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Lexington’s pastoral plan calls for ‘A Community of Missionary Disciples’
LEXINGTON, Ky. (CNS) — The Diocese of Lexington issued a new pastoral plan on Pentecost focusing on its missionary call to serve the 50 counties in central and eastern Kentucky that make up the diocese.
Pentecost, which was June 9 this year, commemorates the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles and other followers of Christ and, as the document explains, signifies two foundational aspects of the church’s nature: community and mission.
The diocesan plan is inspired by Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), because it conveyed the same missionary spirit of rejoicing and gratitude.
The plan’s prologue describes Pope Francis’ open invitation to Catholics “to rediscover the joy of the Gospel and to share that joy with the world.” Additionally, the prologue mentioned how Pope Francis has continually challenged churches throughout the world to stress the importance of mission and identity, advancement and the participation of youth groups within the church.
The local church also “must transcend divisions between (its) Bluegrass and Mountain parts,” the document says, “and must find the way to fully engage the immigrant and refugee membership of our church. We must accept the call to create one body and continue to nurture the unity that Christ calls for within the Church to be able to extend our desire for community beyond ourselves.”
Reminding Catholics the pope has called them to go to the peripheries, it says: “Whether in the inner city or the rural and mountainous parts of our diocese, we do not have to go far to find the peripheries. … The peripheries may include the economically disadvantaged, may include racial minorities, may include people of other faith traditions and no faith, may include people with differing sexual orientations — the peripheries are those who are overlooked, who are excluded, whose voices are under-represented.”
“It is my hope and fervent prayer that our local church will embrace this vision and commit to the transformation of society that is at the heart of the Gospel call to conversion,” said Lexington Bishop John Stowe said.
He noted that a challenge for the Lexington Diocese is that the majority of communities are small in population and underserved due to lack of services and ministries that larger parishes offer. Bishop Stowe is confident that the plan will help to address these issues and ultimately increase cooperation among parishes and deaneries.
The pastoral plan outlines five mission priorities: evangelization, sacramental ministry, unity/communion, faith formation and stewardship. Some focus areas include outreach to the youth, promotion of dialogue and community, appreciation of cultural diversity and differences, creation of new initiatives for catechesis and collaboration with various regions of the diocese.
To act on these priorities, the plan calls for parishes to work closely within the deaneries and at the levels to determined communities’ strengths and weaknesses. The five missions will then be separated into categories that list several goals and strategies for achieving each mission and how the diocese can implement them on the parish and deanery levels.
Bishop Stowe said the plan recognizes the presence of God’s Spirit and is calling the diocese’s communities to ever greater faithfulness in responding to what God asks of them.
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The full text of the Diocese of Lexington’s pastoral plan is available at https://bit.ly/2IPMfQX.