A call to renew the Pastoral Plan for the Hispanic community of the Diocese of Knoxville
By Blanca Primm
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us? So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem…” Luke 24:32-33
The Hispanic community in the Diocese of Knoxville has been walking alongside our shepherds and the Hispanic Catholic community across the country in the national process of the V Encounter of Hispanic/Latino Ministry as part of the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
This four-year process that includes ecclesial reflection and action has invited Catholics to intense missionary activity, consultation, leadership development in our communities, and identification of successful pastoral practices in the spirit of the New Evangelization.
After three years of activity, this fourth and final year of the process leads us to work concretely on an action plan to put into practice the recommendations and conclusions of the V Encounter and the recommended strategies and plans of action that were defined in our Provincial Encounter held in Louisville, Ky., in November.
Twenty-five delegates from the Diocese of Knoxville participated in this event.
By taking advantage of the information gathered in local consultations and carried out in the peripheries, in small communities, parishes, and at the diocesan level as part of the Encounter process, and in light of the recommendations mentioned, leaders in the V Encounter program can discern ways in which the Church can better respond to the growing presence of Hispanic/Latino brothers and sisters in the diocese.
They also can empower Hispanic/Latinos to respond as missionary disciples.
It is in view of this reality of the implementation of the V Encounter of Hispanic Ministry in our diocese, of the new situation of the coronavirus pandemic, and given that our current diocesan pastoral plan dates from 1998 that Bishop Richard F. Stika is calling us to renew our Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry.
This process will be coordinated by the diocesan Office of the Hispanic Ministry with the help and guidance of SEPI (Southeast Pastoral Institute and Regional Office of Catholic Bishops of the Southeast).
A Pastoral Plan is an organized action of the Church to extend the Kingdom of God in a concrete reality. It is important that when carrying out our plan we embark on a missionary and evangelizing process where we know our reality, set our general objective and goals, see what resources and means we have to fulfill our objective, and in the end we can make an evaluation during and after this process.
It is our desire that the work to renew our Pastoral Plan reflects a “Pastoral de Conjunto” (ministry in communion), where the participation of lay people, clergy, and religious, as well as representatives of notable groups and movements is present in our virtual working groups, and in our next virtual Diocesan Encounter to be held in October as part of this process.
On this occasion, we will listen to Bishop Stika and also apply the see-judge-act method.
This method entails viewing God with the eyes of faith through His revealed Word and life-giving contact with the sacraments, so that in everyday life we may see the reality around us in the light of His providence, judge it according to Jesus Christ, the Way, Truth and Life, and act from the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and universal sacrament of salvation, in spreading the Kingdom of God, which is sown on this earth and fully bears fruit in Heaven.