Called to be Missionary Disciples
My dear sisters and brothers,
With great pride I present to the Church of Owensboro Called to be Missionary Disciples: Diocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. This pastoral plan is a plan for evangelization, charity, catechesis and education. In the years to come as this plan is implemented, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be proclaimed to tens of thousands of people, and in a real sense to everyone in western Kentucky.
I am incredibly proud of the way this plan has evolved. Our Hispanic/Latino ministry leaders have worked to engage people at every level to reflect upon the call of Pope Francis that all embrace the responsibility to be missionary disciples. I am most grateful to those whose leadership has brought us to this moment.
Jesus said, “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” (Matthew 28:19 – 20)
We are sharers in God’s mystery because those who went before us heeded this command and passed the gift of faith to us. Now this hour is ours to pass on this precious gift of faith.
Adopting this plan is just one step. We must then study the plan so that we may go into the vineyard to carry it out with the assurance that Jesus is with us to the end of time.
Brothers and sisters,
I feel great joy and hope at having experienced, together with many of you and through this planning process, that the driving force of the Holy Spirit never left us nor did it stop acting. Even amidst the uncertainty, discouragement, fear and sadness caused by a pandemic; not even that could stop the action of God in his Church. The effort, participation and continuous work of all the representatives and delegates of the parishes was something to be admired. And although for some time, we were forced to rely more on screens than on physical presence to accompany one another in this work, still, clinging to Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Virgin of Guadalupe, we kept going. I am thinking, for example, of the Feast of Pentecost, where the Spirit descends on the Apostles and despite the difficulties, discouragement, uncertainty and fears, the power of the Holy Spirit impels them to move forward with strength and faith. That same force of the Holy Spirit now moves us and accompanies us. I am very proud of our Hispanic/Latino community and privileged to be able to serve in our diocese.
I trust and know that the hard work and dedication of so many of you reflected here in our Diocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry 2021-2026 will undoubtedly bear abundant fruit. This particular plan also includes a continuous work and effort of synodality, in other words, “walking together,” collaborating alongside other diocesan offices in good-will efforts to advance greater ecclesial integration. My hope is that reading, studying and putting into action what the following pages contain, will encourage us all toward a continuous renewal and pastoral conversion without fear, as a diocese, as parishes and even as individual Hispanic/Latino Catholics. Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium in paragraph 33, exhorts us: “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way’. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.”
I will close by encouraging everyone and expressing the very words that our esteemed Bishop William F. Medley often repeats and which are so true. “We are never beyond the reach of God.” In other words, God never walks away, he always supports us and takes us by the hand. May God then bless our pastoral ministry, all our efforts and above all bless each of our families.
Dcn. Christopher Gutiérrez
Director of the Office of Hispanic/Latino Ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro