Co-ordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy Jackie Saretsky spends time with a patient who is far from home. Hospital chaplaincy is one of a range of ministries supported by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, which is once again underway in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. (Photo by Tim Yaworski )
SASKATOON — Parish leaders and volunteers across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon are once again sharing the importance and impact of ministries supported by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, which was recently launched in local parishes and online. The goal of the 2017 appeal is to raise $1.575 million to support a range of ministries and outreach programs in the diocese and beyond.
The theme of this year’s appeal is “Let Your Light Shine,” with a focus on Our Lord’s words about salt and light in the Gospel of Matthew: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
“Gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal ensure we can continue these vital efforts to let our light shine as followers of Jesus Christ,” says diocesan administrator Rev. Kevin McGee, who wrote this year’s letter to the faithful about the appeal before the Sept. 12 appointment of Saskatoon’s new bishop.
During a recent visit to the diocese in preparation for his installation as Saskatoon’s eighth bishop on Nov. 23, Bishop Mark Hagemoen took time to reflect on the importance of stewardship and the impact of the diocesan appeal. His comments were added to a video about the appeal shown in parishes and posted online.
“Light is a powerful way in which we are blessed and receive the light of God, and it is a very important metaphor around the light of Christ and his salvation for the world,” noted the bishop, who is presently serving in the northern diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, where light’s impact is greatly felt in the changing seasons.
“Good stewardship is so important in the life, work, and mission of Christ and his church, and the support of the mission is something I very much look forward to,” Hagemoen added. “This is a diocese that has done a lot of good work in many ministry areas.”
The incoming Saskatoon bishop expressed his appreciation for the ministry support that so many provide through donations to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, and he said he is looking forward to serving alongside the People of God in the Diocese of Saskatoon.
Ministries supported by gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal both “reach out in love” and “build up the church” and include outreach and faith development programs such as hospital chaplaincy, youth ministry, Lay Formation, Marriage and Family Life, Aboriginal parish ministry, Justice and Peace, Catholic prison outreach (Restorative Ministry), the Catholic Deaf Ministry, ecumenism, communications, Christian Initiation and Catechetics, vocations promotion and the education of priests and future priests.
As one of the ministries supported by the BAA, hospital chaplaincy is vitally important to patients and families faced with illness or treatment decisions, who may be dealing with uncertainty or pain, physical or spiritual suffering, as well as death and dying, says Rev. Rhéal Bussière, who works with diocesan hospital chaplaincy co-ordinator Jackie Saretsky, who oversees Catholic chaplaincy in both Royal University and Saskatoon City Hospitals.
Gifts to the BAA also go toward spiritual care at St. Paul’s Hospital. “Hospital chaplaincy is one of those ministries where we really rely on the participation of the people of the Diocese of Saskatoon,” notes Bussière. Whether it involves compassionate listening, offering prayer or providing sacraments, the compassionate presence of hospital chaplaincy is making a difference. “It is essential that we be there for those in our hospitals.”
This presence is particularly important for those who are far from home, or without any other support, adds Saretsky. “I think one of the most important parts of my vocation is connecting with patients from out of town, especially those from farther away.”
Another important role for Saretsky is recruiting, training, and supporting a team of volunteers who assist with hospital visiting. “Training volunteers well is important, so that they feel supported, so that they feel comfortable and oriented to the hospital,” Saretsky says. “Volunteers play a huge role. We are called to serve; we are called to support those in need, to offer comfort, to offer compassionate care.”
Another ministry that has an ongoing impact on the diocese is vocations promotion and the education of priests and future priests. Gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal support seminarians in their studies, points out Rev. Daniel Yasinski, who along with Rev. Colin Roy, serves as a vocation director in the Diocese of Saskatoon.
“The Bishop’s Annual Appeal builds up the church by actually putting priests in our parishes,” Yasinski says. “It funds the formation of our priests.”
He reflects on how gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal have permitted him to serve as a priest — right now as pastor for parishes at Kerrobert, Major, Dodsland, and Luseland, Sask. In the 2017 BAA video, Yasinski and recently ordained diocesan priests Rev. Edward Gibney and Rev. Michael Yaremko all express their gratitude for the support they received from the people of the diocese through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.
For more information see www.dscatholicfoundation.ca or contact Cathy Gilje at (306) 659-5891.