Monday, June 23, 2014
A New Year of the Archdiocesan Strategic Pastoral Plan—A New and Important Step
So many church-based mission statements, strategic plans, and visions for the future are loaded with undeniably well-intentioned, sincere and even very noble aspirations. Unfortunately, often the grander the rhetoric, the weaker and less practical become the possibilities for genuine implementation and real impact. I do believe that Chicago’s Archdiocesan Strategic Pastoral Plan has managed to stay grounded in pastoral realities and the genuine needs of the people served by the Church. In great measure, this is due to the attention the Archdiocesan plan pays to central concerns of Catholic faith. The fourth year of the plan is about to begin, and it illustrates a strong focus on the center of faith.
At the heart of our Catholic faith is a fundamental conviction. We believe that the Word became flesh. In the humanity of Jesus Christ, God has been revealed to us and has moved among us. “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) With the Incarnation, God has become accessible to us in a human way.
We also believe that we have access today to Jesus Christ and his saving mysteries in the Church’s sacraments. Pope Saint Leo the Great speaks of the Lord’s Ascension and says, “And so our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments.” Through the sacraments, we are blessed to be able to meet the Lord personally and to share fully in the redemption that he has gained for us.
Catholic faith, at its core, is both incarnational and sacramental. A great challenge of preaching and catechesis is to draw our people into this center of their faith to understand it, to value it, and to find life in it. The Strategic Pastoral Plan’s fourth year, the Year of Sacraments is designed to meet that challenge with a variety of means, including bulletin articles, study guides, and specially designed celebrations across the year to highlight individual sacraments. The backdrop for all these efforts will be Pope Francis’ vision of healing and communion, as that vision comes alive in the sacraments we celebrate.
The goal is to open up the treasure of our sacramental faith to as many people as possible. And that goal fits into the larger purpose of the whole Archdiocesan Strategic Pastoral Plan to awaken and to implement the New Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Chicago, as we all seek to meet and renew our relationship with Jesus Christ in his Body, the Church.