Plant seeds in good soil
By Jean Pawlus
NORTH BATTLEFORD — People from all over the Prince Albert diocese gathered at St. Joseph Calasanctius Parish, North Battleford, on Sept. 15 to begin the task of “creatively working toward the fulfilment of pastoral planning for the new evangelization and catechesis of adults,” an initiative set forth by the Canadian Catholic bishops. This was the first session of two, the second taking place in Prince Albert at St. Joseph Parish on Sept. 22 to help with those travelling from a great distance.
Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr., began the day sharing memories from his childhood. As a child in a small community, the actions and words he witnessed in the lives of his family members spoke to him of what it meant to be Catholic. Later, as a young ordained priest in the Order of Missionaries of Africa, full of zeal and armed with books and materials, the order set out to teach the villagers about God. As the people there spoke Swahili, he did not understand and could only listen patiently, but he struggled immensely in his patience. In prayer, then, Thévenot heard the Lord’s reminder that this was God’s work and, “his servant’s job was to sit under the banana tree, listen and patiently smile and in God’s good time the fire would be ignited. When it comes time to eucharist, then you do it. Today we’re going to play with fire.”
This message of igniting the fire carried in reflection shared among small groups. Those gathered share their hopes and expectations for the day and coming months, how to gather resources or share our faith, be good news for one another, reach out to people who have fallen away, confirmands, RCIA members and those hungering for lifelong formation.
Rev. Gerard Legaspi, pastor of Notre Dame Parish, North Battleford, walked the congregation through the story of Moses in his infancy, his upbringing as a young prince and a leader among his own people. The crowd was asked to reflect on experiences of joy and sorrow in their own lives, like Moses, and think of whom they told about the event and how they responded.
The afternoon session began with a skit performed by three youth based on the reading The Road to Emmaus. As part of the play, they recalled the memory of their father burning within them, through the treasures he had left to each of them and how they were called to continue his legacy.
The four basic principles of On Good Soil were emphasized: before we speak the good news, our first task is to listen, know what the good news is; evangelism is the work of the Holy Spirit, not our own, and our motivation should be love.
Some of the questions left with those gathered were: How are we called to fan the flame of Christ’s love and the good news within us? How do we tell others about the Gospel more by the witness of our lives than the words we speak? The workshop emphasized that through missionary, catechetical and pastoral evangelization we are being called to spread the good news as Jesus asked of his disciples.
Through the facilitation of Rev. Javier De Los Angeles Cortazar from Goodsoil, the input of the presenters, and the diocesan staff, the congregation was sent to sow seeds in their plot of rocky, weedy or good soil.