St James Parish Pastoral Council Minutes – March 10, 2016

Attending:  Father Yarek, Father Dennis, Dave Wilson (Chairman), Leanne Plamondon, Stephanie Krueger, Ron Nelson, Barb Zimmer, Tara Epp, Ron Schreiber (Secretary)

The meeting was called to order at 7:00pm.

Dave Wilson led the group in an opening prayer.

Barb Zimmer moved the adoption of the minutes of the previous meeting held January 21, 2016; Ron Nelson seconded; carried.

Father Yarek provided an update on parish life; the movie regarding Eucharistic Miracles was very successful with over 80 people attending the showing at St. James Parish; snacks were provided by the Rivers of Living Water Prayer Group; Lenten Confessions continue – this is a focus at this time of year and especially in this Year of Mercy.

Father Dennis reported that he fills in whenever Father Yarek is gone; the remainder of the time he is still quite busy with many different activities.


Update of Celebrating Year of Mercy Activities:  there are a number of things going on in this regard both here and throughout the Diocese; at St. Michael’s there is a Divine Mercy Chaplet celebration on the first Sunday of the month which includes time after mass; last year’s Lenten Retreat with Father Gilles on Divine Mercy helped to set up this year’s Jubilee of Mercy; the schools in the area organized, with Father Yarek and Father Dennis, opportunities for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament through the first week of March; Father Yarek advised Parish Council to check out the Pope’s website regarding mercy and indulgences; there is a pilgrimage to Balzac upcoming; St. Michael’s in Black Diamond is running its 33 Days of Morning Glory program; there is an app available regarding ideas for 365 days of mercy – please see The Joyful Journey from Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools; at St. Peter’s in Calgary there is a Lenten Retreat being held March 17 with the topic being Divine Mercy.

40 Days of Life Volunteers for March 18:  this initiative involves praying at the Kensington Abortion Clinic in Calgary from 7am to 7pm; our Parish has volunteered to take this on for March 18; all Council members are encouraged to sign up.


Introduction of Youth Coordinator – Charles Turner:  the new part-time Youth Minister Charles Turner came to the meeting at this time; he gave a biography of his experience which included NET and DYRT experience as well as activities at St. Bonaventure Parish in Calgary, and he provided an update on his plans; he is hired for 14 hours weekly and this normally entails preparation and 2 nights of meetings with youth – Monday nights with older youth who lead the younger and Thursday nights with both younger and older youth which includes games for the younger ones as well as some faith-related activities; he is looking for a number of adult volunteers to help with some of the nights’ activities; some discussion took place regarding the desire of many to  see an increased youth involvement in the Sunday masses; as well,  it was pointed out that it would be a good idea to try to meet students in the schools at lunch time to encourage their attendance at the youth evenings; the Council was then provided an update on the makeup and activities of the Youth Advisory Board which provides support to Charles in his role as Youth Coordinator.

Plans for Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday – Council discussed this and given recent changes initiated by Pope Francis, set out the parameters for Washing of the Feet; the Parish will advertise for 12 volunteers 18 years of age and over,  either male or female (with a hope to balance the genders if possible).

How Can We Be More Welcoming to New Parishioners and Young Families? – it was pointed out that Okotoks is a community of relative newcomers and it does take work to build engagement in new people; there is a Welcoming Committee with a couple people signed up that could meet with new people to explain the workings of the Parish; the holding of a special welcoming social event, to be held in the fall, was also discussed; as well, the importance of being invitational to new people by asking them to join committees, attend socials, welcoming sessions, was stressed; it was also suggested that special blessings for newcomers could be given at mass, to begin after Easter, and that a welcoming table could be manned in the narthex where volunteers could answer any questions that newcomers might have; the importance of our Parish website being very clear regarding upcoming events was highlighted and it was noted that we do have a volunteer administrator for the website who would gladly post these events and maintain the website calendar.

Easter Flower Donations – List of Donors and Intentions – donations historically account for about 20% of the cost of Easter flowers and it was suggested that as a sign of gratitude for this, an intentional aspect could be developed which might include bulletin recognition where a thankyou incorporating a “donation in the memory of…” could be highlighted; Council decided that this could be attempted this year.

St. James Involvement in the Refugee Process – discussion occurred regarding the commitment required in sponsoring Syrian refugee families; it was noted that the ability to support a  commitment of this size is an indicator of a stable, strong parish community and, in Okotoks, the Parish is still in a growth phase so it would be difficult to find the necessary level of commitment; as well, the local St. Vincent de Paul is extremely busy supporting the local needy; it was pointed out that a project of this sort can build community and so, develop commitment and, with the Jubilee of Mercy, there is a wonderful tie-in with an initiative such as this; Council felt that St. James Parish should encourage its parishioners to help out with the High River St. Francis de Sales’ Parish sponsorship of refugees as an initial step in this direction.


February YTD Financial Update – overall, the financial situation at the Parish has improved a little in regards to operating funds, building fund, and TIA; this is good news; prayers are still needed however to ensure that the needs of the Parish are consistently met.

Significant Updates from Committees and Organizations – Father Yarek reminded Council that veneration is given to saints while worship is reserved for God alone; he also spoke about a May 28 event with a focus on the healing power of God; Leanne Plamondon reported on activities of the Hall Committee in its development of a fee policy and schedule for use of the hall, kitchen, and meeting rooms; a motion to approve this fee schedule was moved by Ron Nelson, seconded by Tara Epp, and carried by the rest of the group; Tara Epp reported that St. Vincent de Paul has 70 volunteers signed up for  Feed the Hungry in Calgary on Passion Sunday; as well, in her capacity as a teacher, she remarked that HTA and other schools are involved with a number of service events throughout the area; Father Yarek reminded the group that he will be gone for the next week.


The next meeting will be held Wednesday, April 13 at 7:00pm. Items to be discussed will include adoration in the Parish as well as volunteerism and conversion.


Father Yarek led the group in a closing prayer at 8:50pm.


God bless you all.