BUNDU TUHAN – Sixty-four pastoral leaders attended a retreat on spirituality of pastoral ministry on 3-5 Nov 2017 at the retreat centre here.
The participants came from Sacred Heart Cathedral Karaminsing, Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang, St Paul Dontozidon, Our Lady Queen of Peace Kobusak, and St John Kopungit.
In two sessions followed by group sharing, Father Cosmas Lee (Nov 4) guided them to a deeper understanding of the spirituality of pastoral ministry based on St Paul’s Letter to the Romans (12:3-21).
“Spirituality,” he said, may be understood as a concrete path led by God the Holy Spirit to live the Gospel in a particular vocation, station or role in life – and here as ministers involved in the pasturing of the parish community.
Fr Lee singled out five principles of the pastoral ministry spirituality in Rom 12:3-21:
- Grace and Faith: the only basis to true discernment and evaluation of ourselves as ministers (Rom 12:3). Though ministry is necessary to meet the many needs of the church, the first and primary purpose of service is that one grows in godliness and holiness which is only possible with the right spirituality.
- Communion and Belonging to Each Other and to Christ (Rom 12:4-5). To become holy is possible only when each lives and journeys in faith as one who vitally belongs to the whole community, in one’s own ministry, in the parish, and in the whole church. There is no place for an individualistic spirituality in ministry. When we don’t work in union with others, we will not grow in Christ or become a part of Christ’s Body, or capable of sanctifying those we serve.
- Service in Accordance to the Particular Gift given by the Spirit (Rom 12:6-8). Cheerfulness (not without pain) in the ministry is a sign that God has given us the appropriate charism indeed. Charisms are not mere gifts. Though they often include natural gifts, charisms are driven by a divine power to serve for the glory of God and the person’s spiritual growth which naturally and mystically will spill over for the good of neighbour.
- Virtues and Attitude Needed While Carrying Out Ministry (Rom 12:9-13). The three virtues (powers) are a) sincerity in service; b) brotherly or sisterly love with profound respect for each other; c) serve untiringly and earnestly – with great passion and cheerfulness undistracted by anything unrelated to the goal of serving; and the attitudes of unceasing prayer and hope.
- The Do’s and Don’ts While Ministering (Rom 12:14-21). They are: a) Bless those who persecute you and do not curse them; b) Be in solidarity with all in good and bad times; c) Treat everyone with equal kindness and never be condescending but make real friends with the poor; d) Never be self-satisfied or complacent; e) Always share with others – amenities, time, and talents; and e) Be hospitable always.
The retreat ended with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.
The night before, the participants viewed a movie entitled Silence – directed by Martin Scorsese in 2016 – about two 17th century Portuguese missionaries who travel to feudal Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor, who is rumoured to have committed apostasy, and to propagate Christianity.
On the last day, Archbishop John Wong led the participants to reflect a bit more on the Archdiocesan Misson statement reflected in the Archdiocesan Prayer recited on Sundays.
Time was given for participants to share their learnings or questions before the closing Mass presided by Abp Wong.