RATNAPURA DIOCESAN PASTORAL PLAN (RDPP)
"Towards A Proclamational Church in the Diocese of Ratnapura/ Province of Sabaragamuwa"
"Christ the one Mediator established and ceaselessly sustains here on earth His Holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity as a visible structure. Through her, He communicates truth and grace to all" (Lumen Gentium No.8).
"A Diocese is a portion of the people of God which is entrusted to a Bishop, to be nurtured by him with the cooperation of the prebyterium in such a way that, remaining close to its pastor and gathered by him through the Gospel and Eucharist in the Holy Spirit, it constitutes a particular Church. In this Church, the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ exists and functions." (Canon 369)
Taking the above mentioned teaching of the Church as the basis of the apostolic life of our Diocese, its Bishop, Clergy, Religious and Laity, we follow the example of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd who " laid down His life for His sheep" (John 10,11). We respond to the invaluable grace of our being chosen and appointed by Him "to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last" (John 15, 16) and our vocation "not to be served but to serve" (Mark 10, 45). We pledge to accomplish our apostolic ministry as best as we can, namely to shepherd, teach and sanctify the people, entrusted to our spiritual and pastoral care.
Thus, we launch into the initiation of our Ratnapura Diocesan Pastoral Plan (RDPP) and the Diocesan Pastoral Statutes (DPS), both of which are meant to facilitate and empower the Bishop, the Clergy, the Religious and the Laity in carrying out their diverse apostolates, demanded by their respective vocations, for the maximum benefit of the people.
That the Local Church of the Diocese of Ratnapura / Province of Sabaragamuwa, be a Catholic community that nurtures the faith and the gifts of one another, enabling all of them to become effective, spirit-filled and fervent disciples of Jesus Christ, who have discerned and are committed to living out their God-given mission in life.
3. History in brief
The Diocese of Ratnapura was established as an autonomous Diocese on the 2nd November 1995 by Pope John Paul II, (now St John Paul II). It was carved out of the Diocese of Galle. Rt Rev Mgr. Albert Malcolm Ranjith, (now Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo) was appointed as its first Bishop and was installed on the 5th January 1996.
The Diocese of Ratnapura covers the entire Province of Sabaragamuwa, which comprises two administrative districts, namely Ratnapura and Kegalle. The capital city of the Province is Ratnapura. Rt Rev Mgr. Malcolm Ranjith served the Diocese as its Local Ordinary from the 5th January 1996 to the 01st October 2001. Under his pastoral leadership the Diocese, though confronted with many challenges almost in every sphere, progressed to a high degree. Mgr. Malcolm Ranjith was transferred to Propaganda Fide in Rome on the 1st October 2001, entrusted with a higher responsibility.
The See of Ratnapura thus remained vacant for 1 year and 5 months, until Rt Rev Mgr Harold Anthony Perera was appointed as its Bishop and installed on the 18th March 2003. He worked enthusiastically during his two-year Episcopate to improve the spiritual and pastoral life of the people. He was transferred to the vacant See of Galle on the 18th March 2005. Once again the See of Ratnapura fell vacant and remained so for 2 years and 4 months, until the present incumbent, Mgr. Cletus Chandrasiri Perera OSB was appointed as its Bishop. He was consecrated in Rome on the 11th July 2007 and was installed on the 28th July 2007 as the Bishop of Ratnapura.
4. The Diocese of Ratnapura in the context of the Church in Sri Lanka
The natural terrain of the Diocese covers the Province of Sabaragamuwa.It is much gifted with natural resources such as precious stones, vast forests like Singharaja, a world heritage forest, admirable lakes, rivers and waterfalls.
The pastoral ministry meets with many difficulties and hardships on account of the limited facilities, available. However the pastoral ministry is carried out by the priests to the best of their ability.
The total population of the Province of Sabaragamuwa is 1.8 million, out of which, the Catholics are approximately 18,500, which is about 1.2 percent of the total population. The majority of the people are Buddhists while there are considerable percentages of Hindus and Muslims as well in the Province.
The Catholics are a minority but are observed to be enthusiastic in practicing their faith amid the adherents of other faiths with the Buddhists as the vast majority. The interreligious relationship between the Catholics and those of other faiths is positive and contributive to the religious and ethnic co-existence. Moreover, the Catholic Church maintains a healthy rapport with other mainline Christian Churches, present in the Province of Sabaragamuwa.
5. Ratnapura Diocesan Pastoral Plan (RDPP) Proper
The Diocese of Ratnapura completes 25 years of its existence on the 2nd November 2020.The priests and the Bishop observed the need to draw up an effective Pastoral Plan for the Diocese in view of its 25th Anniversary.
In the context of the preparatory stages of the RDPP, we have had the privilege of having the assistance of Mr. Henry de Mel, a specialist in Strategy Development. He joined us in many preparatory discussions, spending his precious time for us, and helped us overcome difficulties we faced in the area of strategy planning, where we lacked experiential knowledge. As a Diocese, we are deeply grateful to Mr. Henry de Mel for his valuable contribution towards our efforts.
The Pastoral Plan is meant to cover all strategic concerns of the Diocesan Apostolate, which are as follows:
5.1. The purpose of the RDPP
Our launching pad for formulating the RDPP has been the grass-roots level consultations with the clergy, religious and the lay faithful of the Diocese. For this purpose a Diocesan Steering committee (DSC) was established with the Bishop as its Chairman. Our priests and the Bishop opted for the grass-roots level and heart-to-heart consultations with the people by visiting them in their own parishes and holding discussions with them. This meant hard work on the part of the priests, particularly of the members of the Diocesan Steering Committee, who had to go from parish to parish and listen to the people, individually and in groups. Thus, as a preamble to the RDPP, they were able to study the people's concerns clearly. All our priests rendered their fullest cooperation in this regard and did the consultations with much success. Though this modus operandi was time-consuming, it was quite effective and helped us immensely in coming to know the aspirations, concerns and expectations of the people.
5.3. Components of the RDPP
The present RDPP is a result from all the preparatory discussions and consultations we have had over the past few years. Now we have been able to propose a Diocesan Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Ratnapura, in view of the 25th Anniversary of its erection, to be marked on the 2nd November 2020. As one would see, there is nothing very new or extraordinary in the RDPP. It only calls for:
The implementation of the Ratnapura Diocesan Pastoral plan is carried out through the Parish structure of the Diocese of Ratnapura. It is the responsibility of the Parish Priests to act as the coordinators of the implementation of the RDPP in their respective Parishes.
The Diocesan steering committee which has been responsible for the development and the formulation of the RDPP, continues to monitor its progress and implementation in the Parishes.
The members of the Diocesan Presbyterium and the Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC), from time to time will evaluate the progress of the RDPP and, if necessary make the required interventions.
STRATEGIC CONCERN 1: SPIRITUAL, PASTORAL AND LITURGICAL LIFE:
The parish has to be a fertile soil, where the spiritual, pastoral and liturgical needs of the people are satisfied through a vibrant leadership of the Pastor. This process should be convincingly accepted by the Leader and he has to conscientize the lay faithful to collaborate and contribute to the betterment of the parish. The purpose of this process is to strengthen and empower the faithful so that they face the challenges of the secular world with vigor.
STRATEGIC CONCERN 2: CATECHETICAL, BIBLICAL AND EDUCATIONAL APOSTOLATES
The Churchs Catechetical Mission aims at helping the faithful of all ages to grow in both human and Christian maturity, enriching the wholeness of life with the leaven of the Gospel. The Catechetical and Biblical Apostolates should be revitalized and strengthened to address effectively the needs of the children and adults. The Apostolate of Education should be taken into consideration seriously to ensure its catholic identity. Since the Church is more emphatic on evangelization, the catechetical mission of the Diocese should extend itself to new ways and means of catechizing all people.
STRATEGIC CONCERN 3: JUSTICE, PEACE AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT:
It is observed that, today in Sri Lanka, the huge gap between the rich and poor has not been reduced. In fact the economic pressure on the ordinary people has been enormously increased. We also see that these two classes, namely the rich and the poor, exist hand in hand throughout the history. As a Diocese, witnessing to the strong message of Christ, we believe that, through our programs, we address the demands of these sensitive issues of human life.
STRATEGIC CONCERN 1V: PLANTATION SECTOR APOSTOLATE
Spiritual, human, economic, material and social upliftment of those, living in the Plantation Sector; conducive places for worship and Bible sharing; better housing facilities and living standards; better educational facilities for children should be a priority; alcoholism and its negative repercussions on the family and community to be addressed; necessary skill training programs to be organized to capacitate the target groups in order to provide opportunities for employment.
STRATEGIC CONCERN V: ADMINISTTRATIVE STRUCTURES
The Administrative Structures of the Diocese and Parishes should be effective and dynamic; closer monitoring and coordination is needed within the structures; all deliberations and decisions should be done in a spiritual atmosphere; develop the ways and means of improving the infrastructural conditions of the Diocese and Parishes.
STRATEGIC CONCERN V1: FINANCIAL STABILITY
To Learn from the past mistakes in financial management; some strategies to be developed to improve the financial situation of the Diocese, taking into account the various needs of the apostolates; while trusting in the Divine providence, savings are to be made for future sustenance; to search for the ways and means of generating income without totally depending on funding agencies; long term income-generating projects and funding sources to be explored with the support of the Diocese
As a matter of fact, some of the proposed obligations and recommendations of the RDPP are already being implemented by our priests in the Diocese. This is a happy and encouraging initiative on the part of our priests.
I express my sincere gratitude to my clergy, religious and lay faithful for their unstinted cooperation in bringing about the RDPP. In this regard, I have to pay a special debt of gratitude to the members of the Diocesan Steering Committee, who always responded positively when their services were called for.
Finally, we surrender ourselves to the Guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Immaculate Heart of Mary to whom our Diocese is dedicated, and St Joseph Vaz, our beloved Apostle of Sri Lanka, in all our apostolic endeavors.
Promulgated by Rt Rev Cletus Chandrasiri Perera OSB, Bishop of Ratnapura, on the 27th June 2015 at the Celebration of the Annual Feast of the Minor Seminary of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Kegalle.
+ Cletus Chandrasiri Perera OSB
Bishop of Ratnapura
27th June 2015
Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera O.S.B.