I am glad because I can meet you, my dear pastors and servants of the Church who are playing important roles in pastoring either at parish or diocesan levels.
We gather here from all over the archdiocese as a big family. There are some among you who have been to such gatherings many times and some come for the first time. I wish to welcome you and thank you for sacrificing your time and energy. We also wish to thank Archbishop Emeritus for making time to meet us. Welcome, Your Grace, to this gathering tonight.
We gather here in one faith, one hope and one love. Our Lord Jesus is our head and we are His body. In His name we come and for His mission we are prepared to serve. Therefore, throughout this Assembly we need to be sensitive to His presence and ever ready to open our hearts to the guidance of His Spirit so that whatever we say and plan will be in accordance to His will.
If you look at the programme, the objectives of this year’s Assembly are clearly stated. I hope these objectives can be achieved while we are here.
Each time we had an assembly, it always had a specific pastoral focus. The last time such assembly was held was in 2009. From thence we have not held any diocesan level gathering. This was because we were in transition. I have just taken over the helm from Archbishop Emeritus John Lee. There were many things that I needed to study and be familiarised with.
Nevertheless, for the past six years we also had other forms of gatherings such as ordinations, anniversaries, Kaamatan festivals, Youth Days, Women’s Day, conferences and so on.
What differentiates this Assembly from the rest is its nature. This Assembly is pastoral in nature because it deals with issues related to pastoring, how we take care of our sheep, the challenges they face, the situations around them and so on. We want to look for ways on how to provide better pastoral care for them, to seek those who are lost, take care of the sick, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weak. Pope Francis once said that the Church is like a “field hospital for wounded souls.” As local Church, we try to do the best we can, according to our ability.
I believe all of us know that in our journey as Christians in this country, we often encounter various attempts to try to weaken our faith. But we will not bow down to such attempts and give in to them because we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own . . .” (1 Pt 2:9). As pastors and servants, we have to be courageous to lead our sheep to “green pastures,” “flowing river,” and “blue skies.” Meaning, we need to be more confident in our mission and not be discouraged in leading our people to Jesus, the only Lord and Saviour who can guarantee us everlasting life and happiness.
Let us wake up from our comfort zones and held firm to our own vocation in life! I pray that this Assembly will bring about good fruits, fruits which are pleasing to God. May the Lord blessing you all.