By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, September 19, 2011

Disciples behind the scenes

This past week I issued a new pastoral letter, outlining the priorities that will guide and shape the life and ministry of the Archdiocese of Edmonton in the years ahead. If you'd like to take a look at it, you can access the letter Pastoral Priorities of the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

For now, I would like to sing the praises of a remarkable group of people who exercise ministry on what we call our Catholic Campus. Yesterday at Mass I introduced to all who were gathered at St. Joseph's Basilica the women and men who work at our Pastoral and Administration Offices, Newman Theological College, Saint Joseph Seminary or Villa Vianney (our home for retired priests). These buildings co-exist on a beautiful piece of property overlooking Edmonton, and the collaboration in ministry exercised among them is captured in the term "campus." They are among the most dedicated people I have ever met! They love the Lord and his Church, and give themselves fully to the service of God's people. Most times they work "behind the scenes," so I thought it was time to lift them up, thank them, and, above all, invoke God's blessings upon them.

Gathered in the Basilica were the people who, in our Pastoral and Administration Offices, work in evangelization, catechesis, ecumenism, interfaith relations, on behalf of life and family, the missions, liturgy, and social justice and for the evangelization of youth. Those who support parishes with new evangelization initiatives, guidance for parish councils and the fostering of stewardship were there. We have people who dedicate themselves to the pastoral care of the sick, homebound and prisoner, who promote vocations to the priesthood and support our permanent diaconate, and who minister sensitively to the hurting through our marriage tribunal while providing other canonical services. Communications is exercised by an office dedicated to this work as well as by the folks at the Western Catholic Reporter.

From Newman Theological College we had present the faculty, administration and support staff, and from our seminary the formation team and administrative assistant. 

Supporting it all are our offices of finance and accounting, of development, of human resources and of operations.

As we gathered to thank and honour these dedicated disciples, we heard from the Gospel of St. Matthew (20:1-16a) the parable of the owner of the vineyard who hired labourers at a various hours of the day and  yet paid them all the same wage. Viewed entirely from the perspective of human quid-pro-quo logic, the owner was manifestly unjust. Yet Jesus is speaking in this parable of the sovereign and free love of God, who may call people to ministry at varying stages of life yet rewards all equally with the joy that comes from knowing and serving him, or who may touch people's hearts with the knowledge of his love and call to salvation at different times, yet who bestows his saving  grace not on the basis of any merit (we cannot earn salvation!) but out of his sovereignly free generosity. Our people on campus have worked there for periods of time ranging from many years to a few months. At differing times in their journeys have they felt the summons of the Lord to follow him through their particular form of service in the Archdiocese. Length of service may differ; the joy is the same. Oh, I suppose some days may be more joyful than others, but that's normal. The challenges facing us are many, but we confront them with the sure and hopeful knowledge that we are led and strengthened by the grace of God.

I express my sincere thanks to all who work so tirelessly and with such deep dedication at our Catholic campus. The Archdiocese is immeasurably blessed by your presence and efforts, and I want you to know that we are all very grateful.