Letter to the Archdiocese of Pretoria
1 I greet you, family of God in the Archdiocese of Pretoria as we set out on our faith journey of 2019. Born of the same Holy Spirit we wish to be a community of missionary disciples doing what Jesus did and what Jesus still does today. He has called us; “I chose you”. “Follow Me”; “Listen”! We are invited to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, to become channels of grace and power to change our world. It is the Holy Spirit who will evangelise us- enable us to encounter Jesus personally and concretely, through the deep breath of prayer. We must seek prolonged moments of adoration, prayerful encounter with the Lord and sincere conversation with Him. In our liturgical worship we must pray with hearts in love with God and with our community expressing adoration, praise, thanksgiving and intercession.
2 While appreciating the essential ministry of priests I urge them to find the meaning of their vocation in faith, to trust God, be ministers of the Word, to have initiative in supervising the ministries of the Archdiocese in their parishes. Since “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit”, (LG 12) the priests must allow the laity to flourish in the life and ministries of the parish, listening to them, encouraging their role in the leadership of the community. All have gifts for the family of God.
3 God’s grace is expressed in and by the ministries of the Church; let me underline some important examples. Let all parishes and sodalities and individuals seek to contribute.
a). Ministry of Marriage and family life. The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church. Through this sacrament Christ Himself encounters Christian spouses. Here He dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow Him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens” 72. Since perfect families do not fall down from heaven parish communities must make every effort to support couples in preparation for marriage and accompanying them especially in the early years. Here is a field where the lead can come from the laity.
- b) Ministry of Youth. Youth are not the future of the Church -they are the Church present already, now. Every generation is like a new continent to be won. The youth are the Agents of evangelisation to each other and to the whole Church. They must be encouraged to be the missionary disciples who will bring the light of faith to their peers. As He did with David God can choose the youngest to confront the giant Goliath challenges in today’s world. It is very important that children have a sodality in their parish which will engage them not only in catechetics but in the work of service. By participating they become.
- c) Justice and Peace. Action on behalf of Justice and Peace in the transformation of the world fully appears as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel…liberating people from every oppressive situation. We are surrounded by intolerable events; human trafficking, corruption, inequality, violence in the home, abuse and gender-based violence, racism, xenophobia, poor services and abuse of creation. Celebrating twenty five years of democratic government must make us wonder if we are anyway reconciled, if we have come to know and respect each other or enjoy each-others’ company. A great challenge facing us this year in the executive capital of the country is to oversee a peaceful and free national election. Here again is a task for all parishes and sodalities.
- d) Each year over 800 marvellous people volunteer to share their faith with enquirers and with our children. With less than 1% of our children in catholic schools the responsibility of parents and parishes is utterly insistent. Here Jesus is begging us to help Him. His arms are outstretched longing for their love, who will bring our children to Him? While we have Archdiocesan committees zealously at work our volunteers need urgent assistance from parents and supervision from priests. Can we engage seriously with post confirmation young adults?
- e) At the St John Vianney workshop of our priests in December many spoke of the cry of so many people for healing. Healing due to physical affliction, Mental stress, psychological pain, emotional loss, spiritual fear, guilt, and evil forces. Jesus spent much time responding to all these needs in his time, the Church prolongs this work of Jesus. We must as communities and priests offer much more practical healing, involvement and deliverance to all who plead with us. The Church not only has the means to make a great difference to our suffering friends we have a serious responsibility to do so. Starting with the great sacraments of the Church, the fingers of Jesus, we have the rituals, blessings and sacramentals which have grown from the tradition and experience of the years.
- f) Care of Creation. Quoting the SACBC Pope Francis writes; “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”. He goes on; “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents”‘.
- Dearest friends, I touch here simply on headlines. With the issue of the New Pastoral Plan expected from the Bishops in February 2019 these ministries will be expressed in concrete outlines, workshops and programs. Let us go forward together with the Lord.
Archbishop William Slattery ofm
For more information contact: Fr Thabiso Ledwaba – Chairperson of Priests Council in the Archdiocese of Pretoria: +27 83 669 7329