through ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND – Parishes in Auckland began launching Fit for Mission, a basic diocesan pastoral plan, on Pentecost Sunday. The plan calls on Catholics to look outside of their own
churches and spread the Good News in the suburbs where they live.
Diocese pastoral service group leader Pat Lythe said Bishop Patrick Dunn would not initiate the plan himself, so parishes could take ownership of their mission.
“He wants the parishes to launch it themselves, because that’s where it’s going to happen on the ground,” she said.
The bishop, however, gave great encouragement to the parishioners. In his address to the congregation at the launch of St. Patrick’s Cathedral during Sunday Mass at 11 a.m., Bishop Dunn said Catholics often view the mission as something for missionaries, those who have left New Brunswick. Zealand to work abroad or those who have come from other countries to work here.
“This cross-fertilization is always enriching, a reminder to us that the Church is universal,” he said. “But this call to mission applies to each of us. Jesus said, ‘As the Father sent me, so I send you… ..receive the Holy Spirit.’ Coming out of Mass each Sunday, nourished by the Word and the sacraments, we hear the command in the rite of dismissal to go and proclaim the gospel and glorify the Lord in our lives, to advance the reign of God, to continue the mission of Jesus.
Ms Lythe said parishes must decide what the needs of the suburbs are. “And it’s not about Catholics. It’s about the suburb that surrounds the church and what we can do to serve the suburb, ”she said.
Ms. Lythe explained that the last two diocesan plans were folded in on themselves. “It was about things within the Church, such as parish leadership, the development of dynamic parishes, youth”,
she said. “It was time for the mission.
At the parish level, people need to work on sustainable and relational programs. “It’s not just about giving money, it’s about developing relationships with people,” she said.
She said other parts of the pastoral plan include leadership, shared pastoral areas and communication.
“They are not that important at the moment. It’s all about the mission, ”she said.
Parishes are expected to be accountable to the diocese for their programs and how they support them.
These stories will be put in a newsletter to give other parishes ideas on how to implement their projects.
After having implemented their projects, each parish will approach other parishes, schools or ethnic communities to carry out joint projects.
As individuals, Ms. Lythe said people should stand up and be proud of their faith. “It’s actually quite difficult for Kiwis to really talk about their faith. So that will be the first challenge, I think, ”she said.
She said the Kiwis were reluctant to proclaim the faith. It was a minority persecuted in the distant past. “Even though we are not persecuted for it now, we always tended to keep it silent,” she said.
Ms Lythe said it helps people from ethnic communities to be openly and actively Catholic.
She said parishioners are not supposed to go to street corners and preach. But they are expected to let their friends and colleagues know that they are Catholics.
“Once you let people know that you are Catholic, you have to live up to your Catholic principle,” she said.
She said simple things can accomplish this task, like making the sign of the cross before a meal in a public place, or offering to pray for a friend or saying “God bless” instead of “goodbye.”
She added that people don’t need to know the answers to deep theological questions, as they can always refer those questions to the parish priest. “We don’t need to know
the answers. We just need to know why we are doing it: because we love God and God loves everyone. That’s what’s really important, ”she said.
At the end of the pastoral plan, Mrs. Lythe hopes that “everyone will feel free to share the fact that they are Catholic and to share their faith with other people”.
She pointed out that there are 40,000 mass spectators in the diocese. “If each person only influenced four people, that would be a huge result. We don’t expect these four to become
Catholics, but we expect them to know Jesus, Christians, Catholics and to know the message: God loves us and we love God, ”she said.
Bishop expressed his hope that every person, every parish, every community, every school will look outward, beyond their own communities to ask “Where are the poor, where are the people who are suffering in any way. either and how can I help?
He asserted the many ways in which some are already doing it. “We will now ask each parish and school community to identify a project they will undertake to serve the community at large and to share and encourage others to do the same,” said the bishop.
Bishop Dunn said that Pope Francis constantly reminds us that we cannot be part-time Christians. He quoted Pope Francis who wrote the following in his Apostolic Exhortation, Joy of the Gospel. “I prefer a bruised, hurt and dirty Church for having been on the streets, than an unhealthy Church to be confined and clinging to its own safety.”
The bishop said that each of us is the Church. Therefore, when we are “on the streets,” we are truly advancing Jesus’ missionary work.
He prayed that the Holy Spirit would inspire everyone in the diocese to be on mission and to bear witness to the gospel in their homes, workplaces, and in all their activities.