Pastoral Plan For Ministry To Hispanic Catholics Envisioned As Collaborative Goal In Archdiocese
Published: November 27, 2003
ATLANTA—The Hispanic Apostolate has begun meeting with various pastoral groups around the Atlanta Archdiocese to discuss issues related to the development of a master plan by early 2004 for the future collaborative project of creating a pastoral plan for ministry to Hispanics across North Georgia.
Apostolate liaison Father Jose Duvan Gonzalez and program assistant Jairo Martinez are meeting with Archbishop John F. Donoghue, Hispanic and non-Spanish-speaking priests, Religious, deacons, lay Hispanic ministers, archdiocesan movements such as Cursillo, and archdiocesan offices related to Hispanic ministry before completing the master plan and presenting it to the archbishop.
The objective of the master plan is to create accountability, ownership and coordination of all the aforementioned archdiocesan groups or pastoral agents and to provide the resources required for the successful development and execution of the pastoral plan for Hispanic ministry.
The main objective of the Hispanic Apostolate office is to promote, advocate for and help with the implementation of the National Pastoral Plan for the Hispanic Ministry, approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1987, as it evolves to meet the needs of this archdiocese. The archdiocesan office will carry out this role by facilitating meetings, workshops and training sessions, sharing information and establishing a communication system, providing follow-up and evaluation tools and getting approvals. Hispanic priests will be the leader group and serve as consultants in the development process, implementation and follow-up of the plan. They will promote continuous communication and active participation, putting special emphasis in their parishes on providing for ongoing evaluation by meetings, workshops and training and feedback. Other pastoral agents will have similar responsibilities.
The pastoral agent groups will each pick a representative to serve on an archdiocesan assembly, which it is hoped will begin forming in February, and will actually develop and update the local pastoral plan for Hispanic ministry, analyzing the reality, issuing reports, sharing all basic documents with lead pastoral agents, training participants and implementing and evaluating it. They will use Scripture; the National Pastoral Plan; an addendum to it called “Encuentro & Mission”; “Together on the Journey of Hope”; and “Unity in Diversity” documents; and the archdiocesan demographic survey “Quienes Somos? Que Necesitamos?”; “Immigrants’ Pastoral Plan Project for the Archdiocese of Atlanta”; and “Walking Together—Archdiocese of Atlanta.”
Father Duvan and Martinez noted that, while it would be easier to hastily appoint a committee and whip up a plan overnight, his office and Archbishop Donoghue feel it’s important to make it a collaborative effort that addresses all areas of ministry and all relevant departments of the archdiocese. As the apostolate has received phone calls from people confused about the planning and whether or not the reality of their parishes would be taken into consideration, Father Duvan emphasized that his office will contact all pastoral agents of the archdiocese.
“We want to involve the community, to listen to their necessities, their priorities and, according to our realities, to give our proposals for this archdiocese. We want to plan with the community and not only from our office or not only from our division for priests, but we want to involve the community, leaders, movements, the Religious sisters, deacons,” he said. “The nueva era is coming. We are in process, we need to take time, step by step. But our process involves the whole archdiocese, not just the Hispanic community or Hispanic leaders … We don’t want to improvise.”
Martinez noted how sometimes pastors who have priests in charge of their Hispanic ministry think that that community is not their domain. “This is the priest who is responsible for the (whole) community. We want to explain for every pastoral agent their responsibility.”
Martinez described a pastoral plan as being similar to a business plan for a company with short- and long-term goals and proposed actions to reach them, and said that while there is an existing one this process will expand, update and implement it to better fit the current reality. He said teamwork is a “key element” in developing and successfully implementing it, noting that some ministries may have their own plan which his office wants to make sure is in line with the larger goals for the archdiocese. “We are talking to all pastoral agents that are co-responsible to put the pastoral plan in place … We are working on this process and everybody will be involved in this process … When we talk about the process we talk about schedule, resources, who will be involved, what are the roles, economic support like a budget from the bishop. We need to have all those things totally in place before we develop a successful pastoral plan,” he said. “We want to have everybody working as a team committed to developing the pastoral plan.”
The plan focuses on the specific dimensions of the national plan and the “Encuentro & Mission” document of evangelization and formation, the missionary option, “pastoral de conjunto” (pastoral collaboration) and liturgy and prayer life.
Invoking God’s blessing on the work ahead, the USCCB national plan states, “We encourage dioceses and parishes to incorporate this plan with due regard for local adaptation. We do so with a sense of urgency and in response to the enormous challenge associated with the ever-growing presence of the Hispanic people in the United States … As we stated in the pastoral letter of 1983, ‘at this moment of grace we recognize the Hispanic community among us as a blessing from God.’ We present this plan in a spirit of faith—faith in God, that he will provide the strength and the resources to carry out his divine plan on earth; faith in all the People of God, that all will collaborate in the awesome task before us; faith in Hispanic Catholics, that they will join hands with the rest of the Church to build up the entire body of Christ.”
According to the apostolate, fundamental areas of development are in the structures and ministerial networks of the diocesan and regional offices and pastoral institutes, in the construction of ministerial relations and collaboration, and in the active participation of Hispanics in the social mission of the church.