A new two-year program or "pastoral focus" for the Melbourne Archdiocese, based on Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (2001), was launched on 24 May with the release of a pastoral letter by Archbishop Denis Hart and his celebration of Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral, preceded by a 24 hour prayer vigil organised by Catholic Youth Ministry. All parishes, schools, religious orders and ecclesial movements were invited to attend the Mass.
The program - titled Contemplate - Launch Out: Linking Prayer and Mission in the light of Novo Millennio Ineunte - has been placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and, in the words of Archbishop Hart, "aims to apply the wonderful teaching of Pope John Paul ll's Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte (2001) to the Archdiocese of Melbourne."
Contemplate - Launch Out, with its first monthly focus in June, will continue until May 2004, with themes based on specific passages from Novo Millennio Ineunte. This document, said Archbishop Hart, "offers what I consider to be the Magna Carta for the Catholic Church in the new millennium" and he urged all Melbourne Catholics "to consider and implement" the Papal teachings "in depth in the times ahead" since a top priority was "the preaching of the Gospel and the full living of Catholic life."
This would include "finding even more effective ways of contemplating the face of Jesus in our troubled world by responding to the universal call of holiness" as well as "the living out of the Sacraments today, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, assisting families even further in their present day challenges", launching "new ways of encouraging vocations to the priesthood and religious life" and "continuing to support our youth, especially their education in faith."
The Archbishop's Pastoral Letter concluded: "Therefore, I call upon all priests, parish leaders and parishioners to seek out further creative ways to be more of what we are called to be as Catholics and to seek out new ways of evangelisation in our localities."
To achieve this end: "Resources will be made available to assist parishes with this endeavour. My call is not to lapse into an excessive activism but to deepen our present pastoral activities with greater missionary focus in the light of the parameters outlined in Novo Millennio Ineunte. This focus should radiate through all the groups and normal activities of our parishes and communities."
Each month, the collective focus of the Archdiocese will be united under an overarching theme drawn from the document. A monthly focus chart, made available to all parishes, agencies and ecclesial movements, highlights a paragraph from the Apostolic Letter and a key quote from that paragraph.
Among the monthly themes over the two year period are "Contemplate Jesus", "Mystery of the Faith", "Word of God", "Holiness", "Grace", "Penance", "Eucharist", "The Family", "Vocations", "Charity" and "Challenges."
Further information about Contemplate - Launch Out can be obtained from Lenyce Willason, 383 Albert Street, East Melbourne, Vic 3002, (03) 9926 5764 or the Melbourne Archdiocese web site.