REGINA — Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen told about 40 diocesan finance officers from across Canada meeting in Regina May 29 - June 2 their work is a vital part of serving the church. Bolen talked about mercy and frequently quoted Pope Francis on the subject, but he also pointed out Gospel passages commenting on money — comments that could be troubling for finance officers.
“Dioceses need financial stability,” said Bolen, “and you provide that,” but we don’t like to talk about it, he said. “Jesus talks a lot about money and it makes us nervous.”
Jesus says not to accumulate, “but we need to accumulate to be successful,” said Bolen. He referred to the Sermon on the Mount, in which Christ told the disciples not to worry about clothes, food or shelter as they went about preaching the Word. “He realized he was sending them out ‘like sheep among the wolves,’ ” said the bishop, quoting Mathew.
Bolen told the finance officers that they need to be in the world in order to do their job, but not of the world. He gave some questions for them to ponder and asked each table of delegates to think about them. Each table then responded to their discussion.
“It’s not really about the numbers, it’s about serving the church,” said one group. Another said it’s about dealing with money in a just way and being good stewards of what the people entrust to them. Another said to focus on the mission and not so much on regulations.
“You are at that cutting edge between the world and the church,” Bolen said at the end of his talk.
Regina archdiocesan financial officer Barry Wood, chair of the organizing committee, said finance officers spend a lot of time walking that balance between the regulations and the amount of funds available with all the great programs that are brought forward to carry out the mission of the church. The greatest challenge facing most of the financial officers is trying to keep faith communities alive in the face of declining attendance at mass and declining population in rural communities. “How do we keep them alive so that they have a sense of God, a sense of being a disciple of Christ and that they’re being renewed in faith every day?”
The conference was addressed by speakers representing banks, accounting firms, global marketing strategists, investment firms, lawyers, pension fund managers, fund-raising specialists, representatives of charitable organizations and firms who work with charitable and non-profit organizations.
This year’s conference was hosted by the Archdiocese of Regina and the dioceses of Saskatoon and Prince Albert.