SANDAKAN – St Mary’s Cathedral parish here held its inaugural pastoral assembly at its parish centre on 8 July 2017.
The soon-to-be-launched Diocesan Vision and Mission in October prompted the steering committee – parish pastoral council, finance committee, property and development committee – to organise the event.
Around 180 leaders from the various ministries, groups and communities of the parish attended the assembly, themed ‘The Lord Calls Us to be One’ (John 17:20). Also in attendance were the clergy, religious and observers from the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima Beluran and Paitan Mission.
The assembly began with Praise and Worship followed by Enthronement of the Bible, Proclamation of the Gospel and reflection by Father Christopher Ireneus.
In his keynote address, Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom touched on the purpose of the half-day assembly aimed at giving updated information on matters related to pastoral, finance and property of the parish.
The bishop pointed out that lack of information and communication will result in misunderstanding and unnecessary speculations among members in the parish.
He said the session was important and timely as a way forward towards a better, united and strong community of faith.
The bishop highlighted the fact that the assembly would be a starting point to inculcate the spirit of the soon-to-be launched Diocesan Vision: ‘Christ-centred community serving one another with love’ that can build a strong communion of communities of faith in the parish through;
- The spirit of service, that all the different communities collaborate in bringing the Gospel values to all.
- Having a missionary spirit whereby the different communities would actively cooperate in carrying out the mission of the church within the parish by promoting ongoing faith formation in every community and pastoral group in the parish.
- Effective collaboration and cooperation among the communities, to remain in constant communication and openness within the parish community.
Father Thomas Makajil facilitated the session on being church and shared responsibility. Citing Christifideles Laici, he said the lay faithful are made sharers in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ through Baptism, and have their own mission to carry out in the world.
The participants were divided into nine groups for discussion on the realities that hinder them from being church and what they can contribute to making being church a reality. Three groups presented their findings and proposals.
In the second part, the assembly was briefed on the development and status of the pastoral, property and finance committees by their respective representatives.
John Liaw, diocesan finance adviser, presented the importance of internal control and good governance within the church. He urged the people to be wise and prudent in spending and be ready to face the tax law ruling by the government should it be imposed.
The assembly concluded with an open forum. Thirty-four questions were fielded but 70 percent of the questions touched on pastoral issues reflecting faith development in the parish. Participants were given the opportunity to propose suggestions and recommendations for further discernment and reconsideration.
In his closing remarks, the bishop thanked the participants, organisers, and speakers for their participation. He asked them to share the outcome of the assembly with members of their communities.
The assembly ended with a closing prayer by Father Stanley Matakim and lunch at the parish canteen. – newsupdatedospo.blogspot.my