Pastoral Principles

- Holiness -Communio - Collaboration - Mission

These four principles are the foundations of our life as Church.

These principles are at the heart of our Diocesan Vision.

As we, the parishes, pastoral areas, chaplaincies, diocesan agencies and schools work together to live out our vision we strive to grow in our appreciation and expression of these four principles.

- Holiness

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted children, through Jesus Christ, for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved, in whom, through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins. Such is the richness of the grace which he has showered on us in all wisdom and insight.... May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit. (Ephesians 1:3-8,18)

Holiness is the gift of God to us in his Son Jesus Christ. So holiness is the life of God in the Church and within each of us in all its richness. We have become by Baptism and Confirmation temples of the Holy Spirit. But this richness, this sharing in the communion of God, this union with God and others, is not yet complete in us. This gift of holiness is both a promise and a call- an everyday request from Jesus that we return his love, that we die to our own selfishness and more and more for him and others. Thus the Bishops of the Church, gathered at the Second Vatican Council reminded us of the universal call to holiness; All Christians ˙in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love, and by this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered also in earthly society (Lumen Gentium n40).

Pope John Paul II, in his letter 'At the Beginning of the New Millennium', said that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness... The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual. I thank the Lord that in these years he has enabled me to beatify and canonize a large number of Christians, and among them many lay people who attained holiness in the most ordinary circumstances of life. The time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living: the whole life of the Christian community and of Christian families must lead in this direction (Novo Millennio Ineunte # 30,31).

So we can ask ourselves how much time do we as individuals, in our families, groups, committees or parishes give to prayer?

Despite the difficulties, is our prayer a real longing to grow in our love and awareness of the Lord who promises to be with us always until the end of time?

How might we change?

Are we open to God's loving ways in all we think, say or do?

To live a holy life is to be holy just as God is holy. (1 John 3:7)

- Communio

The whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. The many miracles and signs worked through the apostles made a deep impression on everyone. The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed. They went as a body to the Temple every day but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. (Acts 2:42-47)

The life of the Trinity is one of perfect communion, perfect unity. The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are united in a communion of love. In the person of Jesus Christ this love has spilled into our world. Jesus reveals this communion and restores what was once lost. In Jesus, God again walks and talks with us as once he did in the Garden of Eden. Jesus shows us that God desires us to be one with him and each other by sharing in the life of the Trinity. This is at the heart of the Church's call to unity, to communio [1] . So communio is this life of the unity of the Holy Trinity lived out in our midst through the Church. In the Creed we pray, ˙We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. This call is both a gift and a task. We desire what God desires, that we be one with God and with each other.

The Scripture passage from the Acts of the Apostles given above, recounts this visible communion in the early Church. Their living out of the unity given by the Holy Spirit shows us the gift we have been given and inspires us to seek an ever-deepening communion with God and each other. Our communities of faith today are visible signs of communio. Our gathering each Sunday for the celebration of the Eucharist is a visible sign of our oneness with Christ and each other. In receiving Christ in Holy Communion he does indeed make us one with him and one with each other. And yet all of us long for and need to live a deeper communion. We long for God's kingdom to come in its fullness. A deepening understanding of the richness of communio has the potential to renew the Christian life of individuals and communities. A life time of practice will enable us, ever so slowly, to see with the eyes of faith Christ in others, Christ for others, Christ with others.

So we can ask ourselves, how do we welcome new people to our groups of communities?
How aware are we of the needs of others and how do we respond to these?
In what ways are we divided and how are we seeking to redress such divisions? How do we reach out to other Christians and non-believers?

Let your love for each other grow. Welcome each other, put yourselves at the service of others, so that in everything God may receive the glory.
(c.f. 1 Peter 4:8-11).


- Collaboration

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, 'The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who share in your peace, your peace will rest on that person; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves to be paid; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, "The kingdom of God is near to you" '. (Luke 10:1-9)

As the Father sent the Son, and both the Father and Son sent the Holy Spirit, so Jesus sent both his apostles and the seventy-two disciples. Christ entrusted, and continues to entrust, his ministry to both the ordained priesthood and the priesthood of all the baptised working together. Thus, at the Second Vatican Council the bishops reminded us that ˙Strengthened by all her members, the Church can thus more effectively fulfill her mission for the life of the world” (Lumen Gentium n37). The life and work of the Holy Trinity calls for a genuine collaboration, a working together, recognising that ˙the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood and directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians” (c.f. CCC 1547). This leads all Catholics, both lay and ordained, to participate in the mission of the Church. Since Vatican II we have become increasingly aware that the question has changed from the priest himself saying 'How am I going to manage?' to the parish saying 'How are we going to respond?' Christ's work belongs to us all!

This ministry of collaboration in the Church brings together into partnership people who through Baptism, Confirmation and Orders have different vocations, gifts and offices within the church. It does not blur the distinctiveness of each, rather it enables the identity of each to be seen and expressed more fully (c.f. Future Now, p.16). Collaboration embraces a wide range of different possibilities in the life of our parishes, including leadership, prayer ministry, outreach to those in need, evangelisation, and education in faith. We see this happening more and more in our parishes and yet there is so much more to do.

So we can ask ourselves in our parishes, and groups how can we work better together?

What new possibilities exist for us to work together in our parish and between parishes?

Collaboration shifts the questions from:'How am I to do all this?' to 'How are we together going to care for God's people?'


- Mission

Jesus said to his disciples: This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants any more, because a servant does not know the master's business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. What I command you is to love one another.' (John 15:12-17)

When we talk of the mission of the Church we mean task the Body of Christ (you and I) has to call every human person into the depths of God's love. God is a community of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus, the Son, came to restore us to that love. He lived, died, and rose among us so that he could reconcile us once again with the Father and plunge us into that life of love. When he ascended into Heaven he sent the Holy Spirit upon his disciples to bring about that reconciliation in their lives and to empower them to share that life of God with others. This is our task. This is what mission means.

It means that all of us, in our Pastoral Areas, in our Parishes, in the Diocesan Chaplaincies, Agencies etc, in our Schools, in our Parish and School groups and committees, in our families and in our daily lives, need to be conscious of this mission Jesus has given to us his Church. Pope Benedict XVI, at the beginning of his pontificate reminded us, ˙the Church is alive.” We are called to be the living signs of Jesus alive in us.

As we meet together as brothers and sisters in Christ we have in mind our mission. All the activities we plan together will have as their goal the mission of Jesus. How can we better show together the face of Christ?

So we can ask ourselves; How can we be more of service to those in need?

How can we better prepare to speak to others of Jesus?

How can we help others enter into a deeper life of prayer?

In what ways can we call others to faith?

These are the questions that every group, school and parish needs to ask so that together we can fulfil Christ's command to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last.

At the very heart, then, of all that we do, of all the ways we live as a Diocese, is this call to spread the Gospel.


[1] The word 'Communio' is the equivalent of the Greek word 'koinina', meaning: fellowship, association, partnership, solidarity. Its Latin meaning (communis) implies sharing and serving together.