Guidelines for maintaining a Redemptorist Character in Our Churches, Parishes, and Shrines

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The XXV General Chapter asked for a study on how pastoral ministry in our Churches could better respond to evangelization challenges in today’s world and be places of welcome and encounter with the Redeemer. Decision # 9 states:

Redemptorist Churches and Pastoral Ministry. The General Government will establish a Commission/Body that will undertake an in-depth study of how our churches and pastoral ministry in our churches (including our parishes) can respond to the challenges of evangelization in the twenty-first century, thus ensuring that our churches become places of welcome and encounter with the Redeemer.

The Commission for New Missionary Initiatives, which is part of the General Secretariat for Evangelization, took on this task and explored the possibilities for responding to this decision of the General Chapter. After an internal exercise of analysis and dialogue, the Commission elaborated a working document and a process of reflection to involve the communities that exercise their pastoral ministry in churches, parishes, and shrines. A consultation process was thus initiated with the participation of focus groups in some of these communities. Father General was aware of this work and made some suggestions and recommendations that the Commission members integrated. This consultation process continued in October 2020 in coordination with the General Consultors, Conference Coordinators, and Major Superiors, with the participation of lay associates who support the Redemptorist apostolate in their respective communities.

After incorporating the contributions and suggestions from different communities and individuals, the draft was presented to the General Government for revision during the June 2021 consultation. Thus, the current document has received the endorsement of the General Government and is now presented to the Congregation as material for reflection and inspiration within the communities that carry out their pastoral ministry in Churches, Parishes, and Shrines. This document seeks to examine our pastoral ministry in light of current challenges and clearly identify how it embodies our Redemptorist charism and responds to today’s world’s challenges.

While this document outlines some characteristics that should identify our pastoral ministry in the Redemptorist Churches, we are aware of the great diversity of settings in which this ministry occurs. Therefore, we recognize that this document is valid as long as it is read and reflected upon within the particular context and in the community. In any case, the criterion of discernment offered in Constitution # 5 points out a common path for all:

“Preference for situations where there is pastoral need, that is, for evangelization in the strict sense together with the choice in favor of the poor is the very reason why the Congregation exists in the Church, and is the badge of its fidelity to the vocation it has received.”

The document consists of three parts:

–   an introduction;      

–   a second section identifies the qualities that should characterize our Redemptorist churches, parishes, and shrines; and        

–  a third section offers some processes or dynamics that can be used at the Conference, Unit, or Local Community level to reflect on the qualities of Redemptorist ministry and to discern new strategies for maintaining and deepening the Redemptorist character.   

We encourage the Confreres to continue to use this resource as a starting point, identifying those essential elements that should be present in the exercise of our ministry in Redemptorist Churches, parishes, and shrines.

GENERAL SECRETARIAT FOR EVANGELIZATION

COMMISSION FOR NEW MISSIONARY INITIATIVES

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