A Group for the Renewal of the Church
By Fr. Roger Purcell MSC – CAS National Director
22 DEC 2012. We are a Group which seeks to promote renewal of the Church in line with the spirit and teaching of the Second Vatican Council. The Movement began with the charism of Italian Jesuit Fr. Riccardo Lombardi and the authority of Pope Pius XII in Rome in the 1950s. The Pope formally recognized the Movement in the Proclamation for a Better World on 10 February 1952.
Fr. Lombardi formed a small group to promote this movement in the Church, calling it the ‘Promoting Group’ of the ‘Movement for a Better World’. In more recent times we have changed this name to the Community Animation Service (CAS), which still holds as our mission the promotion of movements of renewal in the Church, for the transformation of the world. The Group is small, but the Movement is much wider and bigger.
In seeking ways to implement the renewal promoted by the Second Vatican Council we formulated different programmes of which we call Projects. These are Basic Christian Communities, New Image of the Parish, Parish Family Project, Parish Youth Project, Renewal of Diocese and Renewal of Religious Life. Underlying all these is the Spirituality of Communion, which was at the heart of the Council. In PNG we accompany some dioceses in Project for Renewal of Diocese (PRD), assist others on request, assist with the Renewal of Religious Life, offer a course at Catholic Theological Institute in Port Moresby and retreats at many different levels, and through publications.
We are organized as the General Direction at international level, Area Teams (Oceania: PNG and Australia) and National Group PNG with a National Team and Local Teams (diocesan level). The National Team has two full time members and representatives of the Local Teams part time.
In the last few years we have been challenged to look carefully at our life as a Group, our work and our mission. This review has led us to begin to strengthen our group with better organized, self-reliant meetings (convivenzas) for study, reflection and planning. We have also actively sought to identify and promote new members with qualifications and experience more relevant to the needs of the world and the Church today. In some dioceses we are seeking new ways to serve the diocese in line with its own pastoral approach.
We are happy with our results in this. Each of our Local Teams (diocesan level) now has better meetings and new members in formation. Wewak and Bereina now have a stronger group, are seeking how to serve the diocese in changed circumstances and have new members in formation. Mt. Hagen is seeking a fresh start with a group of potential members in the formation process; Kiunga is consolidating as a Group, seeking to serve a very active and successful Pastoral Plan and to identify new members; there is a start of a new Group in Popendetta Parish in Port Moresby Archdiocese; internationally we have a group of people in Gizo and Auki Dioceses, Solomon Islands, interested in becoming members.
Most exciting for us is the reactivation of our Group in Madang after many years of inaction as a Group. It was one of earliest and most active Local Teams in PNG, becoming dormant for a number of reasons. After discussion with the new Archbishop, Steven Reichert OFM Cap, he has welcomed the activation of the Group, to be part of his new vision and pastoral plan for the diocese. We welcome back four inactive members and look forward to working with fifteen identified potential members.
All this together is leading us to a revival, renewal and new beginnings in our service of the Church. It is indicative of what is happening in the Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Many Bishops with their priests, religious and lay leaders are seeking ways of renewal in a changing world. We are seeking to find ways to renew the life of our communities to answer the needs and challenges of the world in which we live.
In 2013 we will welcome new members to CAS in Bereina and Wewak dioceses, and in Madang welcome back our reactivated members. We will continue formation in these three dioceses for potential members, and begin formation in Kiunga, Port Moresby, Mt. Hagen and Gizo.
We will continue to review our work and mission to indentify how best to serve the Church through continuing our present activities, new initiatives and cooperation with dioceses. In response to our General Direction at international level we will seek to renew our spirituality for ourselves as a Group and in order to offer it to the whole Church through retreats and other programmes.
Our work with the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (FMI Sisters) in the Renewal of Religious Life will continue as they work towards expressing their charism and the vision of their founder in the world of today.
We will also continue to seek how to serve the Church with our limited numbers and capacity, to create movements of renewal in the Church for the transformation of the world. (cbcpngsi.org – firstname.lastname@example.org)