Monday and Tuesday, October 28 &29, Bishop Richard gathered many of the clergy for the annual fall Clergy Days.
Beginning with an excellent lunch prepared by the staff at the retreat centre in Bayview we were in good spirits to begin an afternoon of serious work.
The first major topic for the afternoon’s consideration was church finances.
Mr. Peter MacDougald, one of the Bishop’s advisers on Diocesan investments and other financial matters, spoke on “Planned Giving” and the importance of informing people of the various ways they can support the diocese and the parish through bequests, trusts and many other financial instruments.
Mr. Tony Hansen, Financial Administrator of the Diocese, made the second presentation on the sources of funds for the Diocese. There are 3 sources; the Diocesan Maintenance that is collected quarterly from each parish in the diocese based on the regular Sunday collections, a grant from St. Dunstan’s University, and income from various Trusts that are earmarked for specific ministries. Over the years the income from the parishes has decreased — accordingly the funds available to the diocese have decreased.
At this point the priests separated into 3 groups to discuss 3 questions that Bishop Richard proposed: 1) What do you think are the reasons for the decline of finances in the Sunday collections? 2) If you & your parish were running a deficit, would you address the faithful about it? If yes . . . How? If no, why not? 3) Share your experience (if any) of successfully addressing a decline in your Sunday collections.
Following the discussions there was a break for coffee.
After the nutrition break Fr. Lyndon Hogan and Ms. Kim Bustard of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital led a very serious presentation.
Ms. Kim Bustard, QEH Manager of Spiritual Care, commenced speaking about Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE is a 400 hour accredited course offered at the hospital to those who want to pursue and/or deepen their skills in ministry to patents, family and staff in a hospital setting. One of the goals of CPE is for the participant to face his/her own woundedness to understand where they may have blocks to overcome in helping others.
Fr. Lyndon Hogan, Hospital Chaplain, and Kim together then made a presentation on the challenging topic of Medical Assistance in Dying. To respect patient confidentiality Kim and Lyndon outlined in general terms the approach all members of the hospital Spiritual Care department takes in ministering to patients, their families and staff who are faced with these difficult decisions. Both Fr. Lyndon and Kim were clear to the the priests that it was not a question of if we would have parishioners who would be involved in Medical Assistance in Dying but when.
Following that long afternoon the priests broke for supper followed by evening prayer.
Tuesday morning after breakfast we considered “Responsible Ministry”. That is assuring that all members of the church community especially children, the elderly and the most vulnerable will be served in a safe environment. Bishop Richard, whose voice was weakened from the day before, noted some of the progress that has been made over the last year, reasserted the necessity of every parish to implement and follow the policies and procedures of Protecting the Caring Community. The Bishop noted that our insurance company has developed an on line in-service training program that will be mandatory viewing for all parish volunteers.
All present took the the 42 minute training and it was comprehensive and challenging. Some of the issues that were brought up in the presentation triggered bitter and hurtful memories and it is advised that pastors inform their volunteers that if they need to speak to someone after viewing their priest is available as a safe place.
The priests then prepared for Mass at 11 o’clock. As Bishop Grecco’s voice was not up to par, Fr. Brian MacDougall, Vicar General of the Diocese of Charlottetown, presided at the con-celebration. Fr. Brian gave a heartfelt homily on the parable of the Mustard Seed growing into a Large Tree that Shelters Birds of Many Kinds. Fr. Brian cited St. Francis of Assisi’s life and St. John Paul II’s book Crossing the Threshold of Hope in his encouraging message to the priests.
Following Mass we had another fine lunch, then some members held the Annual Meeting of the Priest’s Benevolent Committee.