The Final Statement from Melaka-Johor Diocesan Synod

The Final Statement from Melaka-Johor Diocesan Synod,
May 1-2, 2016, Majodi Centre

  1. Pre-amble

    1. From the 1st to the 2nd May, 2016 at Majodi, the Diocesan Synod, a gathering of 370, comprising of the Bishop, the Emeriti, clergy, religious & leaders of parishes and ministries was convened.

    2. The Diocesan Synod was a follow up to the Diocesan Survey exercise; and a preparation for the upcoming PMPC IV, that will occur in Majodi from October 2nd-5th,

    3. The above was an “ecclesial event”, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Here, we journeyed, reflected, discerned and discovered together “how God was and is guiding the people” and “in what way the Church can serve God’s people better”. The spirit of MJD Synod was “listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Rev 2:1-3:22)

  2. Looking Back

    1. We are coming with a history of 40 years, from Aggiornamento 1976 to PMPC IV in October 2016.

    2. We have identified the needs for a “new Spirit”, “the new wine” (renewed persons), “the new wineskin” (transformed structures)

    3. We have traced the core needs & the related needs:

      • 1976: Building Christ-centred Communities; Unity; Formation; Ecumenism & IRD (Inter- religious Dialogue); IHD (Integral Human Development)
      • 1986: Above core needs & related needs plus Youth Care & Formation
      • 1996: Witness through BECs, Parishes as “Communion of Communities”; NEWBEC i.e. community, participatory, dialoguing & prophetic Church
      • 2006: BECs for Communion: On-going pastoral priorities of Unity, Formation, IHD, IRD- Ecumenism, Youth, Family & Social Action
      • 2010: MJD Synod Directives: BECs; IRD; Family Life; Social Communication; Migrants & Itinerants; Mission & Evangelisation
  3. Looking at Today: What the Survey 2016 unveils?

    1. Strengths: Greater Awareness of Discipleship; Improved Prayer Life; More confident sharing of faith; Witnessing via BECs, Families and

    2. Weaknesses: Many are Sunday mass goers; Persistant absenteeism @ BECs; Little involvement in Social Actions; Weak Bible-base; Egoistic priests; Lack of solidarity among parishes & ministries; Self-centred Catholics

    3. Opportunities: Existing BEC structures, the BEC mindset & its influence; Presence of social- minded individuals; Growing interest in Bible; Non-Christian environment conducive for IRD and learning about others; Emergence of interest & professional groups; Fresh calls to re-evangelisation & mission “ad gentes” & church to the margins (of the margins); cultural and language diversity; Sense of being Malaysian

    4. Threats: Globalisation; Islamization; Polarization; Insufficient Clergy; Complacency; Disunited Vision & Mission in the Church

    5. The Synod Assembly’s Priorities: (Areas of Concern) Youth (21 votes); Family Life (17); Formation (15); BEC (13); Catechetics (10); Leadership (5); IHD (5);
      Others: Evangelization; Lapse Catholics; IRD; PMPC Implementation; Social Media; Word of God; Social Justice

  4. Looking Ahead: An Emerging Roadmap

    1. An Alternative Way of Planning: Opt for short-term (1-3-5 year planning); discard 5-10 year planning. Reason: More appropriate in a world that is moving fast, with too many things happening simultaneously

    2. An Alternative Way of Being Community: Need for renewed, re-designed and relevant BECs; being open to interest and professional groupings; encouraging cell groups @ the work place, market place or campuses

    3. An Alternative Way to Being A Catholic: Seeing ourselves as an essential part of the Body of Christ; active & integral; committed stewards; ready to sacrifice for the Body

    4. An Alternative Way of Being Church: Church as Communion of Families; being aware of herself as “Church in Crisis”; Church at the crossroad, Church of BECs; Church that speaks from the margin; a Church that lives with the “opposites”.

    5. An Alternative Way to Discipleship & Discipling Church: A call to be

      • e-Priest;
      • e-Catholic,
      • e-Youths,
      • e-Parishes and
      • e-Diocese.

      The “e” includes the following: Encountered, Empowered, Enlightened and Evangelising (cf Luke 4:18-20);
      visualizing a Church of strong, confident, faith-filled Laity, Leaders & Clergy.

  5. The Emerging Roadmap for the Diocese of Melaka-Johor
    Decided at the Post-Synod Meeting on the following:

    1. The MJD Theme 2016-2020: Church as Communion of Families

    2. The Synod Participants were:

      1. Concerned about the future and its impact on their children, families, Church and Nation with the many forces and “tsunamis”
      2. Emphatic on making them strong (faith/personhood and Malaysians) to face and endure what is surely ahead; by deepening them. Thus, the appeal for Formations, Catechetics and Family Life Enhancements
      3. Committed to personal responsibility, stewardship and ownership of their Church; with a renewed sense of “We are the Body”
    3. The FOCUS for the next 5 years:

      1. Deepening Faith (Fire Up the Embers) through Formations

        1. Revise and improve the content, the quality and skills of Catechetics, introduce relevant and living theology and equip them for mission
        2. Strengthen & consolidate all levels of families (children, youths, adults, parents & couples)
      2. Building Believing Communities (Keep the Fire Burning) through Renewed/Re-designed and Relevant BECs approach; recognize other alternative ways of being

        1. Study and Formulate New Modules on Community building and “firing up” pools of skilled facilitators and community leaders
        2. Set up Trainer Teachers and Trainers School for Community Building, with outreach and mobile teams
      3. Awakening the Missionary Spirit (Light up Lives) through:

        1. Set up teams in parishes, diocese to awaken, to initiate and introduce Catholics to be “missionary disciples”
        2. Initiate “School of Evangelisation” for awareness creation, training and commissioning
      4. Adopt a Common Strategy: The e-Approach for all parishes, ministries
        Emphasise the 4 components of Christian Spirituality i.e. ENCOUNTER, EMPOWERMENT, ENLIGHTENMENT AND EVANGELISATION

    4. The 5 Expectations for the 1st Year (May 2, 2016 to October 2017)


        1. Parish level post-Synod Gathering organized by Parish Priest and Synod representatives:

          For presentation and sharings; for parish ministries and leaders to respond; create awareness and ownership of Vision & Mission (use video clip? Synod booklet? Bishop’s Final Statement?)

        2. Introduce the 4 e-Components of Strong, Integrated Catholic Living: Encounter, Empowerment, Enlightenment and Evangelisation (Luke 4:18-20) to all parishioners and ministries

        3. Prepare for the Year-end Parish Pastoral Assembly (remind all Parish BEC and Ministries Excos to attend; invite parishioners and professionals) – by January/February 2017

        4. Set up the following ministries by October 2017: Family Life Ministry? Formation Team? Faith In-Action Teams?

        5. Ensure BECs and Parish Ministries are alive, functioning and serving or reorganize


        1. Post-Synod (Review-One): A time for the same delegates to “return-recall-remind- repeat-renew”; prepare for paradigm shifts; renewed directives. Tentative: October 2017

        2. Initiate Diocesan Pastoral Think-Tank, part of the Pastoral Secretariat; responsible for Vision & Mission of the Diocese; Evaluation & Planning; Providing pastoral assistance to parishes; set up Monitoring system

        3. Formulate Systematic Programmes for Diocesan Needs; Worked out by Formation Office of Pastoral Secretariat at Parish & Diocesan Levels

        4. Set up “Faith In-Action” Initiatives to reflect on mission and evangelization; initiate plans for the diocese and parishes

    5. The Biblical Basis: Luke 4: 16-21

    6. The Prayer:

      Come Holy Spirit, Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your Love. Send forth Your Spirit O Lord, and they shall be re-created and You shall renew the face of the earth. (Glory be)

Dear Clergy, Religious, Leaders and People of God,

Let us trust the “Lord to make all things new.” (Rev 21:5)
Trust in each other that “Together we can build His Kingdom.”

+ Bishop Bernard Paul
Bishop of Malacca Johore Diocese
21 June 2016