A new pastoral plan for Auckland Catholic diocese, which promotes being a more mission-focused Church, was launched at a diocesan youth Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral on November 29.
The diocesan “mission map” has three key goals – to strengthen Catholic communities for missionary discipleship, to build up the spirituality of young people and to care for the poor.
In a video on Auckland diocese’s YouTube channel, Bishop Patrick Dunn said the mission map “is a response in our diocese to the call Pope Francis made soon after he became Pope when he said that he dreams of a missionary option for the Church and he wants every facet of the Church to be reaching out”.
“My hope with the mission map is that, somehow, especially in our fostering spirituality for young people, and in outreach to the poor, that we will find ways to help people in our diocese to become active disciples, to become disciples, not just followers, but people who will go out and share in the mission. That’s my big prayer,” Bishop Dunn said on the video, in which he discussed the pastoral plan with Auckland auxiliary Bishop Michael Gielen about the pastoral plan.
“Our hope is that it won’t be business as usual in the Church . . . it is a whole change of focus,” Bishop Dunn added.
“We are both praying that this plan, the mission map, will bear rich fruit for the Church in our diocese, but also for our wonderful nation.”
Bishop Gielen said on the video that he appreciated the simplicity and clarity of the mission map.
“I know I have involved in a lot of these type of things before, strategic plans and such like, and sometimes they can become very complicated. So I appreciate the fact that we are clear about what we are doing, that we have got three priorities and that we have got a timeline in which to do those. Lastly, I appreciate the fact that they are practical.”
The mission map is the result of a process of discerning God’s call through consultation and collaboration with the baptised. After seeding by a “vision group” in 2017/2018, the concept came to fruition from consultative processes of working groups, workshops, and listening sessions, stated the Auckland diocese website (www.aucklandcatholic.org.nz).
“The purpose of this discernment is to allocate diocesan resources to promote the diversely gifted people of God within the diocese to be; witnesses to Christ, apostolic in their endeavour, at the service of the world together,” the website stated.
Mentioning the mission map launch in a facebook post on November 28, Bishop Patrick Dunn said the “’Mission Map’ challenges each one of us to be open to a conversion of heart so that we may seek the face of Jesus in our society, especially in the poor and the sick, the young and the old, and serve him with tenderness and love. Our mission is to live and to share the Joy of the Gospel.”
According to the mission map page on the Auckland diocese website, strengthening Catholic communities for missionary discipleship will involve growing and developing servant leaders, and being strong, inclusive communities of missionary disciples.
Building up the spirituality of young people will involve strengthening families and making schools and parishes visible and active as one faith community.
Caring for the poor involves being visible, present and active working for the poor and marginalised, advocating for peace and justice and developing and enabling “people who care”.
Support for the mission map will be through several key pillars, including “formation through training, education and experience that enables the People of God, no matter their age, stage of life or background to live and proclaim the joy of the Gospel”.
Another support pillar involves “technology supporting mission”.
Clear communication is another support pillar, whereby ways of sharing the story of the Church, its outreach, its beauty and its source of life, can be explored.
Another pillar is astute financial and resource management, which will see decisions “made for the common good, with professional expertise and prayerful discernment”.
It was admitted that there “is no silver bullet that gives an exact recipe that makes instant disciples”. Some suggestions were given which could be adapted to people’s situations, including taking part in community action such as teaching literacy programmes; conducting book discussions and book swaps with others that promote spiritual growth; praying the daily office in a public place such as a church and inviting others to join in; having food, clothing, and cleaning supplies in store for those in need; sponsoring an activity in the local Catholic school and celebrating community heroes.