Visitation, Disadvantaged, Addiction, Family, Vocation
The Church exists to evangelize. In The Joy of the Gospel (2013), Pope Francis reminds us that everything we do as church can be done “in a missionary key.” Our five objectives in the area of Mission and Outreach encourage parishes and other diocesan agencies to re-evaluate current activities in light of Pope Francis’ call, and challenge us to target our attention as Jesus did, on the marginalised in society.
Many parishes have visitation teams who make contact with newcomers to our communities. All parishes can assess whether or not we consciously cultivate a genuine culture of welcome and hospitality for all. Pope Francis reminds us that we are the “Church living in midst of the homes of her sons and daughters,” and he cautions parishes not to “become useless structures, out of touch with people, or a self absorbed cluster of the chosen few” (EG, 28).
Mother Teresa always answered the ‘Why?’ question by replying: “Five little words: You did it for me.” She was quoting Matthew 25:40 “In so far as you did this for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.” This diocesan objective calls us to keep ourselves attuned to new realities of disadvantage in our midst, often hidden, and frequently compounded when multiple forms of disadvantage overlap.
Addiction keeps emerging as the most pressing social challenge facing our communities. Parishes and other diocesan agencies can play a key role in providing training and raising awareness. As this objective requires particular expertise, our task will be to cooperate with the relevant professional bodies that provide the necessary services; we can support the existing drop-in centres to help recovering addicts, and we can gather for periodic healing Masses and themed prayer services throughout the diocese.
We will support and promote the recommendations of The Ordinary General Synod on Marriage and the Family 2015. While Marriage remains the “primordial sacrament, belonging to creation itself” (Pope St John XXIII), which mirrors the mystery of God’s love for humans and of Christ’s love for his Church, we also echo Pope Francis’ statement that “there is no such thing as a perfect marriage/family.” The objective of parish groups and other diocesan agencies must be to always support Christian marriage as the basis of family life, but to find courageous and innovative models of pastoral outreach to all families so that everyone can experience the Father’s mercy.
A5. Vocation – Christian Discipleship
In Baptism we all become ‘living stones’ to be built into a spiritual house, to share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission (cf Catechism, 1267). We will develop programmes (such as Called & Gifted) and training that help all People of God to discover and live out their Baptismal call, and we will make a special effort to promote vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.