For a long time, decisions have been made using the pragmatic and practical approach. Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon is now calling for the Church in Trinidad and Tobago to move from a “deliberative assembly to a discerning assembly.”
He reminded attendees at the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI) conference on Leadership and Discernment at the Centre of Excellence May 30, Indian Arrival Day, that the discerning approach was used by the early Church as seen in Acts 15. He described the change of approach as a “revolution in the Church that goes to the heart of who we are.”
Alluding to the changes in the world and how the Church has had to respond, the Archbishop commented that even after the Archdiocese’s last Synod in 2009, things have changed.
One area was the transmission of faith to the next generation. He asked attendees: “how easy is that for you? ….I think it is one of our greatest challenges and we can’t take for granted the way the faith was transmitted to me that it will be transmitted to the next generation.”
He said the focus on discernment at this year’s conference was built on previous conference topics: emotional intelligence, stewardship, servant leadership.
“And where we are today is a recognition that the Church and leadership is different. There is a difference between a leader and leadership …A leader, like an archbishop, is put in place by the Church; leadership is what’s required if the Church is going to be transformed,” Archbishop Gordon said.
To illustrate this point, he said a captain can shout orders to the crew but if they did not know what to do, they have a bad attitude, or lack the skill to implement, then the ship will not turn its course.
He told the participants leadership is what happens at every level of the Church, and they were the leaders of the Church. The Church is asking for a discerning assembly. Archbishop Gordon explained this meant, “every leader in the Church must have knowledge, skill and attitude around discernment…understand what the process for discernment is…the skill to do this not only when we are in church but in our families, in our workplaces and in all areas of our life.”
He referred to the ‘Our Father’ prayer and the line, ‘Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven’, which he said he had condensed to, “bend my heart to Your will O God.”
“Through a process of discernment, we come to His will. This is a revolution in our Church,” the Archbishop said. He announced there will be time dedicated to building the knowledge, skill, disposition of discernment for every Catholic in the Archdiocese. This is expected to bring a different look to families, parishes, ministries.
“We start to look different because we bring something new that is ancient, that was there from the beginning, that is in the prayer that Jesus taught us,” Archbishop Gordon said.