Report by Bishop Joao Rodrigues on the Laity Forum

Report by Bishop Joao Rodrigues on the Laity Forum
held on 22 Sept 2012 concerning Vision 2020 of Tzaneen Diocese

1. THE TASK: Prioritise 3 areas for your parish; give reasons for your choices; describe the resources –human and material – in your parish necessary for implementing your priorities.

The majority of the parishes highlighted the three areas tabled below in section A. The areas that got the least attention are tabled in section C. And the areas in section B received a substantial amount of discussion.

A. 1.Evangelisation and Catechesis (10 parishes)
2.Financial self –reliance (8 parishes)
3.Catholic Youth groups and adult youth animators (6 parishes)

B. 4.Marriage and Family life (4 parishes)
5.Local Vocations to priesthood and religious life (4 parishes)
6.Catholic Idenitity and Worship adapted to local cultures (4 parishes)

C. 7.Outreach projects to the poor, sick and helpless people (2 parishes)
8.Servant of God Benedict Daswa (1 parish)
9.Catholic Lay Associations (0 parishes)

PRAYER TIME: Scripture : Acts of the Apostles 2,14-21
With thanksgiving and in the holy name of our Lord Jesus, we place this task before our heavenly Father that the Holy Spirit who has planted this Vision2020 in our hearts may continue to bless and direct our efforts and inspire all the Catholics in the Diocese of Tzaneen to action and produce the fruit that God wants, the fruit that lasts forever in the Reign of God.

Below is a summary of the reports which all the parishes gave in relationship to the tasks they were given and in the order mentioned above.

A.1. Evangelisation and Catechesis

Motivation:
Praying and praising God together as families,communities,parishes and diocese.
People must be informed, have knowledge of their faith and identity;
Embrace the Spirit of faith for all age groups; Imprint a Catholic faith in ourselves,homes and communities and eventually in our parishes and diocese;
It will enrich and strengthen our faith starting from homes,communities,parishes and diocese; Spirtual leaders are insufficient in our parish;without their spiritual guidance we will not grow spiritually. This is the foundation of the Catholic faith; We need people who know their faith; It is the foundation of our Church; Few volunteer catholics in this area of need; There are enough resources and materials for the growth of the Church;For the sustainability of the Catholic faith; For deepening the Catholic faith and preparing people for sacraments; We need people to assist in catechetical programmes for all ages; Called-to-Serve members should support the priest and be fully involved in all church activities; Effective evangelisation and catechesis will ensure that we as Catholics develop our identity with regard to the way we worship and express our faith. This is the core of the Church’s activities; Sharing,proclaiming,deepening of the faith; We lack evangelisation because we do not have enough full-time catechists; It is fundamental that we build our faith -communities centred around the presence of the Divine Trinity.

Resources
For growth of the Church all books for catechesis must be available;
Training and workshops need to be conducted regularly and deepen our
understanding Catholic ethics; This is still a great challenge for us; we need workshops and a committee to train volunteer catechists in each parish.
We have to mainatain a co-ordinator for all parish catechetical programmes;
Catechism books;We have Called-to-Serve members and some Full-time pastoral workers;Priests; Religious sisters;
Enough materials in the parish
All catechetical books and book series for different age groups are required;
There is a poor involvement of parents and community in catechesis;
Financial resources (2% -5% of parish income) to support the evangelisation and catechesis work in the parish.

A.2. Financial self-reliant church

Motivation
We want to augment our finances;we have Sunday collections and pledges;Fund-raising to be done quarterly;To start vegetables gardens to sell and help the church;we hope to improve to help maintain our priest’s car and security for the priest house.
To run church activities successfully (structures and projects); To support the poor,vulnerable and orphans;To support vocations,diocese and the church.
Finance is not the key for the church but we must have it to maintain the needs of the Church; Serious challenges with regard to getting funds from communities;
Parish Finance Committee should be functional as well as Local Finance Committees; Teach parishioners about financial responsibility;Promote self-reliant parish;
Encourage people to share resources (money)Discuss the importance of giving and sharing;Currently there is a lack of awareness of finance responsibility in the church;
There is a need for a change of mind-set; For sustaining parish programmes and activities; For supporting the priests; Financial responsibility;Monthly and annual reports Contributions

Resources
The parishioners themselves are the resource for finance.
Church members; Members working in the city who earn more need to be more responsible;Fundraising and Donations; Kabelo;
Need committed local finance team or committee;
Human – generous giving;
Financial structures in place: Pledge Sunday; fundraising; special collections;
Parish pastoral plan for financial support should be adhered to;
Commitment from the Catholics should be emphasised in this regard.
A.3. Catholic Youth groups and adult youth animators

Motivation
We want to mould our children to be adult leaders of tomorrow and to build the future Church.Our youth are not involved nor committing themselves in the Church activities such as singing,serving at the altar,cleaning church inside and outside;
Adults are needed to help the youth but they must do it willingly. The youth must be supported spiritually and financially. The youth should meet at least once a month; Adults should be present to direct them. During school holidays the youth must attend workshops organised by the priest;Youth are expected to be good leaders of tomorrow.They require motivation and support. To know Jesus one needs to be taught Jesus.. Youth are the future adult leaders and future parents in the Church – without the youth the Church will not survive; They are the future leaders;They are easily misled; There is a critical need to strengthen the animation of youth at local community levels and at parish level; Currently some communities do not have animators; Moral degeneration of youth is happening all around;Youth involvement should be related to a succession plan in the context of an aging community;Empowering the youth is necessary.

Resources
Training and workshops to be conducted regularly;youth need an
Understanding of Catholic ethics for their lives.
Called –to – Serve people to be engaged with the youth programmes;
Catechists to help in their formation;
We have enough animators but they are not trained for youth animation.
We need young people who are committed to form youth communities;
Year programme for youth activities in each parish;
Youth programmes eg Education for Life; Sexuality programme.
There is a lack of committed adult youth animators; Parents are reluctant to support the youth in church activities;
Youth Structures: Organisation of youth members with executive committee;
Materials: Youth manual; Education for Life programme; Booklets (material available) for guiding youth;

B.4. Marriage and Family Life

Motivation
Most people do not want to arrange their marriage in Church.They just want to take their children to baptism before the arrangement of their marriage.We need marriage and family life workshops. Family is the basic foundation for the Church;
We need more couples to get married in our church so that their marriage can be blessed. The importance of marriage as a sacrament to be emphasised;
Family is the basic unit of life; We promote Catholicism, marriage and holy family life of Joseph and Mary;Relationship between family and church should be strengthened;Promote family prayers;Retreats and workshops for married couples;

Resources
Training and regular workshops.Understanding of Catholic ethics especially as it relates to marriage and family life;Marriage Encounter movement; Focolare prayer group;Priest is central to pre-nuptial interviews and preparation of couples;
Financial support for transport and workshops;Is there a team in existence for family life ministry in your parish with a year plan.

B.5. Local Vocations to the priesthood and religious life

Motivation
We need priests who originates from our own parishes.We need to motivate the parents to encourage their children to consider the priesthood and religious life. Sometimes the parents discourage their children because they want grandchildren and financial support from their children.We should have regular vocation prayers in our parishes, special workshops and retreats for young people searching for their vocation in life. Encouragement from family prayer groups; Discuss:vocations from a family perspective; Organise parish vocation animation with support from the diocese; Lack of priests and the importance of the Mass should motivate this call among our youth.
Youth retreats and Youth camps should include Vocation workshops

Resources
Retreat and workshops on vocations;Literature on promoting vocations;
Priests and Religious sisters (esp. from diocese) involved in promoting vocations.
Finances to support young people interested in attending these activities.
Youth programmes should include vocation awareness.Encouragement from parents
Talks on vocations by priests and seminarians and religious sisters and brothers.

B.6 Catholic Identity and Worship adapted to local cultures

Motivation
Formation in the norms and values of the Church’s tradition can help develop a deeper relationship with Christ in the local cultures;We need
to be grounded in Catholic faith so that we can live according to our catholic norms and values;Recognition of our culture (eg. In liturgy the beating of drums, ululating in church and dancing with reverence) is also vital for our Catholic identity; We must know our faith and know how to express it to non-Catholics;We have different cultures and languages in our urban parish so we have to accommodate them in the Mass and Church services. For example: We have Indians,English speaking and African languages within and from outside S.Africa.Variety of prayers removes boredom and uplifts the spirit of communities; Little knowledge of Catholic faith and tradition creates conflicts and misunderstandings.

Resources
Small Christian Communities;Local communities;Sodalities;
Called to Serve ministers;Parish Training Teams; Formation of choirs;
Financial resources for activities related to liturgical formation.
Lack of missals in African languages – eg siTsonga and siVenda;
The Sunday service booklet is not the same eg For some the sign of peace is in the beginning,for others after the Lord’s Prayer. Hymns,Bibles,Rosaries, and other prayer books;Parish priests and pastoral workers (Human resources);

C.7.Outreach projects to the poor,sick and helpless people

Motivation
We need God’s help to enable us to reach out to the needy,orphans,abused children,abused women,abused elderly people;Listen to the Scriptures/teachings and Scripture sharing;Deepen the faith and hope among the vulnerable,the sick,orphans and the helpless;Support bereaved and needy families;Sharing Christ’s Body with others;
Resources
We need the grace of God and serious prayer to have a place of safety for such people.We put it upon ourselves to plant various fruit trees to sell and raise funds for our communities, parish and diocese.Ministers of Holy Communion;Funeral Ministers
Called-to-Serve members and Justice and Peace ministries.

C.8.Servant of God Benedict Daswa

Motivation
His death strengthens our faith as a person who was in our midst.
His death also assures us to stand firm in our faith.
He is a blessing in our Catholic faith, to have such a martyr in an ordinary community.
Resources
Youth drama; CD,articles and handouts;diocesan office; SACBC support.
Novena Prayer booklets;Fundraising;

C.9. Catholic Lay Associations (Sodalities) – This area of concern was not discusses at the meeting.

CONCLUDING REMARKS:

– that in November a final draft of Vision2020 be published for evaluation and that the official document of Vision 2020 be published in December 2012 followed by translations and publication in website;

– that the Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) meet on Saturday 9 March 2013 and elect a new executive committee who will help take this Vision2020 forward by articulating ideas for pastoral planning in line with the Vision2020;

– that during the Year of Faith 2013, the whole diocese, with the help of a full-time coordinator, Ave Maria Pastoral Centre and the DPC, focus on the priority area of “Evangelisation and Catechesis” which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the second Vatican Council as well as the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church;
– that Prayer remain central in our Vision 2020 efforts for cultivating an authentic and witnessing Church in this diocese because “if the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the workers labour…”

– Vision 2020 does not cover every aspect of the church’s mission in this diocese but it does provide areas of common concern and direction for the pastoral ministries in the diocese for the next 7 years.

DRAFT OF VISION 2020 FOR THE DIOCESE OF TZANEEN

1. EVANGELISATION AND CATECHESIS – need proper training of volunteer catechists who can help in the catechetical formation programmes for all ages. Programmes should be clear and strictly adhered to. There should be an on-going formation and evangelisation programme for adults. Parishes need materials – a resource library. Need to explain to the communities about the calling of a catechist and recruit and train volunteer catechists in the church. The adult catechumenate programme needs the church community to be involved and to share in the church’s mission; programmes should include marriage and family enrichment courses. (Ref: number 6).

2. CATHOLIC IDENTITY AND WORSHIP ADAPTED TO LOCAL CULTURES – There is a need for Catholics to develop in their Catholic identity with regard to the way they worship and express their faith; Catholics should learn to appreciate and practice the great variety of faith expressions and worship which is part of the authentic tradition of the Catholic Church and which enriches the local cultures and languages; for example – praying the rosary in family and communities of faith, charismatic healing prayer groups, Gospel –sharing groups, Eucharistic adoration, stations of the cross, novenas, devotion to saints and the liturgy of the hours, spiritual reading and lectio divina. Catholic hymns need to be translated and sung regularly;to sing well in church we need to have one or two people who take on this responsibility in each parish. liturgical catechesis should be part of the formation of the Catholics with the aim of making the Eucharist central to the life of the people. Training of altar servers; lectors;lay ministers of Holy Communion, sacristans caring for the altar linen and vestments.

3. SERVANT OF GOD BENEDICT DASWA – Catholics should promote the cause of Benedict Daswa with the hope that he will be recognised as the first Catholic martyr in our Southern African region; dissemination of information to the whole diocese : every parish should be involved in promoting the story and devotion for the cause of Benedict Daswa. The importance of making known throughout our diocese and the SACBC region the cause of the servant of God Benedict Daswa and to seek his intercession for our needs

4. CATHOLIC LAY ASSOCIATIONS (SODALITIES) – the on-going development of the sodalities in the parishes and diocese requires that their members understand the constitution of their sodality and that they be committed members faithful to the spirit and content of the constitution. The different sodalities should ensure that they complement one another and together assist in the common apostolate of the Church in a spirit of Catholic communion. There is a special need for the development of a Catholic men’s association in all the parishes.

5. CATHOLIC YOUTH GROUPS AND ADULT YOUTH ANIMATORS – There is a great need for parishes to identify mature and committed adults who will willingly and gladly help animate the youth – chosen by the youth and acceptable to the parish priest. Youth need more support and motivation; The animator must be a person of faith, integrity, maturity and conviction,sensitive to the cries and longings of young people, and capable of responding to them. More involvement of youth in church activities; youth becoming involved in parish projects/ministries – Education For Life to be linked with youth ministry; Youth need to be recruited into choir and other ministries such as children’s ministry and young adults with Catholic university students. Parish leaders should ensure that the youth are properly organised in their parishes.

6. MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE – The Catholic family should receive a stronger focus in parish life; young people of each community should discuss about marriage and family life regularly led by someone knowledgeable and trained in these matters; A vigorous family life ministry programme should be implemented in the parish with proper formation and catechesis; Prayers in our families should be promoted with devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the rosary, as well as devotion to St Joseph and the Holy family. Retreats for married couples should be done in the parish.

7. LOCAL VOCATIONS TO PRIESTHOOD AND RELIGIOUS LIFE should be promoted in parish prayer groups and families; parish vocation-promotion teams should be established; Special workshops and retreats for young people searching their vocation should take place regularly; also at diocesan level priests and religious sisters should support parish vocation drives. Literature on promoting vocations should be distributed with relevant information for on-going communication with young people interested in religious life and priesthood.

8. OUTREACH PROJECTS TO THE POOR, SICK AND HELPLESS PEOPLE Parishioners should give better support to the projects in their parishes by initiating and co-ordinating them through a parish Justice and Peace group; Projects such as sewing, poultry, gardening, fish ponds, tree planting, animal rearing should be done to raise funds and empower needy people in our parish.
Through our health care ministries, we touch people’s lives, not only
materially but holistically – body –mind – spirit. We wish to see our “spiritual
teams” being supportive especially of the bereaved and the sick; and reaching
out to the orphans, the vulnerable and refugees. What happened to the “Called
to Serve” leaders? – they need on-going nourishment and formation; need
better organisation and team-work; Integrate Bible ministry into all organised
ministries and visit people in their homes; home visiting by priests and
religious encourage people to come to church.

9. FINANCIALLY SELF-RELIANT CHURCH – Catholics need to be taught about their financial responsibilities. There should be clear guidelines in the diocese concerning the financial responsibilities of the catholics in the diocese. The giving of time, talent and money should be understood as normal in parish life; people must be motivated and educated to give more financial support to the parishes. Even if people go to the cities for jobs, they should maintain support of the parish of origin. Fund-raising projects should be planned for the year especially for maintenance of buildings and vehicles, and also for the annual seminarians fund and diocesan fund.