This was the message of Rt. Rev. Bishop Sebastian Francis as he echoed the words of Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez in his speech to the parishioners gathered at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) Penang, at their Parish Assembly on the 8th November. He said that a lot of Catholics are already on mission. They go on pilgrimages and attend formations of prayer and liturgy. We already have this vision of mission but now we need Passion on our mission. He reminded the parishioners that they needed to spend quality time with spouses, children and family. He commended the parish for spearheading the Diocesan Prison Ministry and asked for them to be ready for the Jubilee Year of Mercy to spread the word everywhere. He then updated the parish on the coming events in the diocese and reminded them that he would coming over to CDM on the 13th December to open the Door of Mercy.
The Parish Assembly at CDM was held in the church to accommodate the 163 parishioners who turned up. It began promptly at 10.45 am with a photo gallery show of the events that happened in the parish in the past year and the key people that had and were still working silently in the background. The Assembly then started with a short session of Praise and Worship by the Youth. This was followed with the welcoming speech by the Parish Council Chairperson, Rodney Gomez, who ended with the statement, “What counts in life is what we do for others.” The Finance report showed the church to be on good standing in spite of the large expenditure for the installation of Solar panels and the church renovation works for the coming Year of Mercy. The Report Card on the church also showed that it had completed 91 % of all proposed projects with only two projects pending completion, namely, the Census of all parishioners and the formation of the Parents Support group. The report on the BECs carried out by the SWOAR model (Strengths, Weaknesses/Opportunities, Actions & Results) showed many encouraging developments but bore some of the persistent unresolved issues of poor attendance and participation except at BEC masses.
A Breakout Session was carried out where parishioners gathered in groups of up to 15 people to discuss and put forward their views and suggestions on nine topics of current concern for the church’s future development. Reports on the discussions were presented and taken note for action by the various committees.
In his speech, Fr Martin Arlando, the parish priest, traced back the second year he had been in charge of the parish. He admitted that, as a priest who had only been ordained a few years ago, he came to CDM with limited experience of running a parish. However, in the last year he had focused on centering the community in prayer. This led to the seeking and obtaining the relics of St Faustina and St John Paul II, the building of the baptismal pool, the formations planned on prayer and the celebrations to bring the community closer together. He explained with the analogy of the two seas in the Holy Land. The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea had both their source from the River Jordan but one supported life while the other was lifeless. The main difference was that the Sea of Galilee flowed out into the Mediterranean Sea while the Dead Sea did not have a source to empty it. Thus Spiritual input without Spiritual output leads to Spiritual stagnation. He emphasized that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy as parishioners of CDM a perfect opportunity has been given to them to be involved. Fr Martin emphasized strongly that they have to use these opportunities to show our commitment to our faith to others. He explained that Faith is like a paratrooper who had carefully and perfectly packed his parachute. When it came to the point where he had to jump out of the plane he was faced with the commitment to take the plunge but with the faith that the parachute will open. He asked that they need to place all our ministries at the feet of Jesus with the faith he will make all things possible. As for himself, he only asked for the prayers of the parishioners to be the Shepherd after the heart of Jesus, always remembering the prayer of St Faustina, Jesus, I Trust in You. Fr then explained the many plans he had for the coming year which included online formations, pilgrimage tours, church renovations and plans for welcoming pilgrims to the Holy Door of Mercy at CDM. He also explained that this coming year he will be celebrating zone masses on each zone’s patron feast day instead of BEC masses. All BECs were to incorporate activities that were centered on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy within their community or outreach to others in need.
The Assembly ended after a Q & A session where 9 parishioners fielded questions that were answered to the satisfaction of all present. The assembly ended with a closing prayer by Fr and the singing of the hymn The Summons. The unique thing of this assembly was that no one left until after the Q & A session and the numbers grew in attendance as the assembly proceeded.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
10th November, 2015.