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The secret to a flourishing parish? "The people take ownership of it," says Oblate Father Andrzej Stendzina with directness. Stendzina talks enthusiastically about St. Albert Parish where he served for 14 years until recently. Smiles fill his voice as he says, "The theme for our pastoral council was to become an inclusive and welcoming community, that we were a team."
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Catholics in the Edmonton Archdiocese are reaching out to victims of violence in the Middle East with prayer and solidarity. Hundreds of people, including many with roots in the Middle East, attended a special Mass for peace at St. Joseph's Basilica Aug. 27. In addition, Archbishop Richard Smith has authorized a special collection to support the work of Catholic aid agencies working to alleviate the suffering in Iraq, Syria and Gaza. The archbishop is also asking parishes to consider sponsoring refugee families "who need to come to Canada to escape the horror."
On July 20, before a crowd of 200,000 faithful at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Zarvanytsia in Ukraine, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk solemnly proclaimed Blessed Bishop and Martyr Vasyl Velychkovsky as patron of prison ministry for the Ukrainian Catholic Church. This honour and gift is given not only for the people of Ukraine but in a particular way also to the faithful in North America. Blessed Vasyl lived his last year of life in Winnipeg. He died in 1973 and his holy relics, a fully intact body, are now enshrined in St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church there.
In iconography, the process is more important than the result. "Writing an icon is a journey, and it's the stages of growth. The process is what's important with icons, not the end product," said Gisele Bauche, who led a seven-day iconography workshop at Providence Renewal Centre, Aug. 17-23. "That's much the same with our lives, where we're in such a panic to reach the end goal without delay. With iconography, as with life, we are to trust in the slow work of God and to believe that God will look after things."
Slain journalist James Foley, a Catholic who sent images and copy from different war zones, was described as living his faith through his work. The Associated Press reported that at a memorial Mass Aug. 24, Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester, N.H., lauded Foley for bringing important images of war and oppressive regimes to the rest of the world. Foley was kidnapped in November 2012 while covering the war in Syria. The Islamic State posted a video on the Internet Aug. 19 showing him being beheaded, saying it was in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq.
The Treasures of the Faith series, sponsored by Newman Theological College, will expand this fall beyond the college with sessions also being held at St. Andrew's Church in Edmonton and Holy Family Church in St. Albert. The informal weekly series at which participants read a Church document, a work by one of the Fathers of the Church or a book of the Bible along with a Newman College professor begin the week of Sept. 15 and conclude the week of Dec. 10. There is no fee and no homework for any of the series. Each session lasts 50 minutes. Participants must register by phoning the college at 780-392-2450 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In discussions about the Second Vatican Council, the Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus) is rarely mentioned. That is understandable. The main theological discussion on the nature of the episcopacy takes place in chapter three of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium). Christus Dominus is a document intended to take that earlier constitution and draw out practical implications for how bishops carry out their ministry.