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2017 Parish Communication Workshop - Feedback & Resources

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WORKSHOP FEEDBACK PLEASE

Please give us your feedback and help us make better decisions for future workshops.
- ONLINE EVALUATION SURVEY

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KEYNOTE RESOURCES

- Fr. Thomas Rosica's keynote presentation on Living in Digital World

- Fr. Thomas Rosica's Keynote in Catholic Media Convention

- Lincoln Ho presentation on Archdiocese of Edmonton's Social Media Best Practices

- Lincoln Ho's Equipment List of Apps & Equipments

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BREAKOUT SESSIONS RESOURCES

- Writing for Social Media - Prezi (Lincoln Ho)

- No Photoshop, No Problem - Session Notes (Lia O'Hara)

- Social Media Video on a Budget - Please contact Ryan Factura

- Make Memorable Impressions - Please contact Fr. Wilbert Chin Jon

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DIOCESE OF CALGARY RESOURCES

- Social Media Best Practice for the Diocese of Calgary 

- Communication Planning Sheet

- Diocese of Calgary Announcements - or you can find it updated regularly on CalgaryDiocese.ca frontpage, under NEWS

- Diocesan Social Media Policy (Coming Soon)

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FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA

- Facebook

- Twitter

- Instagram

- Youtube

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CONTACT US

If we could be helpful in any way, or if you have any questions, please contact Lia O’Hara at lia.ohara@calgarydiocese or call 403-218-5511. 

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INVITATION FOR THE 2017 PARISH COMMUNICATIONS WORKSHOP

Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications, too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts. (Pope Francis, 48th World Communications Day, 2014)

We invited you to come to the 2017 Parish Communication Workshop exclusively for clergy, parish and religious communities staff or volunteers responsible for both offline and online communication.  This year’s focus will be on social media as it has fundamentally changed how people communicate nowadays.  As Catholics, we need to bring the Church’s teachings into what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called the “digital continent.” 

Our guest speaker this year are Fr. Thomas Rosica, the CEO of Salt & Light TV and Lincoln Ho (Social Media specialist from Archdiocese of Edmonton).  

Workshop Information

  • Date: Monday, November 13, 2017 | From 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
    At the Catholic Pastoral Centre (120-17th Ave SW, Calgary)
  • Parking: Please park at the FCJ Centre parkade (219-19th Ave SW) or St. Mary's Cathedral Parkade.

Timetable

  • Note that schedule is subject to change without notice.
  • 08:00 - 09:00  Registration
    09:00 - 09:30  Prayer & Greetings (Bishop William McGrattan)
    09:30 - 10:15  Keynote address (Fr. Thomas Rosica)
    10:30 - 11:15  The Epic Guide to Social Media 101 (Lincoln Ho)
    11:30 - 12:15  Breakout Sessions A, B, C, D (see below)
    12:15 - 13:15  Lunch
    13:15 - 14:00  Breakout Sessions A, B, C, D (see below)
    14:15 - 15:30  Putting into Practice
    15:30 - 16:00  Intro to Diocesan Best Practices

Sessions Information

  • Keynote address: COMMUNICATIONS AND MERCY (Fr. Thomas Rosica)
    Be inspired by Pope Francis, who yearns for the church to be an instrument of reconciliation and welcome, a church capable of warming hearts, a church that is not bent over on herself but always seeking those on the periphery and those who are lost, a church capable of leading people home. Pope Francis has indeed rebranded Catholicsm. How do we follow in his footsteps?
  • General Session: THE EPIC GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA 101 (Lincoln Ho)
    In the beginning, it was just 1s and 0s. Today social media is a sensory overload. How to be salt and light in a world that's overflowing with bursts of flavour. 
  • Breakout Sessions:
    • 1.  OVER HERE!! I’M WRITING IN BOLD!!: Writing for Social Media (Lincoln Ho)
      The digital revolution has created a sense of fear to text posts, blogs, and traditional journalism. When text is the least popular medium, how do we create content to draw the audience to the ultimate Word?
    • 2.  MAKE IMPRESSIONS MEMORABLE: Branding and Consistencies (Fr. Wilbert Chin Jon)
      What is your parish all about, and why is that a big deal? How are you different from the rest? How will you show this on social media every time, and at a glance?  How do you make impressions memorable? It’s all about branding! Know who you are and flaunt it. Learn how.
    • 3.  SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO ON A BUDGET: Videography Tools for a Beginner (Ryan Factura)
      Video is the king of content on social media.  As a parish, how are you able to jump on this trend without having expensive camera equipment? In this workshop, we'll show you how you can get started with social video using the camera you already have in your hand: your smartphone!
    • 4.  NO PHOTOSHOP, NO PROBLEM: Graphic Tools for Parish Communication (Lia O'Hara)
      Not a graphic designer? No access to Photoshop? No problem! The internet comes to the rescue. Learn how to make great looking posters, bulletin and social media graphics in a matter of minutes. Get to know easy-to-use graphical tools online and other resources that will help you deliver quality imagery while saving time and money.

Registration

  • This workshop is only available for Parish Staff, Communications staff and/or volunteers, and those who are currently managing the bulletin and/or their parish online presence.
  • Limit to only 4 participants per parish. Limited seats.
  • Please register each person separately. Choose one AM breakout session and one PM breakout session.
  • Lunch will be provided. If you have strict dietary restrictions, kindly bring your bagged lunch from home.

Related Offices Social Media & Website
Related Themes Social Media

Announcements

ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF CALGARY

DIOCESE OF CALGARY SEMINARIANS ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Mr. Shane Lambert, internship seminarian, will be admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders in his current pastoral year parish, Holy Spirit, Calgary at 9 AM on Sunday, November 26, 2017.
  • Mr. Troy Nguyen, internship seminarian, will be admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders in his current pastoral year parish, St. Peter's, Calgary, at 11:30 AM on Sunday, November 26, 2017.
  • Mr. Derek Remus has been called to Holy Orders and will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate by Most Rev. William McGrattan in his pastoral year parish, St. Bonaventure, Calgary, at 5 PM on Saturday, December 23, 2017.
  • Mr. Mark Drapal has been called to be instituted in the Ministry of Acolyte in his home parish of St. Cecilia, Calgary, at 9 AM on Sunday, February 18, 2018.

Please pray for all of our seminarians, especially those taking these next steps in their formation and preparation.

FR. THOMAS ROSICA'S KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT THE 2017 Parish CommunicationS Workshop

Here is Fr. Thomas Rosica's keynote address delivered on November 13, 2017 at the 2017 Parish Communications Workshop:

BISHOP McGRATTAN'S LITURGICAL CALENDAR

Bishop McGrattan's diocesan liturgical calendar is now available. A link to the calendar will be maintained on the Office of Liturgy webpage. Note that the schedule is subject to change. 

CARILLON READERSHIP SURVEY - NOV/DEC 2017

If you have not already completed a paper survey we invite you to add your input to help us plan for our new publication. The December Carillon will be the last in its current format. The new publication will be available in March/April 2018.

  • Please help us design an attractive and effective Diocesan magazine which will be a worthy successor to The Carillon, by filling in this survey: Carillon Readership Survey
  • The November Carillon features the readership survey on the back page. Please encourage all your contacts to complete it either in print or by forwarding the link to them.

REJOICE IN GOD'S MERCY - ADVENT 2017

The Diocese of Calgary invites you to experience the peace, love, and joy brought by participating in the sacrament of reconciliation. In addition to the regular parish schedule, the sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at parishes throughout the Diocese of Calgary all the Wednesdays of Advent from 7:30 – 8:30pm. 

COLLECTION OF SLIGHTY USED or NEW CLOTHING FOR PUERTO RICO

The Knights of Columbus  are embarking on a mission  to collect slightly used or new clothing  for the devastated area of Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. If you are approached by The Knights of Columbus please know that Bishop McGrattan has granted permission to support  this worthy cause.

FAITH ENRICHMENT FOR SENIORS - NOV 27 and Dec 4

The Faith Enrichment for Seniors group will be held on Mondays November 27 & December 4, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Parish from 1:00 pm to 3:00pm.  No registration is necessary and all are welcome.

MEMORIAL LITURGY: A PRAYER SERVICE FOR THOSE MOURNING THE LOSS OF A CHILD THROUGH MISCARRIAGE OR STILLBIRTH - NOV 24

When families lose a baby in the womb, the cries of birth go unheard; the grasp of tiny fingers slips away. This profound loss needs articulation.  Join us in a prayer gathering to commend our children communally into the embrace of our merciful God and to support those who are grieving the loss of a child. A memorial prayer service for those mourning the loss of a child thorugh miscarriage or stillbirth will be held on Friday, November 24, 2017 at 7pm, at Sacred Heart Church (1307 14 St SW, Calgary, AB). 

Listening to god's Voice Retreat - Nov 25

Learn how to open your heart and listen to God’s voice as did the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a special retreat for single women (ages 16-35) interested in looking at Religious life. This retreat is being offered by Sisters from various Religious communities and provides an occasion when single women can interact with them in a prayerful setting. Retreat will be hosted at Holy Name Catholic Church, 2223 – 34 St. S.W., Calgary on Saturday, November 25, 2017; Time: 8:30 AM to 4 PM (lunch is provided). Fr. Cristino Bouvette will be providing Holy Mass, and a Holy Hour of Adoration, with an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Still my heart, Lord, that I may listen to Your voice.

  • For more information and to register, contact: Sr. Terry, FCJ 403-228-3623 or e-mail: tksmithfcj@yahoo.ca

THE JOY OF LOVE MARRIAGE CONFERENCE WITH BISHOP MCGRATTAN AND DR. EDWARD SRI - Dec 8-9

The Joy of Love Marriage Conference & Renewal of Vows with Bishop McGrattan will take place on December 8-9 at St. Peters Parish (541 Silvergrove Dr.  NW Calgary).  Dr. Edward Sri a theologian, author and well-known speaker who appears regularly on EWTN will be the conference keynote speaker. 

CATHOLIC SPEED DATING EVENT - DEC 1

Upcoming Event: Friday, December 1st at St. Thomas More Church, 15 Templebow Road N.E., Calgary.  Age Range: (Women: 24 to 32 & Men: 27 to 35) & (Women: 33 to 41 & Men: 36 to 44).  Doors open for sign in at 7:00pm, and Event begins at 7:30pm. 

ADVENT RETREAT WITH BISHOP EMERITUS FREDERICK HENRY - DEC 9

Development & Peace Diocesan Council invites everyone to a very special Advent retreat with Bishop Emeritus Frederick Henry at Mount St. Francis on Saturday, December 9, 2017, at 9 am for the whole day. Join us as we celebrate the positive peace built by women and reflect on how we can all continue to play a vital role in creating a more peaceful world ‘For nothing will be impossible with God’ ~Luke 1:37.

PROJECT RACHEL POST ABORTION WEEKEND RETREAT - FEB 23-24

The retreat offers a journey of healing and reconciliation for women and men who are suffering from a past abortion experience. Trained certified counselors are available to accompany people on a journey toward hope and inner peace. The next retreat is scheduled for February 23 - 24, 2018.

  • For more information or to register call Project Rachel at 403-218-5506 or toll free at 1-877-597-3223. You may also e-mail info@projectrachelsa.ca

MAY PEACE BE WITH HER

The Development & Peace Fall Campaign's theme this year is "May Peace be with Her", focuses on women's role in building peace. All around the world, courageous women gather to fight and resist violence, working for a more peaceful world. When 35% of parliamentarians are women, the risk of a nation relapsing into conflict is near zero. Let us join our voices and ask the Canadian government to give women the resources they need in order to take their place at the heart of peacebuilding.

MARRIAGE PREPARATION "FOR BETTER & FOR EVER"

“For Better & For Ever…” Marriage Preparation, accepts all couples preparing for marriage. Due to the small group setting it allows us to focus on couples in one or more of the following circumstances: living together, previously married, beginning marriage with children, couples 45+, or those who wish to have their marriage blessed in the Church.  

PROJECT RACHEL POST ABORTION COUNSELLING

The ministry offers a journey of healing and reconciliation for women and men who are suffering distress from a past abortion experience. Clients will be referred to a professional counselor who specializes in dealing with the trauma associated with this experience.  

EFFECTIVE CO-PARENTING:  PUTTING KIDS FIRST 

An educational 5-week program for separated and divorced parents to help raise their children through this difficult time and increase the understanding of needs of children for developing self-esteem and security. It will offer skills to help manage diverse shared parenting situations and provide strategies to improve communication, resolve conflict, and manage day-to-day issues between parenting partners. Parents are encouraged to attend separately. The next program will run 7:00pm - 9:00pm in the fall of 2017. 

CONSECRATION OF CANADA TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Parishes are invited to hold a parish celebration on one or more Saturdays within the anniversary year (July 1 2017 to July 1 2018). Prayer templates, prayer card and catechetical materials are available on the Office of Liturgy website. 

Follow the Diocese of Calgary on Social Media:

Related Offices Social Media & Website
Related Themes Newsletter

Best Practices

SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES FOR PARISHES

Online communications have significantly shaped the way people interact with each other, and continue to influence how and where people look for information. Among various forms of online communications, social media continues to be a significant tool that could be used for the Church’s mission of evangelization. 

As a Church, we have the opportunity to use social media for the twofold purpose of information and formation:

  1. Information – to update parishioners with Mass and reconciliation schedules, liturgies they could participate in, ministries they could help in, parish events they could join, and other information relevant to them as members of their parish community. 
  2. Formation – to help parishioners in their faith journey through curated Catholic content (videos, blogs, articles, etc.).

Also, the Church has the opportunity to use social media as a platform of influence. In a day and age where hundreds of millions of people are active online, social media can be effectively used to reach not only those in the pews, but also those who are not. Building an active, welcoming and friendly parish social media presence could foster engagement even among those who are not in the Church.

The goal of this Best Practices and Guidelines is to help parishes that are not on social media create and maintain an active and engaging social media presence. Additionally, offer tips and insights from the experiences of the Diocese of Calgary Social Media Committee. Consequently, the aim of establishing a parish social media presence is not only to share your weekly Parish bulletin, nor is it only to post Mass times. Since we share in the life and mission of the Catholic Church, our ultimate aim is to engage our parishioners (information), help them in their faith journey (formation), and to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ online (platform of influence/evangelization). 

Facebook

Among all other social media platforms, Facebook is the largest by number of monthly active users (1+ billion). Considering its prominence and the level of detail and information one can put, it is fair to say that you can treat your Facebook page as your secondary source of information online — next only to your official parish website. Click here for Facebook’s official Getting Started with Pages how-to guide.

How to use Facebook

  • Populate your Facebook Page’s About section with all the important and relevant details about your parish (e.g. Parish’s street address, website, parish office telephone number, contact email, Mass and Reconciliation times, etc.)
  • Take advantage of Facebook’s Events feature. By creating one for each of your parish events, you can share it to your followers, on which there is a feature where they can RSVP. In turn, your followers can share your event with their friends.
  • Share opportunities where parishioners can volunteer in the different parish ministries.
  • Share links to Catholic news.
  • Follow the Facebook Pages of other Catholic organizations, ministries, parishes, and Dioceses – this makes curating Catholic content easier.
  • Create a Page: some people make the mistake of creating a Facebook profile for their parish instead of a Facebook Page. The difference? A Facebook profile is for a personal user (i.e. you as an individual), while a Facebook Page is for an organization/business. As a parish, a Facebook Page is what you need. Note that a Facebook Page is different than a Facebook Group. Don't choose Group, choose Page. 
  • Assign roles: In your Facebook Page’s settings, you can assign other Facebook Users a role in managing your Page (Admin, moderator, editor, etc.), with each role having varied accessibilities and rights. This will make maintaining your Facebook presence easier.2
  • Live Video: want to broadcast an event, live? While Facebook Live started out only for personal profiles and only from a mobile device, it is now available for Pages and from a computer. Click here for more.

Twitter

Twitter is another social media platform where users can post and respond to short messages called Tweets. Tweets are limited to 140 characters and can be about virtually anything. You can post a tweet, reply to one, share a tweet you like (called a re-tweet or RT). You can also attach images, video, or links to every tweet you post. There’s a huge Catholic “population” on Twitter, collectively known by the moniker Catholic Twitter. And who exactly makes up Catholic Twitter? A lot. Priests, nuns, bishops, catholic bloggers, and yes – even Pope Francis. Don’t forget to follow him at @Pontifex! Click here for Twitter’s official getting started guide.

How to use Twitter

  • The details we’ve listed above on Facebook generally applies to all of social media, Twitter included. So populate your Twitter profile with the necessary information (a short bio of who you are, your parish website, etc.)
  • Twitter pioneered the use of Hashtags. Not sure what a hashtag is? Click here. You can use this to create a unique identity for your parish’s social media presence. For example, the Diocese of Calgary uses #CatholicYYC in its posts online. Our Lady of the Rockies in Canmore, Alberta, uses #OurLadyRocks. Be creative, and share it with your parishioners! Use this handy guide for creating your hashtags.
  • You can share on Twitter what you also share on Facebook: links to Catholic news, curated Catholic content, your own parish news, and volunteer opportunities. 
  • Follow other Catholic users and see what they tweet about! As with Facebook, this also helps make curating Catholic content much easier. 
  • Keep it active. If Facebook has a Timeline where you can see others’ posts, Twitter has a Feed. This feed is constantly updated; so don’t hesitate to tweet multiple times a day.

Instagram

Instagram is a popular photo-sharing social media platform where users can post images, video, as well as live-video. Unfortunately, content can only be posted on Instagram from a mobile device — meaning no computers. 

Tips: You can link Instagram posts to automatically share in Facebook. Use this feature with discretion. 

Other Social Media Platforms

There are several other social media platforms that may be useful for your parish’s needs that are not included in this guideline. Below is a list of other platforms at your disposal that you could use, and a brief description of what they are for.

  • Youtube: video hosting and sharing
  • Vimeo: video hosting and sharing
  • Flickr: hosting and sharing images
  • Pinterest: a virtual board on which users can pin and visually share interesting finds on the internet
  • Google+: Google’s own social media network, useful to boost your website’s SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Snapchat: a mobile-only social media platform where users can send visual (e.g. image and video) messages — hence, snap-chat.

OTHER Important Tips

  • Be visual
    Social media is largely visual, and having a visual element to your posts will help you get more Impressions (social media term for the number of times your post is displayed) and Engagement (likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc.). Thus instead of posting your Pastor’s Easter message on Facebook in plain text, why not create a short video?
  • Keep your Identity Consistent
    Keep your social media handle/username consistent on all social media platforms so people can find you easily. For example, the Diocese of Calgary’s handle on all social media accounts is @calgarydiocese. 
  • Be Active
    If you do decide on creating multiple social media accounts on different platforms for your parish, you must commit keep it active and updated constantly. Also do not just post content – be sure to engage with your followers by replying to comments and tweets. This makes your presence personable. 
  • Respect Intellectual Property
    Obey the law. Understand the copyrights accompanying any online content, whether they be images, music, videos, etc. Content posted online are to be treated similarly with content in other publications. 
  • Account Access & Credentials
    Login credentials for the parish’s social media accounts such as usernames, emails, and passwords must be constantly updated. Also, this document must be accessible by the social media administrator and the Pastor, or whomever the social media administrator reports directly to. This file must be treated as highly confidential. Regarding passwords: complexity is good, but length is also important (8-10 characters).
  • Privacy and Safe Environments
    Do not disclose information that is to be held in confidence. Also, any individual involved in managing social media accounts must not engage in private online conversations with children. A good rule of thumb is to keep all forms of engagement public (through comments, replies to tweets), instead of Direct Messages, commonly called DM’s.
  • Photography
    Permission to photograph children cannot be assumed, and neither is posting their pictures on social media. Photographs of children shouldn’t be posted on social media sites without the prior approval of the child’s parents or legal guardian. Also, take great care to avoid including identifying details or information with an image posted online. For a sample photo release form, see Page 6 of the Diocesan Social Media Policy.

Creating a Social Media Team

Creating and curating content for social media, as well as the overall maintenance of the parish’s social media accounts, can be challenging. Having a social media team of about 3-4 people that handles all these tasks is very valuable. There are a few things to consider when selecting the right people for this team.

Members must be carefully selected, screened, and have references and background checks obtained, just as with other parish ministries. Remember that just because someone is social media savvy does not mean that they are perfectly fit for the task. Social media admins represent the Church on every single post and comment that they write — these individuals must have good moral character, well-formed in the Catholic faith, and have the ability to think through the implications of what they are about to write.  It is important that the team works closely with their parish priest and office. In addition, it would be significantly beneficial if members of the social media team have a sense of brand consistency when creating content. 

Social Media Team Email

It is also worth considering creating a special email account for use by the social media team. This email account will then be the one used when creating social media accounts, instead of having to use someone else’s personal email. For example, the Calgary Diocese Social Media Committee uses a Gmail account that members use when logging in, signing up, and as backup email.

Scheduling and Creating Content

Social media administrators do not always need to be on a computer or mobile device in order to post content. Free resources, such as Facebook’s own Scheduling tool, HootSuite or the Buffer App account give social media administrators the ability to queue posts to be released on a certain date and time.     

Each tool may have unique features of their own, but essentially they all allow you to schedule social media posts in advance and monitor your accounts when someone mentions you or leave a comment. 

PROMOTING your Social Media Presence

Don't forget to promote your social media presence. Start engaging with your parishioners to ensure effective communication and build a loyal parishioners base.

Tips: Include social media buttons on your bulletin, website and provide accurate links to your parish social media networks. Integrate your social media information with your other Parish communications channels such as the: 

  • Bulletin
  • Email (in the signature)
  • Bulletin Board
  • Stationery - Letterhead, Business Cards
  • Website & other social media presence


Compiled by the Diocesan Social Media Committee, November 2017.

Related Offices Social Media & Website
Related Themes Communications Social Media

Sr. Cecily Graves' Funeral Homily

Funeral for Sr. Cecily Graves | 2017 - All Souls Day

By Bishop Emeritus Frederick Henry

For a Catholic, with the Feasts of All Saints/Souls it would be hard to pick a better time for a funeral.

For some time now, scientists have been sending signals into the cosmos, hoping for a response from some intelligent being on some lost planet.Even if inhabitants outside of the solar system existed, communication with them would be impossible, because between the question and the answer, millions of years would pass.

The Church has always maintained a dialogue with the inhabitants of another world -- the saints. That is what we proclaim when we say, "I believe in the communion of the saints." Here, though, the answer is immediate because there is a common centre of communication and encounter, and that is the risen Christ.

We are like the embryo in the womb of a mother yearning to be born. The saints have been "born" - the liturgy refers to the day of death as "the day of birth." To contemplate the saints is to contemplate our destiny. All around us, nature strips itself and the leaves fall, but meanwhile, the feasts of the saints/souls invite us to gaze on high; it reminds us that we are not destined to wither on this earth forever, like the leaves, or to be covered up by snow.

Sr. Cecily’s Funeral reminds us that our bodies will one day give out. Somewhere, sometime, sooner or later, we will experience the startling reality of death. Then what? Is it all over for the individual? Nothing but extinction, absolute silence, darkness? Will there be no more love, no more joy, no more laughter?

Jesus assures us that there is a future for us. He has personally walked ahead of us through the doors of death and came back and say there is light, love and laughter and rejoicing in the presence of God.

Our funeral liturgy reminds us of Job:  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, ....”

Listen again to the consoling words of Scripture:
Paul to the Corinthians: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died... and then at his coming those who belong in Christ”.

John 12:26: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am. There will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.”

Instead of looking back at Sr. Cecily’s life, we all bring to this celebration so many memories of her, and various experiences and events, and it would be easy to fall into a nostalgia-like experience but I tried to imagine what she would say to us today and here is what I came up with. 

Sr. Cecily might very well say: The first thing to do would to overcome our indifference and insensitivity to the poor. What we are to do for them in practice can be summed up in three words: love,  help, and evangelize.

  1. Love the poor. Loving the poor means first of all respecting them and recognizing their dignity. Francis of Assisi would remind us that they are not simply our "fellow men" or our "neighbours": they are our brothers and sisters!
  2. The duty of loving and respecting the poor is followed by that of helping them. It is not about getting angry with God in face of the misery of the world, but angry with ourselves."Oh God, where are you? Why don't you do something for that innocent creature?" But an inner voice replies: "I have done something -I created you!"  Sr. Cecily, from time to time, would came to my office with a tale of woe from near or far and say : “Bishop, what are you going to do about it?” I would say - good issue, bad question - “What are we going to do about it?”
  3. Finally, evangelize the poor. This was the mission that Jesus recognized as his own par excellence - reading from the scroll of Isaiah:”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." The poor man does not live on bread alone but also on hope, and on every word that comes from God's mouth.

Her imagined words are not surprising as they are based in the Franciscan tradition: Quote from a letter of St Francis of Assisi  - the Office of Readings for October 4. “Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. Let us also love our neighbours as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father's children who do his work. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Praying for those who have died should be a quiet fondness for them before the Lord. We pray for Cecily today with a quiet fondness.

Remembering our departed loved ones like that, praying for them, keeps us in ongoing communion with them. We believe that they are with the Lord, who is also with us in this life.

Related Offices Mission Council
Related Themes Social Justice Religious Life Mission

To Serve and Protect

Remembrance Day was first observed throughout the British Commonwealth in 1919 to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918 at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Every year on November 11, Canadians pause in a moment of silence to honour and remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict, and peace. Here is a true story of Jason K. Major, G35 Deputy, MONUSCOFHQ, a soldier who served in Afghanistan for almost an entire year and most recently served in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Jason’s story represents many of its kind and is an example of the outreach conducted through our young men and women in uniform today:

“In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country where the most grievous human rights violations are a daily occurrence, it is hard for anyone to feel optimistic about the future, yet amidst all of the poverty, there still exist some beacons of hope. The members of Op Crocodile recently had the opportunity to take some time out of their busy schedules to extend a small gesture of love on behalf of generous Canadian donors, to one of these beacons, the Tulizeni Orphanage in Goma.

As we arrived at the orphanage, we pulled past the guards into a walled compound no larger than a typical suburban property in Canada, where we were greeted by a sea of 86 small African children who were singing, laughing, and dancing. They were extremely excited by our arrival and even chanted, “CAN-A-DA,” over and over again. Some of the smallest and cutest among them would approach and look up longingly with their little arms extended in hopes that they might get picked up and hugged in loving affection, while others would come and hug our legs. Picking a little one up was a touching moment for me as it made me think of my own toddler at home who is truly blessed to have two parents who love her, and will never have to experience the things that these orphans have had to endure.

While this was my first time at the orphanage, it was not for many of my fellow Canadians. There is a Canadian United Nations volunteer, Gabrielle Biron from Montreal, who comes out every weekend to volunteer at the orphanage, and several of the other task force members including MCpl Ann Gunner, who make the time to visit once a month to play with the kids. Sometimes they treat the kids and bring out a laptop and borrow a projector from work to show the kids a movie. Other times they bring candies or toys donated either from their own pockets, or from other generous Canadians. You could see in the children’s eyes, and those of the staff, how much they appreciated having us visit, a gesture of compassion and generosity that is sadly not embraced by many other countries involved in this United Nations mission.

Sr. Georgette Marjorie Thsibang, the orphanage manager, took us on a tour of the facility. As we took the tour of the orphanage, I noticed the very cramped living conditions of the 86 kids currently residing there. There were a few bedrooms filled with many beds. The first one we visited had three bunk beds packed into a 10' x 10' room. The smallest kids sleep here, five to a bed, which makes for a room that houses 30 kids. We also visited a larger room, which was also packed with beds. We were told this was the room where the older girls (13-17) who had been raped, lived with their babies. My heart sank as I looked at the number of beds that were crammed into the room. To add to this, when I heard about all of the expenses I was shocked. It costs 195 USD per kid each year to go to school. Even just the operating cost for food is another 100 USD per day to feed the orphans a modest amount of food.

I couldn’t help but think that this place could really use more support and funding. They mentioned that they recently had to return several kids to the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp because they just couldn’t afford to keep them and provide for them anymore. All of this comes in the midst of trying to build a new orphanage just outside of town; however, while the land has been purchased, the project is a long ways off. The project hopes to increase their capacity, decrease the cost of schooling by having an on-site school, and includes living quarters for the staff.

On this day, after the singing had settled down and the tour completed, the task force commander, Col Pierre “Pete” Huet, on behalf of a group of Canadian donors, and alongside the members of Op Crocodile, presented a large cheque donation of 2783 USD (4000 CAD before conversion) to the Tulizeni Orphanage to assist with the tuition expenses. The excitement of the kids and gratitude of the staff radiated and, not surprisingly, triggered the next round of singing and excitement. There was so much energy that the kids swarmed around Col Huet and hilariously attempted to pick him up and put him on their shoulders to carry him around as they cheered.

After the handshaking and the many gestures of thanks, they saw us off with big smiles and waves as we departed to get back to our primary task of combatting armed groups and protecting civilians in the DRC. If anyone would like to make a difference in the lives of these orphans, you can contact the task force adjutant by email at MONUSCO-HQ-DCOSOpsCoord@un.org.

You can also send your cheque to Mission Council at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, 120 - 17th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2S 2T2, Attn: Tulizeni Orphanage in Goma. Sr. Rita Kim, coordinator of Mission Council, will gladly forward your contribution to Sr. Georgette Thsibang. It just so happens that both Sisters speak English and French and belong to the Franciscan Order.

Family Reflections

  • During family time, talk about family members who lost their lives in a war (WWI, WWII, Korean War, other areas of war or conflict). Who were these family members? Did you know them or did other family members tell you about them? What is their story?
  • Do you have family members in today’s Armed Forces? Do you know where they are serving, where they served and/or where they are now?
  • Invite a family member, or a friend, who is presently serving in the military, to your home to share their experiences.
  • Encourage your family to develop a prayer that includes praying for those who have lost their lives while trying to protect others; and praying for those who are risking their lives to help those in need. Recite this family prayer throughout November.

Heavenly Father, protect the
men and women of our Armed Forces
as they go about their duty trying, to the best of their ability, to protect those who are in harm’s way.
Equip them with the strength and dignity to act on Christian values
so that they can be true ambassadors of Christ.
Let your Light shine on those whom you have called home,
away from the chaos of
war and conflict.
May they enjoy their eternal rewards.
Guide us in prayer as we remember those who have gone before us;
and those who protect us at the present time.
May we always recognize
the sacrifices made by others
so that we can live in peace,
and may we be open to do our part
to help make the world
a better place for all.
AMEN

 

Related Offices Life & Family Resource Centre (LFRC)
Related Themes Stewardship Discipleship Family
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