released in February based on steering committee meetings and focus group gatherings with clergy and laity.
The report recommended a renewed commitment to stewardship as a way of life in the archdiocese. It also identified confusion around the annual appeal, which supports many ministries, and the annual assessment which pays for the administration costs of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg. The report further concluded that there is a need for better communication to pastors and the people of the archdiocese.
The report recommends two new archdiocesan offices be created: a development office to oversee the annual appeal and a renewed stewardship office.
One pastor suggested that parishioners consider themselves a member of only their parish: “They are nourished in a particular location; people never think of being nourished by the Archdiocese of Winnipeg.” Gagnon responded by saying an attitude of community is vital for the good of the archdiocese and all of parishes. “We are all the archdiocese,” he said.
Deacon Ted Wood, a member of the steering committee, said the appeal “should be treated as an invitation to participate in the pastoral mission of the archdiocesan church. It’s a choice about how we give our money and how to build a better church. The success will depend on the ability of the archdiocese to show its good pastoral works that people can support.”
A show of hands as the morning concluded showed a positive response from the priests and pastors in support of what had been reviewed. “It has been a fruitful discussion,” Gagnon told the priests. “It is necessary and important to have your input.”
“It’s up to the local church to look beyond parish needs; it really is an act of faith,” the archbishop concluded. “The goal of Sharing God’s Gifts must appeal to people. We have to create a sense of common mission in the archdiocese.”
To read more about the ministries supported by the appeal, visit www.archwinnipeg.ca.