Spiritual and Pastoral Life after Covid 19 in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo
Dear Priests, Deacons, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo,
"We come through all these things triumphantly victorious by the power of Him who loved us."
- Romans 8:37 -
We all went through this dry spiritual and pastoral life for over past two months due to Covid-19 which came in unexpected and unprepared. It has been a very tough time for a good number of people. This was a time in 'wilderness'. Many serious questions came to the forefront of our thinking which had no clear answers. We need to come out of this crisis more powerfully and effectively. Probably this is the right time to "prepare the future of the Church" as Pope Francis would put it. Most of us tried various ways to keep up our personal and family spiritual life although it was not that easy in many ways. Now at least we are allowed to have limited gatherings in our churches and we need a strategic way forward. Having faced this unexpected situation we need to prepare now the future course of the Church keeping in mind that such situations might happen again. Now we need to catch up on lost opportunities for our spiritual and pastoral plans and activities. Following are my proposals:
1. Priests, Deacons, Religious and laity need new energy, enthusiasm and pastoral creativity for the Gospel and for the Church.
2. Need to encourage, motivate and strengthen the faithful to love the Word of God, Sacraments and the Church.
3. Instruct the faithful firmly on the correct teachings and doctrines of the church.
4. Need serious Pastoral care of families which are going through tough times.
5. Revival of SCCs. Need to have more interactions on catechism and Church teachings in SCCs.
6. Revival of youth and children ministries.
7. Renewed catechesis in preparing for sacraments and ongoing lessons for all the faithful.
8. We need to use all available and possible modern means such as media, technology and Church music in our evangelization efforts.
9. We need to make ourselves totally committed disciples of Christ and stewards of the Church (Discipleship and Stewardship).
10. All our institutions especially schools have to become beacons of evangelization without any compromise.
11. Create platforms to ask questions and find answers to moral, ethical teachings of the Church. Eg. chat/discussion groups in parishes and for associations.
12. Reintroduce traditional practices of the Church like adorations, benedictions, novenas, devotions etc. where it is lacking.
13. More effective emotional and spiritual support to the faithful by keeping in constant touch with parish leadership. We need to accompany the faithful in every situation of their spiritual lives especially at times of bereavement, illness, tragedies etc.
14. Make the faithful feel that the "Church needs you and you need the Church". Pastoral agents need to be more available to the faithful for counselling, guidance, teaching and planning.
15. More and effective leadership training in parishes and deaneries.
These are some of the proposals I can place before you. Each parish/mission has to plan according to your local situation. In any case we all need to strategize seriously for the future. If you need any clarifications on these issues please feel free to contact me. We need to move forward more vibrantly for a deeply committed Church.
+ Alex Thomas
Archbishop of Bulawayo