As we get closer to marking the opening of the Year of Faith, Cardinal Collins of Toronto has released the following pastoral letter to each parish and ministry within the Archdiocese of Toronto. This being the feast day of St. Michael, the Cardinal's intention was to help everyone celebrate and live out the coming year. Published below is a copy of his letter.
To the Faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto,
On this feast of St. Michael, protector of the faithful and patron saint of our Archdiocese, I wish to give you an update on pastoral planning that is underway to help us as an archdiocesan community of faith to respond more effectively to Our Lord’s command to His disciples: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mathew 28: 19-20).
As the whole Church enters into the Year of Faith, and as the Pope convenes a Synod of Bishops to plan ways to address the challenge of proclaiming the Gospel in our modern world, it is appropriate that we explore more deeply through a pastoral plan how we can best fulfil the mission of the Church in our own particular situation in the Archdiocese of Toronto. This letter provides you with an overview of some of the principles underlying the plan which is being developed, in advance of more specific information that will be available in the New Year.
What is a Pastoral Plan?
A pastoral plan serves as a roadmap for our journey as a Catholic Christian community, identifying key priorities and goals on the path ahead. It is rooted in prayerful reflection upon the Bible and our living tradition of faith. It also involves a thorough, accurate and honest assessment of our current pastoral situation, both the challenges and the opportunities before us.
As I regularly travel throughout the archdiocese, I am inspired by all the pastoral and apostolic activities I observe, and by the creative zeal and dedication of the laity, religious, and clergy I meet. In so many ways, we are already earnestly engaged in addressing the various matters that are central to the mission of a Christian community. It is always wise, however, to step back and consider what our key priorities as an archdiocese should be at this time, so that we can more effectively work together, and focus our efforts, and have a way of assessing how we are doing. This is what a pastoral plan allows us to do; it also helps us both to discover the tools we need to fulfil our mission, and to use our resources more wisely.
Although our faith does not change, the circumstances in which we live our faith do change, constantly. For that reason, a pastoral plan will always be a work in progress, since we regularly need to take a look at where we are, and where at the moment we should particularly direct our energies.
Faithful Stewards of our Many Gifts
The Gospel encourages us to be faithful stewards of all that has been entrusted to us, and so we should ask ourselves how we are currently sharing our time, talent and treasure, in order to serve others and to give thanks to God. In the parable of the talents, each servant is called to give an account of his stewardship; each of us is responsible for fruitfully using the gifts we have received from God. A pastoral plan should help us to do that better, both individually and as an archdiocesan community.