The first Diocesan Pastoral Assembly (DPA) in the diocese was held in 2011. It was a year-long process of study, consultation, and planning – involving clergy and religious, and lay leaders in all parishes and other Church organizations and institutions. The end result was a five-year Diocesan Pastoral Plan. This year, the fifth year of the plan, we embark on yet another year-long diocesan-wide planning process: the DPA 2.
As we start this wide-ranging processes, several questions come to mind: Have we reached out enough to the peripheries? Did the situation of the poor, families, and the youth improve over the last 4 years? Have we achieved the ministry goals we set out to do? Should we open up new parishes? Shoud we break-up or set-up new commissions? How could we capture the lessons learned and effectively apply them? What skills, knowledge and mindsets do we – clergy, religious, and laity – still need to possess? Do we have enough resources to support our vision? Are they properly allocated to support our priority pastoral programs?
We would like to answer most, if not all, of these questions. That is why we have designed DPA 2 to achieve these objectives: (1) study present and future needs in pursuing renewed integral evangelization, learning from the experience of the implementation of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan after the First Diocesan Pastoral Assembly in 2011; (2) craft a comprehensive manual of policies after a review of the Acts and Decrees of the Diocesan Synod in 2000 and other pastoral and administrative guidelines and policies existing in the diocese; and (3) set the pastoral direction and priorities of the diocese for the period of 2017-2021, drawing inspiration from the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
At the end of these processes, we hope to produce two important documents: the Diocesan Pastoral Manual, a compendium of synodal decrees and approved pastoral, administrative, and finance policies in the diocese; and the Diocesan Pastoral Plan 2021, a strategic pastoral plan of the diocese involving every pastoral commission, vicariate, parish, and other relevant bodies for the period 2017-2021.
If we successfully conduct these processes and come up with the projected output, will these ensure already that our vision of a renewed Local Church become reality? The answer lies in how much DPA 2 has raised the level of awareness, collaboration, and commitment of every faithful in the diocese. At the end of the day, policies and plans are but support mechanisms to what is already there at the heart of the Church: the mission to follow Christ and preach the good news. And in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, we hope to spread the Gospel of Mercy to every aspect of our Church life.
Simbahan na maheherakon, padagos an misyon!