“I don’t know what the place would look like without this help,” president of Sancta Maria House Sharon Dobin told The B.C. Catholic as she described the cigarette burns she found in the flooring when Agape Ministries first took over management of the women’s recovery home.
For the last 17 years, Project Advance has helped Sancta Maria House maintain its Vancouver facility, where it runs a home for women looking to heal from substance abuse and related problems.
The funds have primarily gone to fix the house, funding the renovations of everything from the kitchen and TV room to bedrooms, and exterior paint has been upgraded because of Project Advance funds.
While a new paint job might seem superficial, Dobin said it is essential.
“Having a pleasant environment during their healing journey is important,” she said. “Women are sensitive to these things,” and having a pleasant environment “reflects their value, shows what God has given them and that he loves them.”
This year’s Project Advance grant will go toward buying new tires for the organization’s van and new oversized doors to help with security at the facility.
SM House is one of several recipients of this year’s Project Advance campaign, which in 2023 focuses on empowering parishes “to become what they are truly meant to be” as places of worship, proclamation, and outreach, said Archbishop Michael Miller in this year’s announcement video.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/rkG_gVvS6uc?&ab_channel=ArchdioceseofVancouver&wmode=opaqueThis year’s archdiocesan goal is $3 million, with nearly $2 million allocated for secondary school construction and $950,000 for archdiocesan ministries such as Chaplaincy, Family Life Programs, and First Nations Ministry.
Additionally, $100,000 is for special grants applied for by various organizations around the archdiocese, such as the Talitha Koum Society, NET Ministries Canada, Columbus Residence, and Catholic Street Ministries.
In addition to the parish target set by the Archdiocese of Vancouver, parishes are encouraged to set their own goal. Any money raised above the archdiocesan target remains in the parish for local programs or projects.
Normally, the archdiocese takes a percentage of every financial contribution to a parish to run administrative costs in the dioceses. However, during Project Advance, money raised above the archdiocesan requirement is exempt from this requirement.
At St. Matthew’s in Surrey, youth ministry coordinator Eleanor Wong said Project Advance helps run youth programs and overcome financial obstacles to getting involved.
“The money goes to help the youth have these experiences with Christ when finances might be a barrier,” she said.
Past funds also helped St. Matthew’s build its parish centre, which Wong says has provided much-needed space for youth ministry activities and gatherings.
Last year’s Project Advance funding helped the ministry hold a retreat at Loon Lodge in Maple Ridge. About 40 per cent of the attendees were only able to attend because of Project Advance funds, Wong said.
The funds also help with professional development for Wong’s team, providing programs and resources to help St. Matthew’s youth leadership grow.
Wong is excited to see this year’s money in action, offering ”more opportunities for youth to encounter Christ in unique ways through things like retreats and small field trips.”
Project Advance will also be helping Catholic Street Missionaries in its work, supporting the spiritual and material well-being of people living on Vancouver’s streets.
Last year Catholic Street Ministries used grant money to buy a van for transporting goods and services to people on the street.
“When winter season comes, we can bring a lot of blankets, sleeping bags, and tarps to keep them warm,” Catholic Street Missionaries Coordinator Mildred Moy said in the 2022 Project Advance video.
This year’s grant will help replace old and broken computer equipment, allowing the ministry to focus on social media development to build awareness for its work and recruit more volunteers.