The training was held in MAJODI Centre on 13 – 15 April for the leaders of parish pastoral council, parish financial committee, basic ecclesial community and ministries. About 100 participants, including parish priests, diocesan and parish pastoral workers joined this program representing the various parishes in the diocese.
The sessions were facilitated by the guest speakers from the Institute for Pastoral Development, Philippines. A husband and wife couple, Stephen A. Sandoval and Teresita Nen Sandoval together with Monsignor Manuel G. Gabriel (Manny Gabriel) helped participants discover where God has brought the Diocese of Malacca-Johore in line with the spirit of the 2016 Diocesan Synod and PMPC IV and to draw up the dream for the Diocese for the future, design a plan supported by specific action steps and to establish a process whereby the leaders of the parishes and diocese can monitor their own progress.
The speakers introduced the five-point cycle of Appreciative Inquiry, namely, define – discover – dream – design – and destiny to achieve the purpose of the diocesan pastoral thrust (2016-2020) based on 4E’s (encountered, enlightened, empowered, evangelising) approach moving toward the vision of the future: “Towards Church as communion of families.”. Based on the pastoral foci “Fire up the embers” (deepening faith), “Keep the fire burning” (building believing communities), and “light up lives” (awakening the missionary spirit), the participants mostly worked together according to parishes – except for campus ministry- for discussion and presentation.
We identified the positive core of the Diocese from summarising the participants’ sharing of strength, successful peak experiences, best practices and key learnings. Participants named their strengths that they were a community that was committed, encouraging in spite of being culturally and linguistically diverse. Their best practices were that they were a praying community, built bridges with different language groups and reached out to the marginalised. The key learnings were that they learnt to adapt for change, unite and collaborate to move forward.
Monsignor Manny Gabriel provided an orientation the participants, focusing on the ecclesiology and missiology of the church. He explained how Vatican II and the papal document “Evangelii Nuntiandi” and “Ecclesia in Asia” could help the diocese to enrich our understanding of the diocese’s pastoral thrust of 4E and building up the BECs.
This is only the beginning and much remains to be done. It is hoped that the participants will introduce and implement this Appreciative Inquiry method to identify the strengths, the best practices and key learnings in order to plan, design, dream and achieve their goal throughout all the parishes and ministries of Malacca-Johore diocese.