As this year draws to an end, I have reread my pastoral letter to the clergy, religious and people of the Archdiocese of Wellington on the eve of my installation as Archbishop of Wellington in February 2005.
I recalled my invitation to you all: ‘Come with me, as I prepare to take up the shepherd’s staff blessed by the faithful and generous pastoral leadership of Cardinal Tom Williams and the bishops before him.’
At that time I wrote: ‘I want to belong to a church which is life-giving, which gives hope to those struggling with life …’
This is still my dream as I look forward to the new year. We can be a community of disciples, seized by the gospel of Jesus, each with different tasks and gifts, but all at the service of the community and society.
It reminds me of a priest’s comment at a recent formation day on ‘leading change to a collaborative ministry in the archdiocese’: ‘It’s about getting all the baptised on board’.
We are well into the Year of St Paul and as we look forward to 2009, I would like to invite you once again to come with me into the challenges of the new year. Conversion is a lifelong journey in the power of the Holy Spirit. We will be sustained by the Word of God as we study it more attentively during this year of St Paul and in the companionship of our parish communities and chaplaincies.
There are several happenings I would like you to be part of as 2009 unfolds:
The Pathways of St Paul
Pastoral areas are being invited to adopt one of the early Christian communities to which St Paul wrote, eg the Ephesians, the Romans, the Corinthians. Together with scripture study and artistic direction, they will prepare a creative way to present the life and message of St Paul to this community, through drama, lecture, slide show, music or poetry. From March to June, we will be on pilgrimage in the footsteps of St Paul around the archdiocese. I know you will bring gifts of creativity and adventure to this project in your pastoral area.
Sundays with the bishop
At the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney many young people discovered their bishop as shepherd and teacher. I would like to extend this to the whole Catholic community. With Archdiocesan Pastoral Services, we are organising a Sunday in each of the regions of the diocese. There will be a teaching session for all on exploring Catholic ministry with young people based on the Bishops’ letter, Tu Kahikatea: Standing Tall. The session will finish with a community meal.
Earlier this year the archdiocese celebrated the fifth anniversary of the establishment of pastoral areas. Much has been achieved in this time, especially in the formal appointment of lay pastoral leaders responsible for a parish in several of these pastoral areas. Ongoing reflection on their ministry, and relationship with priests in parish ministry has raised many questions so our reflection on collaborative leadership deepens. Wellington will host the Pastoral Planners’ Conference, February 16-20, 2009. This conference is of vital importance to all those involved in any form of leadership in the archdiocese and I look forward to a full representation of parishes and pastoral areas.
Will you come with me?
When I first invited you to do this, it was in preparation for the Archdiocesan Synod of 2006. I was encouraged at that time that we do share a common vision of being ‘salt and light’ for the world. The synod process continues as we discern priorities and practical ways of living them in our lives and relationships.
Will you come with me?
Will you come with me as we work together ‘to get all the baptised on board’?
Please be assured of my prayerful gratitude for a wonderful year especially for all that was done before, during and after World Youth Day.
May this Christmas be a time of rich blessings for all Wel-com readers.