The bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) have “quite a few pots on the fire waiting to boil”, according to AEC President Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau (Dominica) in his address at the 62nd Annual Plenary Meeting in Rome, April 23–26.
Bishop Malzaire said the big challenge before the bishops is how to bring together all-important components in a pragmatic way for the entire Conference. “In other words, how to find the synergy among all the departments for viable pastoral engagement,” he said.
However, the AEC president believes in order to obtain this in the short and long term, the use of social communication to the optimum advantage, active (functional) AEC Commissions and with the help of its members, “we can do great things”.
At the Plenary Meeting, the bishops renewed intentional commitment to give a new vibrancy to the mission of the Caribbean Catholic Church. They established a framework to renew awareness of the relationship between mission and vocation that will facilitate the effective commitment and involvement of clergy, religious, and laity in the pastoral life of the Church.
Bishop Malzaire, in his first address to the Conference as president, identified significant activities within the Conference during the last year. He noted various appointments, movements, deaths and three vacant dioceses to be filled.
The bishop also highlighted some key areas for attention to accomplish the AEC’s vision in the triennium (next three years).
These include Biblical Animation of all Pastoral Life (ABP) in the dioceses, an integrated pastoral plan for communications, the pastoral letter on communication: New Ways of Being Church in the Digital Milieu, stewardship as a way of life in dioceses and parishes, and working towards a common strategic agenda for Catholic Education in the region.
On communication, Bishop Malzaire commended the Communication Commission for helping them make better use of the technology available to them as a Conference. He added given the constraints of time and money, especially as it relates to travel within the region, they will introduce monthly Web meetings.
The aspect of Vocations and Formation of Clergy for the New Evangelisation is too important an area to leave “up for grabs”, especially in light of the reopening of the two seminaries in the region. Nevertheless, Bishop Malzaire expressed optimism that a draft proposal entitled Towards a Framework for Integrated Pastoral Life is key to how the bishops will achieve all the “beautiful things” they have been working on and continue to struggle with. He trusts that it will provide for them the synergy and the framework for their pastoral operations in the AEC. – KJ