– A Working Paper for the PAX Assembly 2005
Prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee, 16 Sept 2005
A. Rationale For The DOPP
The need for the DOPP (Diocesan Organisational Pastoral Plan) was prompted by a response to the increasing new pastoral challenges that came along in our journey as local Church.
“We need to pause and reflect deeply on our internal pastoral setup and resources, and how we can make them more relevant to the situation today.
“We need to examine whether our parishes and communities are moving together in the same direction, whether our programmes and activities are leading us to specific goals, whether our ways of pastoring are effective” (Bishop John Lee, Pastoral Letter 1995).
B. A Vision-Driven Pastoral Approach
During the launching of the DOPP on 16 Sept 1997, Bishop John Lee said that DOPP has spelt out the Vision, the ideal Church that we want to be.
However, he cautioned that “in our efforts to implement what is in the Plan, what is more important is for us to uphold and live the spirit behind the whole planning exercise, namely personal and communal renewal in a new way of being Church” (Bishop John Lee, Pastoral Exhortation 1997).
In other words, the new way of being Church for us begins not in what we do but how we live with each other within the Church and with the world around us.
Our relationship derives from and is based on the divine love of the Trinity that brings forth new life. The Vision of the Diocese captures in concrete such relationship. In essence, when we speak about DOPP, it is about a process of living in communion and mission as Church.
The call for personal and communal renewal is a movement towards the life of the Trinity. Our new way of being Church through the DOPP is a journey towards becoming the “light of the world” and “salt of the earth” (Mt 5:13-16).
Essence Of DOPP
The DOPP has four main components: (a) Pastoral analysis of the Diocese (b) Proposed solutions (c) Common direction and (d) Action Plan.
Though quite technical, the essence of the document underlies some major concerns: (i) a deeper understanding of the Word of God (ii) the need for an understanding of the Church as Communion (ecclesiology of communion) (iii) the participation of all the people of God in the Church and (iv) the relationship between the Church and the world.
These four-fold concerns are in line with the concerns of Vatican II (Lumen Gentium 1964 & Gaudium et Spes 1965).
Hope Of DOPP
It is hoped that the DOPP would help create a positive framework for pastoral change, for a total and integral renewal. The framework is summarised as follows: (a) Pastoral life guided by a common direction [in the form of the Vision of the Diocese] (b) Personal and communal commitments [as stated in the Mission of the Diocese] (c) Greater collaboration and participation in the mission of the Church [journeying together] (d) Mission Ad Gentes [responding to the issues in the society at large].
The above framework could be termed as the “spirit behind the DOPP.” When every Catholic in the diocese lives in such spirit, s/he would be responsive to the needs and concerns s/he encounters daily.
Our life of witnessing the love of God in whatever state we are called (priestly, consecrated or lay) derives from the baptismal promises. As an individual or as a community we have a mission to fulfill. Conscious of our baptismal vocation, we would not need to ask the question: “What is next?”
The hope of the DOPP is also to organise ourselves into Christ-centred communities which are responsive and responsible to the situation of the world we are in.
Though there are already renewal groups and communities in the diocese, the vast majority of our faithful does not belong to any of them.
Hence, to facilitate the move to go into Christ-centred communities, the diocese organised the ASIPA (Asian Integral Pastoral Approach) programme in 1998 to expose parish pastors and leaders to some methodologies in community building.
C. The Format Of Evaluation
The DOPP, as a seven-year plan (1998-2004), expired by end of 2004. Bishop Lee declared in his January 2005 Pastoral Letter that: “2005 is a time for evaluation, to see how much we have achieved in the process of renewal and how far we have journeyed towards our Vision.”
The whole diocese was mobilised to undertake the exercise. One major difference was the emphasis on learning. The exercise was to be “process-oriented” not “result-oriented.”
In other words, the way and the amount of time spent in sharing, reflecting and listening to one another were to be given more attention, not so much on whether the Action Plan stated in the DOPP book has been carried out.
By emphasising the importance of the learning process, the whole exercise took on a pastoral tone. It provided the opportunity for self-examination.
Subjective And Objective
The evaluation takes into consideration the difficulties that might have arisen from (a) opinions which are based on isolated experiences (b) inability to differentiate between personal subjective views and communal objective assessment and (c) poor pastoral discernment.
To avoid such difficulties, the evaluation focuses on three main aspects in the DOPP, namely Prayer Life and Spirituality, Relationships and Ministries and Apostolate. Guided questions and questionnaire survey forms are used to facilitate personal and group reflection.
Quantitative And Qualitative
“The evaluation would be a moment for everyone to re-examine one’s relationship with Christ” (Lee, Pastoral Exhortation, 1997).
To do so, concrete examples are to be cited to qualify a conclusion to certain observations (whether in prayer life, relationship or apostolate).
Unless the observations could be quantified and qualified, it would remain as an isolated experience.
This is the basis on how the Format of Evaluation is designed, to draw out both the quantitative and qualitative elements.
It is to be noted, however, that analysis based on these elements would still remain incomplete. It would not be able to capture the inner life which only God alone knows. Similarly, we should not discard the element of grace in influencing life situation.
Representative And Common
The evaluation is first done in groups (clergy, religious, commissions, councils, committees and communities) and then individual churchgoers.
This means two sets of opinions would have been generated. These two would serve as a check-and-balance. The opinions of those in groups would need to be analysed against those from the parishioners at large. In this way, it would provide a better picture on a specific pastoral phenomenon.
D. Our Journey Since The DOPP
In June 1998, a Diocesan Colloquium was held to understand better the Vision and Mission of the Diocese.
The key element of the Vision is the relational dimension (both horizontal and vertical) of our life as Church.
This could be broadly categorised into three areas: prayer life and spirituality, relationships and ministries and apostolate.
Since the beginning of 2005, parish communities, religious and clergy have been mobilised to reflect on the three areas.