Roll out and sensitisation have started in vicariates for the introduction of Ministry Animation Teams (MATS) in parishes. The MATs will work alongside clergy and parish pastoral councils (PC) for more effective running of ministries and execution of the 3Hs—Hymns, Homilies and Hospitality.
A ﬁrst meeting for the Northern Vicariate was held at Benet Hall, Mt St Benedict on March 30 to introduce the new structure; 90 persons representing 15 parishes some from Eastern and Suburban Vicariates participated.
The objectives were “to have clarity on the parish structure” and “to develop draft communication and co-ordination protocols for parishes”. Archbishop Jason Gordon gave an introduction and context for the initiative, Fr Matthew Ragbir, Spiritual Adviser, Archdiocesan Family Life Commission, spoke on ‘Amazing Parish’, a concept that is promoted in the US, and Gary Tagallie, Oﬂice of Pastoral Planning and Development, gave an overview of the MATS and their role in relation to PCs.
The Archbishop introduced the MATs in the context of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan and the need to revitalise Church from the parishes upward through a renewed Sunday experience. Other sessions were held Wednesday, April 3, attended by 45 persons from 8 parishes in the Eastern Vicariate, and Tuesday, April 9 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando with 86 persons from 14 parishes, including one from the Eastern Vicariate. The next session for parishes from Central and Suburban Vicariates was scheduled for April 27 at Chaguanas RC Church Hall.
Responding to questions from the Catholic News Tagallie said the PCs function in an advisory capacity, investigates pastoral matters, ponders and reflects prayerfully on these matters and makes recommendations to the parish priest (PP). The PC enhances decision making through: pastoral planning, developing and implementing pastoral programmes, improving pastoral service, evaluating pastoral effectiveness. He explained the PP is the “lead” of the MAT or may delegate this role.
The MATS will comprise eight persons: a member of the parish council, PP, and “six other baptised faithful, inclusive of a young adult/millennial. Tagallie said, “The MAT, with the right composition of persons, will help the PP implement the plans of the PC. That is where there are Strategic Plans and yearly action plans. In the present scenario, the parishes are being asked to develop plans for revitalising parishes through the 3Hs.”
MATs will assume some of the PP’s workload, “in the day—to-day operations of the parish ensuring that the work of the parish ministries is advanced,” he stated. Ministries will have to devise their own plans within the context of the Archdiocesan plan and as part of the parish plan. The process will require formulating clear objectives and indicators which can be tracked to determine effects and impact, not an easy task. Another role of the MATs is promoting collaboration and co-responsibility in and among parish ministries.
Commenting on if ministries have been operating in silos, Tagallie said, “At the parish level we often do not operate as the Body of Christ. In most parishes each part functions on its own, oblivious of the other. There is no whole. Co- ordination and collaboration are largely absent and, in many cases, non- existent.
For the Church to be strong and survive in today’s social and digital milieu and into the future”, he said, things have to be done differently; “even as people volunteer, they have to be accountable”. Greater involvement has to be encouraged to include “the more than 80 per cent” in the pews waiting to be called.
MATs are expected to include at least one young adult member or millennial. Archbishop Gordon has spoken of the pastoral challenge in forming missionary disciples of the millennial+ generation (generations Y, Z, and A) in order to bridge the present and future Church. Ways must be found to engage them.
Tagallie said, “One of the ways of doing this is to include the young adults in ministry and in leadership roles. So, let’s walk the talk.