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Connected, working together, in alignment

We thank all parishes, priests and laity alike for organising and participating in the discussions to develop the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan (APP) 2019–2023 during the month of November. Many have completed the discussions and others are yet to meet. Certainly, the collated responses were due to be submitted to the Office of Pastoral Planning and Development by November 30, 2018.

The next stage in the process would be to collate all the submissions from the parishes and finalise the APP, after which the Archbishop will review and sign off on the plan. The final APP will then be widely circulated to the Archdiocese as the way forward for the next five years.

Between January and April 2019, all parishes are mandated to develop their parish pastoral plans in alignment with the APP. Taking into consideration the peculiar realities of their situation/context—congregation demographics, social, cultural, economic, environmental etc.—each parish will develop their own road map/way forward for the next five years.

A word on ‘alignment’

Having developed a plan for the Archdiocese, it is imperative that all the moving parts of the Archdiocese: parishes, commissions and departments, ecclesial communities, religious congregations etc are connected and working towards the achievement of the mission and vision of the Archdiocese. We want everything and everybody moving in the same direction, generally.

When the car wheels are out of alignment, the tyres begin to wear unevenly, the car ‘pulls’ in different directions and could result in accidents and it puts a strain on the driver/s to steer the vehicle.

Ultimately, it leads to increased cost and much inefficiencies in operating the vehicle. While with a vehicle, this is easily corrected by taking it to the alignment centre, with a parish and an archdiocese, this is not easy to accomplish.

Authentic dialogue

In the Church of the 21st century, we need to break down internal barriers within the Archdiocese, parishes and align the strategic pastoral thinking, our goals and objectives at all levels in as straight a line as possible: each parish as a part of the Archdiocese aligned to the APP, and within the parish, each ministry aligned to the parish pastoral plan.

As we begin to think about our parish planning process, the time of Advent, a new beginning and preparation, and waiting with expectancy and hope, it would be good to pray and prepare for the process.

Pastoral planning is about hope, that in involving a wider cross section of the people of God we commit to critically identifying our reality, asking why are things the way they are and then in a spirit of authentic dialogue we engage the people of God in coming up with the solutions/strategies to welcome Jesus into our communities.

This process as we go forward will involve the following steps:

* What is happening in our parish, internally? What is our reality/our context?  Let’s start with knowing

our congregation, their demographics (family composition, age, sex, sacramental status, involvement/participation levels, education, skills, etc.);

our ministries—an assessment (how many, who are members, leaders, what they do, why, who do they reach, are they fulfilling their mandates);

our leaders—what kind of leadership we need to foster and develop to implement our parish planning and plans (Jesus servant leader model is recommended)

* What is happening in the wider community external to the parish?

* Is there a vision and mission for our parish? Articulate, review and revise;

* What do we need to do in our parish with respect to all six priority areas in the next five years?

* Develop action plans for each year.

These will be elaborated in the coming weeks. We seek your continued buy-in at all levels, your constant prayer for the planning process, your commitment to communicate, participate and collaborate in building our Church in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in true community with the blessed Trinity. – Office of Pastoral Planning and Development