About 18 months ago I formed a team of clergy, religious and lay men and women to assist me in discerning a mutually shared vision to guide the archdiocese for the next five years. We have concluded that work! In this issue of the “Sooner Catholic” I am eager to proclaim that vision and announce the three diocesan priorities that will focus our pastoral initiatives and efforts for the next few years.
I have written a pastoral letter proclaiming this vision, “Go Make Disciples.” I invite each of you to take time to read and reflect on this pastoral letter. It is presented in this issue of the “Sooner Catholic” and available on our archdiocesan website. The pastoral letter provides the context and details of the vision as well as our three priorities and their immediate goals.
As it turns out the envisioning team recognized that our work did not actually consist in creating a vision, but in discerning and embracing the vision that the Lord himself has given us. “Go make disciples!” (Mt 28:19). This is the mandate that Jesus gave his disciples as he was preparing to return to the Father and send the Holy Spirit. It is the clear vision animating the church in every age as she fulfills her mission of evangelization.
“Go make disciples.” In proclaiming this vision for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City today, we focus on the very heart and essence of what it means to be a Catholic. It is not first and foremost about building and maintaining fine institutions and structures, though these have their proper place. Jesus first calls each of us to discipleship. Each of us is invited to friendship with Jesus as a member of his church. The rest flows from this encounter and relationship.
To become a disciple means to enter the way of conversion. Jesus Christ offers each of us the grace to experience anew the Good News of salvation in our lives. But this offer requires a response from us. It is not enough simply to maintain the status quo. We cannot tuck away the gift of faith by placing it into some remote and safe compartment of our lives. Living faith will make demands upon us as it enlightens and directs the whole of our lives.
What we have received as a gift we must be ready to give as a gift. We are called to become missionary disciples! If we are not growing in our faith and sharing our faith with others, our faith may eventually atrophy and die. At best such faith becomes a superficial and meaningless accessory in our lives.
The pastoral letter, “Go Make Disciples,” not only articulates a vision, but it also establishes three clearly focused priorities: New Evangelization, Faith Formation and Hispanic Ministry. Like the vision itself these priorities are intended to guide all of our archdiocesan departments, parishes, organizations and institutions in their decision-making and planning over the course of the next few years. Ultimately, they challenge each of us to live as missionary disciples in the world drawing all people to Christ and his church.