KOTA KINABALU – On 16 September 2017, the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launching of its Diocesan Organisational Pastoral Plan (DOPP).
This document was launched on 16 September 1997 by then Bishop John Lee at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu in the presence of Archbishop Luigi Bressan, apostolic delegate in Malaysia.
At the launching, Bishop Lee said that the DOPP has spelt out the Vision, “the ideal Church that we want to be” but stressed that what is more important is “for us to uphold and live the spirit behind the whole planning exercise, namely personal and communal renewal in a new way of being Church.”
The need for the DOPP was prompted by a response to the increasing new pastoral challenges that came along in the diocesan journey as local Church.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.
In 1996, one hundred sixty-four delegates comprising bishop, priests, religious and laity from the whole diocese assembled to formulate the Vision and Mission of KK Diocese. The 1996 workshop was the first effort of its kind to assess the realities and identify the problems and needs of the KK diocese, which was established in 1976.
In September 1997 the Vision and Mission were formally adopted as both the rallying point and direction of the diocese.
The DOPP has four main components: (a) Pastoral analysis of the Diocese (b) Proposed solutions (c) Common direction and (d) Action Plan.
Though quite technical, the essence of the document underlies some major concerns: (i) a deeper understanding of the Word of God (ii) the need for an understanding of the Church as Communion (ecclesiology of communion) (iii) the participation of all the people of God in the Church and (iv) the relationship between the Church and the world.
These four-fold concerns are in line with the concerns of Vatican II (Lumen Gentium 1964 & Gaudium et Spes 1965).
The DOPP, as a seven-year plan (1998-2004), expired by end of 2004. Bishop Lee declared in his January 2005 Pastoral Letter that “2005 is a time for evaluation, to see how much we have achieved in the process of renewal and how far we have journeyed towards our Vision.”
The whole diocese was mobilised to undertake the exercise. One major difference was the emphasis on learning. The exercise was to be “process-oriented” not “result-oriented.”
By emphasising the importance of the learning process, the whole exercise took on a pastoral tone. It provided the opportunity for self-examination.
Dominic Lim, one of those who formulated the Plan, said that the term DOPP should no longer be applied since the Plan has already expired. Instead, the Church should focus on the Vision and Mission.
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. Such attitude could jeopardise the evangelising mission in building the Kingdom of God. Secularisation and Islamisation are external forces which could undermine the faith of the 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.
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.
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 returning 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).