SACBC Pastoral Plan in Making

INTRODUCTION

Why a PASTORAL PLAN?

When we want to do something, we make a plan. When the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit summoned creation into being, God had a plan. At every moment God invites us to play a part in the unfolding of that plan. “For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:9-10) My plans for you are peace and not disaster, a future full of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

To be pastoral is to look after others rather than self, look out for them before looking at your own wants; to look for the lost, bandage the wounded, carry the weak, assist the wayward, care for the strong, ensure food for the journey, avoid what is harmful, deal with danger, provide for the future. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; let each of us please his neighbour for his good, to edify him.” (Romans 15:1) “I myself will search for my sheep … I will seek the lost and I will ring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled and I will strengthen the weak and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.” (Ezekiel 34:11, 15-16)

A Pastoral Plan for the Church does all this and more – within the Church community, and for the people, society and world around us. A Pastoral Plan helps and guides us all to listen and respond to the leading of the Spirit, to enter into the Father’s plan for our Church and our world; to be missionary disciples of Jesus in the present and to let the Spirit guide us into the future.

INVITATION TO ALL CATHOLICS

Each Catholic and all Catholic Communities within our Conference area are, in their own context, invited to study, to discuss and decide how to implement the Pastoral Plan. Study sessions should be arranged in all Parishes, groups and movements. Implementation of the Plan will be ongoing, monitored and evaluated. The Council for Evangelisation will regularly review and evaluate how our Pastoral Plan is being received and implemented.

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A ‘NEW’ PASTORAL PLAN?

About 30 years ago the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) adopted and began to implement the first Pastoral Plan, Community Serving Humanity [1989]. Many of you will remember this Plan.

In 20XX the Bishops decided that the Catholic Church in Southern Africa needed to create a new Pastoral Plan. They asked the SACBC Council for EVANGELISATION to lead the process.

  • Before doing this the Bishops had identified eight priorities for the life and mission of the Church in Southern Africa.
  • Through a process of consultation in the parishes and other organisations there were two widespread consultations conducted by a team coordinated by Msgr Barney McAleer. This team gathered up the concerns of all who responded. Six areas of mission emerged.
  • After much input, reflection, discussion and prayer, the Bishops approved a Vision Statement and Mission Statement for the Pastoral Plan.
  • A at a meeting of the Council for EVANGELISATION May 2017, a task team was appointed to study all this material and compose a first draft of the proposed new Pastoral Plan to be presented to the August 2017 SACBC Plenary of the Bishops Conference.

[This Concept Pastoral Plan is the work of the Drafting Committee after considering the in-put of the Bishops in their Plenary of August 2017, and the comments of the Council for Evangelisation in the November 2017 and January 2018 meetings. It has been authorised by the Bishops in Plenary of January 2018 to be released for study and comment by Priests and Religious and Laity through the different organs of the diocese. Comment and suggestions will be welcome before July 2018. The intention of the Bishops is that Dioceses begin to look at their own programmes and pastoral plans in the light of this Concept Pastoral Plan.]

A Community is a group of people who belong to each other, share life and care for one another. A community has a purpose. Every community which does good, participates in the love, life and action of the Trinity.

To evangelise is to do what Jesus did and what Jesus is still doing.
It is announcing something new, important and life changing:

–     telling good news,

–     bringing the truth about the Father who loves us all,

–     bringing hope, creating joy,

–     being a channel of the grace and power of God to change us and our world

–     opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit, uniting ourselves with the Son

–     assuring everyone that:

  • there is life on the other side of death;
  • that suffering can bring transformation;
  • that we are immensely loved;
  • that love is stronger than evil;
  • that forgiveness and reconciliation bring inner peace;
  • that heaven is real!
    Can you add to this list yourself?

There are many ways to evangelise. New ways arise all the time to meet new needs and new situations. The Holy Spirit is ever creative, forever prompting responses to new situations: Look I am doing something new!(Isaiah 43:19) The Father is still working on His plan! Creation is God’s project!

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