Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This Annual Report is best described as two half-year reports, so different was the start of the pastoral year from the way it is ending.
Last October we had just successfully launched the new Proclaim Movement, our exciting evangelization initiative aimed at encouraging Catholics to share their faith and become “missionary disciples,” as Pope Francis urges us all to do.
While enthusiasm for Proclaim was growing, the world changed dramatically. As you are only too aware, we were confronted with a pandemic that has taken over a million lives and had disastrous consequences for countless others.
As the ripples of COVID-19 spread and disrupted every aspect of the life of the Church and of society, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, like everyone else, were forced to refocus and alter their pastoral plans for the remainder of the year.
What we witnessed here was an imaginative and creative response to the pandemic. Catholics stepped forward to face the fears, struggles, and uncertainty around us.
The Archdiocese adopted the motto Church Never Stops to illustrate the diverse and innovative ways our Catholic community was able to labour and pray to ensure that the Church’s evangelizing mission went full steam ahead. The #ChurchNeverStops hashtag became a way of sharing inspirational stories of our parishes, schools, and organizations. They found resourceful ways of connecting the Church with the faithful, of actively proclaiming the Gospel through Alpha and Discovery, and of caring for those in need.
Despite obstacles in our way, we often found ingenious solutions for overcoming them. We reallocated resources and with the extraordinary use of technology now possible, we were able to persevere in our mission of fostering friendship with the Lord, sharing the Gospel and loving as good Samaritans.
When necessary restrictions threatened to separate the faithful from the Sacraments and the Church’s devotional life, the good Lord was not kept apart from us. Parishioners came up with innovations: drive-up confessionals, physically distanced Adoration, and livestreamed Masses sprang up everywhere. And when schools had to shut down, our administrators and educators quickly adopted new hybrid forms of learning, and then managed to put in place a full return to classroom learning in time for September.
The suffering for many has been severe, and we must continue to offer them consolation and support in whatever we can as families and parishes. As we reach out to others, we are reaching out to Jesus. Amidst all the trials, God has also blessed us. Many people are drawing closer to him. Others are returning to the Sacraments; and yet others are deepening their lives of faith, while carrying the cross that COVID-19 has become for us.
As 2020 draws to a close and we are planning for 2021, we cannot predict what the future holds. What we can do is what Jesus asks of us: to be the salt of the earth and the light of our world. I offer this annual report, with its theme Baptized and Sent, as a sign of our commitment to responding to Christ’s call.
We pray that Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, will continue to guide us through this pandemic, deepening our trust in Providence who will provide us with everything we need to ensure that the Church Never Stops.
Three years ago, Pope Francis called the Church to live out her missionary calling, declaring October 2019 to be the Extraordinary Missionary Month. As God was calling the global Church, Archbishop Michael called us to step boldly into sharing the Gospel in a time when our culture needs truth more than ever.
More than 1,000 disciples from across the Lower Mainland gathered to be challenged, equipped, and inspired to proclaim the name of Jesus. The Upper Room Conference was the official launch of Proclaim, a new movement designed to awaken disciples across our cities and spread the name of Jesus in their homes and communities.
Proclaim is an evangelization movement, inspiring and equipping disciples to share the Gospel in their homes and parishes. We provide resources and training to Catholics interested in sharing the Gospel with people on the peripheries. Alpha and Discovery are endorsed as exceptional tools.
The Archdiocese launched three new websites this past year to bring a more focused approach to its communication goals and make it easier for users to find what they need.
Users can now create a “Catholic Vancouver Account” at www.rcav.org which provides a more personalized experience and populates relevant information based on the user’s interests.
In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Archbishop Miller announced that Masses with a public congregation would no longer be offered, like other dioceses across British Columbia and Canada.
Through physical distancing measures and by making use of diverse streaming technology, the faithful continued to take part in many aspects of parish life, resulting in soaring viewership of virtual Masses, record web traffic to archdiocesan websites, and inventive ways of bringing communities together while observing physical distancing rules.
Despite the challenges, the seminarians persevered with their formation. They finished the academic year through online learning thanks to the accommodation of Seminary of Christ the King. They also participated in weekly formation meetings in the summer with sessions given by various leaders in the Archdiocese.
The seminarians were actively engaged in pastoral ministry, often in creative ways. Running online retreats, conducting interviews with priests, and playing video games with the youth are some of the new forms of ministry that they have pioneered.
Discerning a vocation to the priesthood is delicate work that requires close accompaniment and guidance. Our new Director of Vocations and Seminarians, Fr. Paul Goo, has journeyed personally and intentionally with those who are discerning a call to the priesthood.
The Vocations Office has taken on new initiatives including:
Fr. Paul has also been serving "The Virtual Parish," an online young adult community that is praying the Rosary together daily during the pandemic. Through prayerful support, four of its members have chosen to give of themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord by joining religious orders.
Several young women have experienced conversion through an openness to religious life and responding to a call to join religious communities. In 2020, we have three local young women entering communities that serve in the Archdiocese of Vancouver: Danielle has been accepted to the Salesian Sisters; and Samantha and Danah have been accepted as pre-postulants with the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist.
The pandemic has challenged our deacons to reach out in new ways. For those whose primary ministry is “accompaniment,” video conferencing provides an important means of staying in touch and reaching out. Those in health care have prayed with the sick by phone, and visits with seafarers are now on land rather than ships. Parish deacons continue to assist with Sunday liturgies and the celebration of baptisms and marriages during these unusual times. A fourth cohort of seven men was formed during 2020 and has now begun academic studies at St. Mark’s College, following an initial period of formation together.
Engaged couples choose their mentors (preferably from the same parish) and meet regularly for guided study that includes a little homework, self-reflection, discussion, and identifying areas where the couples can become more patient, kind, or understanding.
One of the Archdiocese’s newest ministries reaches out to a community within the Church who may feel ashamed and alienated because of separation or divorce. The first presentation took place over Zoom and had more than 80 participants.
“One woman attending a small group discussion had been away from the Eucharist since her divorce, even though she had not remarried; her leader was able to address this and encourage her to speak again with her priest, and she has hopefully been able to return to the sacraments.”
For the third consecutive year, the Filipino Ministry Office helped re-evangelize civilly married couples by hosting a mass wedding celebration. Archbishop Miller blessed the marriages of 23 couples, allowing them to deepen their faith.
PRH (Personality and Human Relationships) workshops are experiential formation promoting an understanding of human personality and relationships through increasing one’s self knowledge. More than 60 parish leaders have been formed through various in-depth workshops.
RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) leaders were enriched in their ministry by a one-and-a-half-day training session led by TeamRCIA from San Jose, California. Participants learned the difference between evangelization and catechesis, the importance of meeting a person where they are at and that each person is at a different stage in their faith journey.
100 women participated in an eight-week faith study on St. Edith Stein. Having the faith study over Zoom videoconferencing allowed many more women to take part who otherwise wouldn’t have in-person because of distance or time.
After the study, 13 participants said they would consider leading a small-group if the Archdiocese ran another faith study, 10 said they would consider running one in their parish, and 7 said they would consider running one in their home.
Vanspec offers special needs children and young adults the opportunity to learn about the Catholic faith at their own pace, bringing them closer to Jesus.
Ryan Prasad has witnessed at several Catholic high schools how his faith saved him from a continued life of crime. After hearing his testimony, one high school student shared:
“I learned that God can call upon you in miraculous ways. In times of struggle, whether they be personal, or involving a friend or family member, God will come to you to help you in the most unexpected ways.”
Combined Statement of Operations for Pastoral Centre
and Parishes of the Archdiocese of Vancouver
Year ended December 31, 2019
The Finance Office is pleased to publish externally audited financial statements for the Archdiocese of Vancouver at rcav.org/finance/financial-statements