The 2007 Tastes of Heaven benefit gala raised close to $200,000 for the Canadian missions. Part of the proceeds of the fundraiser-a total of $143,000-was earmarked for the Lay Formation programs of the Diocese of Prince Albert in Saskatchewan.
"We cannot afford to proceed recklessly in the future of our church
without preparing our people to take on more active roles in the life of the Church."
Bishop Blaise Morand, Diocese of Prince Albert
Established in 1891, the Diocese of Prince Albert is the oldest of the three Roman Catholic dioceses in Saskatchewan. The diocese is home to approximately 40,000 Catholics, in 87 rural and urban parishes-including 17 on First Nations reserves.
With only 51 priests, one of the diocese's greatest needs is the lay formation of strong parish leaders, gifted with self-esteem, initiative and a healthy sense of Church.
To help prepare its leaders, the Diocesan Adult Education and Rural Catechetics offices are developing formation programs that expose students to the Catholic dimension of spiritual life, continuous conversion and personal discernment.
These leaders are vital to providing religious education throughout the diocese: in offering catechetics programs to over 2,000 children, youth and their parents, in coordinating sacramental preparation, in providing parish outreach, spiritual counselling and pastoral care.
Twenty-seven First Nation communities are located within the diocese; the majority being Cree communities. As well, the diocese's three urban centres have a growing population of First Nations migrants. Many follow the Catholic and Cree spiritual ways, and choose lay leaders to perform leadership roles in both traditions.
"If you continue to be faithful to this ministry today,
you will be doing much in shaping a peaceful, just and
hope-filled world for the future."
Pope John Paul II speaking to Leaders in Religious Education, New Orleans 1987
DEACON BILL AND MOLLY CALLAGHAN
Guest speaker Bishop Gary Gordon of Whitehorse shares stories from his mission diocese at the Tastes of Heaven dinner at Sala Caboto in Toronto