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Archbishop praises Project Advance volunteers

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With $25,000 grant, Chaldean mission purchases bus to take 300 youngsters to Catechism classes
By Alistair Burns
The B.C. Catholic

Caption: Diane Chua (left) and Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, stand with Project Advance special grant recipients: Karen Murphy Corr, Shahad Shaaya, James Borkowski, Hannah Asmar, Father Sarmad Biloues, Mary-Alice Boyer, and Nigel Vincent. Alistair Burns / The B.C. Catholic.

Last year the Project Advance stewardship video won a second-place award from the International Catholic Stewardship Council. This year it's looking for the top prize.

The opening of the 2014 campaign began with Mass, after which the new video was shown over lunch at St. Patrick's Parish in Vancouver. John Nixon, the archdiocesan director of development, hopes the video, called "Live gratefully, give generously," will come in first in the competition.

The seven-minute clip shows high school students making sandwiches at The Door Is Open as one of the great works that Project Advance serves. It also shows interviews of people who have benefited from the generosity of parishioners in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Nixon said that the "money parishioners put into Project Advance supports capital needs, community outreach programs" of the archdiocese and the actual parishes themselves through rebates, but he believes stewardship is not merely financial assistance.

"Why would you give to the Church?" Nixon asked. "It's a fundamental part of how we live as Catholics."

In the video Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, explains, "Stewardship is a way of life that acknowledges our dependence on God for all we are and all we have." This begins "with an inner conversion of the mind and heart."

Renata Cecconi, the Project Advance coordinator, hoped those present liked the video. "If not, then, like the Canucks, there's always next year," she joked.

Hired in October 2013, she and her husband Malcolm Ashford initiated a focus group in January. Nixon thought that the representatives from 16 parishes who participated gave interesting feedback to modify the plan for future fundraising.

At St. Patrick's, Father James Hughes earnestly expressed thanks for PA fundraising which led to a new pipe organ and a brand new rectory.

Chaldean bus

One of the special grants for 2014 went to Sts. Peter and Paul Chaldean mission.

"Most of our families are refugees," stated Father Sarmad Biloues, who fled Syria years ago. "They missed safety" before arrival in Canada, he pointed out. The 1,000 families who belong to the Chaldean mission, mostly farmers who work very long hours, use the facilities of St. Andrew Kim Parish.

In January, with a $25,000 special grant, Father Biloues bought a bus to transport parishioners to Mass on Sundays and to take 300 youngsters to Catechism classes on Monday nights.

In the classes, the priest and 25 volunteers hand out food and presents, and instruct the children about the faith.

Signal Hill

James Borkowski, the executive director of Signal Hill, a "provincial educational group on life issues," said his group appreciated its grant of $8,000 to buy a new computer server and to hire two educators to oversee what he termed "parent support meetings."

In these meetings, Borkowski and company help "parents learn how to engage with their children on healthy sexuality," a birds and the bees approach that "promotes the value of each life."

Signal Hill has visited 40 Catholic elementary schools in the Lower Mainland, Chilliwack, and Powell River; an estimated 3,000 parents have participated in these meetings.

Serena B.C.

Jenni Spicer, one of the presidents of Serena B.C., a natural family planning organization, wrote in an email that their grant of $20,000 would pay for a new website and registration system.

She said she believed Serena was "not yet (aesthetically) beautiful from a marketing standpoint," and that now it would have an opportunity to better "convey how NFP builds stronger marriages and joy-filled families."

Last year the people of the archdiocese raised $6.8 million, with $3.5 million of that returned to their parishes as rebates.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 April 2014 10:18  

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