Faith in Our Future Blog - November 2012
At a recent formation session for prospective deacons within the Diocese, I was privileged enough to share the story of the Diocesan Pastoral Planning process to date. In reflecting back on the past year, from the preparations that began in late 2011, through to the eight months of consultation that followed, and the development of recommendations in the past few weeks, I was brought back time and again to the central goal of our collective undertaking: to nourish and support faith in Jesus Christ. It is Christ who is both the source and summit of our discipleship and the foundation and fulfilment of all that the Church is called to be.
As Bishop Anthony noted in the Pastoral Letter which launched our work, Faith in Our Future, ‘pastoral planning’ can sound somewhat less glamorous than many other aspects of Church life. However, this work takes us to the very heart of how we understand ourselves as a Church and what we are for. It invites our reflection on how we are to live our mission faithfully in discipleship to Jesus as his community, his Body enlivened by the Spirit, in the midst of great social, cultural and technological change.
It should be remembered that we are, as Church, both bearers and receivers of Christ’s mystery. We are the ‘dwelling place of the Spirit’ and a society of persons immersed in human history. This means we cannot simply depend on a vague or obscure hope that things will somehow grow or advance by themselves but a people who must pray, think, and discern how we might best proclaim and live the Gospel in our time, even in circumstances altogether new. We cannot naively assume new solutions and new initiatives of evangelisation and pastoral care will simply manifest themselves without our best efforts.
This is why planning and conversation has been important. It brings us together in that discernment and will enable us to take the best view of things. While our guiding vision as Church is given to us in the Gospel, in the life and mission of Jesus, this vision must be translated into pastoral initiatives for our time. This is the ‘translation’ that our pastoral planning seeks to achieve.
In recent weeks, we have continued meeting with our own diocesan agencies and in response to your feedback we have in hand a number of draft documents to take us into the New Year. What is most important, however, is your involvement so please do not hesitate to make additional submissions to us via this website. We have received a number of excellent contributions from people of the Diocese sharing what has been fruitful in parishes and other communities, so please keep sending us your best ideas.
As we enter the last weeks of the year, we are delighted with the progress that has been made and thankful for the involvement of so many of you in this endeavour toward a stronger future in faith. Keep an eye on our website and this blog for more updates before year’s end. Until then, every good wish and blessing
Yours in Christ,
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