|One of the more common observations at the recently completed series of "Mini-Synods" was a sense of surprise among the people that so much had been accomplished since the Synod. It was frequently followed by the significant comment, "I did not know about it."
As a new year opens, every effort will be made to communicate in a more substantive manner with the Archdiocese. I want to begin the new commitment to communication by giving the people of the Archdiocese an overview of 2005.
The agenda for 2005
The Archdiocese plans to:
1) Open the year with the National Convention of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal;
2) Celebrate the second session of the Archdiocesan Synod;
3) Bring its full energy to implementing the recommendations of the Synod;
4) Participate, locally and internationally, in the World Youth Day Celebration;
5) Continue to celebrate the Eucharistic Year called for by the Holy Father by following the plan announced in October e.g. the Symposium on the Eucharist for Religious and Priests in the Province of Port of Spain and the planned Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress;
6) Await in prayer the decision of the Holy Father on the request for an auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese that was submitted in the usual manner, namely, through a list of three nominees. (The list was submitted to Rome in October of 2004 and contained the names of priests who were born in Trinidad and Tobago );
7) Welcome priests from a Religious Community that is new to the Archdiocese, the Missionaries of St Francis de Sales. The priests will arrive in July.
8) Move forward with negotiations for a second community of the Missionaries of Charity in the Archdiocese (Mother Teresa's Sisters);
9) Continue the process of acquiring property for the building of a Catholic Church in Trincity;
10) Begin to implement the plans for the building of the Retreat and Pastoral Centre in Tobago . The property has already been donated;
11) Continue to fulfill its responsibilities to the Catholic Church on regional and international levels;
12) Address the ordinary challenges of pastoral care qualitatively and quantitatively in prayer and dialogue not only within the Archdiocese but also on an ecumenical and inter-faith level.
The twelve-point summary is not an exhaustive list of plans and events. However, it does make clear that 2005 will be a very interesting and exciting year for the Archdiocese.
As the Archdiocese has its agenda and the parishes, religious and ecclesial communities have their agendas so do the councils, commissions and secretariats of the Archdiocese. Each department of the Archdiocese has the responsibility to communicate its agenda to the people of the Archdiocese. Recently, to improve communications among the councils, commissions and secretariats and to better schedule the many events happening in the Archdiocese (a very nice problem to have) an Administrative Council was established. It is chaired by the Archbishop and its members are the chairpersons of each Archdiocesan department.
The Council meets every six weeks. Each chairperson is given a specified period of time to report on activities and plans. As a result, everyone in administration is aware of the activities and plans of other bodies. The Council has already had positive results.
1) When possible, secretarial staff and equipment are now being shared thereby reducing expenses.
2) Listening to the reports of each department head has surfaced opportunities of collaboration among the departments.
3) Departmental collaboration has reduced duplication of activities drastically. This development has benefited parish priests/administrators who, while willing to cooperate, were somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of communication and requests from each department.
I want to share one important example of interdepartmental collaboration. The Department for Catechesis has just completed a new Confirmation programme that was modelled on the lifetime catechesis concept contained in the publication, Guidelines for Catechesis , from the Antilles Episcopal Conference.
It contains a post confirmation component to confront the concern that there is little formal programming for those who have been confirmed. The Commission for Evangelisation and the Pastoral Centre that is responsible in part for adult education/formation have collaborated with the Department for Catechesis so the goals of the programme can be achieved and extended into evangelisation and adult education/formation programmes.
The new commitment to communication and collaboration will help the departments to serve the needs of and to collaborate with the Parishes and Vicariates in the Archdiocese.
The agenda for individuals
I recommend that each individual develop her/his own agenda for 2005. The agenda should give attention to three issues:
1) Personal and Spiritual growth;
2) Developing and sharing of gifts; and
3) Personal commitment to and involvement in the pastoral ministries of the Church.
Many skilled and talented people in T&T have come forward since the first session of the Synod. They have served generously and wonderfully.
There are many others who are still watching and waiting. I invite everyone in the "watching and waiting" category to develop a personal agenda that will motivate you to make a commitment.
The ecclesial swing from Old Year to New Year will be swift and intense. Enjoy the transition! Have a Spirit-filled New Year.