Assembly of Faith and Renewal
By Fr Roger Purcell MSC
My work this year with the Catholic Church General Assembly (Madang, 5-11 Nov) has brought home more clearly to me the movement of renewal that is alive and well in the Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (PNGSI). It is clear that this is not a recent happening or a short term change. As the world has been changing, so the Church renews itself to meet the needs of the world. This has been happening for about 100 years with a greater intensity for the last 60 years.
Pope Francis is giving a particular emphasis and boost to implementing the teaching and spirit of the Council. His words and actions recall us to the core of our faith in Jesus Christ, challenging us to live out our faith everyday in clear and concrete ways.
In PNGSI this movement of renewal has been happening since the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65, as the Church as a whole, dioceses and religious Congregations seek ongoing and permanent renewal. We see this clearly in the Self-study of the PNG Church in the 1970s, the shift to many different ministries and more recently the first General Assembly and National Pastoral Plan. We have had this year the preparation for and experience of the Assembly of Faith.
Generally I sense a real response to this ongoing call of the Church to renew and build the Kingdom. The world cries for values to live by, for justice and rights for all and for a deep faith to live by. We have all that is necessary in the scriptures and teaching of the Church. We are called to the conversion necessary to move on from the past practices and expressions of faith to discover new ways of being Church that will attract people today.
The General Assembly was a real discernment of our situation, a reading of the Signs of the Times. It was a sincere search for what God is asking of us in a new and changing situation. We are moving forward now to a Conference Pastoral Plan to help us answer the call in concrete plans and programmes.
Our readings at this time of Advent are full of hope and promise that we will see the Kingdom alive in our time; “See here is our God”. We continue to move forward in hope, trust and confidence.