UGCC PASTORAL LIFE: “Vibrant Parish” program (end of mandate)
Dear Benefactors and Partners,
In this newsletter we would like to share with you some important developments of our Church in the field of PASTORAL MINISTRY.
First of all, we would like to bring to your attention two important decisions of the Synod of Bishops of our Church held in Rome this year (see our previous newsletters) related to the “Vibrant Parish” program:
- To end the mandate of the Working Group for the Implementation of Strategic Development in the UGCC till 2020.
- To express gratitude and recognition to the members of the Working Group for the Implementation of Strategic Development in the UGCC till 2020 for their conscientious work.
Brief history. In December 2011, following upon the decision of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC held in Curitiba, Brazil, the UGCC launched the first year of the implementation of a pastoral renewal program called “The Vibrant Parish – a place to Encounter the Living Christ.” To implement this strategic development of our Church on a global level, the Working Group was established. Bishop Ken Nowakowski (Eparch of New Westminster, BC, Canada) was appointed as Head of the Working Group. Its members (coordinators) included bishops, clergy, religious and laity from a various countries where the UGCC eparchies and exarchates are present. The Working Group has been largely responsible for developing and implementing the “Vibrant parish” program.
“Vibrant Parish” Themes. The Vibrant Parish pastoral renewal program consisted of six key areas of development:
1) Word of God – Catechesis,
2) Liturgy and Prayer,
3) Serving one’s Neighbor (Diakonia),
5) Communion-Unity (Koinonia),
6) Missionary Spirit.
These themes are explicated in the Pastoral letter of His Beatitude Sviatoslav issued in 2011.
Accomplishments. The Vibrant Parish program has been implemented in the life of the UGCC for eight years. During that period a number of important accomplishments have been identified:
- The UGCC had an opportunity for the first time in its history to think about the priorities of development on a global level by identifying parish life and ministry as a central element from which stems all ecclesial life expressed in Church’s teaching, liturgical and private prayer and social ministry.
- The network of Eparchial Coordinators responsible for the implementation the Vibrant Parish program has proven to be an important innovation in the life of the Church, as those with concrete pastoral responsibilities and impact have been able to exchange one’s experience and resources.
- The network of Eparchial Coordinators has helped establish the effective channels of communication within the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church contributing to the unity of the Church.
- The Working Group has been instrumental in helping the Church acquire practical experience in the collection and analysis of important statistical data on key pastoral parameters for the UGCC as a whole, as well as for various regions and individual eparchies.
- The Vibrant Parish Program has also helped to raise important issues regarding the cooperation of various departments and ministries at different levels, with a view towards the sharing of vision and resources.
- In the critical and difficult time of Russia’s covert war of aggression in Ukraine, the Vibrant Parish Program has helped the Church maintain focus on her ministry and mission priorities.
- The Working Group has proven critical in promoting the practical implementation of the decisions and resolutions of the annual Synod of Bishops, especially those with a pastoral focus, and in particular of the VI Session of the Patriarchal Sobor (Assembly), held in 2015.
- A good collection of handful resource materials (among them videos on vibrant parishes, handbook on pastoral planning, mission days guidebooks, stewardship materials etc.) has been elaborated. Some of these materials in English language can be downloaded from the website of St. Josaphat Eparchy in Parma, OH
Future initiative. The Working Group of the Vibrant Parish Program officially ended its mandate in September 2019 after presenting its final report to the Synod of Bishops in Rome, and a new structure – Pastoral Council – is to continue the legacy of its predecessor in close collaboration with the UGCC Patriarchal Curia.
Assessing the fruits of the Working Group, the Head of the Group, Bishop Ken Nowakiwski, said:
“We are grateful for this privilege to serve our Church in such a way. With a great enthusiasm I am looking forward to the next developments …Because our Church is conscious that the evangelization process is our responsibility and no one will do it for us”