RATNAPURA DIOCESAN PASTORAL PLAN (RDPP)

THEME:

"Towards A Proclamational Church in the Diocese of Ratnapura/ Province of Sabaragamuwa"

Foreword

"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.

1. Vision

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.

2. Mission

  • To have a living and growing love relationship with God and with one another.
  • To be more knowledgeable about their faith, the Word of God, the Sacraments, moral teachings and the history of the Church.
  • To lead all the Catholics to understand what their charisms and responsibilities are
  • To direct them to use those charisms and responsbilities effectively in the fulfilment of their vocation, in the proclamation of the kingdom of God and for the benefit of the people of the Province of Sabaragamuwa

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:

  1. Spiritual, Pastoral and Liturgical Life
  2. Catechetical, Biblical and Educational Needs
  3. Justice, Peace and Human Development
  4. Plantation Sector
  5. Administrative Structures
  6. Financial Management

5.1. The purpose of the RDPP

  1. To discern how far the Diocese has progressed since its inception in 1995.
  2. To identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) and areas of concern in the Diocesan Apostolate.
  3. To identify the needs and aspirations of the people, as they themselves highlighted them in our consultations with them.
  4. As the Clergy and the Religious, responsible for the people, how to entertain the positive needs and aspirations of the people?
  5. As the Clergy and the Religious, what more can we do to expedite the growth of the Diocese?

5.2. Process

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:

  1. Being engaged in our ordinary apostolate with extraordinary zeal and greater dedication.
  2. Discovering the essential needs of the apostolate which we have missed, and doing what is required.
  3. Being sensitive to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the people, and their positive demands.
  4. Availability of the priests, when the people need their presence and service.
  5. Maintaining a closer and more shepherdly relationship with the people by visiting them regularly.

6. Implementation

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.

7. Monitoring

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.

8. Evaluation

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:

Strategic Objective

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.

Obligations:

  1. Establishment of creative, vibrant and responsible parish liturgy committees in every parish and prior preparation before all solemn liturgical celebrations.
  2. A meaningful and vibrant Liturgy on Sundays and Solemnities. (Entrance procession, Sprinkling holy water, singing, a well prepared homily by the Celebrant are essential parts of the Liturgy)
  3. Annual visitations of the parish families by the Parish Priest
  4. Availability of the Parish Priest to the parishioners
  5. A great sense of responsibility, sensitivity, reverence and discretion where the spiritual, pastoral and liturgical needs of the people are concerned.
  6. Parish Pastoral Councils, which represent the whole parish, with two office bearers as representatives in the Diocesan Pastoral Council.
  7. Parish working committees which deal with the Diocesan Apostolates.
  8. To make all efforts to develop the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Kudagama,as the Diocesan Centre of Pilgrimage.

Recommendations:

  1. Celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi outside the Church Feast
  2. Celebration of the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation separately from the Church Feasts, so that the specific significance of these two important Sacraments may be properly inculcated in the children.
  3. Eucharistic Adoration, followed by Holy Mass or Benediction on First Fridays in every parish.
  4. Hearing confessions at least for half-an-hour before Sunday Mass.
  5. Praying of the Holy Rosary and during lent, the Stations of the Cross before Sunday Eucharist
  6. To organize family enrichment program in order to improve the quality of the family life
  7. To organize Spiritual and life educational programs, in order to help the Integral human development of our youth

STRATEGIC CONCERN 2: CATECHETICAL, BIBLICAL AND EDUCATIONAL APOSTOLATES

Strategic Objective

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.

Obligations:

  1. A well set program to conduct sessions on adult catechesis on parish level on monthly basis throughout the Diocese.
  2. To conduct catechetical camps for children, preferably every month, or at least once in three months.
  3. Catechetical formation programs to be conducted by the Centre.
  4. The parish catechetical network to be strictly supervised by the Parish Priests and their Assistants.
  5. The matters, pertaining to education in the parish to be brought to the notice of the Bishop and the Diocesan Director in- charge.
  6. To revive or reorganize the Missionary Childhood Cells in our Parishes in order to give our children the proper Christian orientation based on Gospel values and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Recommendations:

  1. Extension of the hours of teaching catechism till 12.00 noon on Sundays, and providing the children with a satisfactory meal
  2. Relevant and updated teaching methods to be used in teaching catechism.
  3. To use the modern technology, wherever possible, to pass the knowledge onto children.
  4. Establishment of a catholic teachers' guild in the Diocese.
  5. On-going formation programs for teachers to be held on Parish and Diocesan levels.
  6. Promotion of Catholic Literature in the parish

STRATEGIC CONCERN 3: JUSTICE, PEACE AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT:

Strategic Objective:

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.

Obligations

  1. Formation, animation and motivation of self-helped groups to be supported by the Sethmini staff; in later development, the leaders of these groups can be gathered to form even an inter-parish network.
  2. To establish a Catholic Diocesan Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development.
  3. To organize programs to rehabilitate persons under drug and alcoholic addiction, and persons with physical and mental impairment.
  4. To organize programs to promote inter-religious, ecumenical and inter-ethnic harmony and co-existence in the Diocese
  5. To organize programs which will improve the quality of the lives of the senior citizens

Recommendations:

  1. To form Sethmini units in all parishes under the supervision of their respective Parish Priests; initially, these units will include exclusively the parish members; they may consist of both the poor and the able personalities; as the units grow, they may be extended to the marginalized and the members of other religions.
  2. To initiate Diocesan social welfare fund.
  3. To organize programs to enhance the strengths and capabilities of children in conjunction with Missionary childhood and La.Kri.Vi. Societies.
  4. To organize programs to prepare people to face natural and man-made disasters and to extend assistance to their victims
  5. To organize special programs to promote the dignity and rights of women and to eliminate domestic violence.
  6. To organize programs to educate people on human rights, and to intervene to assist the victims in the event of their violation.
  7. To organize programs to promote the wellbeing of the families of migrant workers

STRATEGIC CONCERN 1V: PLANTATION SECTOR APOSTOLATE

Strategic Objective

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.

Obligations:

  1. To provide conducive places for worship and sharing of the Word of God.
  2. To uplift the living conditions of the people.
  3. To ensure the availability of the educational facilities for children.
  4. To conduct programs to create awareness of the ill-effects of alcoholism.
  5. To conduct programs on the prevention of alcoholism and refer the heavily addicted to treatment centers

Recommendations:

  1. To conduct skill-training programs for youth in order to reduce unemployment.
  2. To conduct especial seminars for the estate sector adult s and youth to prevent them from leaving the Catholic Church and joining fundamentalist groups.
  3. To conduct one-day or half-a-day seminars for parents on the necessity of educating their children.
  4. To establish effective and fruitful rapport with the Plantation Sector Managements in order to improve the living conditions of the people.

STRATEGIC CONCERN V: ADMINISTTRATIVE STRUCTURES

Strategic Objective:

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.

Obligations:

  1. Every parish should have a Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) with the parish priest as ex-officio president and his assistant/s as ex-officio vice president/s; in a parish with no assistant parish priest, a lay person may be elected as vice president; the rest of the membership is composed of a representative, preferably the superior, from each religious community, representatives of parish lay leaders, representatives from substation church working committees, representatives from main parish associations and three members, appointed by the parish priest. (Refer: norms, given in the constitutions on the PPC)
  2. The PPC is expected to meet once in four months during the year, while there can be also special meetings as need arises.
  3. The substation churches should have their own church working committees, which should meet regularly and discuss matters which pertain specifically to their respective churches. Even the main parish churches may have their own working committees which meet regularly to discuss matters which pertain specifically to their respective churches. All these meetings have to be presided over by the parish priest or the assistant parish priest.
  4. It is up to the Central Diocesan Administration to monitor the appointment of the representatives of the DPC; they are expected to present a brief report on important parish events at the DPC meetings.
  5. In order to maintain transparency and accountability, the parish priest is expected to announce to the people all collections and contributions, received from the people on family books, from church tills, at Sunday Mass and for all other parish-related projects.
  6. It is the duty of the Central Administration to provide the Clergy and Religious with proper living conditions.
  7. A parish priest or a head of an institution when transferred is obliged to hand over a proper inventory of his mission house or institution with a clear financial statement, to his successor in the presence of the Bishop or his Delegate. He is further obliged to leave the mission house or institution in a presentable and habitable state. He is never allowed to take away with him anything which belongs to the mission house or the institution

Recommendations

  1. In order to facilitate the effective functioning of the DPC, the parish priests are requested to select vibrant and active members from the office-bearers of the PPC as representatives in the DPC.
  2. All apostolates and institutions are to have their own commissions and advisory boards.

STRATEGIC CONCERN V1: FINANCIAL STABILITY

Strategic Objective:

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

Obligations:

  1. To make Diocesan and parish properties more productive
  2. To set up a Diocesan finance committee.
  3. To use the vehicles with care and maintain them as best as possible.
  4. To attend to the repairs of parish buildings as early as possible.
  5. To maintain the inventories of parishes and institutions in order to safeguard the properties, both movable and immovable.
  6. It is a pastoral duty of the priest to maintain the accounts and submit a quarterly financial statement to the central administration.
  7. Permission has to be obtained from the central administration for major constructions and repairs.

Recommendations:

  1. To hold occasional workshops on financial management skills.
  2. To explore the possibility of leasing out some of our unused lands to companies to raise funds.
  3. To explore the possibility of studying the income and expenditure of parishes and grade them accordingly.

Conclusion

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

Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera O.S.B.
Diocese of Ratnapura Sri Lanka.


2017-09-24

Sunday School Visit to Belihul Oya by Catechetical director


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