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A new way of being Church – Jul 10

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From the Synod Implementation Team

SYNOD 2009 proclaimed the New Evangelisation a Pastoral Priority for the Archdiocese. This is the first time that the Archdiocese has had a Pastoral Priority that coordinated the imagination, reflection and pastoral action of the Church. This is one of three Priorities, the others, Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity and Regenerating the Moral and Spiritual Values of our Society; together they fulfil the three-fold mission of Christ — Prophet, Priest and King.

The Pastoral Priority of The New Evangelisation was embedded at every level of the Archdiocese; the parishes had Pastoral Plans, the Departments worked together in coordination around the Priority, the Archdiocese as a whole reflected upon the theme: Catholic Family Become What You Are.

The first value of the Synod is the coordination of all of our efforts around one theme. This had the effect of multiple approaches to the same pastoral problem for a year and a half. It also called us to review our structures at parish and Archdiocesan levels and to reflect on and find innovative ways to implement the priority. All of this is already The New Evangelisation; it focussed the Church and called forth new pastoral approaches and action.

Blessed John Paul II, in a 1983 address to the Bishops of Latin American said:

“Look to the future with commitment to a New Evangelisation, one that is new in its ardour, new in its methods, and new in its means of expression.”

Reflecting on the first priority let us explore these three aspects of The New Evangelisation.

New in ardour

That the whole Church, families, parishes, schools, Archdiocesan Departments all worked in unison around the theme for a year and a half speaks about new in ardour. There has been a new commitment in the Archdiocese with much more reflection, prayer and pastoral action than we have known before. In the reports that follow over the next few weeks we will see how deep this pastoral commitment went.

New in method

Synod Resolution #9 says: Be it resolved that the Archdiocese at all levels adopt the evangelization of the family as the central component of The New Evangelization.

Together with Resolution #7 that speaks about the renewal of the Catholic School, these became the new approach adopted by the Archdiocese. By implementing Synod we have committed to the renewal of the parish, by focussing on the family we committed to the renewal of the central institution of Church and society, by the renewal of the Catholic School we again work for the renewal of Church and society. These three together — parish, family and school — are the frontier of The New Evangelisation.

New in its means of expression

This will be seen more clearly as we begin to see some of the things that were done at a diocesan level.

Shortly after the synod, the Departments of the Archdiocese met for a two-day “Planning Session” and reorganised themselves into clusters around the three Pastoral Priorities (Resolution #10). They planned and coordinated their work over the last two years in this way. This made collaboration the heart of how we are Church and foundational for all our ministry. It is not what we do but also how we do it that is important. This new structure of collaboration is a commitment to build the Civilisation of Love in all we do. Out of this the Department of The New Evangelization was born in July 2009. Pope Benedict announced one for the Roman Curia on June 28, 2010.

During 2009 we prepared the parishes for implementation by having several meetings to communicate the new structure of Church around collaboration (Resolution #10) on renewal of our baptismal promises — “Called to be Catholic”. Each parish had a 12-point list to achieve in preparation for the first priority. Many parishes did well in making the shift to this new way. This was demonstrated by the enthusiasm around implementation. We all read the three-part series by Archbishop Gilbert “Our Freedom as Believers”, “Conversion and Discipleship” and “Rediscovering the Vocation”.

In September we facilitated the parishes through a Pastoral Planning exercise using Appreciative Enquiry where dreams and aspirations for family life emerged. Out of this the parishes developed the Pastoral Plans and brought them to the Cathedral to present to the Archbishop on December 8, 2009. Coordinated Pastoral Planning around Evangelization of the Family had begun.

The Synod decided that the Evangelization of the Family would be “the central component of The New Evangelization” (Resolution #9) so the Pastoral Plans focussed on the Evangelisation of the Family. Most of our Lenten retreats, many teachings, seminars, courses have been conducted on the theme at an Archdiocesan and parish level.

All of this is already The New Evangelisation. It is animating the life of the parish and parishioner in a very different way. It is a coordinated approach to the pastoral life of the Archdiocese. It involved a major catechetical movement on the theology of the family and in many respects a rediscovery of the Catholic tradition and teaching on the family. It brought Blessed John Paul’s Theology of the Body centre stage in the Archdiocese.

During this time a team worked on a Pastoral Plan for Catholic Education (Resolution #7). The articulated Mission for Catholic Education is to: “form students to achieve their full potential as children of God and citizens of the world“. This is a whole person approach where academics, spiritual and non-academic formation are given great attention. Parents’ involvement is critical and school governance and forming a community of values are the foundation.

In tackling The New Evangelisation, the Archdiocese has had a three-pronged approach. It has sought to bring renewal to the three institutions over which the Church has most influence — the Catholic family, the school and the parish. By focussing on these three essential institutions, it is our hope that in obedience to the Spirit, the Church may be faithful to the call of Christ.

“…a new Evangelisation that would unfurl with greater vigour – just like the original evangelisation – a potential for sanctity, a great missionary boom, a vast catechistic creativity, a bountiful manifestation of collegiality and communion, an evangelical commitment to give dignity to man, to generate …a great future of hope in order to propose the civilisation of love and, as a mean, a new ‘Christian culture’”. (Pope John Paul, 1984)

The end of The New E
vangelisation is a new Christian culture. The first two Pastoral Priorities are intertwined. As we revitalise Catholic Culture and Identity we are continuing the New Evangelisation. Let us pray for the grace to heed the Spirit’s call to build the Civilisation of Love in Trinidad and Tobago.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 July 2011 15:55