April 10, 2018

Atlantic Gathering of the Canadian Federation of Presbyteral Councils Meets in Halifax

The Atlantic Region of the Canadian Federation of Presbyteral Councils held their annual gathering in Halifax this year, 9-10 April. It was a meeting of the eparchial/diocesan Representatives from each of the dioceses that have jurisdiction in Canada's Atlantic provinces. Due to pastoral commitments and other concerns, unfortunately not all the representatives were able to participate in this meeting. (Not to mention the winter blizzard that hit Halifax on Sunday and caused flight cancellations!) However - as is always the case with any gathering of the CFPC - those that did attend came away with a wealth of insights and inspirations to share with their local bishops and their fellow priests in their own eparchy/diocese. In fact, in this case, the sharing with local bishops was made easy as the Federation gathering coincided with a meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Atlantic Canada that was also taking place in Halifax at the same time.

The Atlantic Gathering was organized under the direction of Regional CFPC Vice-President Fr. Ed Terry. Who also serves as the Representative for the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador. Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski, Representative of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg, is now serving as the President of the CFPC and was in attendance as he participates in all regional gatherings as well as the National Assembly. Aside from offering a greeting-report and presenting an update on the upcoming National Assembly, he fully participated in discussions and sharing.

The highlight of the second day was an afternoon encounter with all the Bishops that serve across the provinces of Atlantic Canada. At the meeting, the participants of the Gathering spoke to the Bishops about their concerns and proposals as priests serving within the region. The special session for the CFPC that the Bishops made in their agenda offered the Federation Representatives a unique opportunity to speak with the Bishops about their concerns and proposals as priests serving within the region. It began with regional Vice-president Terry presenting a summary of the concerns and topics that the Atlantic Representatives decided earlier in the day to raise with their Bishops. The Bishops gathering was being chaired by Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini and he, therefore, facilitated the discussion that followed. Among the issues that seemed more prominent was the question of the best means of communication, in all directions, between bishops and clergy and lay-faithful, as well as ongoing formation of clergy. The blessing and challenge of having priests from outside the diocese/eparchy serve the needs of the local Church was also raised. Refence was made to the challenge raised by both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis that the Church truly needs to enter into a mode of rethinking the way the Church does everything. The way we live out parish life, the way we Evangelize, the way we communicate the Truth of the Gospel and the Teachings of the Church, the way we relate to and support families, marriages, etc. Those around the table acknowledged that the society in which we are presently living has radically changed all around us and we now need to decide what the words of the Apostle mean for us today when he says, "become all things to all people" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). The Bishops were grateful for the opportunity to engage the participants in discussions about a wide range of matters. The fascinating session went overtime a bit, but certainly the Atlantic CFPC representatives were glad that this once common tradition of meeting the Bishops at their annual gathering was restored.

The next gathering of the CFPC will take place in Saskatoon 16-18 April - for the Western Region. The Central region has yet to finalize its plans for their gathering, perhaps in May in Toronto. There is much excitement, however, about the Federation's 2018 National Assembly which will take place in October in Charlottetown this year, featuring well-known speakers Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, Fr. Raymond de Souza and a very special encounter with youth to coincide with the Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocation that will be taking place in Rome at the time.

The Atlantic Gathering, like all events of the Federation was a valuable time of brotherhood during which the priests gathered were able to exchange ideas. They were able to share about their local successes and challenges and discuss how the former might be implemented in their home dioceses/eparchies and hw the latter might be resolved for the good of the Church.

Presently the clergy within the member eparchies/dioceses brings the number of priests participating in the Federation's work to approximately 1,840 across Canada. The Federation strives to provide excellent resources (publications, conferences, etc.) in support of brother priests, but especially to do what it can to facilitate a more effective mutual collaboration between priests and the Bishops and the people that they serve. As the vision statement explains: "...working in a spirit of unity and collegiality with priests and bishops in Canada. We serve the pastoral needs of the people of God by supporting Presbyteral Councils in their role as advisors to individual bishops and by assisting priests in the integration of their spirituality, ministry and leadership."

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