SASKATOON — The Bishop’s Annual Appeal was launched at a diocesan Administration Day Sept. 13 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
Gifts to the Annual Appeal meet needs across the diocese, providing outreach to those who are sick, grieving, imprisoned or in need and ensuring that ministries such as faith formation, catechetics, youth ministry and vocations are building up the church through the nurturing of missionary disciples.
The appeal is possible because of the support of volunteers and leaders in parishes across the Diocese of Saskatoon, says Cathy Gilje, development manager for the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation. The goal remains the same as last year: $1.5 million.
Gilje reports that the appeal slightly exceeded that goal last year, and is encouraging parish representatives to help spread the word about the work that is possible thanks to the continuing generosity of donors.
The theme of the 2016 Appeal is “the face of mercy,” echoing the message of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy declared this year by Pope Francis.
Mercy is at the heart of the many important ministries supported by the BAA, points out Bishop Donald Bolen in this year’s BAA video. “Mercy begins and ends with God, but by his grace it passes through us — it passes through our lives — as we are both recipients and bearers of God’s mercy.”
With his upcoming installation as Archbishop of Regina, Bolen notes that the BAA will go forward this year in Saskatoon without the “B for Bishop.”
However, Bolen stresses that the appeal has never been about the bishop; rather, the it has been about the initiatives and ministries that are carried out because of the support of donors.
The needs and the challenges remain, says Bolen, as do “the possibilities that flow from your generosity.”
Donations to the appeal support such ministries as Catholic hospital chaplaincy, education of laity, adult faith formation, deaf ministry, Aboriginal ministry, the Office of Justice and Peace, prison ministry, Christian Initiation and Catechetics, youth and young adult ministry, vocations, the education of priests, communications, the Foundations program, and the Msgr. Michael J. Koch Resource Library, as well as the diocesan Liturgy Commission, Ecumenical Commission, and partner organizations, including Catholic Family Services, the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism and the Saskatoon Friendship Inn.
Strengthening families, healing marriages, walking with those who mourn and accompanying those who struggle, the Office of Marriage and Family Life is another of the ministries supported by the BAA. This includes marriage preparation, Retrouvaille (helping marriages in difficulty), Transitions for those dealing with divorce or separation, From Mourning to Dawn for those grieving the death of a spouse, and the Miscarriage Awareness Committee.
Gifts to the BAA also support the Lay Formation Program, which since 2007 has included an Aboriginal Catholic stream that offers Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis people an opportunity to deepen their Catholic faith within their own cultural and spiritual traditions. Graduates of the Lay Formation program go forth to serve their communities, live out their faith, and be the face of mercy for others, says diocesan co-ordinator Mona Goodman.
Funded by gifts to the BAA, the diocesan Office of Justice and Peace supports many initiatives, working with a range of community partners on advocacy, awareness and action related to many issues, seeking justice and the protection of human life and human dignity at every age and stage.
Information materials about the appeal are being distributed by parish volunteers, and the Bishop’s Annual Appeal video will be shown in parishes this fall, as well as being posted on the Catholic Foundation website: http://dscatholicfoundation.ca