REGINA — For the first time in recent history the Regina archdiocese has produced an annual report, which was made public at an annual meeting at the archdiocese offices.
“We are doing two new things here,” said Archbishop Donald Bolen in speaking with the Prairie Messenger. “First, we’ve produced a good report, not a comprehensive view of where we are as an archdiocese, but an honest overview. Reports have been produced in the past but they haven’t been made public. Second, holding an annual meeting is a new initiative. A number of people came out and I think as we face current challenges, next year more people will come out. I think it’s a good start.”
About a dozen people plus staff were in attendance. One of the attendees questioned how the meeting had been advertised, suggesting more people would have attended had they known about it. The notice was on the website, was the response, but more avenues and communication vehicles will be used next year.
“What we really need is not just people coming out to meetings but to be engaged in the challenges we face as a church and work together,” said Bolen.
Brief verbal reports were given by the archbishop; Robert Kowalchuk, executive director for Pastoral Services; Eric Gurash, co-ordinator for lay ministry and evangelization programs; youth co-ordinator Michelle Braden; and Chief Financial Officer Deacon Barry Wood.
“We decided we needed to communicate much more with all of our faithful. We need to be much more transparent with all the people in the archdiocese. It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time,” said Kowalchuk.
Simply titled Annual Report, it is available on the archdiocese’s website, https://archregina.sk.ca/. It contains more details of the various ministries and includes some bare-bones financial information with explanatory notes that show revenues declining and expenditures increasing.
The financial situation is one of the challenges the archbishop referred to. “We have major financial challenges but we are not in a state of crisis. We’re just in a time of challenge. Much of the church’s history has been lived in a time of challenge. Many of our parishes are in a time of challenge and when our parishes are financially challenged, so is the archdiocese.”
Bolen also referred to declining attendance at mass — and especially young people not being visible in the church. “Perhaps it shows we are not working closely enough with Catholic schools.”
There are signs that the archdiocesan church is spiritually healthy: 10 seminarians, the most since the early 1950s, are at various stages in their journey to the priesthood. Nine of the 10 permanent diaconate candidates (one withdrew because of health problems) are completing their third year in the four-year program, and 550 Lay Ministry Formation alumni are actively working and serving the archdiocesan church.