Shortly after 2 pm on Saturday 14 Nov 2015, the St Ignatius Church (SIC) Parish Assembly (PA) commenced at the Costantini Community Centre with enthronement of the Bible and an opening prayer. SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng gave a short welcome address and introduced Fr Clarence Devadass (Director, Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute) who proceeded to explain the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention (PMPC) process. He shared that after focusing on reviving or giving new life/direction for our BECs over the past two years, the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese will now focus on PMPC 4 to be held next year. Every 10 years since 1976, the Church in Peninsular Malaysia has come together to meet, pray, discuss and discern its journey. This is an on-going process of renewal that began with the Aggiornamento ("a bringing up to date") in 1976. Fr Clarence shared that the process that the Archdiocese is taking for PMPC 4 is from the Parish PA to the Archdiocesan PA (to be held in May 2016) – ending with PMPC 4 (Oct 2016).
In planning for PMPC 4, the Church will have to take into account many factors which have changed since 1976 including demographics; social environment, institutional/societal/family structures; and development/advancement (e.g. aerogrammes replaced by instant communication). In addition to the 97 collated responses to the Archdiocese Pastoral Questionnaire received from attendees at the Pre-PA held on 17 Oct 2016, those at the assembly who did not attend Pre-PA were encouraged to fill the Questionnaire. To get a better sampling and cross-section of opinions/views, they were also encouraged to approach Catholics whom they knew are not active in church or are even lapsed Catholics to take part in the Questionnaire.
After a short tea break, attendees broke into groups to discuss the greatest concerns within and threats from outside the Church – and what could be done together as Church to respond and be relevant in Peninsular Malaysia. A number of groups then each presented two of the issues which surfaced during their discussions. Those mentioned include the indifference/vulnerability of some Catholics due to a lack of faith formation and poor attendance at Mass especially amongst youths. A worrying statistic, mentioned by Fr Clarence, from a pew census done in 2004 disclosed that only 47% of parishioners in the KL Archdiocese attend weekend Masses regularly.
Kuala Lumpur Archbishop His Grace Julian Leow then addressed the assembly towards its conclusion. He mentioned that our concerns will be brought up to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly and attempts will be made to narrow the gap between the reality and the dream – that is where the strategies need to come in. Eventually, PMPC 4 will try to address the concerns for Peninsular Malaysia as a whole. Archbishop Julian advised that before any action be taken, we have to spend time to ask ourselves: What does God expect of us? What does God expect of the church? The assembly came to an end with Archbishop Julian blessing the 200 parishioners in attendance. SIC Assistant Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong also attended the assembly which was chaired by Lourdes Abishegam (Parish Pastoral Council) and Frederick Ow (Chairman, Parish Chinese Apostolate).
Click on Parish Pastoral Assembly 2015 to view the slides presented by Fr Clarence.
Photography: Peter Law