People gather at the Spring Congress hosted by the Diocese of Saskatoon, in 2022. Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Saskatoon congress a ‘how to’ spread the Word

  • March 11, 2023

Each year over the past four the Diocese of Saskatoon has been hosting a Spring Congress to liaise about diocesan plans with clergy, staff, lay leadership and Church attendees from its 92 member parishes.

The “why’s” and “what’s” of evangelization have been on past agendas, and this year when the congress unfolds March 16-17 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, the plan is to move on to the “how” of evangelization, said Marilyn Jackson, the diocese’s director of ministry services.

Jackson told The Catholic Register that these two-day summits are a good “occasion for people in our diocese to come together for food, fellowship and to come to get to know and support one another.”

Previous iterations of this gathering featured in-depth topics such as navigating a post-pandemic future and exploring the themes presented to the Church through the Synod on Synodality. Jackson said attendees are learning the practical know-how to renew their parish evangelically this year.

“Our diocesan pastoral plan was promulgated in 2019, and we have been building on our mission to proclaim Christ and God’s Kingdom today,” said Jackson. “Over the last few years, we have covered the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of evangelization, and this year we feel like people are ready to move into the practical ‘how.’ ”

Guest speakers Marc Cardaronella, catechesis and faith formation director for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and Michael Hall, a senior specialist in ministry training and program development for Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), are set to provide concrete steps for parishes to spread the Word of God effectively.

Cardaronella’s presentation will predominately feature material from his book Every Catholic a Disciple Maker: The Average Catholic’s Guide to Sharing the Faith

John Hickey, the evangelization and mission leader for the Diocese of Saskatoon (also speaking at the congress), said Cardaronella’s book contains a resource that helps parishes adjust where they are thriving or underwhelming in their pastoral efforts to grow the congregation.

“It looks at creating a pathway for parishes,” he said. “The tool helps parishes to look at all the different types of programming it offers to see how well it aligns with this discipleship pathway. They can see where they are strong in this particular mission and where they are weak and receive advice on building something different.”

Hall’s talk will derive from his book Intentional Accompaniment: An Apprenticeship for a New Generation of Builders, a title inspired by Pope John Paul II’s call at the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto for the young people to bring new people to the Lord. 

Hickey, who has served as a Saskatoon campus leader for CCO for many years, said Hall’s book is chockful of direct, helpful tips. 

“His book is practical for helping catechists reach people where they are and accompany them so they become disciples of Jesus. He has advice on how to forge relationships with those on the periphery or spiritually curious people. The book has the questions to ask to stir that spiritual curiosity and provide clear and simple ways to respond to any questions.”

Matthew Courchene, the parish life director for St. John Bosco Parish in Saskatoon, is another diocesan leader at the Spring Congress. He, Hickey, Jackson and other facilitators will participate in Friday afternoon breakout sessions, an opportunity for attendees to formulate a feasible action plan collaboratively.

Passion and urgency is anticipated from the lay parishioners appearing at the conference, said Hickey.  

“The people in the pews are expressing to me the importance of our pastoral plans. They are the ones whose grandchildren are wandering from the faith or whose co-workers came to Church but are not anymore after the pandemic. They feel the effects of that firsthand. The lay parishioners are telling us, ‘we need to move here.’ ”

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.