Sunday, March 3, 2013

Communication: A Valued Goal

All priests of the Seoul diocese recently gathered together for the first time to discuss the problems facing the diocese. The more than 540 attendees, including those who were retired, were divided into 44 groups for detailed discussion and reports made later in the general meeting. Both Catholic papers gave an extended report on the meeting.

Fr. Yu, responsible  for  the proceedings, said the priests met together to  communicate with each other on the future direction of the diocese. It was the beginning, he said, of an on-going exchange.  More than showing an interest in solving specific problems, the primary intention, said Yu, was to meet and talk, expressing heart-felt  opinions on the current problems facing the diocese, with the expectation that the diocese will in turn listen carefully to what had been discussed.

All deliberations were recorded, which will be handed on to those who will follow in years to come. Having the older retired priests meeting together, eating and praying together, with the newly ordained for two days has great meaning, he said. If anything could be said to have been missing during the meeting, it would have been not having sufficient time to discuss all the issues that came before the group. The suggestions that were raised, Fr. Yu feels, will be the chief concern of the diocese, and will guide its future direction.

The two most important issues discussed can be summarized as communication--arriving at a mutual understanding among those present--and dealing with the prolonged period serving as an assistant priest, which could include rethinking the retirement age of  priests and considering a partnership approach to pastoral work, with a name change from assistant priest to assistant pastor to indicate the added responsibilities.

The priests as a group pledged, first, that before fellowship with one another, they need to be close to our Lord; second, to respect and obey the  bishop; third, to accept and respect the assistant as a brother and to help him carry out his responsibility when the need arises, and in turn the assistant priest needs to respect a pastor's suggestions that often are based on many years of experience as a pastor; fourth, to work for the growth of the body of Christ-- the community of the faithful--to recognize and encourage the initiative of the laity in the mission of the Church, with a special concern so none will feel alienated from the work of the Church; and fifth, to work to make this year of faith one with meaning for all.

The hope of many was that the example of the Seoul diocese will spread to the other dioceses throughout the country. Efforts  will be made to improve the communication among the priests in the dioceses of the country. As the number of priests increases, the breakdown of communication is a strong possibility. Hopefully what the Seoul diocese accomplished in their 2-day meeting will be seen as a worthy and successful attempt to avoid the discord resulting from faulty communication, and will lead to improved understanding within the diocese.