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KOTA KINABALU – Parish pastoral councillors of Sacred Heart Cathedral and its subparish of Church of Mary Immaculate here were briefed on the need to form a committee to spearhead mini-PAX among the parishioners on 15 Jan 2016 at the conference room above the cathedral chapel.
In the briefing, parish priest Abp John Wong went through the Diocesan Vision, underlying each word in the text: A caring communion of Christ-centred communities journeying together in faith, hope and love, empowered by the Holy Spirit in the evangelising mission of building the kingdom of God.
While the people have been praying for the Vision to be realised on Sundays faithfully, not many had been involved in the process of formulating it. So it is not surprising that when they are asked about it many would plead ignorance, and far less can explain it. The present councillors are no exception.
In fact, when the prelate tried to get them to share about their experiences on the recent PAX Assembly and the formation programme “Journey to Emmaus” held shortly after, he was met with many a blank stare. It seemed to say that the prelate as parish priest will have a long way to go to form this group of councillors into a group capable of sharing sponstaneously their spiritual reflections on their experiences.
In his turn, SHC PPC Chairman Jason Joenoi presented the three Parish Pastoral Priorities (PPP) as discerned by the parish and adopted by it in 2008. The three priorities are concerns related to faith formation, family, and reaching out to nominal parishioners plus a special concern for youth, based on the DOPP at parish level.
Aline Lim then presented the findings of the pre-PAX Consultation conducted in the parish from May to July 2015. This report was also presented by her during the 2015 PAX Assembly.
The last presenter was Dr Jeffrey Soon who presented the Archdiocesan Pastoral Thrust as the way to tackle the three issues of secularisation, Islamisation and apathy. The Thrust has three flows: Go Inward, Go Smaller and Go Outward.
Go Inward (“…ongoing personal and communal renewal…“): The local Church is vulnerable to influence and effects of secularisation and political Islam because there seems to be a crisis of faith at all levels. Relativism and apathy are two areas that need to be seriously addressed by continuously re-examining one’s faith.
Some ways to counteract such effects are:
- a life of prayer nourished by the sacraments
- living the Word of God
- re-evaluate one’s relationship with Jesus
- ongoing formation on Church’s teachings
- openness to the Holy Spirit
- participation in renewal programme
- Year of Mercy 2016 – receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation often
- organise pastoral programmes that show 2016 is the “Year of the Lord’s favour or mercy”
Go Smaller (“A communion of Christ-centred communities …”): Eighty percent of the parishioners are not responsive to the current pastoral programmes and structures. They would be vulnerable to enticement of secularisation and political Islam. Their potentials are not enhanced and tapped.
What needs to be done is to review and renew existing structures and then design structures that can:
- implement relevant and effective pastoral programmes and strategies to link all levels (EO-2)
- develop renewed, reformed and committed pastoral leaders and workers (EO-1)
- promote effective and efficient administration of programmes and resources (EO-3)
- allow regular assessments of all pastoral processes on the 3 Ps and three criticial concerns at all levels
Go Outwards (“Empowered by the Holy Spirit in the evangelising mission of building the Kingdom of God“): Many programmes of the local Church are unknown outside the walls of the parishes. “Being active” is equated to involvement in parish activities. Laity is not formed “to transform the world” by living the Beatitudes. Faith becomes a private matter in society. This has led Pope Francis to say: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting an dirty because it has been out on the streets.”
What can be done to transform the world is to:
- be pastorally more “welcoming,” more “merciful,” and more “compassionate” (Year of Mercy 2016)
- promote justice and peace in society
- pay attention to the underprivileged and marginalised
- empower those vulnerable to Islamisation due to poverty
- reclaim the Church’s role in the field of education
- have greater involvement in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy
- have reminders of our history as church so that knowing who we are as People of God, we can move forward in strength and courage as church.
The parish priest reminded those present that an archdiocesan team is available to promote appropriate resources in the three areas. Joenoi said that the PPC cannot be the one to carry out the pastoral thrust so there is the need to form a combined committee from both SHC and CMI to spearhead mini-PAXes among the various groups/ministries/communities while Soon said that this committee is under the PPC and takes directives from it so that there is no confusion of roles and functions.