We move to the implementation phase of the Pastoral Planning process for 2019. Consistent with feedback received as we execute, the emphasis this year is on two of the six priority areas— Catholic education and parish.
Mindful that youth and family have been elevated to capstone elements, our big pastoral challenge will focus on embracing and nurturing our millennials+ generation (YZA) in a way to form Missionary Disciples. (See table below for definition of Generations):
This is vital if we are to bridge the present Church with the future Church. The overarching strategy, then, is to find creative and innovative ways to engage the Millennials in partnership (as a bridge) to reach and form Generations Z & A into missionary disciples. It will be achieved through the transformation of the Catholic school and parish while at the same time changing how we practise leadership in the Church and society, a necessity to achieve all our aspirations.
Catholic Education—the strategic intention
The draft Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan intention for Catholic education:
Our Catholic schools are led by principals and teachers who are missionary disciples, steeped in the philosophy of Catholic education who work with parents/guardians to ensure each child achieves his/her full potential as children of God and citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and the world community through excellence in faith, academic, physical, emotional and character formation within excellent facilities.
According to His Grace, “I am very conscious that Catholic education is a major initiative of this second year 2019. Aligning Catholic education with our aspiration will be an immense benefit to the Church and the nation.”
It is in our schools (primary and secondary) that we have Gen Z and A. We need to stimulate the religious imagination of these two generations in our schools so that missionary discipleship becomes integral to their aspirations and desires. This will have the deepest positive impact on each family, the school, and ultimately, the nation.
We have begun a number of initiatives in 2018 that have brought us closer to this aspiration. During 2019, we intend to accelerate these and other initiatives to transform the academic character of the Catholic primary school—the quality assurance programme from CEBM, defining the framework for Catholic Education, strengthening CREDI for transforming our schools, implementing the transformation program for Catholic education, formation of our teachers and principals to become missionary disciples, to name a few.
Again, listening to the feedback, we have included a new component—creating the vocation of the catechist, calling forth people to commit to this vocation and forming them with the capacity to form staff and students to become missionary disciples.
These will be a mixture of retired teachers and young people who will work as a team for ongoing formation in our parishes and schools. They will be a major engine for transforming the Catholic school towards the aspiration.
The Catholic Parish—the strategic intention
Our aspiration for the Catholic parish:
Our parishes are Christ-centred communities that continually form missionary disciples, especially among the youth, spaces of collaboration and co-responsibility, welcome and hospitality where all are initiated into the sacred mysteries and where by encountering Jesus Christ, our parishioners will be friends and defenders of the poor.
The major pastoral initiative this year, 2019, is to renew the Sunday experience by focusing on the three (3) Hs—Hymns, Homilies and Hospitality. The Sunday liturgy is where we meet all our active parishioners.
If we engage them better and feed them well at the table of the Word and Eucharist in a liturgy that engages all their senses, we may lead them to full active and conscious participation in liturgy and life. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the whole Christian life. We need, in every parish, to find the way to achieve this end.
Here millennials need to be integral to the leadership process. If they are to be the bridge then we need to form partnerships with this generation, to hear and understand their needs and aspirations, especially, surrounding the Sunday experience and ongoing faith formation. We need to structure conversations with this generation as an integral part of our strategic direction.
This focus will allow the parish to slow down a bit and reflect more deeply on the overall pastoral plan. During this year, we will also work with the priests on leadership in the parish community and on building structures and activities that are necessary for the long-term transformation of the parish.
We propose that each parish have a Ministry Animation Team and that this team has 8–12 members (some of whom will be alternates) with at least two millennials on the team. This is important so that as we begin the long road of parish renewal, we consciously engage this generation.
Liturgy School & Communication School will be a major initiative. We will encourage each parish to send a few people to each of these schools and to have a specific way of them contributing to the parish upon their return. This will contribute to the overall formation of people and parishes.
We encourage parishes to use the above as a guide to begin conversations and planning around the three Hs engaging ministry leaders and a wide cross section of parishioners about how we can revitalise/renew our parishes around ‘Hospitality’, ‘Hymns’ and ‘Homilies’, designing and implementing innovative and creative actions to reach the majority of Catholics in the pews, especially the millennials, with awesome Sunday experiences and a deep sense of belonging.
Ultimately, we want vibrant parishes and active parishioners formed as Missionary Disciples walking the road in evangelising our lapsed Catholic sisters and brothers.