General News from the Province
Six of our Parish Priests were present. This is one of the most important groups of our Province that is involved in the work of evangelization.
The first thing they studied with the Minister Provincial was the Guidelines for Parish Priests and their Assistants which points out three important things to be followed by Parish Priests: Prayer, Fraternity and Mission.
It clarifies the importance of the ministry entrusted to them by the Order and the Church. It is to assist the friars to minister in a Franciscan way in the local church. It reminds the Parish Priests to develop the Spirit of Prayer and Devotion in order to nourish their relationship with Jesus. They are to animate the Parish more by their way of life, nourished by prayer, than by advice. In addition, the Parish Priest is a religious brother who stays in the fraternity. Therefore he has to have sufficient time for the Fraternity by participating in common prayers, house chapters, recreation and in dialogue. He is to share his challenges with his brothers and listen to them, and be ready to plan together with them. In their mission, Parish Priests need to be open to learn about and to adapt themselves to the local culture. They are also to be generous towards their assistants by inviting them to share in the pastoral program and to give them the opportunity for a mature and responsible practice of their priesthood, so that they feel useful and valued as fellow priests (3.5; 3,6).
The document of the Order entitled Sent To Evangelize in Fraternity and Minority in the Parish, and the report of the last General Visitator, were used to stress the need for the Parish Priest to work together with his assistant, and the fraternity at large, in their work of evangelizing the People of God. The work of a Franciscan Parish Priest should be to animate, form and facilitate his parishioners, making them more responsible in matters of building up their parish spiritually and materially. He should work with his parishioners in making a survey that would be the starting point of an awakening among his parishioners in matters concerning the development the parish.
The Parish Priest needs to prepare and to hold meetings between various groups in the parish such as: his fellow friars, the Catechists and the Parish Council. He will explain why they need a parish plan. The Christians will then choose the goals to focus on for their parish development.
What hinders pastoral planning in the parish is often: lack of programs, rigidity of Priests, selfishness, ignorance, lack of self-awareness. The Parish Priests present made the following resolutions as a way to overcome these obstacles: order, cooperation, listening to the laity, education, inculturation, self-confidence and human development.
There was a proposal that a group of Franciscans brothers should meet in one of our parishes for a “Popular Mission”. This year it will take place in Butimba Parish, Mwanza.
There is a need for parishes in our Province to support our formation houses that is why the Parish Priests were requested to ask the community of the faithful to contribute to the formation of their future leaders. Each parish is to have a “Savings Box.”