The Vertical and Horizontal Alignment of the Archdiocese
Much has happened since the 10-year pastoral vision of the archdiocese was first introduced in 2013. But perhaps the most important and least visible of all, is the alignment of different parts of the Church toward a common vision. This journey continues to unfold, calling for patience, perseverance and the participation of everyone.
The recently restored Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the Mother Church of our archdiocese, has caused some buzz in the Catholic community lately. But as much as this restoration is a source of joy for all of us, and for which we thank the Lord for His blessings, this is only one of numerous other projects that have been initiated since the archdiocese embarked on a new pastoral vision.
When Archbishop William Goh took office in 2013, he expressed a wish for a more vibrant, missionary and evangelistic Church in Singapore, as a response to the call for the New Evangelisation by Pope Francis in the same year.
Much has happened in the Church since then, with the restoration of physical structures, establishment of new archdiocesan organisations, expansion of others, and many more taking place. But amongst these, the alignment of the archdiocese has perhaps been the most important progress of all.
Seeing the Bigger Picture
The Catholic Church in Singapore, like any other organisation, has her structures, processes and people. But as we all know, it is people that ultimately brings about the changes needed. In the first years of the vision, there was a need for clarity and to help everyone understand the archdiocese’s new pastoral direction.
Thus began a process of consultations and engagements amongst a wide spectrum of people – from priests in the archdiocese, to spiritual directors of archdiocesan organisations and their leadership teams, to religious and the laity.
What is the New Evangelisation? What are its key tenets? How do we know that we are moving in the right direction? What will success look like?
The output of this series of conversations was an uplifting description of what the New Evangelisation is really about, “a call to all Catholics to renew their faith in Jesus Christ and to share the Good News with ardour, in whatever sphere of society that they are in, using means relevant to the times”. This was promulgated by Archbishop William on Catechetical Sunday in January 2015.
Following this, the Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelisation, Fr Terence Pereira, further highlighted the four key tenets of the New Evangelisation to the leadership teams of parishes and archdiocesan organisations, movements and ministries in August 2015. The four tenets are Word, Worship, Communion and Witness. It was at this event that Fr Terence announced that the theme for the upcoming years will be Communion.
Mission Is Communion
Animated by the pastoral vision, key archdiocesan organisations started to examine their prevailing mission and vision, scope of programmes, people they serve and their priorities. From this, they developed their future strategic profiles and blueprints to support the archdiocese’s pastoral vision.
This “vertical alignment” of each organisation’s plans toward the pastoral vision provided the basis for a Strategic Communion Symposium which was convened in March 2016.
It brought together the Archbishop, the Board of Consultors, members of the Senate, the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning of Resources team, and the leadership of all key archdiocesan organisations. This provided a critical platform to begin the process of “horizontal alignment” where areas for collaboration to achieve synergy and efficiency were identified.
Monthly Strategic Communion Meetings were subsequently organised by the Office for the New Evangelisation (ONE) to provide a consistent platform for alignment. These meetings, held nearly once every month in 2016, have already yielded tangible results. On a people-to-people level, they have brought many closer together as co-labourers in the Lord’s vineyard.
In September 2016, ONE organised the New Wine Conference to further emphasise ‘communion’ and to equip leaders within the Church. As St John Paul II describes, “communion and mission are inseparably connected. They interpenetrate and mutually imply each other” (Ecclesia in Asia 24).
Many Members, One Body
In his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:12), St Paul reminds us that we are all members of the one body of Christ.
Just as the human body has different parts playing different roles, so must each one of us, with our particular gifts and talents, help build the Church of Christ.
As the servant leaders of the Church continue to align themselves, it is now also our duty to begin becoming more involved in the vision of the archdiocese and to align ourselves toward it. The pope has called for a New Evangelisation, and our archbishop has set out a direction for us. Now, we respond. How are you being called to play your part to build the Church of tomorrow?