Friendship with Jesus, hospitality, families among priorities
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
Photo: Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, discusses his Priorities and Goals March 14. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)
A progress report on the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s Priorities and Goals shows Catholic parishes, schools, and individuals are responding to the four big-picture priorities announced almost a year ago.
The Priorities and Goals are providing a “great push to relook and rethink (the Church’s mission), particularly in a collaborative way,” Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, told more than 70 archdiocesan employees March 14.
The archdiocesan objectives will serve as “laser points” for priests and parishioners to focus on in coming years, and many are already stepping up to the challenge.
Make every Sunday matter
This priority aims at improving parish hospitality and making liturgies more beautiful through effective preaching and good music.
Several steps have been taken since last April, when the goals were announced, said Brett Powell, the archbishop’s delegate for development and ministries.
For instance, the archdiocese hosted a daylong liturgy conference last fall that included workshops on hospitality and the beauty and sacredness of the liturgy.
Powell said plans are in the works to offer preaching improvement classes through St. Mark’s College and at clergy study days this November.
The archdiocese hopes to offer at least one hospitality training event a year and is also working with the Epiphany Sacred Arts Guild on a liturgical art and music event in 2018.
Get closer to Jesus
The archbishop’s second priority involves encouraging personal encounters with Jesus and promoting discipleship programs.
“I’m really excited to announce that our schools have implemented the Alpha program right into the curriculum,” Powell said. Alpha, a video-based evangelization tool, has been introduced to Grade 9 students and all principals in the Catholic school system.
Other efforts to encourage personal encounters with God include promoting a women’s retreat March 31-April 2 – it’s already sold out – and planning for a men’s retreat Sept. 28-Oct. 1.
Powell added there are talks about opening a new archdiocesan retreat centre, which the archdiocese has been in need of since Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre closed in 2015.
To promote discipleship, there are plans for 2017 and 2018 to launch a network for RCIA leaders, open a faith formation house, and encourage young Catholics to spend a “gap year” serving with a missionary organization.
Strengthen marriages and families
“There’s a lot happening!” in this category, says Powell. The archdiocesan Life, Marriage, and Family Office took the lead in sponsoring programs to meet this priority from day one, hosting several marriage and parenting workshops, including three in the past three months and another three scheduled for this spring.
A comprehensive list of Catholic speakers and Christian counsellors is being compiled for parish and individual use. The lists will soon be available online.
Plans are also in the works to create programs for people experiencing separation or divorce, and parents will be surveyed so future workshops and resources can be tailored to their needs.
The archdiocese may even see unique marriage and family workshops for Chinese and First Nations communities in the near future.
Develop parish leadership and support
The fourth priority is aimed at helping parishes thrive.
Powell said a handful of events in the last few months, including a Catholic Leadership Institute presentation and a Sherry Weddell conference, addressed issues of parish engagement and were well attended.
Initiatives to support parish staff are also coming this year, including a human resources tool kit, a QuickBooks course for parish bookkeepers, and complimentary hosted websites for any of the 76 parishes that want one.
“The strength of the Priorities and Goals, really, is not in their individual brilliance, but how aligned they are to the overall mission,” said Powell.
“Our fundamental mission is a permanent one, that does not change, and that is our evangelizing mission. Our priorities and goals are rooted in that. The Church exists to evangelize; it’s our deepest identity.”
Archbishop Miller added that the goals were formed after much consultation and thought, and while they’re not the only work that the archdiocese will do, “We have to see them as priorities.”
Archbishop Miller released his first official Archdiocesan Priorities and Goals ever in 2012 with completion targets in 2015.
The priorities in this second set are more open-ended with flexible completion dates. They will be re-evaluated in about three years.
Read more about the Priorities and Goals here.