Dear Father and Parishioners,
The 2003 Synod was a watershed in the history of this Archdiocese. Within the framework of Jesus, Communion and Mission it gave us a Second Vatican Council vision of our faith, and shaped our Archdiocesan Church into a mission-oriented Church, an evangelizing Church. It reminded us that the faith is not ours to jealously guard for ourselves alone. It is meant to be shared so that ultimately it can transform the world.
The nine priorities of the Synod showed us areas we need to engage if we are to succeed in such a transformation.
Nevertheless the Synod will only be half finished if its wisdom is allowed to die. Synod strategies need to be implemented and I have chosen to do this at a Deanery level. I am therefore asking Deaneries to meet to decide how they would like to apply the Synod to their particular area. Archdiocesan funding will be made available for this purpose. I therefore appeal to Deans, Pastors and parishioners to co-operate in meeting this challenge. It will not be easy.
a) For one thing I am asking Pastors and Parishioners to change the long standing culture of individual parish action and mission to one of Deanery co-operative action and mission. I therefore appeal to you to attend and participate in the forum meetings that will be arranged in the near future. Archdiocesan resources and personnel will be available to help this happen.
b) My greatest desire is to bring people back to worship and to have sufficient Ordained Ministers and Religious to help this happen. As part of a strategy to address this need, after Pentecost with the assistance of the Auxiliary Bishops, I will visit every Parish in the Archdiocese to lead parishes in an hour-long liturgy to pray for vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life. My office will make contact with each Parish to enable this to take place at a convenient time.
c) My only hesitation in trying to implement the Synod is that it will make further demands on the time and energy of you and your parishioners, when you are already working well beyond your capacity. I apologise for this, but I believe that unless we address the challenge of evangelization today then Church membership will continue to decline.
I thank you kindly for what you, the Pastoral workers and the people of the Archdiocese, have done and continue to do in a sacrificial manner for the benefit of Christ’s Church and Kingdom. I try never to take your generosity for granted. May God continue to bless all our efforts at this time as we seek to complete the Synod, that God’s Holy Spirit inspired and directed for our benefit and that of the society in which we live.
Sincerely in Christ,
Archbishop John Bathersby