Interview With Archbishop William Goh on Vision 2023: How Far Have We Come?

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It has been three years since the Archdiocese’s pastoral vision was first introduced. Archbishop William Goh shares his thoughts with the Catholic Foundation on what has been done to date.

Your Grace, can you share the inspiration that led to the introduction of Vision 2023?

When I was installed as archbishop in 2013, Pope Francis had released an important document in the same year – Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).

This document was written in response to the changing social and cultural situation Catholics find themselves in today, and was guided by the spirit of the New Evangelisation first introduced by Pope St John-Paul II and then expanded on by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

As Catholics, we have a duty to evangelise the world, starting with our own archdiocese.

Through prayer, and in consultation with other leaders in the archdiocese, we felt that God desires His Church in Singapore to be a more vibrant, missionary and evangelistic one.

We are already three years into the vision. What do you think of the progress made so far?

In the first year, I spent much time with our priests, religious and other lay leaders in the Church to plan and establish the infrastructure needed to support the New Evangelisation.

By infrastructure I don’t mean just the buildings, but also the processes and whole management system within the Church – bringing together the priests, religious, parishes, and various archdiocesan organisations.

Now that a masterplan is more or less in place, we have to seriously look into the funding of the projects and programmes. Once that gains traction, we will see things moving more fully.

The Church has always been collecting funds through Sunday collections, and special collections. Isn’t that sufficient to run the archdiocese?

The world is a different place today than it was forty, or even thirty years, ago. In the past, Catholics put in a few dollars into the collection bag every week and it was enough for basic maintenance of the Church. But we all know that costs in Singapore today have risen significantly.

At the same time, we want to grow the Church, not just maintain it. To do that we need to fortify Catholics in their faith and refresh our structures. All this requires funding. We now have the Catholic Foundation to spearhead our efforts of raising the funds for the archdiocese.

Do you anticipate any hurdles to seeing Vision 2023 come to fruition?

The New Evangelisation is a response of the Catholic Church to changes taking place on the global stage. But every diocese has its own challenges and we have to adapt it to local conditions.

Our archdiocesan organisations have to constantly find ways to stay relevant to the people they serve, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Programmes and courses have to be redesigned and new buildings and institutions built to accommodate these changes and prepare ourselves for the future.

The bigger challenge however, is in getting the support of every Catholic. Every individual Catholic makes up the Church, and the active embrace of everyone is needed for our archdiocese to truly become more vibrant.

And of course, there will always be the challenge of finding the needed resources, be it financial, human resource and so on. We can make all the plans we want, but for our Church to continue its divine mission, there is also a need for physical resources.

Are we on track to achieving our vision for 2023?

A lot has been accomplished, but a lot more needs to be done. Catholics must look beyond the parish and see themselves as a member of the Universal Church.

We need to build up our archdiocesan institutions so they in turn can provide better programmes and services to the parishes.

The goals set out in the vision are not unsurmountable. But individual priests, parishes and organisation working alone cannot
bring about the change we are looking for.

We need to work in communion with each other and with a greater unity of purpose. With that, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am confident that we will realize our vision by 2023.

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