Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 24, 2000
Lay missionary heads APC
Staszko happy to participate in an alive Church
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The new chair of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council is a retired corrections officer who now does lay missionary work with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Joe Staszko of Fort Saskatchewan was chosen chair through a discernment process April 15 at Star of the North Retreat Centre in St. Albert.
He replaces Provost's Ed Tameling, who served as chair for the past two years. Staszko, who represents the Vegreville West region of the archdiocese on the APC, will take over as chair in the fall and will serve until mid-2002.
"I believe we are living in very exciting times and the Church is very much alive. I believe it's a golden opportunity for myself to be part of this," said Staszko after the meeting.
Jim Collins, representative of the Thorsby-Camrose region, was elected APC vice-chair. Elected members at large were Joyce Mallett of Drayton Valley, Alec Piche of Hobbema, Ludwig Pfaffenbichler of Edmonton and Val Tobin of Sherwood Park.
The APC is a 23-member council of representatives of the 10 regions of the archdiocese, the Council of Priests and the Council of Women Religious that provides advice to the archbishop on pastoral matters.
It has had a hand in several important developments in the archdiocese, including the Synod on the Family and the ongoing transformation of parishes.
Born in 1938 and raised in Round Hill, near Camrose, Staszko worked on the family farm until he found a construction job as heavy equipment operator.
At age 20 he married Helen, his wife for the past 41 years, and started training as an orderly at Camrose Hospital and at Red Deer's Michener Centre, where he received psychiatric training.
In 1965 he joined the Alberta Corrections Branch as a correction officer eventually becoming acting director of the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre and then director of the Belmont Correctional Centre. He also worked as a provincial constable until his retirement in 1995.
He received several awards for his contributions to the penal system.
A father of four adult children and grandfather of seven (with two more on the way), Staszko has been with the APC for six years, contributing actively to projects such as the synod and the transformation of parishes.
A devoted Catholic all his life, Staszko, 62, joined the lay missionary team of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate two years ago. As a missionary, he helps organize parish missions and knocks on doors to persuade inactive Catholics to return to the Church.
Staszko and his group will preach a parish mission in Olds and Didsbury in late April and at St. Joseph's Basilica in early May.
What kind of leader is Staszko? "I like to work through people, stimulating the positive strengths they have and provide support and direction to the goals that we have set."
As APC chair he vows to work actively to help parishes and missions that are being merged into bigger communities.
"We have to assist those (parishioners) who still haven't made the transition," he said. "While the ToPs document gave direction on parish transformation, a lot of people still need to be assisted. The transformation has had a big impact on the lives of many people."
Staszko is also concerned about the impact the merging and closing of parishes will have on communities, hospitals and nursing homes. "We have to be there to help," he said.
But he warns the transformation of parishes is irreversible because "we must always move ahead" and that "we have to learn to live with it."
Another of Staszko's goals is to promote religious vocations, "primarily vocations to the priesthood" through the parish. His idea is to name a vocations coordinator in each parish who can identify people interested in pursuing religious life.
Young people are also on Staszko's mind. The reason? Young people don't seem to be participating in the life of the Church as expected. "We have to find ways of getting young people involved in Church life as full partners," he said.
Staszko may also push for the ordination of deacons. He sees their role not as replacing priests but as providing service through programs such as RCIA in the parishes and hospital chaplaincy.
Another of Staszko's goals is to help develop a pastoral plan for the archdiocese. This plan, to be done with participation of all parishes, will seek ways to manage the priest shortage, study the needs of the archdiocese and provide direction for the Church in the future.
"I think the most important thing we have to do as APC is to serve the people of the archdiocese," he said. "Our main objective is to meet the personal, spiritual and community needs of the people."