Articles

2018 Lenten Missions

  1. Lenten Mission with Fr. Eugene O'Reilly at St. Pius X Parish, Calgary
    When: Monday, February 26 to Thursday, March 1, from 7:30 to 8:30 pm
    Where: St. Pius X Parish, 2424 - 24 AVE NW, Calgary
    Speaker: Father Eugene O’Reilly, CSsR
    Information: www.stpiusx.ca  
  2.  Lenten Mission with Peter Thompson at St. Joseph, Calgary
    When: Monday to Wednesday (March 5, 6 & 7) at 7 pm (Holy Mass at teach night).
    Where: St. Joseph's Parish, 640 19th Ave NW, Calgary
    Speaker: Peter Thompson
    Information: www.stjosephcalgary.com
  3. Divine Mercy Lenten Mission at St. Michael Catholic Community, Calgary
    When: Tuesdays March 6, 13, and Thursday, March 22, beginning with Mass at 7 pm each night
    Where: St. Michael's Church at 800 85 St SW, Calgary, AB
    Speakers: Fr. Jerome Lavigne, Fr. Cristino Bouvette, and Sharon van der Sloot.
    Information: http://saintmichael.ca/lent/
  4. Lenten Mission "Stripped Away" with Michael Chiasson (Access 52)
    When: Wednesday March 7, 2018 at 7 pm
    Where: St. Bernadette's Church at 7103 - 20A St. SE, Calgary, AB
    Speakers: Michael Chiasson from Access 52
    Information: http://st-bernadette.net/
  5. Lenten Mission with Fr. Julian Studden at Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish, Calgary
    When: Sunday, March 11 (begins with Mass at 11 AM), and Monday to Wednesday (March 12, 13, 14) at 7 pm each night.
    Where: Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Church at 1714 14 Ave NE, Calgary
    Speaker: Father Julian Studden
    Information: www.mmredeemer.ca 
  6. Lenten Mission with Sr. Madeleine Gregg, fcj at St. Gerard's Church, Calgary
    When: Sat, March 17 to Tue, March 20 (Contact St. Gerard's Parish Office for details)
    Where: St. Gerard's Church
    Speaker: Sr. Madeleine Gregg, fcj
    Information: https://stgerards.ca/lent-2018 or contact 403-253-2251

If you would like to share your Lenten Mission information with us, please e-mail: communications@calgarydiocese.ca

Related Offices Social Media & Website
Related Themes Lent Parish Event

World Day of the Sick

In his Message for this year’s World Day of the Sick, Pope Francis looks to the Cross of Christ for redemption from suffering and to Mary as Mother of the Church, a mother who looks out for all her children. The Pope’s example of practical accompaniment of the sick, the dying and the elderly is shown in his frequent visits to hospitals, seniors’ homes and in his loving attention to the sick and people with disabilities who come to his weekly audiences. Accompanying and encountering the sick are watchwords of his ministry of mercy, and an example of how Mary looks after her children. We, too, can support the sick through many different organizations and in many varied ways:

  • We can work politically to ensure that our health care and social service systems will focus on not only direct medical services, but will also strive to improve the social determinants of health.
  • In order to optimize infant and child healthcare and to be intentional about disease prevention as life begins, we can make political demands in their interests.
  • We can also support the claims of those employed in health care and social services who are overworked or underpaid.

From the Catholic viewpoint of improving the common good, we must ask whether our national budgetary provisions for health care are sufficient? If not, are those who are more financially secure willing to pay more so that others may benefit, beyond accepting an already somewhat heavy tax burden?

We are becoming more aware of regional injustices, even at the level of not having clean water available – in Canada! In 2018! We know this need not be, so we are challenged to respond.

  • Some will be called to take political and social action to improve our health systems on behalf of the sick, as above.
  • Some are called to be of great practical assistance to the sick, the frail and the elderly. volunteering in hospices, in hospitals and long-term care homes.
  • Some participate in athletic and other events to raise awareness for specific charities and causes, at the same time persuading other people to support those causes financially.
  • Many people are involved professionally in responding to the needs of the poor, the homeless, the elderly, those with addictions and so on, and many give their time and talents in other ways – financially, personally and spiritually through donating, volunteering, praying and raising awareness through their personal witness and commitment.

At an international level, Canada contributes large amounts in government aid to many countries and organizations, and many of us do so in a smaller way, through financial support of organizations that help medically and socially.

  • Instead of birthday gifts, we can ask for a well (or part of one!) to be built in a developing country; we can ‘send’ friends some goats, pigs or chickens – redirected, of course, to a family who will benefit directly from them.
  • We can send medical supplies and educational materials through organizations such as Chalice, based in Nova Scotia, while many hospitals such as St. Joseph’s in Hamilton send medical teams with suitable supplies to help in countries in need, in this case, Haiti

We can be inspired by many local examples of accompanying and encountering the sick in the spirit of Pope Francis. Here are a few examples that have struck me recently:

  • In the Archdiocese of Québec, teams of two are going out to visit the sick, the lonely and the vulnerable – all people who need our special care and attention, even more so in today’s world.
  • I have a priest friend who started to visit the psychiatric ward of a local hospital, making himself available for conversation to anyone who would like to chat. Being ‘listened to’ is a great gift, and another form of accompanying the sick.
  • I just heard recently from two sisters I know who have left their full-time careers to look after their other sister with early signs of dementia, in order to keep her at home in her own surroundings and involved in family life as long as possible.

We all know parish nurses who look after the elderly, the housebound and the sick in their local areas and who include prayer, a spiritual dimension and parish ‘talk’ in their visits, which many homebound people miss.

I am sure there are countless examples we can all give of how we accompany and encounter the sick, and Pope Francis reminds us that the prime example is Mary. She stood at the foot of the Cross, sorrowing no doubt, but she was THERE, accompanying Jesus to the end. Aware of this, it is natural that we should turn to her for encouragement in our accompanying and encountering those who need it support!

Mary, Help of the Sick, pray for us!

Moira McQueen, LLB, MDiv, PhD
Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute


Click here for more resources for World Day of the Sick 2018 from the Health Care Apostolate

Related Offices Health Care
Related Themes Health Care

Best Practices

SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES FOR PARISHES

Online communications have significantly shaped the way people interact with each other, and continue to influence how and where people look for information. Among various forms of online communications, social media continues to be a significant tool that could be used for the Church’s mission of evangelization. 

As a Church, we have the opportunity to use social media for the twofold purpose of information and formation:

  1. Information – to update parishioners with Mass and reconciliation schedules, liturgies they could participate in, ministries they could help in, parish events they could join, and other information relevant to them as members of their parish community. 
  2. Formation – to help parishioners in their faith journey through curated Catholic content (videos, blogs, articles, etc.).

Also, the Church has the opportunity to use social media as a platform of influence. In a day and age where hundreds of millions of people are active online, social media can be effectively used to reach not only those in the pews, but also those who are not. Building an active, welcoming and friendly parish social media presence could foster engagement even among those who are not in the Church.

The goal of this Best Practices and Guidelines is to help parishes that are not on social media create and maintain an active and engaging social media presence. Additionally, offer tips and insights from the experiences of the Diocese of Calgary Social Media Committee. Consequently, the aim of establishing a parish social media presence is not only to share your weekly Parish bulletin, nor is it only to post Mass times. Since we share in the life and mission of the Catholic Church, our ultimate aim is to engage our parishioners (information), help them in their faith journey (formation), and to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ online (platform of influence/evangelization). 

Facebook

Among all other social media platforms, Facebook is the largest by number of monthly active users (1+ billion). Considering its prominence and the level of detail and information one can put, it is fair to say that you can treat your Facebook page as your secondary source of information online — next only to your official parish website. Click here for Facebook’s official Getting Started with Pages how-to guide.

How to use Facebook

  • Populate your Facebook Page’s About section with all the important and relevant details about your parish (e.g. Parish’s street address, website, parish office telephone number, contact email, Mass and Reconciliation times, etc.)
  • Take advantage of Facebook’s Events feature. By creating one for each of your parish events, you can share it to your followers, on which there is a feature where they can RSVP. In turn, your followers can share your event with their friends.
  • Share opportunities where parishioners can volunteer in the different parish ministries.
  • Share links to Catholic news.
  • Follow the Facebook Pages of other Catholic organizations, ministries, parishes, and Dioceses – this makes curating Catholic content easier.
  • Create a Page: some people make the mistake of creating a Facebook profile for their parish instead of a Facebook Page. The difference? A Facebook profile is for a personal user (i.e. you as an individual), while a Facebook Page is for an organization/business. As a parish, a Facebook Page is what you need. Note that a Facebook Page is different than a Facebook Group. Don't choose Group, choose Page. 
  • Assign roles: In your Facebook Page’s settings, you can assign other Facebook Users a role in managing your Page (Admin, moderator, editor, etc.), with each role having varied accessibilities and rights. This will make maintaining your Facebook presence easier.2
  • Live Video: want to broadcast an event, live? While Facebook Live started out only for personal profiles and only from a mobile device, it is now available for Pages and from a computer. Click here for more.

Twitter

Twitter is another social media platform where users can post and respond to short messages called Tweets. Tweets are limited to 140 characters and can be about virtually anything. You can post a tweet, reply to one, share a tweet you like (called a re-tweet or RT). You can also attach images, video, or links to every tweet you post. There’s a huge Catholic “population” on Twitter, collectively known by the moniker Catholic Twitter. And who exactly makes up Catholic Twitter? A lot. Priests, nuns, bishops, catholic bloggers, and yes – even Pope Francis. Don’t forget to follow him at @Pontifex! Click here for Twitter’s official getting started guide.

How to use Twitter

  • The details we’ve listed above on Facebook generally applies to all of social media, Twitter included. So populate your Twitter profile with the necessary information (a short bio of who you are, your parish website, etc.)
  • Twitter pioneered the use of Hashtags. Not sure what a hashtag is? Click here. You can use this to create a unique identity for your parish’s social media presence. For example, the Diocese of Calgary uses #CatholicYYC in its posts online. Our Lady of the Rockies in Canmore, Alberta, uses #OurLadyRocks. Be creative, and share it with your parishioners! Use this handy guide for creating your hashtags.
  • You can share on Twitter what you also share on Facebook: links to Catholic news, curated Catholic content, your own parish news, and volunteer opportunities. 
  • Follow other Catholic users and see what they tweet about! As with Facebook, this also helps make curating Catholic content much easier. 
  • Keep it active. If Facebook has a Timeline where you can see others’ posts, Twitter has a Feed. This feed is constantly updated; so don’t hesitate to tweet multiple times a day.

Instagram

Instagram is a popular photo-sharing social media platform where users can post images, video, as well as live-video. Unfortunately, content can only be posted on Instagram from a mobile device — meaning no computers. 

Tips: You can link Instagram posts to automatically share in Facebook. Use this feature with discretion. 

Other Social Media Platforms

There are several other social media platforms that may be useful for your parish’s needs that are not included in this guideline. Below is a list of other platforms at your disposal that you could use, and a brief description of what they are for.

  • Youtube: video hosting and sharing
  • Vimeo: video hosting and sharing
  • Flickr: hosting and sharing images
  • Pinterest: a virtual board on which users can pin and visually share interesting finds on the internet
  • Google+: Google’s own social media network, useful to boost your website’s SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Snapchat: a mobile-only social media platform where users can send visual (e.g. image and video) messages — hence, snap-chat.

OTHER Important Tips

  • Be visual
    Social media is largely visual, and having a visual element to your posts will help you get more Impressions (social media term for the number of times your post is displayed) and Engagement (likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc.). Thus instead of posting your Pastor’s Easter message on Facebook in plain text, why not create a short video?
  • Keep your Identity Consistent
    Keep your social media handle/username consistent on all social media platforms so people can find you easily. For example, the Diocese of Calgary’s handle on all social media accounts is @calgarydiocese. 
  • Be Active
    If you do decide on creating multiple social media accounts on different platforms for your parish, you must commit keep it active and updated constantly. Also do not just post content – be sure to engage with your followers by replying to comments and tweets. This makes your presence personable. 
  • Respect Intellectual Property
    Obey the law. Understand the copyrights accompanying any online content, whether they be images, music, videos, etc. Content posted online are to be treated similarly with content in other publications. 
  • Account Access & Credentials
    Login credentials for the parish’s social media accounts such as usernames, emails, and passwords must be constantly updated. Also, this document must be accessible by the social media administrator and the Pastor, or whomever the social media administrator reports directly to. This file must be treated as highly confidential. Regarding passwords: complexity is good, but length is also important (8-10 characters).
  • Privacy and Safe Environments
    Do not disclose information that is to be held in confidence. Also, any individual involved in managing social media accounts must not engage in private online conversations with children. A good rule of thumb is to keep all forms of engagement public (through comments, replies to tweets), instead of Direct Messages, commonly called DM’s.
  • Photography
    Permission to photograph children cannot be assumed, and neither is posting their pictures on social media. Photographs of children shouldn’t be posted on social media sites without the prior approval of the child’s parents or legal guardian. Also, take great care to avoid including identifying details or information with an image posted online. For a sample photo release form, see Page 6 of the Diocesan Social Media Policy.

Creating a Social Media Team

Creating and curating content for social media, as well as the overall maintenance of the parish’s social media accounts, can be challenging. Having a social media team of about 3-4 people that handles all these tasks is very valuable. There are a few things to consider when selecting the right people for this team.

Members must be carefully selected, screened, and have references and background checks obtained, just as with other parish ministries. Remember that just because someone is social media savvy does not mean that they are perfectly fit for the task. Social media admins represent the Church on every single post and comment that they write — these individuals must have good moral character, well-formed in the Catholic faith, and have the ability to think through the implications of what they are about to write.  It is important that the team works closely with their parish priest and office. In addition, it would be significantly beneficial if members of the social media team have a sense of brand consistency when creating content. 

Social Media Team Email

It is also worth considering creating a special email account for use by the social media team. This email account will then be the one used when creating social media accounts, instead of having to use someone else’s personal email. For example, the Calgary Diocese Social Media Committee uses a Gmail account that members use when logging in, signing up, and as backup email.

Scheduling and Creating Content

Social media administrators do not always need to be on a computer or mobile device in order to post content. Free resources, such as Facebook’s own Scheduling tool, HootSuite or the Buffer App account give social media administrators the ability to queue posts to be released on a certain date and time.     

Each tool may have unique features of their own, but essentially they all allow you to schedule social media posts in advance and monitor your accounts when someone mentions you or leave a comment. 

PROMOTING your Social Media Presence

Don't forget to promote your social media presence. Start engaging with your parishioners to ensure effective communication and build a loyal parishioners base.

Tips: Include social media buttons on your bulletin, website and provide accurate links to your parish social media networks. Integrate your social media information with your other Parish communications channels such as the: 

  • Bulletin
  • Email (in the signature)
  • Bulletin Board
  • Stationery - Letterhead, Business Cards
  • Website & other social media presence


Compiled by the Diocesan Social Media Committee, November 2017.

Related Offices Social Media & Website
Related Themes Communications Social Media

Preparing for Catholic Education Sunday

Catholic Education Sunday is a time that allows us to remember how fortunate we are in this province to be able to offer publicly funded Catholic education. Our schools provide our children with an environment where they can learn to be witnesses to the love of Christ, and to keep their eyes ever on Jesus. Since our Faith and our living cannot be separated, our Catholic Faith permeates everything we do as educators.

This year, Holy Spirit Catholic Schools will remain focused on our Faith Plan, Growing in Faith Together (GIFT). Our guiding image for this plan is a beautiful tree that will be revealed over three years. The aim of the plan’s first year was to be “Rooted in Christ,” developing a greater understanding of the foundations of our Faith. This encouraged purposeful study of the Gospels and an appreciation for Christ’s enduring love through the Eucharist. Our second year inspires us to “Grow in Spirit” together. Expanding on our knowledge of Jesus through Scripture, we hope to know Him more deeply in our hearts by nurturing this relationship through prayer.

In celebrating the gift of Catholic Education in Alberta, we are grateful to both God and our provincial parish family that loves us, supports us, and stands up for us. Please continue to pray with us and for us. Along with our students, our families, our staff, and our parishes, we look forward to a beautiful year of Growing in Spirit together!

Related Offices Carillon Religious Education
Related Themes Catholic Schools Catholic Education Family

Sharing the Good News of the Gospel

Catholic schools are privileged to share in the saving mission of the Church by providing education in the faith. Cultivating wisdom and virtue by nurturing truth, goodness and beauty, students come to know, glorify and love God. In addition to educational content, these attributes are taught and learned through the practice of the faith and learning opportunities, which integrate instruction with service.

The Truth that we share is Jesus Christ and it is expressed in knowing the truth of God’s love and mercy for each person and by fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ. In the Calgary Catholic School District, students grow in truth through such activities as Youth for Christ, Alpha, pilgrimages, retreats, liturgies, prayers, devotions, and by participating in the sacraments.

Knowing the truth of God’s love, students discover their inherent goodness, learning that they and all people have been created in the image of God who alone is good. Goodness is expressed, according to Pope Francis, by drawing near to others. We see this exemplified in schools in many different ways. One school prepared an image of a large cross made up of paper hands of different tones to demonstrate that all people are created equally and must be treated with dignity and respect. One school provided items for newborns while others spent time with seniors or with the L’Arche Community.

Recognizing that all people have dignity, students experience and know beauty by serving others. Service is fueled by joy that gives hope and affirms the work and action of the Holy Spirit. Each school community thoughtfully selects service activities that provide students with service learning opportunities to help them grow in faith. In Calgary Catholic, students have served others through a variety of activities such as food, clothing and coin collections, justice fairs, breakfast clubs, being in solidarity with the homeless, and more. Some schools integrated quotes from Pope Francis’ book, Dear Pope Francis, to reinforce responsibility to care for one another.

By fostering faith through truth, goodness and beauty, Catholic schools perform an invaluable service. In the Calgary Catholic School District, we work to share the Good News of the Gospel with our students, who can then, in turn, share this with the world.

Related Offices Carillon Religious Education
Related Themes Religious Education Catholic Schools Family
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