A network of committees assists in the implementation of a variety of tasks and responsibilities. These committees are composed of generous, committed and talented lay people and clergy from the various parishes, educational and religious institutions of the Archdiocesee who volunteer their precious time and gifts. Several committees benefit greatly from the expertise of staff from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops who also donate their skills and talents to the local community.
The overall goal of these committees is leadership formation for parish volunteers who have accepted a similar responsibility at the parish level. The committees are listed below with their mandate and some examples of their educational activities.
The following is a list of committees:
The purpose of the Adult Faith Development Committee (AFDC) is
"... to help the people of the Archdiocese of Ottawa to develop adult Christian faith through preparation of leaders for this ministry. The Committee's primary focus is to help the Archdiocese develop a wide-ranging vision for adult faith development and to articulate the means necessary for the on-going implementation of this vision at the parish level, in continuity with the Church's catechetical tradition".
To achieve this goal, the AFDC organizes, encourages, and supports means such as research, workshops, programs, retreats, consultation, media, and community to achieve its purpose.
Many of the recommendations of the second phase of the Diocesan Synod on Adult Faith Development are to be implemented at the parish level, but others are the responsibility of the diocesan commission. The AFDC trains lay leaders through its Catechist Formation Program for those working with adults and assists parishes in establishing committees on adult faith development. It sponsors workshops on Vatican II, facilitated discussions on the Synod for America, prepared the diocesan report sent to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and organized a follow-up to the Synod Report.
Returning Catholics - Landings
In the past, Catholics wishing to return to the practice of their faith faced a dilemma. There was no place for them to go. Many parishes tended to include them with the RCIA group, thinking that they could benefit from the catechesis. However, their needs and questions are very different from those of catechumens. Thus, in this diocese, such a practice is discouraged and a new program Landings was initiated in December '97. Landings is a comprehensive program to welcome returning Catholics. Some 20 parishes took advantage of the training program and several parishes have begun implementation of the program.
RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) Team
This Committee has successfully organized Institutes on the RCIA to help train parish teams. Follow-up support is given to parish teams by regular workshops on Catechesis and the Lectionary, and on the Scrutinies. The Diocesan team plans the yearly Diocesan celebrations at the cathedral for the Rite of Election and the Mass for the Neophytes after Easter.
Because of an expressed need for a common practice in the diocese with regard to preparation for Baptism, this committee's mandate was to prepare a guidebook for parishes. The Baptism Preparation Guidebook is now available; workshops have been held to introduce it to the parish teams who have been enthusiastic in their response. Requests for the Guidebook have been received from various dioceses across Canada and the United States. Workshops are held on a regular basis for parish Baptism teams.
The Liturgy Commission (LC), is mandated to provide leadership for ongoing liturgical catechesis and liturgical renewal in the diocese. Its goal is to respond to the liturgical needs of the parishes; to promote the full and active participation of all in the liturgy; to encourage implementation of the Directory for Masses with Children; and to focus on the Sunday Liturgy as a response to the diocesan Synod recommendation that there be a liturgical and spiritual renewal in the diocese.
The LLC plans yearly workshops for Liturgy committees on various aspects of Liturgy. In 1995 the LLC prepared a kit for a Diocesan Lent-Easter-Pentecost Renewal project. This kit provides activities for home, school, and parish and is still available with material relevant to each year.
After consultation with clergy and pastoral workers, the LC is preparing Guidelines for Liturgical Ministries for final approval by the Archbishop.
The LC is also collaborating with the Family Ministry Office to produce Guidelines for Weddings with separate documents for the couples and another for parish planning groups.
Guidelines for Funerals is also in the planning stage.
An association for parish musicians has been organized to provide an ongoing vehicle for continuing education and mutual support.
The Commission's task is to make recommendations and to facilitate the implementation of policy in matters relating to religious and family life education in the archdiocese. The main tasks of the commission are to: study issues surrounding pastoral practices of the archdiocese as they affect religious education; help formulate policy and implement it through the work of its subcommittees; collaborate with the district school boards; encourage and provide resources for the religious formation and education of teachers; collaborate in any way possible with its counterpart in the French sector of the diocese, as well as with the provincial and national bodies concerned with religious education; sponsor workshops, seminars and conferences related to its mandate; provide resources and support at the diocesan, regional, and parish levels.
To accomplish this task the commission organizes gatherings of those in leadership positions in parishes and schools to discuss matters of mutual concern.
One requirement of the sacramental norms that were adapted in the diocese in 1987 calls for a sacramental team in each parish with representatives from each constituency to facilitate, co-ordinate and collaborate in the planning for the celebration of the sacraments with school age children. Many parishes now have teams. The teachers in the Catholic schools and in the parish religion programs are still responsible for preparing the children catechetically for the sacraments, but the parents have a particular role at home as does the parish. Too often in the past, the classroom teacher was left with the full responsibility not just for the catechesis, but also all the details of planning the celebration. With this new process the parish and parents are invited to become more involved, and the parents become more aware of their responsibility with regard to the faith life of their children.
Consequently, the Subcommittee for Sacramental Preparation for school age children, commissioned a handbook for parishes to facilitate home, school, and parish co-operation in the preparation of the children and their parents for the sacraments of first Eucharist, Confirmation, and Reconciliation. This text, A Sacramental Handbook for Parishes, is now under revision.
The Sacramental Subcommittee has prepared documents for parents: Parents, Eucharist, and Children; Parents, Reconciliation, and Children; Confirmation...The Spirit for Life; and a similar document for sponsors for Confirmation which are available from the Diocesan Pastoral Centre.
In recent years the parishes have received more inquiries about the initiation of school age children. The Sacramental Subcommittee responded to this request by publishing Guidelines for the Initiation of Children of Catechetical Age. These guidelines follow the recommendations of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children of Catechetical Age and are now being implemented in the diocese. These guidelines are included in the revised 'A Sacramental Handbook for Parishes'.
In the year 2000, the Sacramental Subcommittee was expanded to become, temporarily, the Confirmation Planning Committee. For the next few years this committee is planning the restoration of the Order of the Sacraments to Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Materials are being prepared to assist in the implementation at the school and parish level.
The Social Mission of the Church Committee consists of representatives from Development and Peace, the Catholic Immigration Centre, parishes, people involved in direct service projects and diocesan staff. Such representation contributes to greater collaboration.
Its guiding spirit is taken from Micah 6:8, Philippians 2:5. and Matthew 25:40. Its objectives: under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is
"to reflect upon and to reflect the teachings of Scripture, the Church, and the statements and directions of the Canadian and the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops with respect to Christian response to Social Mission; to apply these teachings most especially in response to needs within the Ottawa Archdiocese, in proposing courses of action to correct social injustice, with special attention to the poor and the marginalized; to provide leadership and support to parishes in their awareness and practice of Social Mission; and to serve, upon request, as advisor to the Archbishop and his staff concerning particular legislation or policies that have impact or potential impact on issues of Social Justice; and with respect to all these goals, to grow individually and as a spiritual community dedicated to Social Mission."
The Commission organizes workshops for parish social mission of the church Committees and developed a study kit Communities of Salt and Light which is available for use in small groups and parish groups. The Commission supports the Canadian Jubilee Initiative A new Beginning, a call for Jubilee. The first year of The Debt Cancellation Campaign was promoted by a great many parishes. 24,000 petitions from Ottawa, 675,000 from Canada, 17 million worldwide.
Commission members sit on various ecumenical, inter-faith, and secular coalitions in the city that address social issues of the day: Faith Partners, Ottawa-Carleton Health Coalition, and the Coalition of Concerned Citizens (re. the Algonquin Land Claim).
In all it does, the Commission tries to keep its members and the people in the parishes conscious of the "two feet" of social mission: direct service to the poor and action on behalf of justice.
The various committees mentioned above are at various stages in their development and the members have definite time commitments so that the committees are renewed on a regular basis. Those who have given very generously of their time are faith-filled, generous women and men who love the church and look forward to further implementation of the decisions of Vatican Council II. There is much for which to be grateful, and much work yet to do. Our commissions and committees are ready and eager to address the needs of the people of God and respond generously and lovingly.