This brief write-up is meant for all Catholics in the KK Archdiocese. It aims to create an awareness of what the Local Church’s concerns vis-a-vis the realities in today’s society, and to offer a specific thrust on how the archdiocese would move.
The past decade (2005-2015) or so has witnessed changes both within and outside the Church. There was a leadership change in both our local (from Lee Administration to Wong Administration = Jan 2013) and universal Church (from Benedict XVI to Francis = March 2013). With this change, management of resources, deployment of personnel, prioritising of pastoral goals and focuses, learning and unlearning of experiences are something which is inevitable. This is part of growth, part of our journeying together. However, such process is at times affected either positively or negatively by external factors which are beyond our control.
On the other hand, our nation [Malaysia] too has witnessed a change in political leadership [from Badawi to Najib]. Such change has brought about certain policy changes, emergence of different administrative styles and practices, amendment of Laws and Acts, new socio-political concerns and so forth. To some extent some of these changes are good, but many minority groups in the nation feel that the space and freedom to practise and propagate their faiths are gradually being eroded.
As the Church is in the world, the signs of the times are signals which cannot be ignored. Unless these signs are taken seriously, we may either be victimised by them or become part of the system that aggravates the situation.
It was revealed in the 2015 parish consultations that there are still many who are unsure of their Catholic identity and hence make them vulnerable to external influences and compromise their faith.
It is hoped that readers of this write-up will realise that the Church is concerned about what is going on and shares their anxieties too. The responsibilities, however, lie on all who play key roles both in the parish, religious or lay community, and in the family.
II. WHO ARE WE IN MALAYSIA?
The answer to this question can be based on the following perspectives. We need to remind ourselves repeatedly of this fact.
(a) Universal Perspective
- we are counted among God’s marvellous creation
- we are part of God’s mystery
- we are special
- we are not alone
- we are here not by chance.
“Each of us is the result is God’s thought. Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary” (Benedict XVI)
(b) Ecclesial–historical Perspective
- we are here long before the Federation of Malaysia
- we are the legacy of the missionaries
- we are a milestone of yesterday’s journey
- we are blessed because we were persecuted
“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son” (John Paul II)
(c) Socio-political, Economic & Religious Perspective
- we are part of the Malaysian System
- we are the minority, often being oppressed and targeted but we stand still as the voice of conscience in the society
- we are the sign of Christ’s presence in Malaysia
“The joys and the hopes, the grief and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the grief and anxieties of the followers of Christ” (Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes).
(d) Christological Perspective
- we are members of the One Body of Christ – the CHURCH
- we are prophets in MISSION
- we are priests in COMMUNION
- we are kings for SERVICE
- we are dignified children of GOD
“Let the Church always be a place of Mercy and Hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven” (Pope Francis).
III. WHAT IS OUR VISION?
In 1996, one hundred sixty-four (164) delegates comprising bishop, priests, religious and laity from the whole diocese assembled to formulate the Vision and Mission of KK Diocese. In September 1997 the Vision and Mission were formally adopted as both the rallying point and direction of the diocese. In other words, they are the overall and continuing goal of all that we hope to achieve in our pastoral works, where all our available resources are to be used.
A caring communion of Christ-centred communities, journeying together in faith, hope and love, empowered by the Holy Spirit in the evangelising mission of building the Kingdom of God.
IV. WHAT IS OUR MISSION?
For the archdiocese to move towards the Vision, every member of the diocesan family must accept to live according to certain values. These are expressed in the following statement known as purpose commitment or “mission.”
We, the family of God comprising laity, religious, priests and bishop of the Diocese of Kota Kinabalu, in union with the Spirit of Christ, commit ourselves to:
- an ongoing, personal and communal renewal
- a life of prayer nourished by the sacraments
- living the Word of God guided by the teachings of the Church
- unity in communities, respecting the values of other faiths
- responsible stewardship of the environment as well as
- promotion of justice and peace
V. VISION AND REALITIES
Our Vision is the ideal of what we hope to become. After 20 years, that ideal remains a distant dream as we continue to learn to deal with the realities of the day which at times hinder our journey.
In its maiden meeting in March 2014, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) 2014-17 identified three critical concerns the Church needs to be aware of, i.e. apathy, secularisation and Islamisation. It was argued that apathy is an internal weakness among us. Such attitude could jeopardise our evangelising mission in building the Kingdom of God. Secularisation and Islamisation are external forces which could undermine the faith of our people. The degree of seriousness of these threats varies from parish to parish. Nevertheless, they were reported as a prevailing phenomenon all over the archdiocese during the 2015 PAX Assembly. The APC felt the need to address these concerns seriously.
VI. OUR PASTORAL THRUST IN THREEFOLD MOVEMENT:
“Go Inward, Go Smaller, Go Outward”
The three concerns were tabled in the 2015 PAX Assembly. Subsequently, the archdiocese adopted a Pastoral Thrust for the next two years where every pastoral agent and institute, every community and family, and every baptised Catholic are to rally together to tackle the concerns. The Thrust has a threefold movement which can either be simultaneously carried out or move at the level according to the need of the community.
(a) Go Inward
This is an introspective movement – self examination, reviewing and renewing of one’s relationship with God and with one another. By doing so it aims for a “conversion of heart and mind” where one becomes more convinced of one’s faith and will not be easily swayed by external influences.
How does one “go inward?” In the Mission Statement of our archdiocese, concrete commitments are spelt out: an ongoing personal and communal renewal, a life of prayer nourished by the sacraments, and living the Word of God guided by the teachings of the Church. Through this Mission Statement, our archdiocese (clergy, religious and laity) commit to go back to the basics – prayer, sacraments and Word of God. To “go inward” is to get into the inner self to discover one’s true identity as a child of God with the help of prayer, sacraments and the Word of God, and live accordingly.
(b) Go Smaller
Facing the onslaught of external pressures, support from others in our faith journey is needed. As our congregations get bigger, one can be reduced to mere statistics or number. There is a need to go smaller in order to nurture warmth and the sense of belonging to a community (e.g. BEC) for support. Go smaller may also imply reviewing our pastoral structures to make them more responsive to pastoral demands, and to optimise our resources (human and material) to make them aligned to our pastoral strategies in addressing the three critical concerns.
(c) Go Outward
Though a “little flock,” our baptismal vocation has set us apart to be “light of the world” and “salt of the earth,” to transform our society through words and deeds. To go outward implies, among others, living our faith in our multi-religious society, involvement in social issues, caring for others outside of our circle, working with people of other faiths in addressing common issues, going beyond church boundaries, getting our hands dirty and so forth. It is through our life witnessing that others recognise the gem of our faith and are attracted to the living Gospel in us.
“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets,” (Francis, Evangelii Gaudium).
VII. WHERE AND HOW TO BEGIN?
In his letter to church leaders dated 3 Jan 2016, Archbishop John Wong urged all parishes, religious communities and lay movements to make the Pastoral Thrust their focus for the next two years. The threefold movement can either be done simultaneously or according to the situation of the communities, Individual or group initiatives should be encouraged. The archbishop has listed down some steps for follow up actions to 2015 PAX:
- organise mini-PAXes or Parish Pastoral Assemblies (PPAs) for all, where reports of previous parish consultations could be studied, digested and used for pastoral planning
- proposed programmes are to blend into the spirit and aim of the Jubilee of Mercy
- the importance of the role of the Family in dealing with the issues is to be emphasised.
Three resource teams have been set up to provide assistance to parishes which may require additional support in carrying out their pastoral thrust:
- “Go Inward” headed by Fr Nicholas Stephen (HP 014-6738556)
- “Go Smaller” headed by Fr Paul Lo (HP 016-8415102)
- “Go Outward” headed by Fr Michael Modoit (HP 016-8420774)
For further infomation, please contact Archdiocesan Secretariat: firstname.lastname@example.org or 088-712297.